Army Wins in Pak Polls

The result of the general elections in Pakistan, held on Wednesday, was a foregone conclusion. It is the Pakistan Army which has won.  Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were the Army’s proxy. Over the past few weeks many winnable candidates of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of the ousted and imprisoned former Prime Minister and of the Pakistan People’s Party of Bilawal Bhutto switched sides and joined Imran’s party under Army ”persuasion”. What is creditable for Nawaz Sharif is that even under extremely adverse circumstances (he was portrayed as friendly toward India and therefore anti-Pakistan),  his party emerged as the second largest. Till the time of writing, the PML-N had won 69 seats. The PTI was, of course, well ahead of its principal rival by winning 110 seats. As usual, Imran resorted to high decibel anti-India histrionics during his campaign to establish his bona a patriotic Pakistani. Another significant fact is that no known jihadi leader has been elected. As in the past, the Pakistani electorate rejected them.
What will be the likely impact of a government led by Imran Khan on Indo-Pak relations?  Not much. War between two nuclear power countries is out of the question. The :Pakistani brass hats know it well that a nuclear misadventure against India will wipe out their country. As the Army will continue to call the shots as in the past, the situation in Kashmir will continue to be the same. What the elections have done is to remove a civil government which had fallen foul of the Army by one which will be the Army’s civil face. What needs to be watched is whether and if so how far Imran Khan is able to change the global perception that Pakistan is a State that promotes terrorism. Also, whether he succeeds in improving relations with the United States. The second is contingent on the first.
What makes the future of democracy in Pakistan more dismal is that for the first time the judiciary has been taken on board by the Army. It is the army-judiciary collusion that sent Nawaz Sharif to jail and then to banning him from political activities for life. There is only one instance of army-judiciary collusion in the past – the sentencing to death of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. It was condemned as judicial murder. Pakistan was a garrison State and continues to be one. For the Pakistani people, democracy is a distant dream.

Thursday, 26 July, 2018