Pakistan President Alvi: Bold and principled stand on elections or smart compromise?

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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The proposal of Pakistan President Arif Alvi to hold national elections

By Justice Markandey Katju

Dr Arif Alvi, the President of Pakistan

Moeed Pirzada, the eminent and upright Pakistani journalist, who has been in America for quite some time, and has been bravely fighting for restoration of democracy in Pakistan, has in a very recent vlog given his analysis of the sudden proposal by Dr Arif Alvi, the President of Pakistan, to hold national elections in Pakistan by 6th November.

In his analysis, Moeed has largely gone by the legal provisions in Pakistan's Constitution. All that is fine, but what Moeed forgets is that the Pakistan Establishment ( meaning principally the Pakistan army ) has in the past shown scant respect for the law. So a deeper analysis of the reasons for the President's surprise announcement is called for.

Politics is concentrated economics, and so the economic factors behind the President's move must be considered carefully, but I am afraid Moeed has neglected to delve into this aspect at all, or into some other issues.

In one of my articles I had explained that the US Government, which heavily influences Pakistan politics, and was till late extremely hostile to former Prime Minister Imran Khan ( because of some of his statements accusing the US Govt of interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan, his visit to Russia during the war with Ukraine, etc ), was bound to change its attitude towards him, for its own economic interests

US firms have huge investments in Pakistan, which would be jeopardised by instability and chaotic conditions ( which could spill over into some neighbouring countries too ). Hence the US Government would like peace and stability in Pakistan, but no such stability is possible without holding free and fair elections, which Imran Khan's PTI party is bound to sweep, as about 90% Pakistanis support it ( as all opinion polls indicate ). Wisdom must have by now dawned on the US authorities, and they must have realised that their hostility to Imran Khan is counter productive to their own interests.

Apart from that, the Pakistan army generals, who call the shots in Pakistan, and have unleashed a reign of terror in the country, must have by now realised that with 90% Pakistanis supporting Imran Khan they cannot continue this state of affairs much longer. A popular resistance to their rule, which is bound to develop into some form of guerilla war against the army, will sooner or later emerge, and then they may well find themselves in the situation which the Russian army found itself embroiled in Afghanistan, or the American army in Vietnam, with a lot of soldiers' body bags accumulating.

An army can fight another army, it cannot fight the masses. A tiger can kill a prey, it cannot kill a swarm of mosquitoes

Moreover, the army officers must have realised that their families will not be safe if popular hostility to the army grows. After all, their wives and children cannot remain cooped up in their guarded homes forever.The wives have to go for shopping and social visits, and the children to schools and colleges. These will be targets of attacks by bitter, unforgiving people whose family members were killed, tortured or imprisoned, and who are thirsting for revenge.

I am sure that in recent Corps Commanders Conferences, where vital decisions affecting Pakistan are taken, the senior officers attending must have told the army chief Gen Munir this, and Gen Munir must have conveyed to President Arif Alvi that the army, which was earlier totally averse to holding early elections ( which would bring Imran Khan back to power ), has now no objection.

Probably these are the real reasons for President Arif Alvi's sudden announcement, which Mooed unfortunately has not mentioned or gone into.
((Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.))


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