Battle For Pakistan 2007-2019: Pak-US Ties and Civil-Military Relations

Shuja Nawaz's "The Battle For Pakistan: The Bitter Friendship and a Tough Neighborhood" looks at key events of the last decade that have characterized US-Pakistan ties and civil-military relations in Pakistan.  One of the biggest developments in the period covered by Shuja Nawaz's book is the rise of Narendra Modi and the Hindu Nationalists in India. His book is a well-written treatise but it is strangely silent on the implications of this major development for South Asia region and the world.

Author Shuja Nawaz

US Raid in Abbottabad:

On May 2, 2011, US commandos raided a house in Pakistani city of Abbottabad and killed Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden. There are many stories about who led the Americans to Bin Laden's hideout. The story that Shuja Nawaz appears to confirm is the one about ex Pakistani spy Lt Col Iqbal Saeed Khan walking into the US Embassy in Islamabad to tell the CIA station chief the exact location of Bin Laden. This spy was apparently well rewarded for it. He now lives in San Diego, California where he owns a multi-million dollar home and drives a BMW convertible.

“Col. Saeed, who ran a security firm in Islamabad, may have been responsible for providing logistic and surveillance assistance to the Americans in tracking and locating movements related to what turned out to the final lair of bin Laden in Abbottabad,” says Shuja Nawaz in his book. “Col. Saeed’s office in Abbottabad is reported to have been used as a listening and staging post. He is reported to have been recruited by Lt. Col. Hafeez, his predecessor at the helm of the 408 Intelligence battalion, who had been hired by the U.S., and according to one report, was even in the U.S., and that CIA Director George Tenet once brought him to a meeting with Gen. Kayani,” it adds.

Imran Khan's 2014 Dharna (Sit-in):

Shuja Nawaz confirms what was widely reported by Pakistani media in 2014: Pakistan ISI was behind Imran Khan's Islamabad dharna. He cites US Ambassador Richard Olson as his source. Olson said the following in a January 2017 interview with the author:

"We received information that Zahir [-ul-Islam, the DG-ISI] was mobilizing for a coup in September of 2014. [Army chief] Raheel [Sharif] blocked it by, in effect, removing Zahir, by announcing his successor...[Zahir] was talking to the corps commanders and was talking to like-minded officers....He was prepared to do it and had the chief been willing, even tacitly, it would have happened. But the chief was not willing, so it didn't happen."

Pakistan Military Dominance:

Shuja Nawaz argues in the book that "the armed forces, and in particular the army, continue to dominate decision making in Pakistan" in spite of the fact "the constitution of Pakistan established civilian supremacy". He explains that it is "largely because of its (army's) experience in running the country through successive military regimes and, to some extent, by the inability of civilian regimes to exhibit the political vision and will necessary to exert their constitutional control over the military".

Going back to the 1970s, Shuja Nawaz says in his book:

"The elder Bhutto (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) had wished to cut the military down to size, demoting the commanders-in-chief of the services to chiefs-of-staff. But, he failed to understand that their power stemmed from their disciplined and organized institutions, while the political party that he headed, not unlike other political parties, tended to be fractured and weak, especially on governance.....family rule was the order of the day. Civilian leaders failed to empower the people who elected them time and again, and they failed to deliver on the promise of economic development."

Shuja Nawaz's Silence on Rise of Hindutva:

The biggest development in the period covered by Shuja Nawaz's book is the rise of Narendra Modi and the Hindu Nationalists in India. His book is strangely silent on the implications of this development for South Asia region and the world.

Clearly, Nawaz did not foresee what has happened in India and Indian Occupied Kashmir with the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution and the passage of highly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act. Nor did he see Modi's dangerous gambit with attack on Balakot in Pakistan. The Indian action drew strong Pakistani response with Pakistan Air Force crossing the Line of Control in Kashmir and shooting down two Indian fighter jets.  Pakistan also captured an Indian fighter pilot shot down down in Azad Kashmir. It was Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's deft handling of the regional crisis that prevented further escalation into a full-blown India-Pakistan war that could have gone nuclear.

