‘India card’ is being played to the hilt by Sharif brothers against former prime minister, Imran Khan which may prove deadly as it is aimed at decimating Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its chief who has also adopted a direct collision course with powerful army headed by general Asim Munir.
Army courts to start trial against Imran and his supporters under Official Secret Act
In a dangerous development, army chief has declared that authorities have initiated trial against planners, predators, instigators, abettors and conspirators under Pakistan army act and official secret act 1952 which has got provisions of the punishment including death penalty, lifelong imprisonment etc. Imran Khan' supporters will be tried under the army act as they were involved in attacks on military installations and military personnel on May 9. Imran Khan will also face army trial for instigating his supporters to indulge in violence which may mean life imprisonment or death penalty.
India card may alienate common people from Imran Khan
Now Shahbaz Sharif's government and his brother former PM, Nawaj Sharif seem to be bent upon teaching a lesson to Imran hence they are quoting the instances of his praise being showered in Indian media. Sahriff brothers want to convert May 9 violence incidents into 9/11 which may witness end of Imran’s political career or even endanger his life. While peeping into history, a Pakistan’s senior journalist, Hamid Mir has analyzed the impact of ‘India Card’. Hamid says that previously Fatima Jinnah, sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah was declared an Indian agent by FM Ayub Khan and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman had been nicknamed as an Indian agent by General Yahya Khan. Similarly, Benazir Bhutto was labeled as an Indian agent by General Zia and Nawaz Sharif was dubbed an Indian agent by the supporters of General Musharraf. Now,a new propaganda has shattered the nerves of many PTI leaders and some of them are leaving politics and even party. The tweets of a retired Indian Army Major Gaurav Arya are becoming evidence that Imran Khan is working to please India. A video clip of Indian journalist, Sushant Sareen was aired by almost all the Pakistani TV channels. Sareen said ‘Imran Khan was his dream because he destroyed Pakistan’. Imran Khan is the new ‘Indian agent’ for the Pakistani establishment.
Interestingly, on this analogy, the ‘Pakistan Card’ had been played in Indian politics since late Mrs Indira Gandhi to Modi’s regime which has paid rich dividends in elections in our country. BJP’s the then chief minister of Gujarat ,Vijay Rupani had accused opposition congress of conniving with Pakistan saying that if congress wins the election in Gujrat by mistake then Dewali will be celebrated in Pakistan because this party is associated with our enemy.
Army’s prestige as ‘protector’ of people is at stake
The army has been called out in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as well as the federal capital, Islamabad under article 245 of the constitution. Experts say that army generals have ruled Pakistan through three coups since 1947 (i.e.1958-71,1977-88 and 1999-2008).Army ruled roost in domestic politics and foreign affairs thereby projecting as ‘savior’ of common people whose confidence has been recently shaken after Imran Khan challenged its unquestionable and incontrovertible sole authority and even interfered in transfers and postings of army generals when he was prime minister which had led to direct confrontation with top generals. Khan was instrumental in the removal of present army chief, Munir from the post of ISI chief and developed serious differences with his ‘Mentor’, general Qamar Bajwa. Now it may prove final nail in Imran’s coffin because his supporters have attacked military installations and residence of army commander which is beyond the imagination of army authorities .Army chief has decided that the instigators will be tried under army official secret act hence it may not be possible for judiciary including supreme court to interfere to give relief to those who will be sentenced by army courts.
Turmoil in Pakistan is not good for India
Analysts feel that the army is certain to establish its supremacy in civic administration again which will be an evidence of futility of challenging its authority and Imran Khan will be quoted as an example who dared to do it and resulted in the end of his life or political career life like other top politicians of this country. Army’s control will mean escalation of terror attacks in Kashmir Valley as ISI may do it with vengeance to keep the pot boiling for its selfish gains and consumption of people in Pakistan. The elimination of one major political group, Imran’s party,(PTI)will automatically force other parties to fall in line and praise the army which may regain the authority to dictate ‘anti-India rhetoric’.
Pessimism about survival of democracy
Shariff government’s direct confrontation with the supreme court and President Arif Alvi ,a former PTI activist and Imran sympathizer, has created a mess in Pakistan which gives no hope of survival of democracy. The Shariff government has openly attacked Chief justice SC, Umar Ata Bandial who has been stripped of his powers through legislation in parliament. Government has refused to obey SC orders and described Bandial as a well-wisher and supporter of Imran Khan. President Alvi had blocked the bill passed in parliament and latently expresses his sympathy with Imran.
Pakistan heading towards economic collapse
Economists say that present turmoil in Pakistan may speed up the process of collapse of the economy in near future especially when world bank is delaying the ‘Bail Out package’ of 1.1 billion US Dollars which is primarily owing to stringent preconditions. Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves have fallen to $4.3bn, its lowest levels since February 2014. Shariff government had given an affidavit in SC stating that it does not have funds to conduct the Punjab polls which reflects its bankruptcy.
Analysts opine that the army's comeback on center stage may be dangerous for the survival of democracy and current turmoil may push the country towards imposition of martial law or civil war which can be attributed to the shortsightedness and self-centered approach of the politicians in this country.
(Writer is a political analyst and senior journalist based in Shimla)