The mother of current crisis in Pakistan is Succession Plan -2035. It is strange though, that the originators of the succession plan - 2035 have turned against its implementation. What is this plan? The plan was to put pliable and favourable persons in all three wings of governance, i.e. army, Government and judiciary till 2035 , thus ensuring army’s control over Pakistan for ever. To understand this, one got to go back into Pakistan’s history.
Right from its inception, Pakistan has been under the tight control of Pakistan Army. Some times, it directly ruled through Martial Law and some other time it has indirectly ruled through its political stooges. It is no doubts that important political leaders of Pakistan and their political outfits were born at the behest of military, whether it was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif or even Imran Khan. No wonder a general refrain about Pakistan army is that while other countries have their armies; Pakistan army owned a country.
The current crisis in Pakistan owe their origin to year 2010, when Army Chief , General Ashfaque Pervez Kiani and his DG ISI, Lt Gen. Shuza Pasha, adopted Imran Khan and thought about installing him in the highest political office. The reason was that its earlier proteges, Bhutto Family and Nawaz Sharif family had begun to adopt independent line. In fact, Nawaz Sharif even had the audacity to sack an Army Chief, General Pervez Mushareff in October 1999. But he paid the price by being over thrown by the army in a military Coup on 12 October 1999.
The case of Bhutto family is no better. It may be noted that former PM (Prime Minister) Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on 30 November 2008. Her party, PPP (People’s Party of Pakistan) had swung to power in 2008 Elections. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari became President of Pakistan. Relations between Zardari and Army began to deteriorate after killing of Osama Bin Laden (OBL) by USA on 01/02 May 2011 at Abbotabad, near Kakul Military Academy of Pakistan. Army suspected that OBL hideout in Abbotabad might have been leaked out by President Asif Ali Zardari, through Pakistani Ambassador to USA, Hasan Haqqani.
Worried about likely overthrow by the army, allegedly, a secret memorandum was sent by the Pakistan’s president through Hasan Haqqani to US authorities to intervene and prevent the overthrow. This affair is known as 'Memo Gate' affair. Though Zardari and his Government survived but Hasan Haqqani had to face army’s wrath and he is a fugitive in USA and a strong critic of Pakistan army. According to him, Pakistan army controls Pakistan because of its disproportionate size to its security needs. In the division of assets, in 1947, for 19 percent geographical assets of British India, Pakistan had got 33% Army assets. This is what Hasan Haqqani identifies as the cause of Pakistan’s domination by army, over the last 75 years.
Anyway, in 2011-2012, Pakistan army headed by General Ashfaque Kiani, decided to marginalise Bhutto and Sharif families in Pakistan politics. And as a counterweight to both the parties, PTI (Pakistan Tehreekh-e- Insaaf) was conceived with Imran Khan as its head. The choice of Imran Khan was because of his nation wide popularity, as a cricketer, and an iconic image in the illiterate and poor masses. The plan was to not only install him as head of the Government but keep him there for 10-15 years.
Army, as revealed by Imran Khan now, told him repeatedly that Bhutto and Sharif families were corrupt and they had purchased large properties in London and Dubai. Through this brainwashing, he not only developed a dislike for them but was full of hatred. However, in the general elections in 2013, Imran Khan and his party, PTI got a drubbing and Nawaz Sharif had swung to power with 2/3rd majority. It was a dangerous situation for the army because of his anti-army stance.
In order to discredit Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan army began to manipulate through media and Judiciary. It found a willing partner in Sakib Nissar, Chief Justice of Pakistan. Media was also manipulated by planted stories of corruption of Nawaz Sharif and his family. At one time, DG ISI, Lt Gen Zeharul Islam, directly asked Nawaz Sharif to resign. Nawaz refused to oblige army.
Finally, through a manipulated JIT (Joint Investigation Team), under supervision of SC of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif was accused of corrupt practice, called 'Ikkamma' not revealing information regarding his not taking salary as an employee, from his son’s company in Dubai. Interestingly, the JIT did not find anything against him in 'Panama Paper' but 'Ikkamma' charges were slapped on him. Trial judge was arm twisted to hold Nawaz Guilty and thus be sentenced. Accordingly, army got Nawaz Sharif ousted in July 2017, through a judicial coup. This is how stage was cleared for Imran Khan’s rise to power.
In 2016, General Qamar Javed Bajwa had become Army Chief and he had begun implementation of 'Plan -2035', which sought not only favourable Generals as Army Chiefs and pliable judges as Chief Justices of Pakistan but also consolidating Imran Khan’s position as PM for minimum 10 years. A meticulous 'succession plan' was worked out for all three institutes, with army as the pivot.
Thus, in the 2018, rigged General elections, Imran Khan’s Party, PTI was pushed to power, with Imran Khan as PM. Succession Plan-2035 had a good start. Army, Judiciary and Imran Khan were all on 'one Page'. Imran Khan could not have a better beginning.
