Pakistan: the situation inside

The natives getting restless – by Mujahid Hussain

The anti-Army feelings among the influential political parties, religious and jihadist parties and outfits are increasing in the traditionally pro-Army province of Punjab. The failure of the Army and the Central Government in Balochistan is calamitous. The extremism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not been beaten

Recent events have caused the army and its intelligence wing to be exposed to criticism in a manner never seen before in this country. This estrangement does not apply to the religious right alone anymore, who were already angry because of their one dimensional view on the war on terror. Both the religious and the left wing parties have felt emotions of betrayal and anger towards the army for different reasons. The liberal intellectuals who support the army in the war on terror, have expressed concerns about the duplicity and the modus operandi of the intelligence agencies.

Usama Bin Ladin’s death in Abbottabad, Mehran Base Attack, successive drone attacks, and now the killing of a youth by the Rangers in Karachi in public, has caused the decibel levels to rise as never before.

The less than complimentary views about the army expressed by Asma Jahangir, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the torch bearer of Human Rights, has created a new situation. The reaction of the military top brass has been to rely on its carefully nurtured constituency in journalism, politics, establishment and other vocal segments of the society, to stick to the well rehearsed standard narrative, offering the usual rewards in return.

On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif intends to exploit this situation, for he knows full well that his rivals are weak and that internal and external factors may allow him to gain political ascendancy. There is no evidence coming to the fore that the army has grasped the significance of the change in the public mood and increasing disillusionment among its traditional supporters.

It does not seem that the army has yet decided to curtail its role in politics. History, however, is full of ironies. The coziness with the Army that was the preserve of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Group [PML-N] is now enjoyed by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party [PPP], given expression through the statements of Rahman Malik, Babar Awan, and Firdous Ashiq Awan. All three are new PPP faces whereas the traditional party leaders have lost their pre-eminence. On the other hand, the PML-N members are moving towards the role played by the PPP workers during and following the Zia regime. Jamaat-e-Islami [JI] has lost favour and Imran Khan has stepped into its shoes.

Whereas the brittleness of the state has become obvious in these circumstance, its only stable institution, the Army, is also facing retreat and uncertainty. The situation in the tribal regions is a stalemate. The anti-Army feelings among the influential political parties, religious and jihadist parties and outfits are increasing in the traditionally pro-Army province of Punjab. The failure of the Army and the Central Government in Balochistan is calamitous. The extremism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not been beaten. In Sindh, the increasing unrest in cities is not a good omen for all unitary forces including the Army even though there is no prominent movement in the rural Sindh. …

Read more: ViewPoint

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