The current crisis in Pakistan has the potential to destabilize the region, with both China and the US watching the situation closely. The Pakistan mess gives India ample amount of time to significantly increase the gap in its economic and strategic capabilities.
- The current crisis in Pakistan has the potential to destabilize the region, with both China and the US watching the situation closely.
- The current political crisis in Pakistan has led to a power struggle between different factions within the government and the military.
- The instability in Pakistan has raised concerns about the safety of its nuclear weapons with the prospect of these weapons falling into the wrong hands being a major concern for the international community.
- As Pakistan would be in the right royal mess in the foreseeable future, it gives India an ample amount of time to significantly increase the gap in its economic and strategic capabilities between the two.
After the recent dramatic arrest of Imran Khan, Pakistan is witnessing a range of massive violent protests across the country. The dramatic attacks on the Pakistani Military Headquarters in GHQ Rawalpindi, by Imran’s supporters have sent shockwaves within the rank and file of the Pakistani Military and its ruling elite. It’s well known and established across the world that Imran Khan’s popularity has not just been affirmed amongst the masses but also has been reassured amongst a large segment of Pakistan’s military families, the Punjabi elite, amongst top notch businessmen, lawyers, Judges and their families etc. All of them have been strongly rooting for Imran Khan for more than a year now.
However, another strong faction of the Pakistani army is hell-bent on infusing an endgame on Imran Khan, as he has turned completely rouge against the mainstream Army establishment. From Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to Gen Asim Munir, who is the current army chief, and from Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum (the current ISI chief) to Gen Faisal Naseer, Imran Khan has been in the line of fire, of all these top men in the Army brass. The sheer intensity and scale of the reaction amongst the masses, to Imran Khan’s arrests, has created an overwhelming nightmare for the ruling and military establishment to restore the law and order situation, which is clearly fizzling out of hand.
What led to Imran Khan’s Arrest this time?
This arrest of Imran Khan happens to be a result of a quid pro quo deal which was hatched by Imran Khan to save his close aide Malik Riaz Hussein, who happens to be one of the foremost real estate giants in Pakistan. He has a gated development colony in almost every major city in Pakistan. Back in 2019, he was accused of transferring 5000 Pakistani crores from his Bahria group to an account of a person in the UK for the purpose of money laundering. But Malik was caught by UK’s NCA (National Crime Agency). To escape the legal brunt, he made a settlement with NCA, worth 190 Million as a penalty. This amount was transferred by the UK government to the Government of Pakistan. At this time, Imran Khan was the Prime Minister. Using his power, he passed a cabinet resolution stating that, the 190 million dollars received from the UK government will not go to the consolidated fund of Pakistan, but instead will be transferred to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
As Malik Hussein had been facing cases in the Supreme Court, which had imposed heavy fines on him, the money received from the UK government will be used as compensation for those fines, so that Malik Hussein can be freed of all these charges. In order to repay Imran Khan for his immense gratitude, 55 acres of land worth 530 crores were transferred by Malik’s Bharia Foundation to a trust set up by Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Biwi, called the “Al-Qudir University trust”, which was set up for the purpose of establishing a large university for spiritual Islamic education of young Pakistanis. Malik Hussein had assured us to fund the university as its activities would begin. Along with this, he had also transferred about 30 acres of land to a close friend of Bushra Bivi, Mrs Farah Gogi. This shady deal is said to have left major trails of evidence based on which Imran Khan was arrested by the Pakistani rangers, even after the Islamabad High Court condemned the arrest and called it Illegal, the rangers, on the orders of the federal Investigating agency NAB ( National Accountability Bureau) arrested Imran Khan.
Global and strategic implications
The political crisis in Pakistan has also had implications for the region. Pakistan is a key player in the region, with close ties to both China and the United States. The country’s geographical location makes it strategically important for both countries, with China using Pakistan as a gateway to the Middle East and Africa, and the US using Pakistan as a base for its operations in Afghanistan, but post the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, this geo-strategic significance faded away. The current crisis in Pakistan has the potential to destabilize the region, with both China and the US watching the situation closely.
China, which has invested heavily in Pakistan’s infrastructure, is concerned about the impact of the crisis on its projects in the country. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is currently underway in Pakistan. The project aims to connect China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s Gwadar port, providing China with access to the Arabian Sea. The CPEC project has faced numerous challenges in the past, including security issues and opposition from local communities. The current political crisis in Pakistan has added another layer of uncertainty to the project’s future.
The instability in Pakistan has also raised concerns about the safety of its nuclear weapons. Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world with nuclear weapons, and the prospect of these weapons falling into the wrong hands is a major concern for the international community. The crisis has created even more uncertainty about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and has raised questions about the effectiveness of the country’s security apparatus.
Many foreign companies have operations in the country, and the safety of their employees has become a major concern.