Summary:

"The Battle For Pakistan" by Shuja Nawaz covers the period from 2007 when President Musharraf fired former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to the beginning of 2019 before Balakot attack by Indian Air Force. The book is strangely silent on the implications of far-right Indian Prime Minister Modi's rise for South Asia region and the world.  Most of the book is devoted to discussion of US raid on Osama Bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, Salala incident that took the lives of 24 Pakistani soldiers, Memogate that led to Husain Haqqani's ouster, Dawn Leaks incident that soured relations between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military and Pakistan Army operations to defeat Pakistani Taliban. The author appears to confirm stories about an ex ISI colonel helping CIA find Bin Laden and Pakistan ISI's instigation Imran Khan's 2014 Islamabad  dharna (sit-in). One of the biggest developments in the period covered by Shuja Nawaz's book is the rise of Narendra Modi and the Hindu Nationalists in India. His book is strangely silent on the implications of this development for South Asia region and the world.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

India: A Paper Elephant?

Modi's Hindutva

Imran Khan's 2014 Dharna in Islamabad

Seeing Bin Laden's Killing in Wider Perspective

Top US CIA Agent on Pakistan ISI 

Shuja Nawaz on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Ownership of Appliances and Vehicles in Pakistan

CPEC Transforming Pakistan

Pakistan's $20 Billion Tourism Industry Boom

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Views: 274

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 8, 2020 at 10:24am

#Pakistan sees #FTA with #China, Belt and Road as path to recovery. #CPEC has entered a new phase, focusing not only on #energy and #infrastructure but also #industrialization and #socioeconomic development, and #modernization of #agriculture and #tourism https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/Interview/Pakistan-sees-FTA-...

On Jan. 1, the second phase of the Pakistan-China free trade agreement kicked-off. According to the minister, the first phase "resulted in a huge trade deficit in Pakistan," but the country recognized the need to correct the problem. "Under [the second phase], we can export 313 new items -- especially textile, surgical instruments, sportswear and agricultural products -- to China with zero duties."

Pakistan expects the new phase of the FTA will increase exports by $500 million to $600 million.

The 38-year-old minister noted other bright spots in the economy, saying that "tax revenues in July-November 2019 rose 17% from last year," driving down the current-account deficit by 73% in the same period.

Continuing on the upbeat note, Azhar said that Pakistan rose in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business ranking to 108th, up 28 places from last year. He also pointed out that foreign portfolio investment has returned after three years, and that the benchmark stock index Karachi Stock Exchange 100, rallied 11,000 points in five months, hitting the 40,000 mark.

Furthermore, ratings agency Moody's upgraded Pakistan's outlook in December 2019 from Negative to Stable, based on a positive evaluation of policy changes and improvement in the country's balance of payments.

"The Pakistani economy has been stabilizing since last year," Azhar said. "Once we've completed stabilization, then we'll shift gears and enter a higher growth phase from [fiscal 2021]. I think we're out of the economic crisis."

Regarding GDP growth next year, the minister said it "depends on whether inflation and interest rates come down, but it will be certainly higher than the current fiscal year."

However, Pakistan is not yet out of the woods. Retail inflation in November was 12.7%. In addition, due to servicing a $6 billion bailout package from the IMF, the country had to hike gas and power tariffs. Inflationary pressure remains high.

"Most of the inflation is in food, and is seasonal. 20% to 25% of our economy is based on agriculture," Azhar explained, adding that suspending trade with India affected food prices. To reverse the trend, the minister stated that "our cabinet is already considering to lift the import embargo on medicines and essential items from India."

Pakistan also needs to increase tax revenues, partly by improving domestic tax collection. "Despite [declining] imports, tax collection is rising," he said. "If you look at domestic tax collection, it's growing at close to 25% to 30%."

