Uncertainty in Pakistan

IN a fresh indication that the situation in Pakistan may be in for more turmoil, former Prime Minister Imran Khan in an unusual warning has asked the country’s Army to take “right decisions” to save itself from being “destroyed.” Khan also said that Pakistan will become “bankrupt” which, in turn, will affect the standing of Pakistan’s Army as the country’s most powerful and credible institution. Talking to a Pakistani news channel,  Khan also outlined a grim scenario for Pakistan if the Army, also called the establishment, didn’t intervene to end the current uncertainty. Pakistan, he said,  is heading towards default and if that happens, the army will be the worst hit.  “After it (Army) is hit, what concession will be taken from us? Denuclearisation,” Khan asked.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister also painted a grim scenario of Pakistan breaking up into three pieces if no effort was made to end the ongoing uncertainty. What is more, Khan has directly taken on Pakistan Army, saying the real power vested with it. He accepted that as prime minister he had the responsibility, not the power.  This is so far the most blunt indictment of Pakistan Army by a former Prime Minister of the country and signals how things may get more difficult in the country in the coming weeks and months.

As things stand, the new Pakistan government has made it clear that it will not hold elections before August next year, when the term of the current National Assembly will expire. But Khan has indicated that he will press ahead with public protests demanding early elections. He has even warned about civil strife if his demand was not met. Now all eyes are on how the Pakistan Army will tackle the unfolding situation. Will it stick by the new government and let it complete its tenure? Or will it again intervene and ensure elections are held early as that alone will end the current deadlock.

Khan’s allegations against the current rulers are of a very serious nature. He has built up a strong case that they were acting at the behest of a foreign country. And the communique he waved at a rally in Islamabad before his ouster has also been discussed in Pakistan’s National Security Council. Khan has cast himself as the champion of an independent foreign policy for Pakistan which he alleges the foreign powers, particularly the US want to change. Earlier, he had praised India’s foreign policy, lauding New Delhi for importing crude oil from Russia despite American sanctions.  It is difficult to see where the situation in Pakistan is headed or how it will end. The best way out of the constitutional logjam for the country would be for the political parties to go back to the people and hold fresh elections. And, in turn, that could also make it possible for New Delhi to explore engagement with its difficult neighbour.

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