The Army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has asserted that the Army is a state institution which works under him, amidst Opposition’s allegations of the powerful military establishment’s interference in the country’s politics and elections. Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a 11-party opposition alliance, has been holding massive rallies since its inception in September to seek Khan’s ouster and press the military to stop interfering in politics. The PDM has been accusing the Pakistan Army of installing “puppet” Prime Minister Khan through a manipulated election in 2018.
The Army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy. However, the military has denied meddling in the country’s politics. Khan also denies that the army helped him win the election in 2018.
According to the ‘Lahore Declaration’ signed by the Opposition parties on Monday, the military establishment had stolen the people’s mandate in the 2018 election and imposed a “hybrid and inefficient” government on the masses.
In an interview to SAMAA TV on Friday, 68-year-old Khan rebutted accusations that he does not have any real authority and said that the Pakistan Army is a state institution, which works under him.
On Opposition’s claims that the government wouldn’t hold if not for the support from the powerful establishment, the cricketer-turned-politician said he is the country’s democratically elected prime minister and so the institutions back him.
The PDM has set a January 31 deadline for Khan to step down or face a long march to Islamabad. The coalition pledged that it will make sure that there is no interference of the institutions of “the establishment and intelligence” in politics and at the same time it will make the security institutions stronger on the professional lines.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo and three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, 70, has been repeatedly blaming Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and spy agency ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed of meddling in Pakistan’s political affairs. Sharif was ousted from power in 2017 by the Supreme Court court on graft charges.
The PML-N chief, currently out on bail, has been living in London since November last year after he was allowed by the courts and the government to go there for a period of eight weeks for medical treatment. But he did not come back, while his lawyers told the court that he was still recovering. Khan said the Opposition does not want to hold talks with the government and is instead pressuring the Army to send a democratic government packing. This can be called treason, he said.
The real reason, Khan said, is that the Opposition wants all cases against them to be withdrawn and they be given an NRO-like concession. National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRP) was issued by former military dictator Pervez Musharraf to withdraw cases against Benazir Bhutto in 2007.