There is no trick under the sun that the Pakistan military did not employ to ensure the elevation of Imran Khan as the prime minister. There is no villainy that the Military-Intelligence establishment of Pakistan spared in its bid to kill Nawaz Sharif politically. The military has invariably influenced elections since the inception of Pakistan. To that end it even engineered assassinations of Liaquat Ali (1951) Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (1979)and subsequently his daughter Benazir Bhutto (2007).
Curiously, the distance between the assassination of Liaquat and Zulfiqar’s hanging, which was very much a political assassination, was 28 years. The distance between Benazir’s assassination and her father’s hanging was also 28 years. Mystifyingly, both Liaquat and Benazir were assassinated at the same spot i.e. Rawalpindi’s Liaquat National Bagh. Another, commonality between Liaquat, Zulfiqar and Benazir is that they all studied at Oxford. Imran Khan too went to Oxford. Going by Pakistan’s pattern and murderous proclivities, two things weigh heavily on Imran’s political journey i.e. 28 years and Oxford.
Even by Pakistan Military’s own criminal past, the scheme to oust Nawaz and foist Imran was unabashedly—morally, constitutionally, democratically and nationalistically — murderous. In the process the Military has driven the death knell in all institutions in Pakistan. This time the ouster of Nawaz from PM’S chair was through judicial coup. The judiciary at behest of Military acquitted itself as a depraved institution. As per the directions of the judiciary personnel from the ISI and MI were part of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate charges of corruption against Nawaz Sharif. The PM of Pakistan was being treated, as though he was a terrorist. The
judiciary went further overboard when it debarred Nawaz Sharif from elections, forever. The judiciary then revealed its conspiratorial side when it also debarred him from heading the PML(N).
The elementary question therefore is as to why the Military is so paranoid about Nawaz Sharif? And why was Nawaz Sharif so exasperated with the Military? Certainly, having dealt with six army chiefs in his long political career, Nawaz understands the military to its bare-bones. He cannot forgive the Military for Kargil misadventure. After initiating the conflict, the coward military left it to Sharif to extricate Pakistan out of the international quagmire. Sharif was ignored in China and insulted by Clinton in the White House. Nothing new in Pakistan! This has been institutional wont of Pakistan Military — a Military that is not patriotic but incestuous, a Military that does not serve the country and its peoples, it is rather a Military that treats its citizens as jihadi industry so that its own industry flourishes.
The jihadi profile of Pakistan has reduced the Pakistanis and their country most hated in the world. The global watchdog on terrorist financing, FATF, has placed Pakistan on the grey list. Even Saudi Arabia and China did not support Pakistan in Feb 2018 meeting of FATF. Reports suggest that notwithstanding public posturing, Beijing is not happy with JuD and JeM and consider them to be long term threats. The UN Security Council’s consolidated list of terrorist individuals and entities includes 139 from Pakistan. Many of these jihadi entities like HuM, LeJ, LeT, Jamatul Ahrar, Sipah-e- Sahaba and AWSJ have either been politically mainstreamed or leveraged to ensure electoral ascendance of Imran Khan.
Such was the desperation to kill Nawaz Sharif politically that the Military did not hesitate to inject Jihadi poison into Barelvis who constitute 60 percent of population of Pakistan. The Barelvis follow the sub-continental synthesized Islam. Unlike Deobandis, they hold Peers and Mazars most sacred. Traditionally, they were unflinching supporters of PML(N) and Nawaz Sharif. Till recently, the Deobandis were menacingly overbearing on Barelvis. The Deobandis, ideologically close to Wahabis, are major contributors to global jihad.
Curiously but, after the assassination of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer (2011),who had criticized the blasphemy laws, the Barelvis began to get radicalized. The assassin, Mumtaz Qadri was hanged in 2016. A Barelvi mosque in Islamabad in the name of Qadri was built in Islamabad in 2014. This mosque has now emerged as the pilgrimage center for the Barelvis. The Barelvis now have a formidable organization Tehreek-e- Labaik (TLY )headed by one Khadim Hussain Rizvi. Thousands of protesters, staged a 21 days sit-in protest in Nov 2017, in the outskirts of Islamabad. The protest was against the changes in Election Bill 2017 in which oath was allegedly changed to declaration with regards to finality of Prophet Mohammad.
