Operation “Get Nawaz Sharif”

By Najam Sethi

The “conspiracy” to get rid of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been exposed. Although the circumstantial evidence was compelling, no one, not even the government and parliament, had hard-core facts to prove who was doing what and why. That’s why the government’s political and administrative response to the unfolding crisis was confused, weak and vacillating. Then the Heavens parted and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf President Javed Hashmi descended like an angel to “save” the government by making a clean breast of things. The story can now be stitched up safely.

The old guard in the military left behind by General Ashfaq Kayani – a master spy who occupied both high offices in ISI and GHQ by turns and fashioned the military’s strategic policies for over a decade – was unhappy with the proposed foreign policy initiatives of Nawaz Sharif towards India, Afghanistan, USA, and his stance on non-state actor “assets” and the war against the Pakistani Taliban. Mr Sharif’s choice of General Raheel Sharif as COAS, number three in the lineup and totally apolitical to boot, also queried their pitch. The dye was cast when Mr Sharif hauled up ex-army chief General Pervez Musharraf for treason because this move threatened to drag in General Kayani and many other senior military officers who had backed the coup maker. It was also feared that, come October 2014, when several key generals from the “Kayani guard” would face retirement, Mr Sharif would appoint another relatively apolitical general to the powerful DG-ISI post, thereby seizing the “national security” initiative from the military. It may be recalled that the fear was not unjustified: on two previous occasions as prime minister, Mr Sharif had taken exactly such steps when he sacked Lt Gen Asad Durrani in 1991 and appointed Lt Gen Javed Nasir as DG-ISI and when he appointed Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt as DG-ISI in his second stint as prime minister and later tried to make him COAS and triggered a coup by General Musharraf.

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Pakistan #Fail

Islamabad can’t fix its many problems until the government, the opposition, and the military learn to respect the rule of law.

BY HUSAIN HAQQANI

After paralyzing Islamabad for days, the crowds at boisterous protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are starting to thin out. But even if Pakistan’s current political standoff comes to an end, the country’s deeper political crisis won’t.

Read more » FP
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/05/pakistan_fail_military_politics_protests_nawaz_sharif_imran_khan

Siege of Islamabad: what next?

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

THOUSANDS of fanatical followers, led by the cleric-cricketer combination of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan, hold Islamabad hostage. A year ago such a possibility seemed remote. What of the future? In the years ahead, this pair may become irrelevant.

But with the dangerous precedent they have established, hard-line clerics disaffected with the army’s betrayal, and operations such as Zarb-i-Azb, may give the call to occupy. The marching orders could also come from Caliph Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS or some other radical leader; their literature is already being circulated around. Thereafter, from the hundreds of madressahs in and around the city, charged mobs armed to the teeth will pour out to fulfil their holy duty. Nuclear Pakistan would have the world sitting on edge.

Speculation? Perhaps, but not without cause. Islamabad’s vulnerability now stands twice exposed. The first time was in 2007 when the Lal Masjid clerics went on a rampage, declared rebellion against the state, and imposed their brand of Sharia on Islamabad. It took the lives of a dozen Pakistan Army commandos to defeat them. Hundreds, including children, died. More significantly, it began a new era of suicide attacks on marketplaces, public squares, police stations, and army installations. Since the time, around 30,000 lives have been lost.

People have wisely refused to support the violent destruction of the government.

Back to the present: the Khan-Qadri duo has brought a new level of instability to Pakistan. Hapless citizens, glued to their television sets, watched Pakistan’s heavily fortified capital fall to protesters. Privately hired cranes tossed aside concrete barriers and shipping containers, while razor wire was cut through by professionals. A demoralised police was initially too afraid to follow attack orders.

From the shadows, the Pakistan Army — an institution known all too well to the Baloch and Bengalis — has, with uncharacteristic calm, watched Pakistan’s state institutions taken over by violent thugs. But rather than restore law and order, it chose to confer legitimacy on the insurgents by advocating negotiations. The brief takeover of Pakistan Television by PAT/PTI agitators did not result in any subsequent punitive action; the occupiers left shouting “Pak fauj zindabad”.

What’s the game plan here? Cricketer Khan’s is clear enough: create enough chaos so that the elected government can be forcibly overthrown. Subsequently, it will not be difficult to find a pliant Supreme Court judge who would favour mid-term elections. Then, perhaps with a little reverse rigging, he would be hurled towards what he sees as his rightful destiny — becoming the prime minister of Pakistan. The goals of the mercurial Holy Man from Canada are less clear; keeping the pot vigorously stirred is all that we’ve seen so far.

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