Opinion

The Great Game of Pakistan’s Army

Pakistan’s awaam (masses) love boys in uniform. Ask them which is the institution they trust, the answer is Army. From security to census, Army is the first and only choice for most Pakistanis. Army too loves back its citizens by ruling over them, however the democratic cries from the international community had to be headed so came the idea of a managed people’s representation.

In the recently concluded elections two results were foregone conclusions – one that Imran Khan will win, and two that he will have to form a coalition. Since Imran’s party stands for so many things that Pakistan’s defense establishment supports, finding coalition partner was never going to be easy. And this is where the Generals will insert themselves again.

The bottom line is that, Pakistan may be looking at an advent of prosperity with CPEC. At least in few pockets. This may create new institutions which may undermine the Army. To counter it, the novel way is to have a charade of political stability. Army will ensure that there will be musical chair of sorts as PTI tries to cobble a working coalition. The Genrals will ensure that PTI never becomes powerful enough to take back on Army. Imran will never be allowed to talk back to Generals as Sharif did.

During his tenure Imran will have to work hard to ensure that CPEC turns around fortunes of the Generals and that the fact its too costly a loan to repay remains under the carpet as long as possible.

As the time passes, the fiscal pressures will start to show. At precisely this moment  PTI itself will be bogged down by the religious extremists it supports and will respond with a heavy hand. The party will break and a constitutional crisis will be created. Imran will only survive if by that time he is still useful the the Army. Most likely he will end up being blamed for the mess that CPEC is and an election will follow.

By that time either a younger Sharif or Butto will be chosen by Army to play the game all over again.

While people of Pakistan my believe that they are the ones who are electing their governments and that PT has 109 seats in current parliament, the fact is that a fractured mandate has been engineered by to help a motley crew of nationalists, religious hardliners and urban elites that itself cannot survive the perils of power. The almighty Army continues to rule over them.

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