Imran pushes Pakistan to the brink India vs disinformation 09 Nov 2022
Writing for The Dawn, known Pakistani commentator Zahid Hussain states, ‘The gun attack on Imran Khan has pushed the country deeper into anarchy. The would-be assassin may have been arrested but the motive behind the shooting remains shrouded in mystery.’ He adds, ‘Imran Khan’s confrontation with the establishment (army) cannot be taken as a battle for civilian supremacy. It’s a ruthless struggle for power. The country is hurtling towards a state of anarchy with no resolution of the crisis in sight.’ This is the true state of Pakistan today. There is no concern for the drowning economy, rebuilding the nation from floods or growing insurgency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The battle for absolute power is on.
Since his ouster by a ‘no-confidence vote’ Imran has been fighting back. As he gained credence and support from the masses, he became bolder and increased his accusations. From targeting the US to being behind his ouster he has now shifted focus on the army, aware that the common man loathes being ruled by them. The cries resonating in his rallies is that any ‘anyone who is friends with America is a traitor.’ The hint is the army leadership as the army chief, Gen Bajwa, recently visited the US. Imran’s earlier Islamabad march in May this year fizzled out because of lack of support. He then launched an all-out campaign to garner greater backing. His image was given a boost by the shooting incident in Wazirabad which he exploited to the fullest.
He has begun riling the masses to protest. Aware that he cannot hold attention of the public for long, he continues to incite violence, hoping the state rebounds with force, resulting in deaths of innocents, shifting the game in his favour. Imran is working in a phased manner to build an anti-army national wave, aware that without the establishment’s support, the current government may not last. The long march is now being led by SM Qureshi, the former foreign minister, who lacks Imran’s charisma. To keep interest alive, Imran would address the participants daily by video. He knows that he has to keep the pressure on, failing which his plan may collapse and the opportunity exploited by the government and the establishment.
To gain sympathy, Imran is giving interviews to every channel, domestic and global, playing the victim, accusing the army of being behind his ouster and assassination attempt. To break unity within the establishment, Imran announced that advance information on the assassination was given by members of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Aware that the next chief would not be of his choice, Imran has changed his tune and claims he is unconcerned on who is nominated. His intent is to target the organization as a whole in a manner that no matter who becomes the army chief, Rawalpindi will never dominate Islamabad.
To enhance pressure, Imran has accused the ISI of being responsible for the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya, release of an embarrassing private video of his party member, Azam Swati, as also of torturing another party member, Shahbaz Gill. All these accusations have been denied as none of them can be proved. The current government has no political leader who can currently match Imran in national popularity. They were late off the starting blocks giving Imran the lead. Thus, they are compelled to release statements and give press interviews. This is being exploited by Imran.
Imran, aware that his current relations with the army are at an ebb, and they would do anything to keep him away from power, has approached the President through an open letter to investigate the press conference conducted by the DG ISI and DG ISPR. He intends to publicly embarrass the establishment. He wrote, ‘How can two military bureaucrats do a highly political press conference targeting the leader of the largest federal political party. I am requesting you to act now to stop the abuse of power and violations of our laws and constitutions.’ The army has dismissed all Imran’s allegations, including being behind his attack as ‘baseless and irresponsible.’ On most other issues it has maintained silence. It still holds sufficient leverage over the country such that the General named by Imran as being responsible for the failed attempt was not included in the FIR.
Imran is aware that the army is loathe to lose its power and control over Islamabad. Its current silence is temporary while it determines alternative avenues to silence him. One mistake could prove costly. The only way to keep the army silent is continuous application of pressure. The army is aware that Imran’s current popularity is such that if elections are held anytime soon it could provide Imran with a two-third majority which could ensure the end of the establishment’s domination over governance. Legal cases against Imran continue to mount. Debarring him in even one case through the election commission or the courts could change the scenario.
Imran cannot challenge all institutions simultaneously. While he battles the army, the election commission and the current government, he must continue to humour the courts. To end all speculation, Shehbaz Sharif has asked the courts to constitute a ‘full court commission’ to probe the allegations levelled by Imran Khan against members of his government and the army. This was welcomed by Imran, aware that it would be ages before the investigation would conclude.
Imran has challenged the army in a manner never done before. He has forced the establishment to react to his moves rather than permitting them to exploit his weaknesses. Imran knows that once he slows down or loses control over the masses, he would lose the battle. Imran is also aware that his cases in courts can be influenced by population power hence continues to instigate the public. He is the first politician to encourage violence against the army letting the public release their pent-up feelings of suppression.
Imran’s only hope of regaining political power is violence. He has ignored the damage caused by the floods, victims surviving in relief camps, the drowning economy and growing militancy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. He knows that by challenging the mighty army he can reach levels of power which only Zulfikar Bhutto possessed, until he was overthrown. For achieving his goal, Imran is willing to push to any extent. Neither is he concerned on casualties as they would only benefit him. Anarchy may be a mild word to describe what Pak is in for.