Farhad Chowdhury: Pakistan’s military thinks they can keep the country stable. But this is their biggest misconception. In the last 75 years, no civilian government has been in power in the country. The country is becoming ungovernable due to repeated military interventions, one crisis after another.
In 2016, Imran Khan was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan. He is said to have been elected Prime Minister of the country with the help of the army. At the time, the former cricketer was considered a worthy man as Prime Minister.
His popularity on the cricket field was skyrocketing. Soon after coming to power, Imran Khan announced major changes in the country. He declared that those involved in looting the country’s resources should be held accountable. Many, however, said it was politically motivated and that the process was controversial.
His party’s activities were very different from those of the previous parties in Pakistan. Besides maintaining good relations with China and rich Arab states, or supporting the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan, Imran Khan was happy with what the military wanted. That is what can be heard against him.
The idea is that the Pakistani military wanted to keep someone in power who would follow their lead. At first Imran Khan may have been like that. But later, maybe Imran has changed. He emphasized his own importance.
Last autumn, Imran blocked the country’s top general, Kamar Javed Bajwa, from appointing a new head of Pakistan’s intelligence service. He tried to retain Lieutenant-General Fayez Hamid as the intelligence chief. With which there was a dispute with the army chief. However, the nominee was later appointed by Army Chief General Kamar Bajwa.
In February this year, Imran spoke of a neutral foreign policy. As part of this, he visited Russia for a trade deal. Russia invaded Ukraine shortly after his visit. The westerners were angry with Imran Khan.
The differences between Imran Khan and the army were also clear over the Ukraine issue. Counter-statements came from both sides. Where Imran Khan criticizes the West on the war issue, the army chief speaks out against Russia.
For various reasons, his distance from the military may increase. Besides, all the promises he made to the people of the country could not be fulfilled. As a result, his popularity across the country began to decline.
The biggest challenge of Imran Khan’s government was the economic challenge. His government has lost public support due to high domestic inflation and rising foreign debt burden. The rupee has depreciated sharply in Pakistan. As a result, the prices of essential commodities have risen sharply. From January 2020 to March 2022, food inflation in India has been 7 percent. Inflation in Pakistan has been 23 percent.
The gas crisis in Pakistan is also one of the reasons. Production of locally liquefied natural gas or LNG has declined over the years. Due to the global shortage, the price of LNG has recently reached such a level that it was not possible for Pakistan to afford it. Ordinary people are also suffering from gas.
Some political issues raised questions against the Imran Khan government. His cabinet has been described by many analysts as weak. He is thought to have survived an earlier attempt to oust him following Mr Jiang’s intervention.
Analysts believe that the Imran Khan government was also wrong in foreign policy. Towards the end, sometimes Saudi Arabia is angry and sometimes China. The Imran Khan government has not had good relations with the United States in the last three years.
There are also allegations against the Imran Khan government for trying to control the media and social media. Amber Shasmi, director of the Center for Excellence in Journalism in Karachi, said the Imran Khan government had imposed more control over the media than any previous government. During the tenure of his government, various kinds of news including torture of journalists have come to the fore.
The internal squabbles of his party also played a big role in the fall of Imran Khan. His party did worse than expected from opinion polls, which saw them at gaining about a third of the support. A no-confidence motion was filed against Imran Khan on April 10 and his government came to an end in three and a half years. After much drama, Imran Khan lost the post of Prime Minister in a no-confidence vote in the Pakistani parliament.
On the other hand, Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was sworn in as the new Prime Minister on April 11.
The country’s top generals are quite happy with Imran Khan’s loss of power. Due to this, their mentality has changed a lot so far. He wanted to keep Pakistan away from Imran Khan’s anti-Western attitude and reduce China’s excessive control. In many cases, there may have been differences between the military and Imran Khan’s ethics.
The removal of Imran Khan may seem like a military victory for the time being, but it is a defeat. The regime they have created is naturally unstable. But it is as difficult to retain power as it is to be elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. Of course, not only Imran Khan, so far, no Prime Minister has succeeded in this.
However, the popularity of Imran Khan has not diminished at all. After he was ousted, many people took to the streets to protest and support Imran. However, with the fall of Imran’s government, Pakistan again fell into a terrible crisis. There are fears that political instability will exacerbate the country’s various problems.
The country’s next election is scheduled for 2023. But how important is the new election in Pakistan? The picture of the country has been the same for decades. Will there be an opportunity to rule Pakistan for a full term or will a Prime Minister be in power for a full term? That hope is very low because the country is Pakistan. This has not been seen there in the last 75 years.
The army has been conducting politics in the country from behind the scenes for a long time. And the big question now is how long this will happen. Even if the civilian government wants, the control of the country is not in their hands. But at least for once, the military should hand over full control of the country to the civilian government and not sniff out politics.
Military generals may think that they are only intervening to reduce political instability, but in reality, the politics of the country are falling into their hands. The situation in Pakistan will return to normal only when the politicians can do politics and the army can carry out its responsibilities properly. Everyone should do what they want. As long as the country’s military does not understand this, there will be no change in Pakistan.
While the neighboring countries are improving in many ways, Pakistan is lagging behind day by day due to these whims of the army.
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