Pakistan on the Brink of Anarchy?
An senior air warrior and political observer who has the pulse of the region and can sense a change when it comes.
Pakistan was created in 1947 when the British divided the subcontinent. It was an arbitrary division as more Muslims were left in India than in the newly created state of Pakistan. This state in any case broke up in 1971 and proved the point that religion can never be a unifying force for a nation. The death of Mohammed Ali Jinnah was a watershed in the history of Pakistan as after his death Pakistan drifted into obscurantism and lack of focus.
Over the years successive rulers brought laws that were detrimental to society and economics. The focus also shifted from development to populist economic themes like socialism and nationalization and that sounded like the death knell of the Pakistan economy and state.
One of the destabilizing factors in Pakistan is the Army which has come to be known as the ESTABLISHMENT. After the coup by General Ayub Khan in 1958 the Army has called the shots right up to 2022. It decides who will govern the country and will be the prime minister. The Army decided that Nawaz Shariff needed to be removed as PM and he was removed and sentenced to 10 years in prison on corruption charges.
The army put Imran Khan in the chair but he patronized extremist thoughts and philosophy. He also failed on the economic front and Pakistan economy tanked. The rupee has slid to nearly 200 to a dollar and there's rampant inflation and Pakistan very soon will not be able to service its debts because it's foreign exchange reserves have touched rock bottom. In such a scenario Imran Khan was voted out of power, not with a little help and prodding from the United States and Shabaz Sharif the younger brother of Nawaz Shariff became the Prime Minister.
Unfortunately Shabaz Sharif has got no clue how to solve the economy and all he has been doing is jetting around to the West, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey looking for loans with the begging bowl. In the meantime the country is descending into chaos, ministers are being targeted with rockets and provinces are in open rebellion and terror groups are being legitimized.
These are bad signs, more so when a country is sitting on a pile of nuclear missiles.
A look at Pakistan will show the smallest province Khyber Pakhtoon, has become a big headache for the central authority. This is because Khyber Pakhtunvali is ruled by Imran Khan's party Tehrik-E- Insaf.
A new battleground opened when on Saturday, the province's transport minister's home was attacked. Rockets were fired by unidentified assailants into the minister's drawing-room which was partially damaged; fortunately, he was not at home. This is an example of the shape of things to come. It shows that political rivalry is no longer confined to parliament but has become like a street fight. It is pitting the state government against the central authority.
The chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunvali is in open rebellion and willing to test the limits of his authority and his latest threat is to deploy his police forces against the federal government of Pakistan. This is akin to a civil war. The center of the standoff is the former prime minister Imran Khan's ultimatum to Shabaz Sharif to hold snap elections in six days or else get ready to face more protests.
The deadline of six-day has ended and Sharif has made it clear that he has no intention of ordering any elections. The ball now is in Imran khan's court and one wonders what he will do. Does he organize another march to Islamabad or does he hold back?
Last week he chose the softer option and called off the long march. One reason was the army is not on the same page as Imran. The portend for the future is ominous, as Imran Khan's convoy entered Islamabad clashes broke out between cops and party workers. The Pakistan government also deployed the Army in Islamabad and this discouraged Imran Khan.
Suddenly Imran remembered the Supreme Court and is filing a petition. He wants the top court to protect his party workers and stop the police from cracking down on his supporters. The fact is many of the supporters of the Imran in this long march were armed with rifles and guns and Imran himself has admitted it.
There is also little doubt that at the moment Imran has a tremendous amount of support among the younger people all over Pakistan. With prices rising and jobs not available, many are looking to him as the magician who will bring change. They forget that in 3 1/2 years as Prime Minister he presided over the liquidation of the economy of Pakistan by shackling it with China.
Imran knows he is on a strong wicket with people's support and is going after everyone, including the army, the politicians, and now the Supreme Court. He says the present scenario is a trial of Pakistan's top court.
This is a dangerous situation for any country where an ousted leader has thousands of supporters ready to march on his command and chief ministers ready to rebel against central authority. This is a recipe for anarchy. Unfortunately in Pakistan anarchy means an opportunity for the army to take direct control of political affairs.
There have been developments and the Taliban Pakistan today announced an indefinite cease-fire with the central government. This sounds like a very big victory but there is more than the cease-fire. It is important to note that the negotiations were held in Kabul and the chief negotiator was this man Haqqani. He is friends with Pakistan's ISI, so this time he helped out but can the Taliban alone tame the TTP?.
The chances are it cannot, the Taliban are themselves grappling with multiple problems including attacks by the Islamic state, a rampant food crisis, international sanctions; so the Taliban's priority top priority is not the TTP but it is their own domestic crises. The TTP knows this, just look at the terms of today's ceasefire. Pakistan's government wanted the TTP to disband and lay down its arms but they refused.
Imran khan is serving up enough and brandishing conspiracy theories, on as well as arranging long marches. This basically sets the stage for extremist groups. In most countries, this would be a political crisis BUT in Pakistan, this is a global security threat as the USA and the west have realized that Pakistan remains the fountainhead of terrorist activity.
Pakistan is now like the witches' cauldron. There is a government that lacks popular support and there are wild accusations that it is hoisted by the Western powers, in particular, the USA. The army is bewildered because they supported Imran Khan but he destroyed the economy of the country, yet he remains a charismatic leader who's popular.
The present government cannot order elections because it will lose and Imran cannot accept the fact that he should be sitting out in the wilderness when he has popular support. All this brings out dire possibilities because there are terrorist groups in Pakistan out to destabilize the country.
The biggest Achilles' heel of Pakistan is the economy with runaway inflation. In addition, Pakistan does not have the foreign reserves to repay its debts, and even China is vary of Pakistan after the overtures the new government has made to the United States. The future for Pakistan is fraught with danger and there is a good chance that there may be no choice for the Pakistan army but to take direct control but that is not going to solve the problem because the army has been in power for almost 60 years and the net result is they lost half the country and brought the Pakistan economy to the bottom.
© 2022 MG Singh emge