Lay out of the start of Succession plan in August 2018 was like this: Imran Khan was the Executive head as PM ; General Qamar Javed Bajwa was the Chief of Army and Justice Sakib Nissar was the Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme court. A harmonious relationship existed but for a small hiccup. And this hiccup was to have a 'butterfly effect' later. The, 'butterfly effect' implies that a small innocuous event later turning out to be causing a major upheaval and change the game.
And this hiccup was, then DG ISI, Lt Gen Saeed Asim Munir, who was to later become Army Chief and put a spoke in the wheel of Succession Plan-2035. He is known to be extremely honest, unlike other Pakistani Generals and a devoted religious person. What more he was not from a regular miltary academy at Kakul. To say the least, he was reputed to be intolerant towards wrong-doings against the law by anyone.
What had happened that, as DG ISI, he had got some information that Bushra Bibi, third wife of Imran Khan, also called Pinki Peerni, was indulging in corrupt practices and taking expensive gifts from Businessmen for favourable services rendered by her. As was his reputation, Lt Gen Saeed Asim Munir walked up to Imran Khan and apprised him. This alerted Imran Khan because he himself had indulged in some malpractices, such as in the case of a deal with Businessman, Malik Riyaz. Immediately, Imran Khan asked Gen QJ Bajwa to replace DG ISI Lt Gen Asim Munir, who was posted out to a most insignificant post and spent 4.5 years in listless posts.
New DG ISI was Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, who became blue eyed of Imran Khan. He manipulated everything for him. With his help, Imran Khan started fixing his political opponents. Most of the leaders of PML-N and PPP were sent to jail through NAB (National Accountability Bureau). NAB law allowed these persons to be kept in jails without trial for 90 days. False cases were registered against most of the leaders. Some say NAB chairman, Justice Javed Iqbal was blackmailed by Imran Khan to do this.
This activity of jailing political opponents was carried out for almost three and half years. During this period, inflation sky rocketed. Daily use of items, such as vegetables, food products, electricity and gas became out of reach of the common man. Dollar became very very expensive. There was general frustration and people began to blame army for installing such an incompetent man. His incompetence and failure to deliver spoiled army’s reputation .
By February 2021, Army who had been on 'one page' with Imran decided to go 'Neutral'. In the bargain, Army Chief wanted to change DG ISI , Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, who was Imran’s right hand man. It is said that Imran wanted to make him next Army Chief after Bajwa. Imran, therefore was not keen to replace him.
Thus, a confrontation began between General Bajwa and Imran Khan. Ultimately in November 2021, Faiz Hameed was changed but Army decided to do away with Imran Khan. He was deposed through a 'No confidence Motion' by united opposition in April 2022. Imran Khan blamed Gen Bajwa for his deposition and he called him names, too.
While, army had distanced itself from Imran, judiciary was still with him. Imran’s misrule for three and a half years had created such poor conditions that prices were not under control and the government of Shehbaj sharif got discredited. Imran Khan cleverly turned the tide in his favour and his youth brigade became a force to be reckoned with . Afghanistan situation had earlier helped him exploit anti- US sentiments of the people. It was just a ploy otherwise he was known as 'wrecker - in - Chief' of CPEC. His outwardly anti - American stance further boosted his domestic image because Gen Bajwa and his predecessors were known to be close to USA.
Then, scene shifted to Gen QJ Bajwa’s retirement in November 2022. Imran Khan wanted immediate elections so that he could appoint a man of his choice as next army Chief. Certainly, he wanted Lt Gen Faiz Hameed. But ironically, Lt Gen Asim Munir was the senior most. The government of Shebaj Sharif did not want to give this opportunity to Imran Khan. So elections were not held and Asim Munir was appointed Army Chief in November 2022. Though current army chief was not favouring Imran Khan, but some elements within army and judiciary were still favouring him. Imran Khan has also tried to assure Gen Munir that he would not sack him if he came to power, after elections. This he had done through an interview to a BBC correspondent on 12 May 2023. But Gen Munir has not bought the bait.
Looking at his popularity amongst the youth, immediate elections before September 2023 were desirable for succession plan -2035 to succeed. In September 2023, not only, Chief Justice Umar Ata Baundiyal will retire but also three to four Generals will retire , who still support Imran Khan. Besides, President, Arif Alvi, who has been behaving more like a PTI worker, will also retire. Thus, Imran’s support system will go and with it will go Plan-2035.
Deadly mayhem that followed in Pakistan, after the arrest of Imran Khan on 09 May 2023, was to intimidate the government to announce elections, before September 2023. The government of Shehbaj Sharif wanted elections on 08 October 2023. Thus, the real cause of crisis is the holding of elections before or after September 2023 which will decide whether Plan -2035 can be implemented or not.
It seems the violence and riots on 09/10 May 2023, has put the Imran Khan on the defensive. But you never know because he is backed up by USA while Gen Asim Munir has No interest in USA. He is being backed up by China. Who will succeed or what happens to Pakistan would be decided by the future events.
(Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected])
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')
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