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Asim Munir vs Imran Khan – The Diplomat

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Living up to its historical practice, Pakistan is once again in trouble. But this time, it is facing a multiple crisis: political, economic, security and leadership crises are unfolding simultaneously. The structural anomalies in Pakistan are taking a toll on everyone. This crisis has deepened due to the involvement of many players, due to which polarization of mind Creating multiple sources and narratives on key issues prevailing in Pakistan, within the country.

Recent developments in Pakistan have redrawn long-standing lines with sharper tones.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has pushed the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir to the front line. By launching a scathing attack on the army, Khan seeks to revel in an anti-authoritarian label, but the truth is far from the mirage being projected.

The myth of an anti-incumbency Khan

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After being deposed in April 2022, Imran Khan took a tough stand against the army. He struggled to reconcile the notion that the institution responsible for his rise to power might suddenly withdraw its support. His stand against the establishment, especially former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, has given him the impression of being anti-establishment.

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But this is nothing less than a myth.

Khan presented his fight as a stark divide: either you are with me or against me, and if so against Pakistan. A closer look at his politics reveals that he is the most pro-establishment leader in Pakistan.

lots of food cabinet membersGhulam Sarwar Khan, like Sheikh Rashid and Fawad Chaudhry, had previously served under military dictator Pervez Musharraf. When Khan was contesting elections in 2018, several selected people from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were linked at the behest of the Pakistan Army. Former army chief Bajwa and former ISI chief Faiz Hameed left no stone unturned to bring Khan to power.

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Despite being out of the military, Khan enjoys overwhelming support from ex-servicemen. Former ISI chiefs Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Zahirul Islam, who played a key role in promoting Khan, continue to speak in his favor. To add more, PTI has many members relatives of former founding members Like Timur Khan Jhagra, grandson of Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Omar Ayub Khan, grandson of Ayub KhanZia-ul-Haq’s son Ejaz-ul-Haq and PTI chairman Chaudhary Parvez Elahi, who joined the party on Bajwa’s instructions.

Khan tried to deflect the no-confidence motion by offering another extension to Bajwa.

Khan is not averse to power playing a political role; However, he stresses that such engagement should be exclusively on the part of, He made several attempts to reconcile with the establishment and urged them to return to power. President Arif Alvi to facilitate Meetings between Khan and Bajwa to arrive at some working arrangements through reconciliation. Alvi also made a sincere effort to act as a bridge between Khan and the current army chief, Munir, but those efforts backfired.

Asim Munir vs Imran Khan

The tussle between Munir and Khan dates back to June 2019, when Munir was fearless Removed from the post of Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (DG ISI), Khan could not tolerate Munir’s audacity in producing evidence of his wife’s corruption.

Khan fought desperately to prevent Munir from becoming the army chief. After failing to prevent Munir’s appointment as head of the army, Khan made every effort to mend ways with him without success. The army under Asim Munir continued to adhere to the line set by his predecessor Bajwa to be non-political and neutral. This was a signal to Khan that the army would not support him.

Although Khan’s campaign has long appeared to be a political battle against the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the ruling coalition, with Khan constantly pitching for the establishment, he never misses an opportunity to put pressure on the establishment. He continued to attack the army leadership indirectly until 6 May, when he accused Major General Faisal Naseer, the director general of ISI, of counterintelligence, and a close aide of Munir, of orchestrating an assassination attempt in November. Following his allegation, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the public relations arm of the army, issued a strongly worded statement Describing Khan’s remarks as baseless, he was warned of legal action.

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But that did not stop Khan; On May 9, he released a video message Khan was later arrested by the Rangers in the Islamabad High Court challenging the ISPR’s statement. Khan was released on bail with the intervention of the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court. But now the battle lines have been drawn: Imran Khan vs Asim Munir. mine is near said on record that Munir is scared of him and worries that in case Khan returns to power, he will de-notify the army chief.

What encouraged Imran Khan?

The audacious act of challenging Pakistan’s most influential man, the army chief, begs the question: what has Imran Khan done, and how has he managed to do it so far?

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If history is a lesson then no Pakistani Prime Minister has been able to win a fight with the army chief. Some were killed, others imprisoned, and some went into exile. But Khan has so far proved to be a different matter. His boldness stems from several factors.

First, Khan enjoys popular support, especially among the youth. He has managed to expand his support using a variety of means, including anti-American sentiment. Khan’s popularity initially declined following his defeat in a no-confidence vote. they swam unmoored alien conspiracy theory, Blamed America for his ouster from power. But over time, this strategy proved beneficial, leading to an increase in Khan’s popularity.

Another element is the politicization of Islam, mSeek to serve vested personal interests. it’s clear how Khan puts a islamic touch For their appearance, speech and conduct. Khan built his narrative around “Haq and Batil” (Truth and Falsehood) and “Sadiq and Amin” (Honest and Righteous) and labeled his political opponents as “Truth and Truthfulness”.thief-robber”(thieves and robbers). The failure of opponents to present a counter-narrative became a complementary factor in increasing their popularity.

Second, Khan enjoys enormous support among veterans and the families of the military and the army, especially in the middle and lower ranks.

And finally, the most important source of strength for Khan is the all-round support of the judiciary. The judiciary has ensured Khan’s bail in every case. The Supreme Court has gone out of its way to assist Khan, even to the extent of rewriting the Constitution through Explanation of Article 63A, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial has been the strongest advocate of holding Punjab’s provincial elections within the constitutionally mandated 90 days. His enthusiasm, however, did not reflect his commitment to upholding the constitution, but a desire to return Khan to power in Punjab. Khan was released because of the Supreme Court.

Munir’s challenges

Khan poses a challenge not only to the PDM government but also to Munir. Failure to address this challenge effectively could potentially cost Munir his job. He will also have to bear the political burden of PDM. If he tries to mend relations with Khan and agrees to an election, Khan will return to power, and his first act may be to sack Munir and bring back Faiz Hameed as DG ISI.

Munir is yet to make his team. His choice is constrained by the outgoing leader Bajwa, who PROMOTED 12 Major Generals in the rank of Lieutenant General, three more than the required number. Munir is struggling to find men who are loyal to him and carry out his orders. It won’t be easy for Munir to establish and maintain his authority. To consolidate his command, Munir must eliminate the infiltration of former ISI DG Hameed, who continues to aid Khan’s quest to gain political reins in Pakistan.

The divisions within the army deepen, and it will be an uphill task for Munir to save the army from the polarization unleashed by Khan. The recent change of Lahore Corps Commander following the violence is just the beginning of many more to come.

Munir called a special Corps Commanders’ Conference on May 15, 2023. The statement issued by DG ISPR shows that Munir has no intention of showing mercy to Khan. The army has vowed to prosecute the planners, instigators, instigators and perpetrators of the attacks carried out following Khan’s arrest under relevant laws, including the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act. By holding a special corps commanders’ conference, Munir has given a clear message to the rank and file of the Pakistan Army that there is no place for democracy within the institution and their orders must be obeyed.

In addition to efforts to consolidate his authority, Munir has sent the message that Khan has crossed a red line and will face consequences. As a result, the possibility of Khan’s arrest becomes tangible for the second time.

conclusion

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Pakistan is in a state of unique internal division, the likes of which has not been seen since 1971. The tussle between Asim Munir and Imran Khan will only fuel vendetta politics, further polarize and thus deepen the crisis, undermining the order and structure of the Constitution. State. The confrontation between two men seeking to establish their supremacy is framed in a way that fits their narrative and justifies their actions. But if history has taught anything, Khan should remember that he may end up like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in his pursuit. resemble Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.