Will Nawaz Sharif be overthrown now?

On November 2, Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) will stage the final sit-in of indefinite duration in Islamabad till Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gives up and resigns.

Written by Khaled Ahmed | Updated: November 1, 2016 3:42 pm
imran khan, imran khan protest, nawaz sharif, pakistan pm, pak pm, pm sharif, imran khan pm sharif, imran khan nawaz sharif, world news, indian express, Such is the uniformity of opinion inside Pakistan’s top brass that PM Nawaz Sharif’s opposition to the regional strategy of the GHQ may finally cause his fall.

On November 2, Imran Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) will stage the final sit-in of indefinite duration in Islamabad till Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gives up and resigns. He says he will lock the capital down and has already issued a map designating the chokepoints where his followers would block all movement.

Surprisingly, his fellow-protestor, Canada-based Allama Tahir-ul-Qadri, and his party, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), have agreed at the last moment to join him. The PAT is a party whose men and women will die for their spiritual leader despite his glaring personality flaws. Khan had offended him, which caused him to break from the current protest and leave for Canada. Since Khan singularly lacks capacity for reconciliation, who has “persuaded” Qadri to join the protest called “dharna” with an undercurrent of violence? Has the army moved once again to unseat PM Sharif because of disagreement over India?

Khan and Qadri did their first dharna in 2014 — it was Qadri’s second — but the army failed to move in after it got violent. The prime minister had appointed a new army chief in General Raheel Sharif and the ISI chief too was replaced with a more professional officer, General Rizwan Akhtar. (Pakistani say “professional” when they mean “not infected with Islamic fervour”) Somehow, General Sharif didn’t follow the old military reflex of toppling the elected government. It is possible that he was more interested in bringing about a change in the army’s strategic stance than in toppling the elected government.

At this juncture in the tenure of the incumbent government, commentators think the toppling is on now if it was not on in 2014. Columnist Zahid Hussain says in Dawn (October 26) it’s time to go for Nawaz Sharif: “Naming the new army chief before November 2, as rumour has it, is not likely to mend matters. The unresolved issue of the ‘leak’ to the media of the proceedings of a top security meeting is not going to go away with a change of guard. Hence, Imran Khan’s planned storming of the capital could not have come at a worse time for the beleaguered prime minister.”

Such is the uniformity of opinion inside Pakistan’s top brass that PM Sharif’s opposition to the regional strategy of the GHQ may finally cause his fall. An army chief with an innovative mind may want to see Pakistan get out of a policy rut, but the army’s “internal opinion” may thwart him and make him revive and follow the old line of action. An army chief may rule Pakistan with an iron fist but when it comes to the opinion of the rank and file he must show flexibility and curb his urge to innovate.

The history of toppling governments in recent times will force outsiders to think of Pakistan as a sick state obsessive about hara-kiri. As Christophe Jaffrelot tells it in his book The Pakistan Paradox, it all began after the 1988 election which brought Benazir Bhutto and her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to power after Bhutto pledged “not to bother dead dictator General Zia’s family and not to alter the Afghan policy, the nuclear programme or defence strategy, and not interfere with the country’s administrative architecture, in other words, promotions within the army”.

In 1990, the Bhutto government was booted out anyway and the elections that followed were heavily weighted by the army in favour of an opposition alliance. Nawaz Sharif won and began to rule, wary of General Zia’s Eighth Amendment that allowed dismissal of an incumbent government in mid-tenure. Predictably, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed the Sharif government in 1993. When the Supreme Court disallowed the dismissal, the army stepped in and made Sharif quit anyway.

The PPP returned to power in the next election but the same thing happened again mainly because Bhutto was seen as being too soft on India and not too firm on the nuclear programme. The dismissal order usually contained references to corruption, national security and soft-pedalling on Islam. In 1996, her government met the same fate. In 1997, it was Nawaz Sharif’s turn to rule and he began by stealing the army’s thunder by owning the nuclear test of 1998. But that didn’t save him from the coup of 1999 which brought General Musharraf to power after he had subjected Pakistan to humiliation and dishonour with his Kargil adventure.

