Pak generals: When in 
trouble, ignite the LOC

The flare-up at the Line of Control in Kashmir, in which 12 Pakistani troops were killed on Friday, was clearly an attempt by the beleaguered Pak army to divert attention from its mounting domestic woes. In the cross-firing of artillery shells and anti-tank guided missiles, eight people, four security men and four civilians, were killed.

An attempt to smuggle terrorists into Kashmir had also been foiled by the Indian troops a few days ago. A group of terrorists was challenged at the LoC and eliminated in the firing that ensued. Before the onset of winter, the ISI was keen to send its jihadi warriors to create mayhem in the Valley. All these incidents cumulatively show the increasing desperation of the Pak army.

For the first time, a united opposition had stood the fat-cat generals in the dock for the mess their puppet government, led by a clueless Imran Khan, had created. Thanks to the abject failure of Imran Khan, the opposition now espies a chance of a comeback. It has raised the ante as it were, going after the creator, rather than the creature, daily exposing the misdeeds of the generals. A couple of weeks ago, a senior opposition figure had publicly ridiculed the army chief, describing how with trembling feet, he had sought the release of the Indian pilot who had been captured in the counter-action that had followed the Pulwama terrorist atrocity. Never before had a Pakistani politician, big or small, dared to drag the army into the domestic dogfights.

But this time, it is different. The former prime minister and the leader of the Muslim League, Nawaz Sharif, sitting in exile in London, has been targeting Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI Chief Lt Faiz Hameed in the most trenchant manner in his video addresses to large meetings organised by a united Opposition in all major cities in the country. In a no-holds-barred tirade against the duo, Sharif has sought to put the blame for the economic mess in Pakistan and her worsening ties with the Islamic world on the army chief.

Indeed, so ham-handed was the Imran Khan administration that it invited public ridicule, ordering the arrest of Sharief’s son-in-law a few days ago and upon the Karachi Police Chief's refusing to order the arrest, he found himself taken hostage by the Pak Rangers. The police chief was released only after he agreed to make the arrest. The leaked news caused angry top brass of the police to seek en masse leave.

The near rebellion by the Sindhi-dominated police against the domineering attitude of the Rawalpindi GHQ was contained only when within hours, Marayam Sharif’s husband, a retired army captain himself, was released and the Karachi Police chief persuaded not to proceed on leave. The episode underlines the widening fissures in the Pak society where increasingly the army, hitherto a respected institution, is now dragged into domestic disputes, accused of keeping alive the dud Imran Khan regime, albeit on oxygen.

Despite his commendable exploits on the field of cricket, Khan has proven to be a complete nincompoop as prime minister, be it in domestic or foreign affairs. He invited sharp rebuke from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan’s long-time benefactor and underwriter of financial security, when he threatened to join Turkey’s ambitious Recep Tayyab Erdogan and then Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Mahathir in forming a parallel Islamic nations’ association. Immediately, Saudi Arabia put the Pak army chief and his puppet prime minister on notice, refusing to take little notice of General Bajwa when he landed in Jeddah in a bid to make amends for Imran Khan’s impudence.

Saudi Arabia also recalled billions in loans it had extended to an ever-needy Pakistan. Since then, the ardour of Imran Khan for independent action has completely cooled. His Foreign Minister, the voluble Shah Mohammed Quraishi, seems to have lost his tongue after he threatened to split the Saudi-led IOC. The Saudis showed him that beggars cannot be choosers. In the above backdrop, showing both the Pak army and the so-called civilian government in poor light, causing trouble at the border is a tried-and-tested ploy to try and change conversation in Pakistan from all its ills and unite the country against India. Maybe a day is not too far when ordinary Pakistanis will realise that they have been fooled far too long by the generals and politicians invoking the threat of India to excuse their most egregious corruption and maladministration. That will be the day of reckoning for the ruling Pakistani elite --- and, hopefully, a turning point in its sad and sorry history.

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