Wed, 28 Jul 2021

Pakistan up in arms over coups

30 Oct 2020, 22:03 GMT+10

Islamabad [Pakistan], October 30 (ANI): A pro-democracy coalition organised in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan in October by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is gathering support amongst the masses.

The campaign to topple Prime Minister Imran Khan's government has brought the tabooed topic of military intervention up for discussion. The strong influence of the military over politics and economy has plagued Pakistan with a history of coups, political engineering and electoral manipulation, reported Asia Times.

The 11-party alliance comprising of Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League (PML) sparked a new political discourse over military-run "deep state" and its reputed influence over Khan's government and policies.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is in exile in the United Kingdom after being convicted and jailed for corruption launched a scathing attack on the Imran-led government and accused army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed of being responsible for Pakistan's economic and political stagnation.

The Asia Times reported that PDM's broad demands were outlined in a 26-point declaration, which among other things called for an end of the "establishment's" (Pakistan Army) interference in politics, new free and fair elections after election reforms with no role of armed forces and intelligence agencies, the release of political prisoners, implementation of a national action plan against terrorism, and across the board accountability under a new accountability law.

Afrasiyab Khattak, a right-wing politician, intellectual and Pashtun rights activist compared the PDM's declaration with a charter of democracy signed by the political parties in 2006.

While talking to Asia Times, he said, "The charter of democracy was an agreement between a few political parties but the PDM 26-point announcement is the whole opposition case which is being presented for the masses to take up."The anti-establishment campaign has led to public debates over a new social contract to rebuild flagging public trust in the state's institutions. For the first time, the scope of civil-military relations is being addressed and openly condemned in public. In particular, demands are being made for a redefinition of the constitutional role of the army, reported Asia Times.

Earlier, ISI and the military's Karachi Rangers were alleged for the abduction of Sindh Inspector-General of Police Mushtaq Mehr to coerce him into ordering the arrest of a key PML-N leader Captain Muhammad Safdar Awan, husband of Maryam Nawaz.

This event led to mass leave applications in Sindh police, bringing army and police confrontation in open. Though army chief Bajwa tried to diffuse the situation by ordering an inquiry into the incident, the cracks are visible. The scope of civil-military relations is being addressed and openly condemned in public. (ANI)

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