In 2016, the signs are ominous. As Khan’s November 2 dharna drew close, Pakistan was abuzz with the news that a tough clerical organisation called the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC) was to deploy its thousands of madrassa acolytes in Islamabad “to protest the cause of Kashmir”. Government supporters have made oblique references to the entry of known terrorists on the side of PTI — without saying they meant the DPC.

What is the DPC? In 2012, the DPC had demonstrated in Islamabad pretending to defend the country against America at Aabpara Chowk, defying the PPP government’s ban on its top leaders: Jamaat ud Dawa’s Hafiz Saeed and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat’s Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi. And someone was backing it for highlighting American drones and what some US Congressmen were doing to fish in the troubled waters of Balochistan. The DPC’s earlier foray in Multan had featured terrorist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s Malik Ishaq, the Shia-killing client of al Qaeda whom those backing the DPC today had to kill in a “police encounter” later on. One of the leaders of the DPC, ex-ISI chief General (retd) Hamid Gul — now dead — denied that he was present at the rally but later apologised in the face of solid evidence. Another Shia-killer from Kohat, Javed Ibrahim Paracha, known as al Qaeda’s lawyer who patronised the clerics of Lal Masjid, was also frequently seen in the DPC demonstrations.

(This article first appeared in the print edition under the headline “Storming the state”)

The writer is consulting editor, ‘Newsweek Pakistan’