The original oath was’’ I swear by the finality of Prophet Mohammad…..’’ which was allegedly changed to ‘’ I believe in the finality of Prophet Mohammad….’’. This, Khadim Rizvi alleged, was to, accommodate the Ahmediyas who do not subscribe to the finality of Prophet Mohammad .One Major General was caught on camera distributing cash envelopes to the protestors. Under pressure from the military, the Law Minister Zahid Ahmed resigned. The political script of the Military could hardly be concealed. Zia radicalized Pakistan by giving impetus to Wahabism and Deobandis, the saving grace for the country remained the moderate Barelvis. The current army chief has killed the ‘moderate’ in Barelvis. Ironically, certain segments in Pakistan opposed the appointment of General Bajwa as army chief, because of his indirect family connections to the Ahmediya sect.
The Military has undone the achievements of National Action Plan (NAP), if any. The NAP initiated after Army Public School massacre in 2014, in which 150 children were killed, promised to uproot terrorism from all its facets and dimensions. Accordingly, military courts for quick trial of terrorists were established by the 21st Amendment. Significantly, Imran’s party Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), along with JeI and JUF had abstained from voting on the bill and the amendment.
So far the military courts have hanged 170 terrorists. It now appears that these terrorists were hanged because they were hostile to the Pakistan Military and not Pakistan.
The PTI government in Khyber Pakhtuokhwa on the instructions of Imran Khan released $3 million to Darul Uloom Haqqania seminary. The seminary is euphemistically called ‘Oxford of Jihad.’ SamI-ul-Haq,who supervises this seminary,
is known as ‘father of Taliban.’ Jihadi stalwarts produced by this seminary include Jalauddin Haqqani—leader of Haqqani network, Asim Umar-leader of Al Qaeda in India, Akhtar Mansoor – leader of Taliban, and Mullah Omar—leader of Afghan Taliban. Two suspects involved assassination of Benazir Bhutto attended this seminary.
Not relying solely on the jihadi tanzeems to ensure Imran’s victory, the Pakistan Military-Intelligence establishment engineered exits from the PML (N). Most of these contested the elections as independents. Amusingly, all 143 of them fought on one election symbol, i.e. Jeep. The deep state of Pakistan also propped up new political parties like Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and backed the two years old Pak Sarzameen Party in Karachi to take on the MQM. In Sindh, it created a new formation Grand Democratic Alliance to take on the PPP. The Pakistan Military’s political script was exposed when the Army Chief attended the funeral of Siraj Raisani, the leader of the BAP.
The LeT candidates backed by the military fought under the banner of Allah-O-Akbar Tehreek. Hafiz Saeed’s son Hafiz Talha Saeed and son-in-law Hafiz Khalid Waleed also contested the elections. Though the LeT / JuD and Tehreek-e-Labaik contested 265 and 100 seats respectively, none of their candidates was close to victory. This was on the expected lines. These Deobandi and Barelvi radicals were fielded to nibble at the electoral support base of PML (N). Imran will always be indebted to these jihadi organizations for their valuable indirect support.
In run-up to these general elections, there were suicide blasts in Peshawar, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Quetta and Matsung. On July 10, Haroon Bilour, a prominent leader of the Awami National Party, a strong rival of Imran’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was killed by a suicide bomber in political rally. Haroon’s father was also killed in a similar manner in 2012. Curiously, no blasts or suicide attacks took place in the Punjab Province!