The minister added that the government is becoming more aggressive in its approach. "We're using the latest technologies to track the flow of money and [guarding against] smuggling."

Pakistan's industry lobbies are chiming in with more demands for business-friendly policies to promote investment. They also want custom duties lowered and more government incentives. Last December, import duties on cotton were slashed to help the country's textile industry. In addition, Azhar has promised to increase lending to small and medium-sized enterprises, which contribute almost 40% to Pakistan's GDP.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 13, 2020 at 8:33am
Op Ed by Daniel Runde, Center for Strategic and International Studies
 

Without #Afghanistan, #Pakistan and #UnitedStates need a new basis for relationship. Under this arrangement, "We would see Pakistan not as a problem to be managed but also as an opportunity as a potential South Asian economic tiger." #economy #trade #FDI https://thehill.com/opinion/international/477903-without-afghanista...

Pakistan’s population is in the same league as other democracies such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Nigeria. The United States has security ties with each of these democracies, but it also has economic ties, people-to-people ties, and ties in technology, education, and innovation. We should have similarly broad and deep relations with Pakistan.

Although there are valid criticisms in the United States of Pakistan, we need to engage the country in a more rounded way. A broader, more comprehensive engagement would likely require Pakistan to also have a more comprehensive vision of its own role in the world — one also less-viewed through the prism of a single country, namely, India. Pakistan places a disproportionate lens on its military and defense, it spent 4 percent of its GDP on the military in 2018. In contrast, Pakistan only spent 2.9 percent of GDP on education in 2017.


Pakistan’s Potential

Pakistan could become another Argentina or Ukraine in terms of agricultural potential. Agriculture accounts for 20 percent of Pakistan’s GDP and employs 43 percent of its workforce. Agriculture also plays a huge role in Pakistan’s exports, accounting for about 80 percent. But Pakistan’s agricultural productivity currently only ranges between 29-52 percent and could be much higher, with broader use of improved seeds and farming techniques.

Pakistan also has very significant tourism potential. It is best known for its ancient historical and religiously significant buildings, such as the Madshahi and Grand Jamia Mosque. It also has immense natural beauty, such as the Hunza Valley and Desoi National Park. However, Pakistan is one of the least competitive countries in South Asia in regard to travel. Pakistan had 1.7 million visitors in 2017, compared to Sri Lanka’s 2.3 million and Jordan’s 4.2 million. Introducing a recent e-visa program was a great start to opening the doors for tourism but much more needs to be done.

Pakistan has significant hydropower potential but has only developed one-tenth of its 60,000 MW potential. If this resource were properly tapped, it could play a huge role in tackling the power deficit in Pakistan and the broader region.

What would a reframed relationship with Pakistan look like?

On the U.S. side a reframed relationship would require a broader and larger set of stakeholders. We would see Pakistan not as a problem to be managed but also as an opportunity as a potential South Asian economic tiger.

Most members of congress who had an interest in Pakistan — especially outside of the military relationship — have left politics, so a new coalition in Congress needs to be rebuilt. The relationship is poisoned by disappointments, accusations, fear and distrust.

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Education is also key to reframing the relationship. Student exchange programs are beneficial in improving relations between countries. In 2016, the last year for which we could find numbers, there was an 8.5 percent increase in the number of Pakistani students studying in the United States — which is still just 11,000 Pakistani students. That is half of the 22,000 Pakistani students studying in China.

The United States must revisit its foreign aid program to support Pakistan in reaching its full potential. From recent informal conversations, it’s clear that neither OPIC, now the USDFC, nor EXIM Bank have sent a mission to Pakistan for many years. That needs to change. Our foreign aid has dropped drastically and is at levels far below what’s required, given the challenges. Creating a new relationship could take as a long as a decade but must begin now.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 23, 2020 at 6:56pm

How Pakistan’s Politicians Help the Military
Every time civilian politicians bend laws to accommodate the generals, they damage long-term prospects for democracy.

