Opinion | The army is back at the center of Pakistan’s politics



After months of intrigue, Pakistan lastly has a new army chief. The job goes to Lt. Gen. Asim Munir, a former head of Inter-Providers Intelligence (ISI), the highly effective navy intelligence company. Many Pakistanis breathed a sigh of aid on the information, which has — at the very least for the second — warded off fears of a recent political disaster. The rationale: In latest months, ex-prime minister Imran Khan has been pushing for a confrontation with the senior military management that some feared would possibly result in the military asserting martial regulation. For the second, at the very least, that menace seems to have been averted.

The present scenario would have been onerous to foretell again in 2018, when Khan turned prime minister in an election that has been described as one of the dirtiest within the nation’s historical past, marked by intimidation, corruption and extensive vote-rigging. It’s broadly assumed that Khan — who was toppled from power by a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April — benefited from the military’s assist on the time. Khan’s major political opponent, Nawaz Sharif, blamed then-army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa for toppling his authorities. (Khan tried to show the tables by accusing Sharif of exploiting the military’s assist.)

Throughout his first months in workplace, Khan loved shut ties with the navy. His good relationship with the generals raised his credibility in India’s eyes, which helped him launch many initiatives to normalize relations with Delhi, together with a cease-fire achieved final yr.

However variations quickly started to emerge. Gen. Bajwa wanted to maneuver quick in bettering relations with India, however Khan was more cautious. Within the fall of 2021, Khan turned concerned in a battle with the military over the destiny of Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, whom Khan wished to retain as the top of the ISI regardless of the military’s plans to switch him to a different place. Khan’s opponents began to suspect that he was planning to nominate Hameed as the brand new military chief to realize his personal political targets. (The present chief of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum, just lately accused Khan of demanding unspecified “unlawful” favors from the navy.) When the opposition realized that Khan now not loved the military’s assist, they seized benefit of his vulnerability by eradicating him by a vote of no confidence.

That’s the supply of Khan’s present grudge towards the navy: He believes that his former allies betrayed him politically, and he’s been attempting to get revenge by doing the whole lot he can previously few weeks to block the appointment of a brand new military chief. It’s necessary to keep in mind that Khan isn’t simply an abnormal Pakistani opposition chief — he’s a significant energy participant. His occasion, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), controls two massive provinces, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in addition to two smaller areas, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The president of Pakistan, Arif Alvi, is a former member of the PTI; he serves because the supreme commander of the armed forces, which means that the prime minister is meant to seek the advice of him, at the very least formally, on the appointment of any new military chief. Khan tried to enlist Alvi’s assist to dam a brand new appointment; ultimately, although, the president took a extra cautious stance, advising Khan to not alienate the brand new head of the military.

Khan’s resentment of the navy has led him to extremes. Recently he’s been accusing the military of attempting to kill him, blaming a serving general (in addition to the federal government) for involvement within the latest capturing that left Khan wounded. But there’s zero proof for the declare. (The shooter, who was arrested, cited spiritual causes for the assault, although his motives usually are not solely clear.) In latest days, Khan tried so as to add gas to his feud with the navy by staging a major rally within the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Ultimately, although, he decided to call off a deliberate march on close by Islamabad, the capital, to keep away from inflicting “havoc,” he stated.

Khan’s makes an attempt to foment instability by stirring up battle with the military most likely serve his bigger aim of pushing for fresh elections this winter. Many politicians suppose that Khan is deliberately attempting to provoke a state of martial law as a result of he desires to turn out to be a political martyr to keep away from disqualification below corruption expenses. Khan himself said in a recent interview: “Let there be martial regulation, I’m not scared.”

Bajwa, the outgoing head of the military, simply gave a speech in which he affirmed that the navy will keep out of politics sooner or later. But the very fact stays that no subject is producing extra public dialogue and concern now than the function of the military. Satirically, it’s all due to Khan’s maneuverings.

If Khan, as he claims, really helps an apolitical function for the navy, he has my support. Remaining impartial would be the greatest problem for the brand new military chief. He should show that he’s not taking sides and that he’s no more highly effective than the parliament, which ought to be allowed to form the nation’s international coverage — particularly concerning Afghanistan and relations with India — with out interference. The brand new military chief ought to focus his efforts on the deteriorating law-and-order situation within the areas bordering Afghanistan, the place his troopers are coming below assault day by day.

However Pakistan’s state of political uncertainty doesn’t finish there. Now that his bid to dam the military chief appointment has failed, Khan has shocked everybody with a brand new transfer: He has introduced that the PTI will pull out of the provincial assemblies it controls. He has performed his ultimate card. Pakistanis are bracing for what occurs subsequent.

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