The Asian Age
In Pak, yet another coup in the making
What’s on show in Pakistan is the feeding in slow motion of the Nawaz Sharif government to the wolves by the powerful and manipulative Pakistan Army, which has ruled the country for more than 50 per cent of the time since 1947. What the denouement will be like cannot be predicted. There are several balls in the air, including a side- show statement from the Supreme Court offering to play mediator, as it were. But if there is something called a soft coup in the making, it is this.
The military, mindful of international repercussions, specially the flow of aid, does not storm the government TV station directly or send an elected Prime Minister fleeing. Instead, it winks as its civilian operatives direct their ( usually paid) “followers” to ransack the national TV centre ( to boot, when the defence minister is being telecast) and the secretariat of the duly elected government.
This allows for the impression that the government has lost control and cannot be run according to the constitutional scheme. Ergo, Big Brother must step forward to preserve the nation and the state, although it just loves democracy.
On Sunday night, the Army’s corps commanders reviewed the situation under the leadership of their chief, General Raheel Sharif. Officially, they covered all flanks. They extended their support to democracy. They urged an immediate and non- violent resolution of the political impasse. They said the Army would not flinch from playing its part in ensuring the security of the state.
And the giveaway: they urged the elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the protest leaders — Imran Khan ( who wants fresh elections) and Tahirul Qadri ( who wants a revolution, no less) — to settle their “differences” peacefully. The powerful Army hasn’t come to the aid of the government and said those who break the law and disrupt order in a violent way should fear being thrown in jail. It is instead boosting the unelected interlopers by asking the PM to settle differences with the mob peacefully and without losing time.
Any observer can see that the rent- a- crowd is praising the Army but is poised to raid the Prime Minister’s house. No wonder that it’s more than a whisper in Islamabad that Gen. Sharif asked Prime Minister Sharif in their intense two- hour meeting on Monday to at least step aside for a time to allow impartial investigation into Mr Khan’s vote- rigging charge of one year ago. It is also evident that the official statement from Washington that it supports constitutional arrangements has been a sobering influence on the Army brass.
An elected government’s best recourse lies with Parliament. Mr Sharif should address it immediately. India should keep its border defences up, with the Pakistan Army mulling a soft coup.
The powerful Army hasn’t come to the aid of the government and said those who break the law and disrupt order in a violent way should fear being thrown in jail