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Political crisis in Pakistan; Imran - Bajwa face off over ISI Chief

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It seems that political stability for Pakistan is a dream which never comes true. A fresh crisis has developed between the civilian government and military establishment over the transfer of old ISI Chief and appointments of a new. Many expect that Prime Minister Imran Khan will relent but if he doesn’t, a coup is not out of question.

By SANTOSH SHARMA  


Pakistan is in a ‘massive political crisis’. A tussle, for the first time, has developed between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa over the appointment of the new Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General. Just recently, the Army Chief had transferred the ISI Chief Lt General Faiz Hameed as Corps Commander in Peshawar and Lt General Anjum has been declared as the new Chief by the Army. The ISI looks after the external intelligence gathering for the country and is an arm of the Pakistani Army. Though it’s an open secret that the Army Chief of Pakistan calls all the shots as far as military affairs are concerned, constitutionally, the government has to take out formal notifications. 

In a fresh but most notable cord, it has come to the fore that Imran Khan is disappointed with the abrupt transfer of Faiz Hameed and also with the appointment of Nadeem Anjumon his place. Experts hold that Imran Khan, who is battling extreme anti-incumbency in his country due to misgovernance, wanted Hameed to stay as he could help Imran to stay in power or even stage a comeback for a second term. Hence, the Prime Minister Office has not released official notification for the appointment of Nadeem Anjumas the new ISI Chief. 

In a post-Cabinet meeting press conference on October 12, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry explained the government’s position. “The Prime Minister has the authority to appoint the DG ISI and he held a detailed meeting with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in this regard,” Chaudhry said. “The federal government will follow a legal and constitutional procedure on the appointment of the Inter-Services Intelligence director general,” he said. Just days ago, the news of change in the guard of ISI had appeared but now it has come out that Imran Khan is annoyed with this decision of Bajwa and has not approved, as per the law, such action by a formal notification. 

But the experts say that the situation in Pakistan remains volatile for the moment and the government is either trying to hide things or present a picture which is not real. 

Pakistani media has already made a big issue about it as they fear that a political crisis in the middle of an economic and geo-strategic crisis will be unbearable for the country. They are still claiming that the issue has not been resolved between the military and civilian leadership. The experts hold that the next few days will be critical. The future of Pakistan’s politics is a hot topic of discussion on all platforms of the country. 

Experts say that Imran Khan is unhappy for two reasons. One, that Lt General Faiz Hameed is moved to Peshawar as a Commander which means he is no longer available as ISI chief to provide a protective cover to Imran’s government. Second, Nadeem Anjum is a close confidant of General Bajwa who might act as an adversary to the present Prime Minister. It is learnt that Imran Khan had met Bajwa about a fortnight ago and Bajwa had informed Imran about both these decisions. Imran Khan is believed to have been unhappy with the Army Chief since then. 

As per Pakistan watchers, even after Faiz Hameed was moved to Peshawar, Imran Khan thought to find a replacement as the DG of ISI of his own choice but he seems to have misread the history of Pakistan. There has been only one instance in the history of Pakistan when the ISI chief was appointed by the Prime Minister and that too happened in 1989 when Benazir Bhutto brought in Shamsur Rahman Kallu. It happened more than three decades ago. 

Change in the leadership at ISI is an indicator of growing rift between Imran and Bajwa. For past several months the Army Chief is also said to be unhappy with Imran Khan who had not been able to get the economy back on track, no investments coming from abroad, the foreign policy has taken a dip, America has become hostile. For the past few months, General Bajwa has begun to directly look into the affairs of the country. 

Faiz’s Kabul trip and Bajwa’s displeasure

It has been the talk of the town in Rawalpindi, that General Bajwa was extremely disappointed with Faiz Hameed when he visited Kabul with complete flamboyance after the Taliban takeover. The world was watching the region closely and taking note of everything; especially Pakistan. There was also a growing criticism of the ISI for abducting activists and journalists for long.