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First Published on: November 1, 2016 12:52 am
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    Satendra kumar
    Nov 1, 2016 at 1:29 pm
    The current Islamic state of stan government is weak at terror groups thier existence in stan and all thier criminal activities.People of stan should have thier own voice and opinion for electing the government.
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    1. A
      Alab
      Nov 1, 2016 at 9:09 am
      Ahmed Sir. Why should Army topple a leader who is submissive and dances to the tune of Military ? It gives them a good face globally. Proxy Govt. helps them in their proxy war.
      Reply
      1. O
        Orion
        Nov 1, 2016 at 7:51 pm
        Liked Mr, Ahmed's earlier piece on Hekmatyar. In a recent Al Jajeera interview, HIC spokesman spoke with candor on certain issues of relevance to India and the region.
        Reply
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          Arman khan
          Nov 1, 2016 at 1:14 am
          AND there are so many fools in stan who support military dictatorship.... Only Allah can enlighten those men from the land of pure s
          Reply
          1. D
            Damaru Prasad
            Nov 1, 2016 at 5:07 am
            stani army will not send him ng since doing so will cut off American dollars to them. He will keep on hanging around for sometime.
            Reply
            1. S
              Sriniwasan
              Nov 1, 2016 at 1:42 pm
              Before November,stan will have a new PM and a COAS.Raheel will appoint Emraan as PM and Emrrann will appoint Raheel as Field Marshal.Both are happy and so the story continues
              Reply
              1. K
                KP Pillai
                Nov 1, 2016 at 2:07 pm
                In every likelihood, this will happen, within the next 2-3 weeks. Either Nawaz has to retain the Army Chief or give him the superior authority. Nawaz survives at his mercy.
                Reply
                1. S
                  Sankaran Krishnan
                  Nov 1, 2016 at 3:19 pm
                  It is good for the Terror Nation if the present PM is thrown out and he deserves that for the way he proves he is unfit for the job with no spines to take bold decision and are under the cover of the Military establishment !!!
                  Reply
                  1. A
                    ashok
                    Nov 1, 2016 at 7:39 am
                    He shouldn't be, and Imran Khan should be no part of the mischief. Difficult to believe stan's top generals and most other senior politicians do not have stuff lying abroad.
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                    1. M
                      Murthy
                      Nov 1, 2016 at 5:36 am
                      At least 65% of Chinese still visit Buddhist or Daoist Mandhirs. Some in the cities are following Christianity. Ancestor Worship, like Hindus do Tharpann, they also do. Many of their Mandhirs are for Guan Yin, our Durga Ma, Simha Vahan and holding Garuda as her mascot. Chinese rituals are similar to Hindu ones.
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                      1. M
                        Murthy
                        Oct 31, 2016 at 11:18 pm
                        Yes, Khaled bhai is right. The Pak. Army always manages to "co-opt" one or two civilian leaders / office holders to 'lend a hand' in toppling elected governments of stan. Imran Khan has, there are good reasons to think, done the Army's bidding in the past. Canadian Qadri may also be in close touch with the Army and ISI. The way the formula works was decided by General Ayub Khan in 1956, when as Chief of the Pak. Army, he got President Iskander Mirza to dismiss the Civilian Government. Then after a short time, Ayub Khan sent President Mirza into exile in the U.K. Mirza became the manager of an "Indian" Restaurant in London.
                        Reply
                        1. H
                          Hari
                          Nov 1, 2016 at 3:30 pm
                          There is no peace between India and stan unless corrupt stani politicians and military generals are hanged on corruption charges. All these stani rulers are always indulged in proxy wars with India to keep tension intact so that they can conceal their CORRUPTION. This fact is overlooked by stani people which are the main reason for poverty and backwardness all over stan. So the public should wage war against CORRUPTS of stan and ensure that all culprits must be hanged at the earliest. Only then stan can move forward towards peace and prosperity.
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                          1. P
                            Priyank
                            Nov 1, 2016 at 8:28 am
                            Buddhism is partially atheistic. There is no god in Buddhism and and the teaching of Buddhism tell its followers to question everything. Comparing that with islam, you get beheaded for questioning anything including pedophile mohammed
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                            1. P
                              Priyank
                              Nov 1, 2016 at 8:24 am
                              Taliban khan has always wanted him to be overthrown that is why first he started dharnas against the election results and now for panama leaks.
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                              1. N
                                NEO
                                Nov 1, 2016 at 3:18 am
                                stan people once seen a well educated modern leader in face of emramm khaan,lt;br/gt;but he still again proven as british spy...lt;br/gt;However, stan needs a AtaTurk face like MODI in Bharat...lt;br/gt;Mere drawing a line will not change our one common history and hence the imported religion from arab can give a afterdeath heaven,lt;br/gt;But before death life, it requires a Indus civilized way of living...lt;br/gt;Some arabized moslems may see it as Hindooism,lt;br/gt;but its a true sm of life in fertile land of 5god-gifted rivers...lt;br/gt;Please be sane and accept the history as foundation,lt;br/gt;else,lt;br/gt;China a Budddhist country is no good for pak-people as they are even good for their own people...
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                                1. P
                                  Pmg Pillai
                                  Nov 1, 2016 at 6:05 am
                                  politica astrology projects such n evetuality ess his gvnment akerdrsfm Mility headod ffices dtd tuesday Novdmber 01st 2016 Time 13 Hr ist
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    sk
                                    Nov 1, 2016 at 1:46 am
                                    The biggest challenge for stan society is to control it's army which is projected as protector of stan but in reality the biggest threat to it
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      Sher Mohammad.
                                      Nov 1, 2016 at 6:26 am
                                      I feared your narrow-minded atude but, believe me, the Washington Post and the New York Times have published my comments. One time I wrote on Israel that the Jews have a sharp nose at commerce and just as soon they see the Arab spring coming to blossom they would flee forgetting their nostalgia for Israel and join the Arabs as they did in the past centuries. New York Times expunged this portion a bit later. Even we're worst in narrow mindedness.
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        sdas
                                        Oct 31, 2016 at 11:11 pm
                                        A good chance of a coup before the 16th. of November.
                                        Reply
                                        1. M
                                          Maya
                                          Nov 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm
                                          Who cares? How does it matter? One terrorist gets replaced by the other and both dance to the tune of the actual rulers like Hafeez Saeed and Mazoor Azad. stan is a failed state. Nobody can save it!
                                          Reply
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                                            Prateik
                                            Nov 1, 2016 at 4:01 am
                                            Chinese are atheists.
                                            Reply
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