Monday, 11 August 2014
Is General Raheel Sharif in control? Dr Shabir Choudhry
Is General Raheel Sharif in control? Dr Shabir Choudhry 11 Aug. 14
In May 2014, I wrote an article titled ‘Pakistan army is back in the driving seat’. There were many who used foul language against me because I criticised holy cows of Pakistan. Now, I ask, if General Raheel Sharif is in control of his troops? I wrote in May 2104:
...‘Those who established Pakistan had strategic, political and imperialist aims in the region; and in order to advance their agenda they needed a religious state which could look after the interests of the West and Capitalism. For that purpose they left in charge Brown Sahibs who were trained and educated by the British to carry the burden; and no wonder the British trained army, the British appointed feudal lords and the British trained bureaucracy has always been at the helm of affairs in Pakistan’......This troika always ensured that the interests of the West are appropriately looked after; and that democracy does not get its roots in Pakistan. They also ensured that people are not empowered and they always remain divided on religious, ethnic and linguistic lines and remain subservient. Furthermore they ensured that the ordinary people always remain at subsistence level where they are only worried about their next meal.’
‘However, army’s record against civilian governments of Pakistan is brilliant, as they have successfully invaded their capital four times and directly ruled the country for more than three decades. The remaining period in the life of the country men in uniform dictated the terms by either sitting in the back seat, or on the front seat.....He is trying to assert the civilian rule, which the army cannot tolerate. He is working hard to provide Pakistan economic stability and make peace with the Pakistani Taliban and insurgents of Balochistan. Also he wants to have friendly relations with India and have mutual cooperation in many areas including trade and commerce. He has also abandoned this policy of previous governments to have a strategic depth in Afghanistan, and have a government in Kabul which Pakistan approves or likes....The army started asserting themselves some months ago; hence we see the turmoil in various walks of life in Pakistan, including in media.....’ 1
The power of Nawaz Sharif government has considerably weakened since I wrote the above article in May; and his rivals seem to be dictating the terms now. Many are claiming that Nawaz Sharif won’t be the Prime Minister for much longer. The next 10 days could be very crucial; and will test the nerves of all those contesting for power.
Many experts claim that the Pakistani army is very strong and discipline force; always loyal to the Chief. I wonder if that is still true. To me the war in Pakistan is not only a war for power. It has many dimensions. The army is trained and equipped to fight against enemies of the country; especially enemies that are visible or identified, for example, armed forces of neighbours or insurgency.
Threats to existence of Pakistan are not from outside, as most Pakistanis claim and think. Real threat is from inside the borders of Pakistani state. This threat also has more than one dimension. Outside forces may join the brawl once the domestic fight spills over and directly affect other countries.
In view of one Pakistani defence analyst: ‘Pakistan is in the midst of a new elite war for the control of state power. Competing political leaders and parties are once again at each other’s throats in a bid to outmanoeuvre one another..... If the ruling elite and the counter elite do not find some political solution by stepping back from their maximalist demands, the possibility of widespread violence cannot be ruled out. If the situation becomes very violent and unmanageable, the political initiative will shift to the military that has enough experience of deciding who will go home and who will be installed.’2
One dimension of the threat or war people tend to ignore is the serious threat of religious sect or cult, which has deeply torn apart the Pakistani society. In this divided society people are divided on sectarian lines. People have strong loyalties to their sects or Masleks; and they are willing to do anything on the orders of their sect or cult leader.
Sad thing is that some countries have chosen to make Pakistan a battleground for their rivalry and sectarian war; and Pakistan has lost thousands of lives and property worth billions of dollars in this cult war. This sect war or cult war has sadly penetrated all sections of the Pakistani society; and it must be noted that men in uniform, whether they belong to army, police or other Para military forces are also part of this society.
By and large, Pakistani people are traditional and religious. It must be remembered that men in uniform are also human beings. Many of them belong to religious families; and they also want to go to Heaven after death. In view of this it is impossible not to be influenced by religious sects and other factors.
So it is difficult to say who is loyal to whom? When it comes to crunch, who knows who will stand with whom? It is clear that in guise of democratic rights, Imran Khan and Dr Tahir Ul Qadri want to push Pakistan to civil war; and who will side with whom it is difficult to say.
My fear is that this looming civil war could divide the men in uniform with devastating consequences for Pakistan and the entire region. It is too much to expect from these contestants with big ego and misplaced loyalty to apply wisdom and control the situation; however, I pray Almighty to help us.
2. The elite war, Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2014.
Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.