The soft coup

Fakir S. Ayazuddin

The last two months have seen the Army taking over most of the important functions of the State. The Foreign Office, all security policy matters are now cleared by GHQ.
Four countries of crucial importance to Pakistan, namely, Afghanistan, the UK, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, welcomed COAS General Raheel Sharif, and he was accorded a head of government status in the UK, as evidenced by his meeting with the British prime minister at 10 Downing St, in full uniform (a first for a Pakistani COAS) which underlines the importance that the British government is giving to General Raheel as de facto head of Pakistani policy - making. On his trip to the U.S. he was treated in a similar manner.
At home, he allowed the prime minister to address the Sind administration, in which Asif Ali Zardari was not allowed to speak. When Zardari routed a question concerning the purchase of APCs through a Sindhi minister, he was rudely told they would be done in the proper procedure, implying that the proper procedure had not been followed. Further, he put the Zardari coterie on notice that the latter would not get away with his loot and plunder, as in the recent past.
The manner, almost supine, in which the Nawaz government has allowed the soft coup to establish its writ also indicates that the PML-N government is well aware of its inherent moral weakness, that could easily translate into a political rout, via recounting of votes in key areas. The PML-N government knows only too well how numbers are manipulated. There are many in the Assemblies who know where the bodies are buried!
This also signalled the other would-be deal makers that the Army was watching carefully all their moves. This has already had a salutary effect, and the market rumours are, that the old deals are also in doubt. Many whistleblowers are jostling to be heard. This also brings into question the ongoing slow pace of the corruption investigations, for the public at large is suspicious that a "deal" is being negotiated by Zardari, Nawaz and the Army. Somewhat like an NRO, which would allow them to walk free with a slap on the wrist. General Raheel must be aware that he is trusted by the people to ensure better governance, and not allow the culprits an easy way out. In fact, the people of Pakistan would like to see the Army oversee an accountability. A real accountability. There are many persons who already have the details of the scams that have cost our country dearly. Now is the time for the perpetrators to be brought to book. Importantly, General Raheel must bring about the accountability as, for now, he is the only person that the Pakistanis trust and respect.
The General must also realize,that corruption and bad governance are very much part of the problems facing Pakistan. We will never have good governance, if the corruption is as endemic, as now. The politicians are determined to sabotage the writ of General Raheel, and are committed to undermine his efforts, which may also effect the crucial Zarb-e-Azb exercise. The politicians are worried that if General Raheel succeeds in removing the Taliban presence, then his attention will turn to the political morass, which is damaging Pakistan, by blocking improvement of governance. Without proper governance, Pakistan will continue its corrupt ways, and flounder towards a collapsing state.
The public perception of a "deal" is worrying, and the latest newspaper reports are that the Cotecna and SGS cases against Zardari and his late wife are being dropped "for lack of evidence." It is no wonder that the public is suspicious of the deal being done. This was already spelt out in the last Nawaz — Zardari joint statement of not creating trouble for the next five years, after the PPP's five years of uninterrupted plain sailing!
The most important aspect is the credibility of the Army itself. The PML-N is able to field objections through one of its many coalition partners. Whilst the Army would have to respond directly, without any subterfuge. Thus, the political parties would have multiple choices, and the ability to have a multi-pronged approach to sabotaging the Military Courts or the operations of the Apex Committees. The success or failure will determine the future of the nation. Whilst General Raheel is a highly competent and brave officer, we must not forget that the opponents, the Taliban, and corrupt politicians are a formidable force, highly organised, and ruthless, not to forget the many foreign elements that would like to see Pakistan fail. General Raheel is representing the nation of Pakistan, whose citizens are being killed, and the existence of the very state itself is at stake. The battle is on for the soul of Pakistan.
General Raheel has the backing of the people of Pakistan, barring the corrupt politicians, and has been supported by the major foreign powers, the Briitish, Americans, Chinese, the Arab States, and even Afghanistan! It is time to close the net on the enemies of Pakistan, and root them out, whatever disguise they may be wearing. It is time the whole nation unites, and stands behind Pakistan, and General Raheel, to defend Pakistan. Imran Khan should concentrate his efforts in a war against corruption, for this is the primary evil that has engulfed this country. It is the camel in the tent, the one that is pushing everyone out. There can be no progress, no education, no power, no jobs unless corruption is extirpated first.