Pakistan today in May 2022 tethers on the brink of a Civil War being generated by Constitutionally ousted former PM Iman Khan whose megalomaniacal impulses prompt him to challenge both the Constitution of Pakistan and the Pakistan Army by weaponizing “Street Power” in a bid to return to power in Islamabad – and raising grave implications for Pakistan and South Asia.
Pakistan today is witnessing a clash of narratives wherein saner voices within Pakistan are voicing alarm on the irreparable damage that can be inflicted by ousted PM Imran Khan with his ‘Disruptive Strategy’ of weaponising ‘street power’ and Pakistan’s politically immature younger generation mesmerised by Imran Khan’s flamboyance providing the huge turnouts at Imran Khan’s ‘Jalsas’ and now the Long March already in Islamabad precincts.
The portents for Pakistan’s political stability as a result of the above are grim. Also, a politically unstable Pakistan on the brink of a civil war sought to be generated by ousted PM Imran Khan generates complications in South Asia.
Before examining the above two factors, one needs to provide the context of ousted PM Imran Khan’s facilitation of being placed in power in Islamabad in 2018. It was the Pakistan Army which facilitated Imran Khan’s emergence as Prime Minister of Pakistan as the widely quoted “Selected PM”. Till his recent Constitutional ouster recently, Imran Khan was crowing that he as Pakistan PM and Pakistan Army were on the ‘Same Page’ on every issue of Pakistan’s national concern.
However, in the weeks preceding Imran Khan’s ouster, the Pakistan Army made it known that the Army was a ‘neutral observer’ in the developing political tussle.
The implication of the above was that Pakistan Army was not on the ‘Same Page’ with PM Imran Khan and would not intervene for Imran Khan’s ouster by political and Constitutional means. What followed was PM Imran Khan losing the vote of No Confidence in National Assembly and his ousting as PM.
Conscious of Pakistan Army’s withdrawal of support and visualising the events that were to unfold, PM Imran Khan then venomously raised the bogey of United States conspiracy to displace him from power in an attempt to cash-in in the prevailing Anti American sentiment fostered by Pakistan’s Religious Right.
Ousted PM Imran Khan has calculated that a combination of theorising conspiratorial Ant-Americanism combined with ‘Street Power’ at his disposal provided by his ‘Personality Cult’ in younger generation could provide him political leverage to blackmail the Government into holding immediate Elections which he hoped to win.
Constitutionally, the PM Nawaz Government has time till August 2023 to hold General Elections. If Imran Khan is so politically confident then why does he not move a No Confidence Motion in National Assembly? He know that he does not have the political numbers and hence the unconstitutional strategy of weaponising ‘Street Power”.
Casting himself as Pakistan’s political savior Imran Khan is blinded to the fact that Pakistan’s economy is in a meltdown and daily subsistence has become hellish for Pakistan’s citizens. Blinded are also Imran Khan’s political supporters who have forgotten their daily economic misery brought by Imran Khan’s three years of misrule as they throng towards Islamabad for the Long March ordered by Imran Khan.
Clashes have already taken place in the run-up to Islamabad and these may escalate with each day of Imran Khan’s growing political intransigence.
In such a developing scenario where a ‘Civil War’ like situation could spring up, can the Pakistan continue to be a ‘Neutral Observer’ where a political meltdown is heaped on the already economic meltdown of Pakistan?
Can the Pakistan Army ignore the reality that in effect the weaponising of ‘Street Power’ by ousted PM Imran Khan is a ‘Direct Challenge’ to supremacy of Pakistan Army in Pakistan’s political dynamics? A Civil War could disintegrate Pakistan.
Either way the turbulence that Pakistan is entering because of ousted PM Imran Khan’s disruptive politics and which carries dangers of a Civil War creates grave implications for South Asia.
South Asia is already geopolitically complicated as a result of China’s debt-trap diplomacy leading to Sri Lanka economic collapse and Nepal’s growing economic disillusionment with China.
To this when Pakistan is added as China’s main vassal in South Asia going under economic and political meltdown, the stage is set for geopolitical turbulence in South Asia where United States and India and global community could no longer afford to be impassive spectators to an unstable Pakistan with a nuclear weapons arsenal.
In view of the discussion above, the following concluding observations would be in order:
- Pakistan Army cannot continue to be an impassive observer of ousted PM Imran Khan’s challenge both to Pakistan’s Constitution and the Pakistan Army.
- In prevailing geopolitical environment, Pakistan cannot afford the return to power in Islamabad of ousted megalomaniac PM Imran Khan, propped up by China itself besieged.
- Pakistan in the past has seen Army Coups and Judicial Coups. For the first time Pakistan has witnessed Pakistan’s Supreme Court upholding the sovereignty and sanctity of Pakistan Constitution in case of ousted PM Imran Khan’s aborted bid to subvert the two.
- Pakistan needs political will to deter weaponising of ‘Street Power’ by unscrupulous political leaders if “Democracy “is to be nurtured in Pakistan.