By Aqil Shah

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/opinion/pakistan-politicians-mil...

Since its foundation in 1947, Pakistan has spent more than three decades under military rule. Even when out of power, the military has exerted behind-the-scenes influence to maintain its firm grip on politics and national security. Establishing democratic institutions, including civilian control of the military, has thus been an arduous process riddled with uncertainty, backsliding and reversal.

The military has often found civilian politicians willing to do its bidding. Every time civilian politicians bend laws to accommodate the uniformed autocrats, they undermine the trust of the people, damage the long-term prospects for democracy and further enhance the military’s power.

On Aug. 19, Prime Minister Imran Khan extended the term of Gen. Qamar Bajwa, the chief of the country’s army, by three more years. General Bajwa was supposed to retire in November, but the decision was made in view of the “regional security environment.”

Two days before General Bajwa’s extension was about to kick in, the Supreme Court of Pakistan considered a petition challenging it and suspended the extension. Eventually, the Supreme Court gave the general a six-month extension and ordered the government to get the Parliament of Pakistan to decide on such an extension and its duration.

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On Jan. 7, the Parliament hurriedly passed the legislation as the country’s main opposition parties voted in support of the law. They are the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People’s Party run by the slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s son Bilawal Bhutto, which have alleged that the 2018 elections which brought Mr. Khan to power were rigged by the military under General Bajwa.

The supporters of Mr. Sharif’s P.M.L.N., Mr. Bhutto’s P.P.P. and the country’s beleaguered civil society activists interpreted it as a stark betrayal of their apparent commitment to the democratic process. They seem particularly disappointed with Mr. Sharif, who has popularized the slogan, “vote ko izzat do” or “honor the ballot,” a thinly veiled rebuke to the military’s habitual political meddling.

Mr. Sharif stepped down as prime minister in 2017 after the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified him from holding public office after a corruption inquiry linked to the Panama Papers. Mr. Sharif was not named in the Panama leaks and there is no evidence that he abused public office for private gain, but the judges disqualified him for hiding assets, and therefore failing to being “honest,” a constitutional requirement for being a member of Parliament.

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Pakistan’s army has long been the ultimate arbiter of politics in the country, which has tilted the political playing field against its opponents with detrimental consequences for democracy. Politicians have turned to the military as a shortcut to power and their politically expedient knocks on the doors of the barracks have allowed the generals to divide and rule.

Mr. Sharif’s seemingly steely defiance of the military had raised hopes that Pakistan’s most popular opposition leader had learned his lesson. Democracy does not necessarily need principled democrats, but it does need determined political leaders who can rise to the occasion.

Even though democracy requires compromises and accommodation between authoritarians and democrats, politicians of all persuasions must commit to civilian supremacy as the only game in town.

Pakistan’s politicians have chosen to reward the military’s egregious violations of the sanctity of the vote, a principle they had sworn to stand by no matter what. Their abject betrayal of their own word augurs ill for the future of democracy in Pakistan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 15, 2021 at 9:36am

#US Joint Chiefs chairman General Milley was so fearful #Trump might spark a #nuclear war that he made secret calls to General Li, his #Chinese counterpart, to reassure him, new #WoodwardBook says. General Li remained rattled even after Milley's calls. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/14/peril-woodward-c...

‘Peril,’ by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, reveals that Gen. Mark A. Milley called his Chinese counterpart before the election and after Jan. 6 in a bid to avert armed conflict.

Twice in the final months of the Trump administration, the country’s top military officer was so fearful that the president’s actions might spark a war with China that he moved urgently to avert armed conflict.

In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.

One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that unseated President Donald Trump, and the other on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol siege carried out by his supporters in a quest to cancel the vote.

The first call was prompted by Milley’s review of intelligence suggesting the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack. That belief, the authors write, was based on tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea, and deepened by Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward China.


