Pakistan is surely heading towards chaos and uncertainty. This was more than visible on May 15 when ruling dispensation’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), led his Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUl-F) cadres to an unruly march encouraging them to scale the boundaries of Supreme Court (SC) in an apparent display of organizational capabilities and show of strength. This also was obviously to counter the growing popularity of former Prime Minister Imran Khan who of late has been in the news for taking on the judiciary, security establishment and the military hands on as part of a frontal assault targeting the government machinery. This gives rise to possibilities of Imran Khan getting his noose tightened for being arrested and even tried for treason and attempts to subvert the government. The ongoing developments, therefore, are entering into a dramatic mode with suspense and perplexity.
In this context, it is important to discuss threadbare the fresh occurrences in Pakistan starting with the conviction and subsequent arrest of former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan leading to a slew of problems landing the country into a very complexsituation.It may be recapitulated that Imran Khan was found guilty for corruption in the Al-Qadir Trust and Toshakhana cases and his arrest, as seen from the images, confirmed that the country was, and is in a panic mode.
Contrary to his supremacist image, in a dramatic and surprising move (May 13) in a video address to the nation,Imran blamed the the then Pakistani establishment for the excesses committed on the Bengalis leading to its independence and creation of Bangladesh and also claimed to be present in Dhaka around at that critical juncture where he had gone to play an “under nineteen” cricket match and the aircraft that flew him to Pakistan was the last one from Dhaka before the liberation struggle related happenings unfolded in 1971. However, it is intriguing to note the timing of his video message strangely coinciding with Imran occupying the centerstage in the Pakistan happenings. Is he insinuating the Baloch separatist trend surfacing in Pakistan or is he trying to earn the sympathy of the Pakistani masses in general to isolate the military which is now his principal foe ?This remains elusive.
Going by the ongoing developments, it appears also likely that Pakistan Embroiled with chaos and panic, stands divided affecting all the institutions. For example, the army is sharply polarized on the question of handling Imran Khan before and after his arrest.Further, the judiciary is split with the Chief Justice of Pakistan clearly favoring Imran Khan while many others are against him. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is equally afflicted with groupism as Imran Khan had been consistent in his attacks naming a serving Major General for allegedly plotting to kill him. Interestingly, the Corps Commander’s house in Lahore (also Jinnah House) was vandalized(May 9) and now the Army Chief wants action against the perpetrators of the vandalism and plunderers but at the same time there are reports that a section of middle level army officers did not comply orders to stop the loot implying that they were in support of Imran and his coterie. So, the judiciary, the Armed Forces, the ISI and the political dispensation are markedly divided in their approach in handling of Imran Khan and prevailing crisis and this is indeed a matter of concern.
Crucially, many analysts are also not shying away from asserting that Pakistan is undergoing a civil strife even on the lines of the recent divide in the Sudanese armed forces. In sum, as the country descends into chaos,it looks to be in the grip of extreme uncertainty and anything may erupt any time causing consequences of extreme nature which even the military may find it difficult to handle. These developments merit a close watch as the military, which has always been calling the shots in the past, isnow looking indecisive. Similarly, the political dispensation under Prime Minister Shebhaz Sharif, seems clueless to direct the country to salvage the situation with President and the Chief Justice are currently on one side and Shebhaz’s elder brother Nawaz Sharif who is ruling by proxy, in London, is also at a loss to address the ongoing problems. The events are happening at a rapid pace with each incident overtaking the other amid reports of the Army trying to close it’s ranks to teach Imran a lesson. Such punitive actions have been an integral part of the Pakistani military history all along.However, what is written today may stand out of date by the time this piece hits the press.
Shantanu Mukharji is a
retired IPS officer and a
former National Security
Advisor in Mauritius.