MG is a senior air warrior who is an alumnus of the Staff College and a notable writer on military history.
A macabre tragedy has been played out in Pakistan. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a Pakistani Prime Minister lost a vote of no confidence and was ousted. This happened in the early hours of Sunday after a day of high voltage drama. Imran Khan who has very little grassroots support was propped up by the army which is referred to as the establishment as Prime Minister after the previous incumbent Nawaz Sharif had been removed by dubious means. They only tolerated him for some time, to be exact 3 1/2 years and during this period it was observed that he was a maverick leader who spoilt Pakistan's relations with the United States and put all the eggs in the Chinese basket. He also began to make overtures to Russia and overall he failed totally on the economic front with inflation ruling the roost and piling up crippling external debt. Worse he began to hobnob with extremist Islamic parties and make deals with them which the army did not like.
With the economy in Dire Straits and the United States, having decided that Imran was not fit to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan the army got into the act. At their instigation, the joint opposition which consisted of diverse parties with diverse political philosophies was encouraged to come together and propose a vote of no confidence against Imran khan.
Just after midnight on Sunday on a directive from the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the National Assembly reconvened and172 members voted to oust Imran khan. Khan, 69, was absent when the voting took place.
The combined opposition has named Shehbaz Sharif, president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz as a compromise candidate for the post of Prime Minister. He is the younger brother of Nawaz Shariff who had been ousted when the Army lost confidence in him. Nawaz had always been at loggerheads with the army and in earlier 2 tints had been dismissed as prime minister and in one case exiled to Saudi Arabia for 10 years. In his last stint, he had been given 10 years of rigorous imprisonment on charges of corruption when his name surfaced in the Panama papers. The Army was however unhappy that during his tenure the previous president General Mushraff had been sentenced to death by a special bench of the High Court and this rankled the generals.
The opposition had filed the no-confidence motion on March 8. Khan was fighting tooth and nail not to resign as PM. He used every stratagem to escape resignation including asking the deputy speaker to negate the motion of no confidence and asking the president to dissolve the Senate and order fresh elections. He also began to stoke the embers of discontent in public speeches by asserting that he was being targeted by a 'foreign country' with local collaborators. He dropped a dark hint that the country was the USA. The USA denied the accusation.
Khan had come to power in 2018 with promises to create a ‘Naya Pakistan.' But apart from rhetoric, his achievement was zero.
The Achilles heel of Imran was the loss of support from the powerful Army. The problem had blown up when he did not approve of General Bajwa's appointment of the ISI spy agency chief last year. He had to back down but observers had concluded that his days were numbered
The bone of contention was Lt Gen Faiz Hameed who Imran wanted as the ISI Chief but Bajwa transferred him as Corps Commander in Peshawar. There was more to the eye than a simple appointment and rumors were abounding that ultimately he wanted to sideline the Army chief Gen Bajwa.
There were many twists and turns throughout Saturday. Earlier the Supreme Court had struck down the ruling of the Dy Speaker and cleared the way for the Senate to convene and vote on the confidence motion. Just after midnight after a meeting with General Bajwa, Imran threw in the towel and resigned. It was the end of a macabre period in Pakistan history, akin to murder and magic like in Shakespeare's Macbeth.
One can now see that this period of rule of Imran khan was a period of great stress in Pakistan's history after General Zia ul Haq. It was a period when many people were lynched to death in open streets on grounds of blasphemy and the extremist elements in Pakistan were given an umbrella.
One hopes General Bajwa can now restore some of the ideals of Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
© 2022 MG Singh emge