“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley told him. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

In the book’s account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they’d established through a backchannel. “General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”

Li took the chairman at his word, the authors write in the book, “Peril,” which is set to be released next week.

In the second call, placed to address Chinese fears about the events of Jan. 6, Li wasn’t as easily assuaged, even after Milley promised him, “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 2, 2022 at 8:06am

"Hands Were Tied, Blackmailed": Imran Khan's All-Out Attack On Pak Army
Imran Khan, who came to power in 2018, reportedly with the backing of the military, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament. He was replaced by PML-N's Shehbaz Sharif.

https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/imran-khan-attacks-pakistans-army-s...

In an unusual attack on Pakistan's military, ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan has admitted that his government was a "weak one" which was "blackmailed from everywhere" as the power was not with him and "everyone knows where that is".
Imran Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.

In an interview to Pakistan's Bol News on Wednesday, Imran Khan was asked to recall the events of the night of the no-confidence vote against him, who was issuing orders and who had impeded the cases against the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief said his government had been "weak" when it came to power and had to seek coalition partners, adding that if the same situation were to arise again, he would opt for re-elections and seek a majority government or none at all.

"Our hands were tied. We were blackmailed from everywhere. Power wasn't with us. Everyone knows where the power lies in Pakistan so we had to rely on them," the 69-year-old cricketer-turned-politician said, without elaborating any further who he was referring to.

Imran Khan, who came to power in 2018, reportedly with the backing of the military, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament. He was replaced by PML-N's Shehbaz Sharif.

He said it was imperative for the country to have a "strong army" due to the threat posed by the enemies but said there was also the need to strike a "balance" between having a strong army and a strong government.

"We relied on them all the time. They did a lot of good things too but they didn't do many things that should've been done. They have the power because they control institutions such as NAB (National Accountability Bureau), which wasn't in our control," he said.

The former Prime Minister said while his government had the responsibility, it did not have all the power and the authority.

The Pakistan Army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 73 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy. However, the army has continuously denied its involvement in politics.

According to experts, Imran Khan, who was ousted on April 10 after the National Assembly passed a no-confidence motion against him, had apparently lost support of the Army after he refused to endorse the appointment of Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum as the ISI spy agency chief last year. Finally, he agreed but it soured his ties with the Army.

During the interview, Imran Khan said, "No management works if I have responsibility but have no complete power and authority. A system works only when responsibility and authority are in one place."

Mr Khan said the current political situation was a problem for the country as well as the establishment.

"If the establishment doesn't make the right decisions then I can assure in writing that (before everyone else) they and the army will be destroyed because of what will become of the country if it goes bankrupt," he said.

"Pakistan is going towards a default. If that happens then which institution will be (the worst) hit? The army. After it is hit, what concession will be taken from us? Denuclearisation," Mr Khan said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 2, 2022 at 8:07am

"Hands Were Tied, Blackmailed": Imran Khan's All-Out Attack On Pak Army
Imran Khan, who came to power in 2018, reportedly with the backing of the military, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament. He was replaced by PML-N's Shehbaz Sharif.

https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/imran-khan-attacks-pakistans-army-s...


Imran Khan said that if Pakistan were to lose its nuclear deterrent capability, it would be fragmented into three pieces. "If the right decisions aren't made at this time then the country is going towards suicide," he warned.

Prodded further to share his thoughts on the night of the no-confidence vote, Imran Khan declined to go into details and said: "History never forgives anyone. Things come out. If you ask me, I won't go into details, but when history will be written then it'll be counted as such a night in which Pakistan and its institutions were damaged a lot."

"Those same institutions weakened Pakistan which gave it its foundation and strengthened it," he said.

Imran Khan said he had "clearly told the neutrals" that his government's economic performance, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, was nothing short of a "miracle".

"I told them if you do this and if this conspiracy (to remove my government) is successful then our economy will go down," he said.

