Developments in Pakistan and the dismissal of the Prime Minister surprised many analysts. Imran Khan maintains that his ouster is the result of a foreign plot hatched by the White House, while his opponents accuse him of incompetence.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Developments in Pakistan and the dismissal of the Prime Minister surprised many analysts. Imran Khan maintains that his ouster is the result of a foreign plot hatched by the White House, while his opponents accuse him of incompetence.
Alwaght News spoke with Ismail Baqeri, an Iranian expert on Pakistani and Afghan affairs, asking him what is behind the recent Pakistani crisis.
Q: Why did parliament impeach Imran Khan? What is the role of the army in its removal?
Baqeri: Imran Khan was elected Prime Minister with the support of the army. He was the prime minister most in tune with the military on domestic and foreign policy. Former Pakistani prime ministers, like Nawaz Sharif, took a different approach to the military, and the unilateral entry into negotiations with India and the development of relations with New Delhi in previous periods did not appeal. the army. India is the red line of the Pakistani military, and the dispute between India and Pakistan, especially over border issues, Kashmir, nuclear rivalries and political conflict in Afghanistan, has led to sharp differences. deep between the two neighbors. It was due to this difference of views that the army overthrew Sharif’s government through popular protests, but Imran Khan’s government had good alignment with the army. The dismissal of Imran Khan was due to the two opposition parties of the Muslim League and the Pakistan People’s Party arguing that Imran’s government had come to power through fraud and could not resolve economic problems, especially unemployment and energy shortages.
Although some voices have suggested that Imran Khan acted independently of the establishment of the military and business with China and that his trip to Moscow on the first day of the Ukrainian war, which many have taken as a sign of support for the Kremlin campaign, were in a way his own decisions, the fact is that the army was in no way behind his ousting. Thus, the military has always played a stealthy role in political developments and Imran Khan has fallen victim to his game designed to wrest privileges from the United States and the West in a rapidly changing global development context. In other words, the military establishment wanted to send a message, telling the West that the overall Pakistani policy was not a pivot towards China and Russia. It should be mentioned that the Americans strongly opposed Imran Khan who, besides China and Russia, also had close ties with Iran.
Q: How does the public perceive the ousting of Imran Khan?
Baqeri: In Pakistan, public opinion can be traced regarding their support for parties as they have played an influential role over the past 75 years. Governments have traditionally been swapped between the two deeply rooted parties of the Muslim League and the Pakistan People’s Party. The only party that managed to garner a majority, of course with the help of the army, was Sarhad’s Tahreek-e-Insaf, or formerly Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2018. So we should weigh public opinion regarding concerns party support. The Punjab Muslim League has more than 60% of the Pakistani population’s support, and the People’s Party base of support accounts for 20% of the population. And only the Pashtuns and the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, which are not aligned with the army, support the Tahreek-e-Insaf. Of course Imran Khan’s policy of fighting corruption and poverty, eradicating unemployment and other features of him have led him to gain followers among other ethnic groups like Punjabi, Sindhi and the Brahui. Although public opinion is managed by the parties, the army, on the other hand, plays an important role in controlling public opinion through the management of the media. Many media are owned by the Pakistani military.
Q: What was the role of the United States and why does Imran Khan see Washington behind his dismissal?
Baqeri: Since 1947 and the independence of Pakistan, Great Britain has always played a role in the evolution of Pakistan. Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the army’s intelligence agency, was founded by a British general named Robert Cawthome. The ISI, as an institution within the Pakistani military, has enormous influence over decision-making. The ISI itself is under the influence of Great Britain and then the United States. Governments are often removed for allegations such as corruption, inefficiency, spreading political or economic problems. The previous government was overthrown over a series of economic and corruption charges, including the Panama Papers. Imran Khan was in coordination with the military in its dealings with China, Russia and other states and the military was certainly aware of his government’s approach and even coordinated with it. However, it seems that the Pakistani political system and military are following a complicated game in the region and Imran Khan was sacrificed by the military to gain privileges from the United States.
Imran Khan was the prime minister most in tune with the military and the latter felt that he too had to align himself with the Americans under current conditions. Imran Khan was the right person at the time of US talks with the Taliban in Qatar, but now it appears the military has decided to launch another game in the region in the coming months, given developments in Afghanistan and the threat from the Pakistanis. Taliban and for the sake of attracting American aid. This approach will become more specific in the months to come. The Pakistani army chief said he was seeking to fight terrorism, which is likely aimed at countering the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and possibly aligning the Pakistani military with new US policies in the region and in Afghanistan.
Q: Who are the choices after Imran Khan and should we expect a change in foreign policy in Islamabad after Imran Khan?
Baqeri: Knowing that the Muslim League holds the largest number of seats in the National Assembly, Shahbaz Sharif and then Imran Khan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmoud Qoreshi, both close to the army and the ISI, are the most likely options. The brother of ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz, however, is more likely to take the job. After Imran Khan, the domestic and foreign policy of Pakistan should not change because they are determined by the army and the departure of a single person cannot change anything. In the end, we should say that it is the military that decides India, Kashmir, USA, Russia, China, Iran and Taliban policy. He managed to push forward a main policy in Pakistan and with the departure of Imran Khan, one should not expect drastic accusations, although after him we may witness some events in the region.