The question that should exercise the mind of every Indian, as to why this acute do or die desperation on part of military-intelligence establishment to ensure the political burial of Nawaz Sharif. One thing is certain that Nawaz Sharif had challenged the preeminence of Pakistan Military. He had also challenged Military’s ‘security state’ narrative of Pakistan and the resultant internal dynamics, status and posturing. Whether it was Z A Bhutto or Benazir Bhutto or Zardari or Nawaz Sharif, the overarching role of the Pak Military has continued to nag the military leadership. Z A Bhutto was hanged precisely for this reason. Nawaz Sharif invited a military coup because of his Lahore outreach to India, the Kargil War was an instrumentality. When Zardari made a strong move to bring the nuclear weapons of Pakistan under exclusive civilian control, the military-intelligence establishment of Pakistan staged 26/11 ‘Threat from India’ bogey in Pakistan has always coming handy for the Pakistan Military. The civilian leadership feels that Pakistan can flourish with apolitical military, but the military feels that it cannot survive without indirect political control.
It may be reiterated that Nawaz Sharif, having dealt with six army chiefs, understands the military to bare-bones. He has contended with the enmity of the armed forces since the 90s. Nobody knows the undependable and unpatriotic character of the military than Nawaz Sharif. Without the Kashmir bogey the military cannot survive to lord over Pakistanis. Military’s Kashmir bogey has reduced Pakistan to penury. Its foreign exchange reserves has shrunk to less than $ 10 bn. In comparison, Bangladesh, which was once East Pakistan, unencumbered by Kashmir bogey has reserve of $ 32 bn.
Going by some Pakistani sources, the current hostility, rather enmity between Nawaz Sharif and the Military began after the surgical strikes. In the wake of these strikes, a high level meeting was held between the top civilian leadership and the military leadership. During this meeting, Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shahbaz Sharif, the CM of Punjab, is understood to have plainly conveyed that the military’s embrace of jihadis has put Pakistan in a diplomatic and economic fix. The civilian leaders insisted that Pakistan is becoming a pariah in the international arena. It may be mentioned that Shahbaz is considered to be endowed with great administrative acumen and is known for his integrity.
Through back-channels, Pakistani prime ministers have been seeking India’s support to bolster the civilian leadership of Pakistan. This was clearly conveyed by the Pakistani dispensation during the Kargil conflict in the Niaz Naik – RK Mishra several rounds of talks. In the book ‘From Kargil to the Coup’, Pakistani author Nasim Zehra writes: “During the Kargil crisis, he (Nawaz Sharif) called Mishra virtually every day. Mishra claimed that Sharif had told him during one of his visits ‘I will within three months punish those responsible for Kargil’.” As per Zehra, there was also a plan to arrange an unscheduled meeting between Vajpayee and Sharif at Delhi. Zehra writes: “By the afternoon of June 27, it all appeared to have been finalized. On his way to Beijing, Nawaz Sharif would fly over Indian territory. While doing so, e would send a goodwill message to his Indian counterpart. In response to the Pakistan Prime Minister’s message, Vajpayee would invite him to visit Delhi on his way back from China. In Delhi, the two prime ministers were to sign the finalized four-point agreement”. It seems this was sabotaged by the military-intelligence establishment of Pakistan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impromptu visit to Pakistan must be viewed in this backdrop. Nawaz Sharif’s attendance at Modi’s swearing-in ceremony disconcerted the Pak military-intelligence establishment, therefore it engineered the bomb blasts in the Indian Consulate in Herat in May 2014 to derail any bonhomie between the two leaders. The author of these blasts was now the politically mainstream LeT, which also carried out the 26/11.
It is simply not possible that there were no external forces impacting on Pakistan’s elections. Nawaz Sharif’s proximity to Saudi Arabia is well known. By extension, the US sympathy and support for Nawaz Sharif cannot be denied. Nevertheless, post China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China’s meddling into Pakistani politics has considerably increased. From the recent chain of events, it is difficult not to deduce that the military + judiciary + Imran + China were arrayed against Nawaz + Saud Arabia + US. Why China’s special emphasis on Pakistan? It is probably because the main threat to the CPEC is now from the Pashtuns.
Meanwhile, India must be prepared to deal with Pakistan which has a jihadi prime minister, a jihadi polity, a jihadi military, and a growing jihadi populace owing to the radicalization of the Barelvis. One election has changed Pakistan’s status from a ‘failing state’ to a ‘failed state’.
By RSN Singh