Pakistan is in the grip of a catastrophic tsunami, called, Imran Khan. A question arises if it can survive the consequences of political madness unleashed by Imran Khan (IK). The arrest of IK led to a nation wide mayhem. He has been released at the behest of Supreme Court, after 72 hours, but the political battle goes on.
The intensity of the political turmoil was so much that it shook the roots of its powerful army too. Corps commander’s house in Lahore was ransacked. People took away house hold items as trophies. Corps Commander’s uniform was also taken away and worn by IK’s political goons. Reports are now emerging that Corps Commander, Lt Gen. Salman Ghani was present in the house in civil clothes with his family, when the political goons attacked the house.
There can be no disgrace worst than this for the Pakistan Army. A video shows Gen Salman Ghani pleading with the arsonists. Inaction by army is now being questioned by Army Chief, so as to know what was Lt Gen. Salman Ghani, in Civil clothes, doing at home, when at 4 PM, he should have been at his office to tackle such a grave situation developing ? His intentions and conduct have come under the scanner. Ghani has been removed from command and an Inquiry has been ordered against him. Allegedly, he and his family were silent supporters of IK.
Lahore incident was not an isolated one. Army installations in Islamabad , Mianwali , Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta were attacked too. During all this chaos, army and its Generals were shown as helpless onlookers. Some say that such an attack could not have been possible without inside help. Accordingly, army authorities, as alleged, have arrested some 80 officers and men. People ask, if this was the army, who would defend Pakistan, who could not defend themselves? No wonder, DG ISPR of Pakistan had to tweet that what enemy could not do for last 75 years, it has been done by a group of goons of a political outfit.
How was it possible that Pakistan army became a spineless wonder when PTI goons went on the rampage ? Non-interference in politics might be a good principle but its refusal to act in self defence, shows that there was something seriously wrong with its inner structure ? Reports are now coming out that there were divisions within the army.
It is important to note that Corps Commanders body of Pakistan army was the most powerful decision making limb. It is a conglomerate of Nine Corps commanders. Any major difference of opinion in this body can make army Chief’s functioning uncomfortable. It is alleged that there were 6-7 Senior officers/ Corps commanders who were discretely supporting Imran Khan. In fact some of them were not even happy with General Asim Hafiz Munir’s elevation as army Chief.
Accusing fingers were being raised at some senior commanders at Lahore (Lt Gen Salman Fayaz Ghani), Quetta (Lt Gen Asif Ghafoor) Peshawar (Lt Gen Sardar Hasan Azahar Hayat Khan), Bahawalpur (Lt Gen Shakir Mehmood Malik), ex Coros Commander Rawalpindi and Chief of Logistics Staff (Lt Gen Numan Zakariya) and Adjutant General Pakistan Army (Lt Gen Asim Malik). It is alleged that Army Chief Gen Munir was contemplating to shift from these key appointments to insignificant posts. Rumour is that they had covertly supported IK and thus it led to his release by SC (Supreme Court) on 12 May, 2023.
The conduct of Supreme Court (SC), led by Chief Justice, A Baundiyal, was unlike a supreme body of judiciary. It is no doubts that Chief Justice of Pakistan had a covert support of these senior army officers that they openly defied all tenets of jurisprudence to favour IK, who had serious charges of financial misappropriation as Prime Minister. The words like, 'we are pleased to see you' uttered to IK by Chief Justice, (CJP) showed where he stood. Irony is that IK refused to accept CJP’s suggestion to condemn violence and arson by his workers. IK’s arrogance was further evident when he threatened the court that violence would be repeated, if he were arrested again. Accordingly , IK was given bail for all kinds of cases against him —- a blanket bail.
Most analysts believe that such an action by SC or its judges was not possible, if there was no support from powerful body of corps commanders. I have already pointed out the likely suspects. Some say, the support was being manipulated by an ex-ISI Chief, Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, who was a close confidant of IK. He was a competitor for the post of Army Chief after Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s retirement. Some talk of a secret plan, Called Plan-2035, for favourable CJPs and Army Chiefs till the year 2035. Present CJP is touted to get an extension of three years after September 2023, if IK becomes Prime Minister after the elections.
The current turmoil in Pakistan is for the implementation of proposed Plan- 2035. In a recent interview on 12 May 2023, IK in his interview to a foreign journalist, had blamed Army Chief, Gen Asim Hafiz Munir for his arrest . His contention is that Gen Munir was apprehensive of his removal , if IK comes to power post fresh elections. But this is not a true story. There is more to it.
IK has been covertly opposing Asim Munir’s elevation as army Chief. So much so that he had offered an unlimited extension to outgoing Army Chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, in November 2022. But extension to Bajwa was not acceptable to current Government of Shehbaj Sharif. It is alleged that Asim Munir was actually privy to IK’s acts of dishonesty. This is why he was opposing Asim Munir and accusing him of his arrest.
It is alleged in some quarters that IK tried to settle issue with Gen Munir by seeking a meeting with him. But request was turned down by him . The animosity , therefore is equally strong on both sides. Story goes back to August 2018, when IK was made Prime Minister by army support through a rigged elections. At that time Gen Asim Munir was DG ISI. It is a known fact that DG ISI directly reports to Prime Minister, though he is from army. ISI chief keeps a vigil on internal and external events.
It is said that one day, Lt Gen Asim Munir reported to IK that his wife (third wife), Bushra Bibi was indulging in malpractices. And taking bribes of diamonds and gold from businessmen in return of official favour. IK was stunned, but he did not say anything to him. He approached then army Chief to have him replaced. He was unceremoniously removed and Lt Faiz Hamid became DG ISI.
What is going on in Pakistan is the war between Army Chief and PTI, Chairman for the implementation or non - implementation of Plan- 2035. Whole issue revolves around holding of elections before 30 September 2023. It is by this time CJP would retire; current President will go home. What is more relevant is the fact that 3-4 Generals of Pak army, covertly supporting IK, would also retire. This would allow General Asim Munir to consolidate his hold over the army. Thus, non - holding of elections before mid September puts a spoke in the implementation of Plan- 2035. It was to scuttle this plan that IK Government was voted out in April 2022.
When to hold elections is the key issue. This is the cause of real fight. If it continues, it will lead to a civil war within Pakistan. Political instability, along with worsening economic conditions and dangerous internal security situation, point towards impending collapse. But it might not be imminent. It is subject to how future events unfold. But the battle lines are drawn between two sides, represented by PTI and PDM , respectively. CJP on side of PTI and Army Chief with PDM are the two cheer leaders of two opposing parties.
Maulana Fazal ur-Rehman, chairman PDM, has announced a Dharna of SC on 16 May 2023 to protest against conduct of CJP. He has warned that his workers would meet stick with stick ; slap with a slap and violence with violence. Should the government and army refuse to come to rescue of SC, a dangerous clash will take place. Add to this political conflict, the growing insurgency in Balochistan. Situation on Afghanistan Border is not friendly. KPK has a sympathy with IK. It will blow up, if IK is being sidelined.
Such a Multi - pronged attack on the polity does not augur well for Pakistan as a nation. Deteriorating economic situation will further add to the woes of the people. IMF is not responding as desired. China would stay away, if prospects of IK storming to power remain positive. However in the long run, damage done to its army, would tell upon the political health of Pakistan. If Pakistan collapses, the crown of blame would go to IK.
(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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