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Imran Khan Is Not The Change Pakistanis Want

By Lieutenant General GAUTAM MOORTHY (retd)
March 01, 2024 08:59 IST
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He is only the agent that can bring them that change for they are quite aware that he has articulated no vision on how to set Pakistan back on the rails, notes Lieutenant General Gautam Moorthy (retd).

IMAGE: A portrait of Imran Khan is seen amid flags of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Jamat-e-Islami at a joint protest demanding free and fair results of the elections, outside the provincial election commission of Pakistan, in Karachi, February 10, 2024. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

Let's start at the beginning of this crisis two years ago. Imran Khan, a selected PM is chugging along, looking over his shoulders for guidance till tensions start building up between him and the then chief of army staff (COAS) General Qamar Bajwa who is on an extended tenure courtesy Imran Khan himself.

The issue is that the then DG ISI, an Imran acolyte, is being moved out by the COAS to command the Peshawar Corps.

Imran decides to challenge the COAS by sitting on this posting proposal. The COAS takes it as a personal affront.

By the time Imran has to ultimately acquiesce with much reluctance, he is already known to be acquiring a mind of his own on practically every issue, much at variance with perceived wisdom.

He questions the utility of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, tries to form a separate Islamic front with Turkiye and Malaysia thereby insulting Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Pakistan's largest benefactors and finally accuses the USA of conspiring to get him removed.

The last straw that breaks the camel's back is his visit to Russia on the very day the Ukraine offensive was launched, February 24, 2022, much against the COAS' wishes.

From then on it is steadily downhill till the vote of no-confidence (well stage managed, no doubt) pushes him out of office and onto the street.

The people of Pakistan are in the meantime watching this charade, this game of dumb charades actually.

They are now being asked to play guess the name of this film.

Watching the actors at play, they are guessing the name of the film and find it's the same film that plays repeatedly in their country.

They don't want to see this film again so they simply support Imran Khan who promises not to show them the same movie again.

That's all he promises. What's more important now is that the junior leadership in the army, the officers, the rank and file, the powerful ex-servicemen lobby and families too, fed up with the same film (the status quo), demand a new movie.

Imran Khan is not the change they demand; he is only the agent that can bring them that change for, after all, they are quite aware that he has articulated no vision on how to set Pakistan back on the rails but is now pitching himself as a martyr of the anti-establishment cause; no more, no less.

He then gets arrested on May 9 last year and all hell breaks loose.

Army establishments including the Lahore corps commander's official residence is raided by mobs with no real aim in mind but just to knock some busts off their pedestals and maybe snare a peacock or two. They succeed much to the chagrin of the army.

IMAGE: In happier times Imran Khan with then Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Now, the new COAS (General Syed Asim Munir) suddenly galvanises himself, realising after six months in the chair that he better crack down or the whole house of cards that the army has built for itself, will crumble.

So what does he do? He starts charging civilians under the Army Act and goes barnstorming across cantonments and military stations all over the country reminding everyone in khakis of their responsibilities except that his men know that politics is not their responsibility.

They have no choice but listen, and sullenly, they do. In the meantime, while the streets are seething with anger and while the Baluchis and the TTP are on a turkey shoot in their happy hunting grounds, a convicted PM is brought back with much fanfare, his convictions magically wiped out and he is told to please get back into the driving seat again.

However all this doesn't go according to plan because, remember, the common folk do not want to guess the same movie again and wish to see a new one, very different one from what the establishment actors pantomime.

So they wait patiently and quietly till the 8th of February and then they speak their mind.

Suddenly they find the Internet has gone on the blink and when it is restored, voila, they find the old actors back on stage.

Now, this agitates them to no end. They voted to see a new film but The Night of the Generals got them the same old film flickering on their screens.

This is a young generation who do not wish to see the old actors once again.

Enough of this game of dumb charades, they say. Where is the new film they ask? What is its name?

However there is no new film that they are eagerly awaiting.

It's the same old one that's playing in the theatres again, one they do not want to see.

Now the problem is that no one knows the name of this film, at least not yet.

Right now it is certainly not Captain, Oh My Captain.

So the guessing game of dumb charades continues while the old, boring film plays on.

Lieutenant General Gautam Moorthy, PVSM, AVSM VSM, (retd) is the founder and MD of CASA (The Current and Strategic Affairs Forum), an independent, virtual think-tank. He was a former Director General, Army Ordnance Corps and Administrative Member, Armed Forces Tribunal.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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Lieutenant General GAUTAM MOORTHY (retd)