Another major implication of the crisis in Pakistan is its impact on the global economy. Pakistan is a large and strategically important country, with a population of over 200 million people. Its economy is heavily dependent on exports, particularly in the textile and agricultural sectors. The crisis has led to a decline in foreign investment and trade, as investors and companies are hesitant to do business in an unstable environment. In fact, in a recent press conference, India’s foreign minister Dr S Jaishankar said that “Pakistan’s credibility is falling faster than its forex reserves.
The crisis has also raised concerns about the safety of foreign workers in Pakistan. Many foreign companies have operations in the country, and the safety of their employees has become a major concern. The crisis has led to increased security measures, which have further impacted the country’s economy and made it even more difficult for foreign companies to do business in Pakistan. The crisis in Pakistan has also had an impact on the country’s relations with its neighbours, particularly India and Afghanistan. Pakistan has long had a tense relationship with India, with both countries engaging in border disputes and military skirmishes. The crisis has increased tensions between the two countries, as India views Pakistan’s instability as a threat to its own security because of the constant attacks posed by the TTP (Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan) which has shifted the focus, resources and the strategic tilt of the Pakistani army towards confronting them with all their might. But however the rankling instability has made it difficult for the government to combat terrorism, raised concerns about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, and impacted the global economy. The crisis has also had an impact on Pakistan’s relations with its neighbors, particularly India and Afghanistan.
Question of a military coup or martial law being imposed
Pakistan has a history of military coups (with prominent examples like Gen Ayub Khan, Gen Zia ul Haq, and Gen Pervez Musharraf who have controlled Pakistan for decades), with the country experiencing three military regimes in its history. The military has been accused of interfering in the country’s politics, with some analysts suggesting that the military plays a key role in the current crisis. The current political crisis in Pakistan has led to a power struggle between different factions within the government and the military. The military has taken a more prominent role in the crisis, with some analysts suggesting that the military is using the crisis to increase its influence in the country’s politics. However, it is important to note that the military has publicly stated that it supports democracy in the country. The military has been involved in the country’s politics in the past, but it has also played a role in stabilizing the country during times of political turmoil.
While there is a possibility of a military rule in Pakistan given the current situation, it is important to note that due to the staggering rise of Imran Khan’s popularity, a complete military takeover can turn into a violent upsurge leading to the ignition of the civil war. The military leadership is divided on Imran Khan, as one camp led by Gen Faiz Hamid is supporting him, whereas another camp led by Army Chief Gen Asim Munir is vehemently opposing him. This situation has made the matter more delicate and sensitive to handle as the army cannot let go of its total control over any civilian leadership as it threatens their own positions, bases and vested interests within the Pakistani deep state. This is the reason why the military has publicly stated that it supports democracy in the country, and the country’s judiciary is independent and can hold politicians accountable for corruption. One fact becomes very important for the world to take cognizance of, which is, with this ongoing state of crisis in Pakistan, the country’s democratic institutions can never be revived in the in its foreseeable future, as the soul and spirit of the Pakistani establishment are filled with despotism and demagoguery.
A former ISPR (Inter-Services Public Relations) Chief Gen Athar Abbas had said that the co-existence of a military fraternity and a cult personality is never possible in Pakistan.
As Imran Khan is out on a two-week protective bail, his future is riddled with uncertainties and lethal pitfalls. Imran Khan’s top defender and guardian happens to be the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, whose mother-in-law happens to be a diehard supporter of Imran and his party PTI. In fact, most members of the Chief Justice’s family happen to be Imran Khan’s supporters. The president of Pakistan Dr Arif Ilvi happens to be a close aide and a card-holding member of PTI. Many of such power elites within the Pakistani establishment and the deep state are acting as a protective shield to Imran Khan. But how long this shield would last, is a pertinent question Imran Khan needs to ask, for his own survival. If in case of Imran Khan is successful in defying the army establishment with his own support base from the masses and the elites, he would undoubtedly turn into a totalitarian Islamofascist, who would whip up religious extremism combined with outlandish demagoguery to justify and legitimize his autocratic rule. Perhaps this is the reason why, according to the army, the elimination of Imran Khan both politically and physically would be the only solution to permanently get rid of him.
But the recent arrests of some of the top-ranking army officers’ spouses who were supporting Imran Khan, have sent a stern message to the rank and file of the Pakistani army. A former ISPR (Inter-Services Public Relations) Chief Gen Athar Abbas had said that the co-existence of a military fraternity and a cult personality is never possible in Pakistan. Before Imran Khan rises up to that cult position, the army needs to ensure that Imran Khan disappears, possibly never returning. But with the Imran Khan episode in Pakistan’s political history, a set of radically new equations between the army and the political establishment is bound to emerge.
As Pakistan would be in the right royal mess in the foreseeable future, it gives India an ample amount of time to significantly increase the gap in its economic and strategic capabilities between the two. One strategic truism has always remained constant for India, which is, a weak, unstable and poor Pakistan is in India’s best interest’.
(The author has an MA in International Relations. Opinions expressed are the author’s own)