Pakistan Army vs Pakistan people

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

Pakistan Army vs Pakistan people

Terrifying though the prospect may seem, it now seems inevitable that Pakistan is slowly but surely drifting towards a state of civil war.

Consider the situation.

About 80-90% of the people of Pakistan are solidly supporting former Prime Minister Imran Khan ( as all opinion polls indicate ), who is in jail since early August last year on concocted charges. Hence if free and fair elections are held in Pakistan, Imran Khan's PTI party is sure to sweep the polls.

On the other hand, the Pakistan Establishment ( meaning its army ) is adamant that Imran Khan must not be allowed to come back to power. The reason for this is that if Imran Khan comes back to power the army generals and other officers will have to account for their massive corruption and ill-gotten wealth.

Imran Khan believes that the Pak army must be subordinate to the civilian government, as in USA, UK, France, Germany, India and other democratic countries, and should not meddle in politics.

This is anathema to the Pak officers since it will adversely affect their economic interests. The Pak army has penetrated into numerous sectors of the Pakistan economy, and has acquired huge economic vested interests, which it will have to surrender if there is civilian control over it.

Several army generals, serving or retired, and their relatives are multi-millionaires or even billionaires

The Pak army officers spend a large part of the budget on themselves for their life style and retirement benefits. They are some of the richest people in Pakistan, and after joining the army and getting promoted as major and above their lifestyle drastically changes, and they live in splendour, having huge houses, big imported cars, and all kinds of luxuries.

All this will change if there is real civilian control of Pakistan's army. There will then be accountability, the army officers will then have to live on their pay ( as in all democratic countries ), and some serving and retired officers may even be called upon to return their loot or go to jail.

All this will be extremely unpalatable to the army officers, and they will oppose it tooth and nail.

The recent highly flawed judgment of the bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court denying the PTI the right to use its symbol in the forthcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for 8th February, obviously on the order of the Establishment, is a clear indication that the so called 'London plan' has been put into effect, to ensure the corrupt former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's installation as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan., and to deny the PTI a level playing field.

The political situation in Pakistan now is that the Pakistan army and the vast majority of the Pakistan population are on a collision course.

The elections to be held on 8th February will be rigged in some way or the other to ensure a victory for Nawaz Sharif's PMLN party, so it will not be an election but a selection.

A reign of terror was unleashed in Pakistan by the Establishment after the events of 9th May last year ( which many believe were stage-managed) and over 12,000 people ( including women ) arrested and jailed on fabricated charges, where they are living in inhuman conditions. Presently most Pakistanis are lying quiet cowed down in fear. As is said, power grows out of the barrel of a gun, and the Pakistan army has the gun.

But this situation will not last long. The people of Pakistan will devise methods of combating it, for, as the saying goes, wherever there is oppression there is resistance. What form of resistance it will be is as yet to be seen, but the people of Pakistan will not take this lying low forever.

For instance, the army officers would be having families, and these may be targets of clandestine attacks. Slowly but surely some kind of guerilla war is bound to develop, as happened in Vietnam and Afghanistan, the people snatching weapons from the army personnel or the police. In other words, a kind of civil war will inevitably develop in Pakistan, and one shudders to think what will happen then.

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.)

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