Pakistan: Soft Coup Appears Imminent
No democratic government has survived the full term in Pakistan. Something which the Pakistan Army takes great pride in having ruled Pakistan for half of its existence directly and the rest indirectly. In the worst face off between the civil government and the military, both of which are suffering legitimacy crisis in Pakistan, the scales seem to be tipping in favour of the Army as it controls the foreign policy.
With the judiciary standing behind the Army due to Chief Justice’s personal vendetta against Mr Zardari, there is a strong reason to believe that the days of this government are numbered. Mr Choudhary is likely to use the NRO issue to discredit the government at the behest of the Army.
The generals and the judges will thus keep Mr Zardari’s back to the wall. He will continue to manoeuvre on different levels to frustrate them. That means the government will remain, in effect, paralysed.
The army, which has suffered a severe loss of face courtesy events such as OBL, Mehran attack and the NATO attacks wants to redeem its pride to protect its businesses in Pakistan. But does it want to rule while having to govern a bankrupt state? Our assessment is a big NO.
Purely from this standpoint it may opt for a soft coup in which it forces the PPP government to step down, judicially or otherwise and order early polls. With Imran Khan batting for the Army this appears to be the ideal choice.
Why is a coup unlikely?
The insurmountable problems of internal security situations perpetuated by the Taliban make it an absolutely unenviable task to take control of the country. A run down economy, squabbling over resources and a general management chaos does not augur well for the army which has a stake in various national financial and business enterprises.
Pakistan military is running low on its approval ratings to stage a coup both with the opposition PML(N) and with PPP. Anyway, as it still continues to govern the country’s foreign and defence policy, there is little it would gain by staging a coup except inheriting a variety of administrative woes. These are only likely to worsen in the days ahead.
The army may be reluctant to stage a coup as it may incur the wrath of the Supreme Court. But the possibility that the Court may take action against Mr. Gilani, which could lead to an early poll, is a possibility which may prompt army to bide their time till the polls.
There are deep divisions within the Army between the Allah’s Army (the radicalised lot) and the moderate ones. A battle between the two is something the Pakistan Army cannot afford right now.More here.
However, there are other factors too. The US wants a stable government in Pakistan to fight its war on terror in Af Pak – something for which it needs support of the Pakistan Army desperately. While the US is reiterating that this is an internal matter of Pakistan, General Dempsey apparently has been in touch with General Kayani. This touch would definitely nudge Pakistan to keep the real power with the Army, the largest recipient of American largesse.
The Imran Khan factor is also important. For some time now the Army has been nurturing him to take a pivotal role in Pakistan politics. An anti-American, radicalised Imran suits their larger aims in managing the country away from the combined wrath of PPP and PML. His call for elections and rejection of support for a coup may be part of a larger conspiracy to get him on board.
The path ahead appears uncertain. There are speculations of all types doing rounds. This civil government has no doubt performed poorly in the face of major problems facing the nation. However if it survives its full term, it may be the first Pakistan government to do so. Purely from this historical stand point – it may fall sooner than expected. However, it is our firm conviction that the army would not take the plunge this time around and prop Mr Imran to bowl for them.
Let us see which choice Pakistan chooses – coup, compromise or chaos!
- Pakistan infighting may spell trouble for West (cbsnews.com)
- Imran Khan calls for early polls, won’t back coup (ibnlive.in.com)
- Pakistan army commanders meet (thehindu.com)
- Pakistan: a coup by other means | Editorial (guardian.co.uk)
- Rumours of a coming coup may be exaggerated (thehindu.com)
- Imran predicts N-PPP alliance (nation.com.pk)
- Pakistan army commanders meet amid rising tensions (foxnews.com)