It’s not being discussed in our media, but there’s a near civil war like situation within Pakistan these days. Things have taken a turn for the worse and it’s going to get even more worse in the next few days. All this when there’s a general election scheduled to be held on 25th Jul. Three events have led to the situation as it exists today.
Firstly, ‘sacking’ of Nawaz Sharif was the most important factor which has led to the current chaos. As I’ve mentioned earlier as well, Sharif’s only crime was that he wanted to have good relations with India. This was unacceptable to their army. If Pakistan has good relations with India what will they do with thousands of jehadis whom they’ve created to cause mayhem in India? Not just this, Sharif was also keen on cutting down the army to size literally as well as metaphorically. As you would be aware, their army enjoys enormous powers within Pakistan and is present in every walk of life including businesses. If all this were to be stopped, their generals would lose their opportunity to make money. Not surprisingly, these generals did not accept this and got him convicted on trumped up charges.
The second event which has contributed to the chaos is sentencing on both Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam to ten years in prison on these very charges. Many commentators including retired judges have openly said that this is a weak judgment and is likely to be repealed if a review petition were to be filed. Pertinent to mention here that Sharif and his daughter are currently in UK, but they have decided to come back to the country to face the law. Once they do, they’re likely to be arrested when they land. This is likely going to cause even more heart burn amongst the supporters of PML (N), Sharif’s political party which is said to be leading the charts as of now. To complicate things further, thousands of workers and supporters of PML (N) have been put behind bars as a precaution by the authorities. The city of Lahore, where Sharif is scheduled to land has virtually been isolated from the rest of the country. The roads leading to the city have been blocked, internet has been shut down and journalists too have been warned not to spread the news of these incidents. However, these warnings and measures are unlikely to succeed. They cannot shut down internet in the entire country. The news is already out on the social media, and a backlash can be expected.
The authorities now face a predicament, if they don’t put Sharif in jail he’ll canvass in the elections and will have sympathies of the people with him who very well understand this whole dirty game. But if the authorities fulfill the obligations of law and put Sharif behind bars, he’ll again get sympathy from the people, even more so. Either way things don’t look good for the army. Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shahbaz Sharif, who is taking care of the campaign and the party in Nawaz’s absence is a strong man. The PML(N) is very strong in the all important Punjab. He’s unlikely to take things lying down. He’ll ensure that he utilizes this opportunity to create a sympathy wave in the country for his brother and his party. The powers that be who plotted Sharif’s ouster did not do their home work well enough. The ‘sacking’ and sentencing especially have happened too close to the elections. Their army is nothing but a crook alright, but they’re not smart enough. Pakistan and its people are paying for their army’s stupidity.
Given the way things are, their chosen protégé Imran Khan is unlikely to win the elections. Imran, by the way, has himself been personally hit by destructive revelations made by his ex-wife Reham Khan, in her book which has been published just a couple of days back. And this is third event in this chain, which is hurting Imran’s credibility a lot at a very crucial moment. As things stand today, Imran is unlikely to win the elections, if they were to be held in a free and fair manner. However, in Pakistan one cannot be sure
of that. To give just one example, in 1977 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s party PPP, won more than 60% of the votes. Some of his strongest opposition candidates were defeated by unknowns who managed to get 95% of the votes polled. Undoubtedly the polls were rigged. There was widespread unrest in the country with thousands of opposition leaders being put behind bars. Following this, the then chief of the army General Zia ul Haq imposed martial law and imprisoned Bhutto. Bhutto never got out alive.
If one were to do some crystal gazing in this context, one can say that in all likelihood, the elections in Pakistan are going to be postponed. Widespread chaos may be quoted as the reason by the authorities for this decision. If this happens, it’ll lead to even more chaos which might force the military to once again officially assume control. However, all this may change if the army somehow manages to ensure that Imran wins these elections. It’s rather unlikely.