How Much Longer Until The Pakistani Army Overthrows The Civilian Government?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

Dawn Leaks reflects larger problem of Pakistan Army undermining politicians

The standoff over Dawn Leaks Dawn Leaks reflects the larger problem of the Pakistan Army constantly trying to undermine the country’s political leadership.

WORLD Updated: May 02, 2017 20:12 IST

Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan

File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at a ceremony to inaugurate the M9 motorway between Karachi and Hyderabad, in February 2017. (Reuters)

The standoff between the parallel power centres in Pakistan – the political government headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military high command led by army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa – seems to have come to a head over the release of the report of the probe into Dawn Leaks.Based on the report, Sharif issued a series of instructions, including the sacking of his special assistant on foreign affairs, Tariq Fatemi, and action against principal information officer Rao Tehsin. Within hours of the instructions being released, the army publicly rejected the measures.

More unusual was interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan criticising the army for using social media to give opinions on what was an internal matter that could have been addressed through proper channels.

It is clear that the army is unhappy with the action taken by the government over the probe into a report last year in the Dawn newspaper on differences between the military and the civilian set-up on tackling terror groups.

The army was represented on the inquiry committee by two representatives – the Inter-Services Intelligence agency nominee and one from Military Intelligence. Both had recommended strong action against journalist Cyril Almeida, who wrote the report in the Dawn, but the Sharif government did not consider this.

More important, the army is incensed over the fact that it considers the prime minister’s secretary, Fawad Hasan Fawad, as part and parcel of the problem. Instead, Fawad was used to issue Sharif’s instructions – which the army high command did not take to very kindly.

Most analysts say Dawn Leaks reflects a larger problem in Pakistan – the constant efforts by the army to undermine the political leadership.

“The army continues to challenge the government and keep it on the defensive. The whole idea is to keep the civilian government in a state of flux,” said Abid Hussain, an Islamabad-based journalist. Hussain said this is a cycle that keeps repeating in Pakistan: “Whenever civilians are in power, the military wants to show that politicians are corrupt and ineffective.”

As the general elections approach in 2018, there are expectations that Sharif will come back to power with a bigger mandate.

This is what the army high command is afraid of, say observers, who add that a Punjabi prime minister with a bigger mandate is the only political threat that the army high command faces. The last time Sharif had such a mandate, he was removed from power through a military coup. This time it would be more difficult.

What has become increasingly common is for the military to comment on issues outside its domain. Last month, the military spokesman commented that the army would welcome the Supreme Court’s verdict on corruption allegations against Sharif and his family based on the Panama Papers leaks.

This was a clear signal to the public that the military would not be adverse to Sharif stepping down. But the judgment, which it is rumoured came after much back-door lobbying by the ruling PML-N party, gave the prime minister a breather, much to the dismay of many in the corridors of powers.

Soon after, an army-led media campaign was started to condemn the meeting of Indian businessman Sajjan Jindal with the prime minister last week. The military has continued to lead the media in campaigns against the elected government.

Over the past few years, the army has acquired a TV channel and used aggressive advertising through its various commercial enterprises to buy over the rest of the big houses, with a few notable exceptions.

Despite all this, analysts said the army’s high command can see its role being reduced in the coming years. “Short of staging a coup, it is doing all it can to ensure that its military and economic empire continue to grow and its say in national affairs remains unchallenged,” said one analyst.

“What we are seeing are the last desperate acts of an emperor that senses its status as an unquestioned power is coming to an end.”

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Pakistan Security Forces Kill 4 Taliban Murderers

(This article is courtesy of CNN News)

Christian neighborhood, courts attacked in Pakistan

Pakistani police officials inspect the site of a suicide bomb attack at a district court in Mardan.

Story highlights

  • Suicide bombers attack Peshawar and Mardan Friday morning
  • 13 dead in Mardan, one killed on outskirts of Peshawar

Peshawar, Pakistan (CNN)At least 14 people were killed Friday in the latest suicide attacks by a Pakistani Taliban splinter group targeting Christians and lawyers in the country, authorities say.

Both attacks were claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of Pakistan’s Tehreek-i Taliban (TTP) — also known as the Pakistani Taliban — which has killed scores of people in previous attacks targeting both groups in the country this year.
In the city of Mardan, in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, at least 13 people were killed and another 53 injured in an attack at the city’s district courts Friday, District Police Officer Faisal Shehzad told CNN.
The attacker threw a hand grenade at the court gates, then blew himself up after security prevented him from entering, Senior Police Superintendent Shafiullah Khan said.
Four of those killed were lawyers, according to Amir Hussain, the president of the Mardan Bar Association.
There will be three days of mourning, during which time the courts will be shut, Hussain added.

Christian neighborhood attacked

Earlier in the day, a bystander was killed and three members of Pakistan’s security forces injured when suicide bombers struck a Christian neighborhood near Warsak Dam on the outskirts of Peshawar, according to the Pakistan’s military.
Pakistani police previously told CNN that four bystanders were killed and five were injured.
The attackers, four suicide bombers who were also equipped with arms and ammunition, entered the neighborhood after attacking a security guard early Friday morning, Peshawar Police Superintendent Kashif Zulfiqar told CNN.
Security forces responded, exchanging fire and killing the four assailants, according to a statement from the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Public Relations department (ISPR).
A house-to-house search is currently underway and the situation is under control, the ISPR says.

The Taliban in Pakistan's terror legacy

The Taliban in Pakistan's terror legacy

The Taliban in Pakistan’s terror legacy 01:41
“We have enhanced the security of Christians establishments, schools, hospitals, colonies and churches,” said Zulfikar.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan congratulated security forces for their prompt response in foiling the attack.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the latest attacks in a statement released by his office.
“These cowardly attacks cannot shatter our unflinching resolve in our war against terrorism,” he said. “These receding elements are showing frustration by attacking our soft targets. They shall not get space to hide in Pakistan.”

Claim of responsibility

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a group known for its bloody tactics aimed at soft targets, claimed responsibility for both attacks in an emailed statement.
“If Islamic law is not imposed across the country, such attacks will continue to be carried out,” the statement said.
The group has been behind devastating attacks in Pakistan this year, including an Easter Sunday attack targeting Christians in the eastern city of Lahore which killed at least 69 people, and ablast at a hospital in the western city of Quetta last month, which killed 72 people, many of them lawyers.

Pakistani soldiers cordon off a street leading to the Christian neighborhood on the outskirts of Peshawar.

Amnesty International’s South Asia director Champa Patel said in a statement that the attackers were “seeking to undermine the rule of law by targeting both the people who defend it in court and the people it should protect.”
The attacks were a “horrific reminder that Pakistan’s authorities must do more to ensure vulnerable groups are protected,” Patel said. “The authorities have a duty to protect the right to life, prevent human rights abuses, and hold perpetrators to account in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty or other human rights violations.”
Christians make up only 2% of Pakistan’s population, and face persecution from hardline Islamists, who want to see a strict interpretation of Islamic law take precedence in Pakistan’s legal system.
Previous attacks on Christians in Pakistan have included a suicide attack in Lahore that killed at least 14 people in March last year, and suicide attacks on a church in Peshawar in 2013 that killed more than 80 people.