A STORM GATHERS



Before he could complete his five year term as Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan has resigned. After the Supreme Court found him guilty of corruptions and disqualified, Mr. Sharif had no choice but give up his post. His Party, the Muslim League (N), still maintains a majority in the National Assembly. Therefore, the outgoing prime minister is not totally powerless. His brother Shahbaz is the chief minister of Punjab, the most populous state in Pakistan. Once he manages to acquire a seat in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif would take the helm. That is the plan. Until then the ruling Party has nominated Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a minister and a Party stalwart to become prime minister of Pakistan..


It was Imran Khan, a Cricket player turned politician whose Tehreek-E-Insaf (Peace and Justice Party) has remained a thorn in the side of the Sharif Government. It was Khan who moved the Supreme Court against the Prime Minister. A few months ago he and his Party also led a large demonstration against the government and was willing to paralyze the administration. He backed out when the army intervened. Given Pakistan's history that no prime minister has ever completed full five years, Nawaz Sharif's forced resignation is not surprising. President Asif Ali Zardari, before him, completed his five years but had two prime ministers during his term. Many believe that Imran Khan is acting on behalf of the armed forces.

The military has always had an upper hand in the governing of Pakistan. In the eyes of the military, Nawaz Sharif's biggest sin has been that he is not aggressive enough against India. The military's desire to teach a lesson to India is not whole heartedly supported by him. Whether this is true or not is hard to tell but the military is convinced. So Sharif's ouster became necessary. As a politician, Imran Khan played into its hands.

Several things have really raised the dandruff of Pakistan's military. The number one is the civilian control over the military. Regardless what the brass says, Pakistan's military leaders past and present are not ready to accept that. Secondly, the Obama administration earmarked a certain amount from its grant money to be spent on civilian needs. Any money coming from the Trump administration seems unlikely. The relationship between India and the United States has become strong and it has become an irritant for Pakistan's military. It must achieve its goal in a roundabout way: Use the military personnel to investigate Sharif and through the Court system declare him "Corrupt" and unfit to serve as Prime Minister. All of this is legal.

The military knows that the people of Pakistan by and large do not see the military as their savior. Just like everybody else they are busy with their Dal and Roti issues. Although India is considered to be its arch enemy India's economic development is far ahead of Pakistan. High doses of patriotism and religious superiority can go only so far. The allure of economic development cannot be wished away. Pakistan depends on China's money and support. But China and India are competitors but not enemies. It is unlikely that China will fight Pakistan's war with India. There is too much at stake and neither of them is fool enough to ruin all of their investments. The entire scenario is disturbing for the military leaders of Pakistan.

Prime Minister Sharif handpicked Qamar Javed Bajwa to be the Chief of the Armed Forces of Pakistan. However, the culture and the mind set of the military still remain the same. The military would not hesitate to prove its preeminence in Pakistani society. Now that Sharif is ousted, India may find that the military of Pakistan is less accommodating. It is rumored that al Qaeda has opened a branch in Kashmir. Pakistan's military could supply it logistics and materiel. Any kind of political instability in a nuclear power is problematic. However, Pakistan's situation makes it doubly dangerous because of the proximity of the weapons to the Jihadi groups. India must take precautions. The entire world should take note that a storm is gathering in Pakistan.


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