New Delhi, Oct 15: “Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has made it clear that he is not a rubber stamp Prime Minister and would take decisions as per the law,” claimed the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs in a TV show. However, just hours later he was asked to keep his mouth “shut” and explain his conduct by his ruling party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
The PTI says that Dogar’s comments have created a “wrong perception” politically. But perceptions are being fanned by jubilant PTI’s supporters who are claiming that this was the “unprecedented” victory of the civilian government led by Imran Khan over Pakistan’s all-powerful military establishment, headed by General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
At the same time Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry cautiously played down the issue claiming that “PM Imran Khan will never undermine the respect of the Pakistan Army and the Army Chief”.
But in a country like Pakistan where “Pakistani Fauj” (army) is the real boss and cannot be “sidelined” by any civilian government, it has been a week-long face-off between Imran Khan and General Bajwa over the appointment of the new Chief of the Inter-State Intelligence (ISI).
“It is still not clear which way this issue will settle, if it will settle, and who will finally take charge as the new DG ISI. It is quite an unprecedented
situation, “says Pakistani journalist Fahd Hussain in his report in the country’s leading newspaper Dawn.
Pakistani sources claim that while the Pakistani army is silent on the issue, during the meeting held on Tuesday night, Bajwa made it clear to Imran Khan that he should not cross his limits by interfering in military affairs and let Lt. General Faiz Hameed, whom Khan wanted to retain as ISI chief, to remain in the post till November 15 but not beyond that. As per Khan’s “wish”, a list of three probables has been submitted to him. One of them is the name of Lt. General Nadeem Ahmad Anjum, who was earlier announced by the Army as the new Chief.
Pakistan watchers claim that Anjum is the seniormost among the three and wonder why Khan is not “notifying” the appointment of the ISI chief. But Khan is not okay with it. He wants Hameed to continue till March next year which is not acceptable to Bajwa.
“PM Imran Khan is not listening to anyone. For this reason the notification has not been issued yet, “says Pakistani journalist Najam Sethi.
This is really intriguing to Pakistan experts and media, why Imran Khan, who was “selected” by Bajwa, is not only defying him but is publicly humiliating and challenging him.
According to one Pakistani journalist, Khan’s most significant wager is that he has been betting his political future on courting extremist religious hardliners like Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). He is also behind the fresh religious tirades against Bajwa who was labelled an ‘Ahmadi’ by some hardliners.
General Bajwa has in the past faced “allegations” of being Ahmadi because of his family background, and the Ahmadia sect in Pakistan is declared as non-Muslim. It is an open secret that TLP has a close contact with Hameed and Imran Khan has been using TLP to his advantage. Thanks to Hameed, TLP won’t be able to fight the next election due to a ban imposed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan but it is going to provide all support to Imran Khan. Recently Khan announced the Rehmatul-lil-Alameen Authority, a council of mullahs and religious clerics to save the people of Pakistan from the western culture.
There is another rumour in Pakistan that Imran Khan may prepone general elections in March/April next year and that is why he wants Faiz Hameed to continue as the ISI chief till March.
So what is next in the Imran versus Bajwa face-off? Citing the history of the country, analysts say that Pakistan is run by Allah and Army and now Khan is trying hard to get Allah on his side but they warn the distance between Rawalpindi GHQ and Islamabad is very short and underestimating Bajwa could turn out to be harakiri by Imran Khan.
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