Imran’s Ouster: A Beginning of Unstable Pakistan ?
The first hour of 10 April 2022 brought to an end of a soaring constitutional crisis in Pakistan with the voting out of Imran Khan with his PTI and coalition absent during vote. Imran tried all means to deny No-Confidence Vote but failed under a proactive Supreme Court. This fulfilled the objectives of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) formed with the sole aim of ousting PM Imran Khan. Thus started a beginning of a new political journey of Pakistan in which 12 political parties with diverse ideologies, some conflicting with each other, intends to govern a Radical State. Some of these parties are known to have direct links with Jihadist Organisations. It was good for Imran to exit. If he had somehow clung to the chair, he might have paid with his life in the hands of one or the other terrorist group.
It may be recalled that PDM was founded in Sep 20 that suffered some initial setbacks of cracks within. Their initial efforts had not yielded much results to threaten the govt in power despite the nation in bad shape. The PDM started the movement afresh in 2021 with several rallies held at Gujranwala (Oct 16), Karachi (Oct 18), Quetta (Oct 25), Peshawar (Nov 22), Multan (Nov 30) and Lahore (Dec 13). However, these protests and rallies too failed to threaten Imran. The protests lost steam.
It all started on March 2, 2022 when Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Zardari believed that they could get some disgruntled PTI members from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh to cross over the floors during the vote. Their efforts gained momentum. PDM firmly believed they had the numbers to topple Imran and thus a 'No Confidence Motion' was filed on 08 March 2022. Speaker dragged his feet till 25 March when the National Assembly was summoned to consider the motion. More of Imran’s PTI or coalition partners indicated of jumping ship.
He blamed foreign powers (USA) trying to topple him in a last ditch attempt to hold on to the powers. He got the ‘No Confidence Motion’ rejected on 03 April 22, dissolving the national assembly, declaring himself as interim PM and announcing fresh elections in 3 months. However, the Supreme Court of Pakistan intervened to annul those decisions mandating take-up of the 'No Confidence Vote' on 09 April 22. Imran tried all means to even scuttle this move…but the midnight readiness of the Supreme Court to step-in compelled the Speaker & deputy speakers to resign and an interim Speaker to take-up the No Confidence Vote at 2358 hrs. This ousted Imran and rest all are history.
The aftermath of Imran’s ouster is going to be turbulent. There will be a question of Imran’s disposal whether he will be done away, kept in Pakistan or extradited. It is believed that his ministers were seeking immunity from arrest or persecution on various terms. Although PM candidature of Shahbaz Sharif is nearly unanimous, the distribution of the portfolios will surely be contentious, bound to create dissatisfaction. This govt cannot be expected to last long. They may not be able to even complete their tenure before the next general elections. In that case, they will try to grab sufficient funds and indulge in verbal rhetoric to garner some public support so as to come to power.
The fate of Imran Khan and his Ministers hangs in balance now. Although Shahbaz Sharif has said that he will not seek revenge, his words cannot be trusted upon. Pakistan history shows that Presidents/Prime Ministers dethroned, aren’t safe in Pakistan. They are either killed or made to flee. What holds in Imran’s future, remains to be seen. In all probability, he will be arrested in the initial days and if released by a court of law, will have to flee the country. By and large, the same holds good for some of his ministers too.
Grabbing Funds. As Imran Khan had termed them as thieves and looters, most of them are known corrupts and crooks. Shahbaz Sharif has been on bail for siphoning out several crores of rupees as CM of Punjab. He is also the beneficiary in Panama papers. Similar are the status of other party leaders as well incl Bilawal Bhutto, Asif Zardari and some others. They will surely like to fill-up their own coffers with sufficient money of loot so as to fight the coming elections which is not very far. There is going to be a loot of public funds as well as collections from the public by whatever means. This may involve some forced earnings from the Afghanistan border or extortion from own nationals. They may even borrow the art or science of the Maharashtra Govt of “Firouti Sarakaar (extortionist government)” (read पप्पू की फिरौती और लुटेरी सरकार; https://articles.thecounterviews.com/articles/extortion-maharashtra-police-politician-aghadi/). There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that many unethical means will be adopted by the ministers and members of the new govt in collecting the loot money.
Verbal Rhetoric. They will have some clear objectives to gain political grounds by two means. Firstly, to overcome the reversals of Imran Khan's economy, inflation, unemployment and foreign policies. This will be next to impossible to achieve in the short time that they have. In that case, they will like to adopt all means to tarnish his image by highlighting his wrong doings. Secondly, the most catchy poll issue in Pakistan is an anti-India agenda / campaign…of Kashmir, of Indian Muslims and so on. Hence, anti-India rhetorics will start both in words and by pushing terrorists into India whether through LoC, LAC or through a friendly neighbourhood. This will also please their Military brasses as well as the terrorist organisations who of late, have run into a draught of funds. Also, numerous many terrorists who returned from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover belonging to the 34-odd terrorist organisations at Pakistani soil, are presently out of jobs. Leaders like Fazlur Rehman and others having links with them, will be mighty pleased to find new assignments for them.
Boost to Terror Industry. In the coming period of the new govt, the terror funding is going to be increased through money laundering in which Pakistani govt is highly expert by now. They know that their master China will not let them slip-off into the Black List of the FATF. Even other Islamic countries like Turkey, Malaysia or Saudi may come to their rescue. Henceforth, they will trade the terrorists to different countries for Jihadi activities. It will generate some revenue for Pakistan. It may be remembered that Pakistani terrorists have been acknowledged as a reckoning force after they defeated US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan (read ‘Taliban triumph in Afghanistan : what it means to the world; https://articles.thecounterviews.com/articles/taliban-triumph-afghanistan-what-means-the-world/).
The Chinese Factors. Pakistan has nearly $168 billion loans on it. It is a debt trap by the Chinese. It is for sure that they will be in no position to repay even the interest. Hence, more Pak territories whether in the Arabian Ocean off the Pak coast; or in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could be leased out to them for mining. This will benefit all…the Chinese, Pakistan Army as well as the corrupt politicians. India will have to be proactive to ensure that no territories of PoK is offered.
In summary, we can say for sure that Pakistan is headed towards an uncertain path for both the new govt and the members of the ex-ruling parties. Imran and some of his minister's fates will be uncertain. High profile loots by the politicians are on cards. High pitch rhetorics against the previous govt officials and India could be expected in the period preceding the next elections.