The Asian Age

In Pak, yet another coup in the mak­ing

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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

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