I‘ve received some harsh criticism from some of my friends in Khaki for using words like “treachery” and “betrayal” for the actions of the Army Chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and the role he played in the ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The argument proferred to me is that while Gen. Bajwa made a huge mistake in removing Imran in the manner he did, but Imran is also to be blamed for not listening to the Chief’s advice, for being insensitive, arrogant and all the rest….etc, etc.
To which the answer is simple.
Does this give the Army Chief the right to remove a legally elected government and promote the alleged US desire for regime change in Pakistan by bringing back a group of pliant, spineless, weak, highly compromised, corrupt individuals into government, easily controlled by Gen. Bajwa and allegedly act on US orders?
This alleged attempt at promoting US interests of controlling Pakistan is the first step by them to regain back their control of the region and re-start the US’s efforts to blunt the Chinese juggernaut and stop any attempts at a powerful pan-Asia bloc comprising Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and some Central Asian countries.
The Great Game has restarted with contours well beyond Pakistan or Imran or the current Pakistani government.
This event is now no longer about Imran. It’s now about Pakistan.
In that process, Gen. Bajwa’s highly inflammable actions have turned Pakistan into a potential internal battle zone, pitting citizens against each other and most dangerously pitting many against the Army, because of the actions of one man who masterminded this whole scheme.
This is the perfect storm of divided loyalties, serious disagreements, and extremely volatile emotions against the institution, which even our enemies could not have hoped for in their wildest dreams or imaginations.
And all because of one man!
The Pakistan Army’s discipline, code of conduct and unity of command, and loyalty to its Chief is legendary.
Had it not been so, we would have witnessed blood baths and civil war and the destruction of this great institution much earlier.
Former PM Imran has adopted an incredibly wise position to highlight the critical importance of our armed forces and advise all of his supporters to not criticize them under any circumstances.
Why have we come to a situation where, if push comes to shove, and with their backs to the wall, a people who love their Army and their country, Pakistan, are forced to choose between the two?
Why should people have to make this awful and very difficult choice?
Why should people be brought to that level of disillusionment, anger, frustration, humiliation, insult, disgust and God forbid, public violence in seeing the most visible symbol of this great Army, its current Chief, foisting a bunch of corrupt thieves, looters and plunderers, on them?
There is no doubt that Gen. Bajwa’s credibility, his personal reputation, and above all his moral authority, as the Army Chief has been greatly shaken, weakened, and under tremendous strain and pressure because of his role in this whole saga.
This is irrespective of any brave face he may put on or the “sub acha” reports he gets or be blind to and ignore the massive mistake he’s committed.
Every day he must know and see the massive overt and covert backlash against him, both from within and outside the army, putting great strains on the Army’s discipline, its code of conduct, and its unity of command and loyalty to the Chief.
Gen. Bajwa’s latest action to take Shahbaz Sharif to North Waziristan, having him briefed by Gen. Faiz Hamid, was an act of supreme foolishness.
If the objective was to show his control over the institution and its loyalty to its chief and its subservience to the PM, then unfortunately for him, it failed miserably.
There were howls of pained disbelief and angry outrage from serving and retired rank and file and ordinary Pakistanis, to see their beloved Army being subjected to the humiliating and nightmarish spectacle of brigands like Shahbaz, Khawaja Asif and mercies upon mercies, Rana Sanaullah smugly and gleefully, watching Gen. Faiz brief them.
Enough said. Here are some options in front of us.
Gen. Bajwa sees the writing on the wall, realizes what a major blunder he has committed, uses his influence with the judiciary to get rid of the current administration and install a neutral caretaker administration and hold elections, even if it’s November.
Several very strong options are available that the courts can use.
1. 63 A hearing by the SC to deliver a verdict against those who went or voted against party lines as well as pass a verdict against those who indulged in horse-trading.
2. A Judicial commission on “Lettergate” determines that a conspiracy resulted in the illegal ouster of a legally elected government.
3. The Punjab CM election deadlock. A clear verdict voiding all PTI VOTES cast in favor of Hamza.
The ECP accepts PTI resignations resulting in Gen. Bajwa “nudging” Shahbaz to dissolve assemblies and call for fresh elections.
This could also force another vote of no confidence against Shahbaz to bring down the house of cards.
Gen. Bajwa is strongly and politely but firmly “requested” by his inner circle to resign or take premature retirement to safeguard the integrity of the Army and bring down the temperatures with the current Chairman JCSC, temporarily taking over the duties of the Chief till a new one is appointed in November 2022.
The interim Chief should then step in to do the needful.
This is not a desirable option as it will cast a serious blow to the Army’s traditions. But if this is what will save Pakistan, then so be it.
The least desirable option, fraught with frightening possibilities is for people to take matters into their own hands and force Gen. Bajwa’s hand.
A terrible option, as I said earlier, but could happen if the people have no choice and are pushed into a corner with their backs to the wall.
There is still time to set things right.
There is still time to stop Pakistan become a client state.
There is still time to stop the country from heading into a nightmare of violence, anarchy, and civil unrest.
There is still time to stop this country from reverting to the dark days of Jack-booted fascism.
There is still time to undo this mess and get rid of these looters and plunderers back in government.
There is still time, Sir!
There is still time!
Pay heed to the march of history.
Pay heed to the voices, fears, and emotions of the vast majority of men and women, young and old, rich or poor, in the homes and streets of Pakistan, Sir.
No one wants violence, clashes, or civil unrest.
But everyone, barring the odd few, wants a self-respecting and independent Pakistan, free from the clutches and claws of the corrupt mafia now in government and the ugly talons of external imperial power.
Gen. Bajwa, please do what is right for Pakistan!
This is part three of a five-part article series.
Haider Mehdi is a Geopolitical commentator/blogger on national and international affairs. Formerly a media anchor, corporate leader, management consultant, start-up entrepreneur, and military officer, he tweets @SHaiderRMehdi and blogs on shrmehdi.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Pakistan Week.