Imran Khan said the country stood on the cusp of a "defining moment", calling it a "trial for the establishment". "Everyone knows they're the powerbrokers, so they're on trial. This is a trial of the judiciary and the Supreme Court (as well)."

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 5, 2022 at 1:55pm

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Monday took strong exception to the recent remarks by PTI Chairman Imran Khan regarding the appointment of the new army chief, saying that it was “aghast at the defamatory and uncalled for” statement about the institution’s senior leadership.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1708568

“Regrettably, an attempt has been made to discredit and undermine [the] senior leadership of [the] Pakistan Army at a time when the institution is laying lives for the security and safety of the people of Pakistan every day.

Senior politicians trying to stir controversies on the appointment of the chief of army staff (COAS), the procedure for which is well defined in the constitution, is most unfortunate and disappointing, the ISPR said.

It went on to say that the army’s senior leadership had a decades-long, impeccable and meritorious service to prove its patriotic and professional credentials beyond any doubt.

“Politicising the senior leadership of Pakistan Army and scandalising the process of selection of [the] COAS is neither in the interest of the state of Pakistan nor of the institution. Pakistan Army reiterates its commitment to uphold the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the statement concluded.

The development comes a day after Imran, at a rally in Faisalabad, alleged that the PPP and PML-N were opposing fresh elections, because they wanted to “appoint an army chief of their choice” in November to save their skin in corruption cases.

“They want to bring their own army chief…they are afraid that if a strong and patriotic army chief is appointed then he would ask them about the looted wealth,” the former prime minister said.

“They are sitting [in the government] because they want to bring in an army chief of their choice through joint efforts,” Imran claimed, adding that the army chief should be “appointed on merit … whoever is on the top of the merit list should be appointed” to head the institution.

COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who was appointed in 2016, is set to retire in the last week of November. The army chief’s appointment is meant to be for three years, but Gen Bajwa was given an additional three-year term in 2019 after a bit of political drama.


She said the press release was “of concern because it seems to have misunderstood what Imran said despite clarifications”. The ex-human rights minister maintained that the PTI chief had not criticised the military or its leadership in his Faisalabad speech.

PTI’s Asad Umar said the context of Imran’s statement had already been clarified. “There was never an intent to cause harm to the reputation of the institution or its senior leadership,” he said.

He went on to say that the party and its chief had always “fully appreciated” the professionalism and sacrifices of army personnel.

“The emphasis on upholding the principle of merit is consistent with the desire to protect the professionalism of the force which provides security to the nation,” he said.

PTI Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said the ISPR would not have felt the need to issue the press release if it had listened to what he had said in Islamabad earlier today.


In his press conference, Chaudhry had attempted to explain and defend Imran’s remarks.

Criticising the coalition government and its leaders, Chaudhry said Imran had meant that the decision to appoint the next COAS could not be left to the government since it lacked “political legitimacy”.

“We have raised questions on the legitimacy of the politicians who are making decisions,” Chaudhry said.

He added that the PTI felt the army should not be involved in the political process.

“There is no doubt about the patriotism of the army’s leadership. There can be no doubt or suspicion about it,” Chaudhry asserted.

Coalition govt slams Imran
Earlier today, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other coalition leaders castigated Imran for levelling “poisonous allegations” against the armed forces and “putting blots” on the appointment of the new army chief.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 21, 2022 at 7:02am

Pakistan’s Military Is Here To Stay
Imran Khan’s agitations won’t change how his country functions.
By Husain Haqqani


https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/10/20/imran-khan-pakistan-military-e...



Pakistani politics have always revolved around the country’s military. Civilian politicians compete for support while criticizing—or seeking covert help from—a ubiquitous security establishment. Since his ouster as prime minister last April, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has become the latest to challenge this system. But Khan’s polarizing rhetoric is only adding to Pakistan’s chaos—not marking the advent of a revolution.