But there is still a consolation for Imran Khan. For an officer to reach the post of Chief of Army Staff in Pakistan, he has to serve at least six months as Corps Commander. Many say that politics has begun for the search for a new military chief as it's just one year from now Qamar Javed Bajwa will retire. Faiz Hameed is in the good books of Imran Khan but he will still be number four in terms of seniority. Entire world would be watching the developments in Pakistan closely because appointment of Army Chief is far more important than the formation of a new Federal Government there. 

Imran Khan will still have an option to bypass the top three and appoint Hameed as new Chief of Army then. But experts say that one year is quite a lot of time and much is expected to take place by then. Also, the moment someone becomes head of the army, he becomes a man of his own. Nawaz Sharif had appointed five heads of the military and all of them had problems with their Prime Minister. 

It is also being argued that even if the present scrimmage is put to rest, things will not remain the same between Imran Khan and Army Chief. General Bajwa was appointed as Army Chief in 2016 for three years but he got an extension for another three years. His present stint will expire just after one year from here and, many say, that Bajwa may look for another extension. If this extension happens for the second time, it will make the position of Imran Khan even insecure.  

A country of instability 

The country has a history of political crisis ever since it came into existence in 1947. At the very inception, the democratic systems were broken and the national army took over the reins. The Constitution of Pakistan took more than two decades to complete and when it became a reality and elections were held in 1971, the country was again plunged into a political-cum-humanitarian crisis. The ruling military elite in Islamabad decided to disallow to the East Pakistan based Awami League of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to form the first elected government of Pakistan. The ultimate result was a secessionist-revolutionary movement in the east and Bangladesh was born by the end of the same year. 

After that, the democratic government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was overturned by Army Chief Zia-ul-Haq in 1977 and the military rule again continued for more than a decade. After the death of Zia in 1989, the country returned to elections but the political leadership always worked under the subjugation of the Army. Whenever an elected government asserted its mandate, it was always removed by the military. This is the very reason as to why Pakistan has witnessed four direct military rules in its political history. The last military coup happened in 1999 when Nawaz Sharif was removed by Parvez Musharraf who ruled as the President of Pakistan until 2008. 

Some of the Indian experts say that if Pakistan is plunged into greater political instability at this juncture, it will directly lead to greater Islamic radicalisation in the country which means that terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen would get emboldened and terror infiltration in India – both in Kashmir valley and the rest parts of the country– will increase.


AQ Khan –The infamous Pakistani ‘nuclear smuggler’ dies of Covid

The most infamous man on the earth to have dealt with nuclear technology, its smuggling and proliferation to rogue states– Abdul Qadeer Khan – is dead now. He passed away due to coronavirus in Islamabad. 

Astonishingly, he is perhaps the second most celebrated figure in Pakistan after the country’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah for he has developed the ‘Islamic Bomb’ (nuclear bomb) for the country. Khan is also known as the‘ father’ of Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear programme. He was 85 years of age.

The world took note of his sinister activities in 2004 when it was found that he was actually smuggling critical nuclear technologies to countries that were antagonistic to the peace and tranquility of the world– Libya, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and many more. By the world discovered his real business, the damage was already done. Just two years after that North Korea had done a successful nuclear test and declared itself as a nuclear power. 

Khan was put to house arrest by the Pakistani authorities under western pressure but all credit to the ever increasing radicalisation that Khan maintained a reasonable degree of autonomy. It is said that he kept on working on his agendas and the Pakistani authorities took his advice on many important matters. 

He was proud to have made a nuclear bomb for a Muslim country. His role in nuclear technology smuggling and proliferation was disclosed by scholar Hassan Abbas in his book called ‘Pakistan's Nuclear Bomb: A Story of Defiance, Deterrence and Deviance’ in which he highlighted Khan's criminal engagement with Iran, Libya and North Korea. Abbas also wrote that China and Saudi Arabia supported AQ Khan for building a nuclear infrastructure in Pakistan to realise the ‘Islamic Bomb.’

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