More on Imran Khan and Bajwa — coins and sides

Last week in this space a catharsis of Imran Khan was proffered

However, this debate would not be complete without mentioning the newly revealed facts about Gen Bajwa, who goes down in history as the most reviled COAS…partly due to his own foibles, and interaction with PTI government as ‘Super King’, and partly because of the excessive vilification by a prime minister and his cabal who rode to power on the back of Military, and then turned their back on the Military

The mantra of being on the one page worked till things were going in favour of the PTI

However, that does not absolve the ex-COAS of responsibility and culpability in ‘orchestrating’ (so it appeared) the removal of the PTI government which was on life support anyways

The unthinkable consequence of the curse of Ramadan 2022 was the steep downward slide in the Military’s approval ratings in Pakistan, at least in the urban centres and among the youth bulge

And in the ensuing months, for the first time perhaps in our history, the Military was perceived to act against the popular will…something unthinkable in the Military-dominated political history of Pakistan

The Military still hasn’t recovered from this perceptual erosion of its reputation, pride and respect

And would need a ‘strategic reset’ rather than ‘damage control’ and ‘baby steps’ to regain this lost standing, if urban sentiment is any guide

And that ignonimity lies squarely with Gen Bajwa

He is also culpable at slighting a sitting prime minister by blatantly taking a different stance on Russia, the war in Ukraine and vis-à-vis India during Islamabad Security Dialogue in 2022, which was not his purview, not his job and a blatant overstepping of his mandate as Army Chief

But then that is what happens to a COAS, who, intoxicated by his second term, thinks himself all-wise and all-knowing

Yes, there are precedents — like in other countries — where Military leaders advised and persuaded Pakistan’s civilian leaders for better policy formulation and implementation in our ‘guided democracy’, but that was done with nuances and under finesse…never ever getting out of the civilian leadership’s comfort zones

Gen Bajwa’s imperial diktat appeared too brazen and too overbearing

And his loudmouth continues to inflict pain and scorn on our Military

Then there are questions about the synergy of response in the aftermath of Indian crow-hunt at Balakot in 2019

The spine that strengthened Pakistan’s resolve and response, and where Allah helped us, was the joint effort by the then Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chief of Air Staff… both soldiers of substance

Dithering, meekness and haze was otherwise in the air

The General also tinkered with the system by undermining merit and deserve-ability and more seriously, threatening dissenting comrades-in-arms, especially the veterans with stoppages of pensions, and abrogation of facilities like messes and healthcare…amenities that veterans earn like he does now, and which are not concessions by anyone, but veterans’ inalienable rights

This was again unthinkable

Dissent even among the serving is not unusual and is never muzzled

The retired cadre was just being more sensitive to the popular sentiment and wanted the mother-institution under him to correct course and be on the side of the people…an entirely just and patriotic yearning

His unforgiveable sin is deeper division between and among his own constituency, the Armed Forces

Re-entry of the TTP after the botched negotiations, comically under Kabul is another feather in Gen Bajwa’s cap

The dialogue and the hurried concessions offered to TTP were ‘ostensibly’ motivated by personal glory and the tamgha (medal) syndrome rather than national interest

There is also a sinister conspiracy theory in circulation that TTP re-entry was to imperil the then PTI government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

There are also speculations of ethnic overtones in the entire sad saga

Financial indiscretion ‘apparently’ is another dimension of Gen Bajwa’s six-year stint where family (especially the father-in-law) and friends were awarded and rewarded, if media and investigative journalism is to be believed

Social media is abuzz with sleazy if unfortunate details

However, to be fair, Gen Bajwa as an Army Chief had much more limited advice than Imran Khan who had plenty of saner minds around, yet he did and does what he does

Therefore, rather than filibustering in public to stay relevant and foul-mouthing Gen Bajwa for his acts of omission and commission, Imran Khan should go to court

It was in this country and not in too distant past that Gen Pervez Musharraf was convicted

New information coming in the light of IK’s letter to the President, urging an enquiry on the cited lapses of Gen Bajwa plus controlling NAB and tapping conversations and admitting to it, are serious, not ignorable offences that need to be fully investigated

And in so doing, one hopes that Imran Khan and Gen Bajwa would not come out as two sides of the same coin

Moving on, for political leadership to break the deadlock, PTI should return to assemblies shunning the forever agitational politics

The PDM-led government should announce elections as President Alvi did, throwing the gauntlet, rather than playing silly games of faulty consequences for the country, for themselves, for PTI, and for the Military

All stakeholders must sincerely work together to stave off the impending financial catastrophe

The government should shut the door of extension to any four-star for good and make necessary legislation in this regard

Present policy governing TTP and Afghanistan should be continued and augmented

And a trial be conducted to take the remaining clothes off the main characters who were responsible for Pakistan’s economic slide, political instability and perceptual worthlessness, besides Balakot and the meek response to the ‘stray’ Indian BrahMos missile that landed on 9 March 2022 near Khanewal

National security is sacrosanct and inability and unwillingness to respond with ‘available resources’ is open to questions and allegations

Without punishing the culprits this time around, Pakistan would continue to flounder in the abyss of power, privilege and discretion

And in so doing, Military more than ever, needs to stand with the Constitution, law and its people

And if Imran Khan ‘is to be failed’, let him fail in governance after he wins the next election

In any case, PTI has no line of succession, no clear plan, and no charisma minus the combative Khan

The irony staring us in the face is that there are no better options right now, till some come up …who knows! Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2023

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Date:24-Feb-2023 Reference:View Original Link