The government elected after Khan’s removal via a no-confidence vote initially tolerated the former prime minister’s attacks on generals, judges, and political rivals in addition to his conspiracy theories about his ouster being the result of a U.S.-backed plot. Unlike previous civilian leaders who fell afoul of the military, Khan was not immediately arrested, charged with corruption, or disqualified from future elections by judicial fiat. But now, Khan and his close aides are beginning to face the wrath of the state apparatus. Both the security establishment and the civilian government seem to have realized that Khan’s populist influence will not diminish without prosecuting him and his associates.

On Oct. 12, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency charged Khan with violating laws barring foreign funding for political parties. Since Khan first ran for public office in 1997, he has raised funds for his Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party from foreigners and overseas Pakistanis, many of whom had donated to charities he started after retiring from cricket in 1992. Although some of this fundraising has likely always violated Pakistani law, prosecutors long held off disciplining Khan or his party because they enjoyed the establishment’s blessings.

Khan’s support base comprises middle-class urban Pakistanis disenchanted with the country’s two traditional political parties, the center-right Pakistan Muslim League (PML)—dominated since the 1980s by the family of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif—and the center-left Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), led by members of the family of late Prime Ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.

Prime ministers from both the PML and PPP have been ousted from office multiple times by the Pakistani military, which routinely influences Pakistan’s superior judiciary. Supreme Court judges then often provide legal cover for otherwise undemocratic and unconstitutional actions initiated by generals. The Supreme Court endorsed Pakistan’s four military coups in 1958, 1969, 1977, and 1999, as well as accepted the generals’ right to suspend the constitution under its so-called doctrine of necessity. On other occasions, the military orchestrated palace coups in 1990, 1993, and 1996, resulting in dismissal of elected prime ministers by the president and with the support of the Supreme Court. In 2012 and 2017, prime ministers were removed from office at the behest of the military through direct intervention by the Supreme Court. Together, the Pakistani military and judiciary have never allowed a PML or PPP prime minister to stay in office for the full five-year term of parliament.

Khan presented himself as the military-backed alternative to the PML and PPP’s perceived corrupt, dynastic politics. His populist rhetoric appealed to young middle-class Pakistanis as well as those who had been more comfortable during the country’s past periods of military rule than under its civilian democrats.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 21, 2022 at 7:03am

Pakistan’s Military Is Here To Stay
Imran Khan’s agitations won’t change how his country functions.
By Husain Haqqani


https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/10/20/imran-khan-pakistan-military-e...


Khan at first failed to get traction as a politician, losing all seats his party contested in the 1997 parliamentary elections. He managed to enter parliament in 2002 in elections organized by the military regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Only in 2013 did Khan’s party win a significant number of seats in parliament for the first time. In 2018, he finally translated his celebrity status into high political office with direct help from Pakistan’s intelligence services and the military. In that year’s elections, the PTI emerged as the single-largest party in the lower house of parliament, but it could not form a government without the support of smaller parties. The military overcame this last hurdle by advising three such groups to form a coalition with the PTI.

Khan’s ascent to the office of prime minister became possible because of a controversial Supreme Court ruling that disqualified Nawaz Sharif without trial as well as a spate of corruption cases hobbling most of Khan’s other opponents in the PML and PPP. To get to this point, the military had ensured favorable media coverage for Khan and his party, helped prosecute his opponents, and directed locally influential candidates to join the PTI. Opponents and foreign observers also alleged selective rigging on election day.

Those corruption cases against PML and PPP leaders failed to make much headway in trial courts and are currently being thrown out for lack of evidence. But Khan continued to rail against his opponents, telling his supporters that Pakistan was destined for greatness under his leadership. Like most populist leaders, however, he had no answers for Pakistan’s problems and governed poorly. Khan often addressed the nation on television and rallied his supporters with a mix of Islamist and nationalist grandiloquence. The military gradually lost faith in the former prime minister as Pakistan’s economy took a nosedive and its foreign relations suffered.

The value of the Pakistani rupee eroded after Khan reinstated fuel subsidies that had been eliminated as part of the country’s commitments under an International Monetary Fund program. Khan had managed to antagonize the leaders of China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates so much so that these traditionally friendly countries would not help Pakistan service its $126 billion in foreign debt. His open support for the Taliban and criticism of U.S. leaders and policy, meanwhile, left Pakistan with little support in the United States.

Ever the narcissist, Khan ran a one-man show­—shuffling his cabinet often and skipping sessions of parliament. He also displayed little respect for lawmakers or the generals who helped bring him to office. Meanwhile, Khan’s opponents peeled off support from his coalition and—once the military withdrew its backing by publicly declaring itself politically neutral—ousted him in the April no-confidence vote. Khan’s effort to nullify the vote by claiming that it was U.S.-backed regime change did not survive legal challenges.

Out of office, Khan has turned on his former benefactor, the military high command, claiming that Pakistan’s army chief ousted him to bring “traitors” back to power at the behest of the United States. Khan feels no need to offer evidence of his conspiracy-mongering because his followers have become a personality cult, willing to follow him to the gates of hell. But despite Khan’s vaunted popular support and vast social media presence, his promises to mobilize a revolution will most likely remain unfulfilled.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 21, 2022 at 7:04am

Pakistan’s Military Is Here To Stay
Imran Khan’s agitations won’t change how his country functions.
By Husain Haqqani


https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/10/20/imran-khan-pakistan-military-e...

Out of office, Khan has turned on his former benefactor, the military high command, claiming that Pakistan’s army chief ousted him to bring “traitors” back to power at the behest of the United States. Khan feels no need to offer evidence of his conspiracy-mongering because his followers have become a personality cult, willing to follow him to the gates of hell. But despite Khan’s vaunted popular support and vast social media presence, his promises to mobilize a revolution will most likely remain unfulfilled.

Pakistan has had popular leaders who challenged the military’s dominance on politics and policy before. They did not succeed in weakening this stranglehold—and Khan’s chances are no better. In railing against the military leadership, Khan is simply doing what Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif did before him. All three of them rose to power with the help of the military and then turned around to confront it.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif attracted huge crowds at rallies, yet their parties survived only through compromises with the Pakistan Army. However, unlike them, Khan’s opposition to the military’s role in Pakistani politics is not rooted in conviction. Bhutto and Sharif, as well as their supporters, firmly believed in democracy and civilian supremacy over the military rooted in Pakistan’s constitution; their collaboration with the military was strategic and did not reflect ideology. Khan and his supporters, by contrast, hope that the Islamist, anti-American elements of the military will intervene to help Khan return to power.

That is unlikely to happen. Pakistan’s military is not prone to factional divisions and remains unified despite Khan’s provocations. The former prime minister’s cult followers might believe he is the only patriotic and honest political leader in Pakistan, but the military seems to have moved on.

Unlike Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, or many other Pakistani politicians, Khan has never faced adversity in his career—so far. He has never faced criminal cases or gone to prison. Nor has he been banned from holding public office, appearing on television, or traveling—restrictions that others daring to take on Pakistan’s establishment have faced in the past. Khan may have a political future if he gets through the hardships that await him. He remains popular with his base and was recently able to win back most—though not all—of the parliamentary seats in recent by-elections on seats vacated by the PTI.

As Khan and others nurtured by Pakistan’s military establishment turn against it, some might be tempted to write the obituary of military dominance in the country’s politics. As someone who has advocated and fought for the supremacy of civilian rule and constitutional democracy in Pakistan for decades, I am not sure Khan’s agitation will truly change how Pakistan functions. The country is likely to witness some more chaos—rallies and media noise by Khan’s supporters, political disputes playing out in court, the specter of debt defaults, continuing inflation and erosion of the value of the Pakistani rupee, threats of violence by the Pakistani Taliban, and extreme political polarization—before the military steps in again, most likely indirectly, to restore order.

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