Pakistan’s Deep State-Run, Imran Khan, Crossed The Red Line And Must Pay For It

Within two weeks of the announcement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) that the Pakistan Army’s top brass was being reshuffled, promoting the inter-services intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid, as the Corps Commander of the XI Corps in Peshawar and replacing him as the Director-General of the Intelligence Service, friction continues between the military and cabinet.

It is now obvious that the government and its military benefactor’s conflict is not going to turn out well for any of the protagonists – Imran Khan, Gen. Qamar Bajwa, or Faiz Hamid. If anything, it will put an end to everyone’s ambitions-Imran for a second term, Bajwa for another two-year extension and Hamid to succeed Bajwa next year.

Civil-military relations are being tried to be papered over for now. The government is trying to downplay the self-inflicted crisis, even though some of its ministers have decried Imran Khan for refusing to be a ‘rubber stamp’. While the Army has kept a mostly silent position on the issue, it reminds me of a phrase used by a former ISPR chief, who suggested that “silence is also an expression”.

All indications are that the ‘Hybrid Regime‘ has reached the end of its days. The future of Imran Khan is uncertain now, even more so than his chances of winning the next election scheduled for October-November 2023.

Pakistan's Deep State-Run, Imran Khan, Crossed The Red Line And Must Pay For It

Having Imran Khan behind them was for several reasons. He does not have a good governance record. Economically, everything is in tatters. As a result of political polarization, implementing legislation has been contentious and nearly impossible without escalating conflict in the polity and society. As a result of Imran’s diplomatic behavior, the American and Arab governments have been angered and the Chinese irritated.

Imran Khan undermined backchannel attempts to develop a helpful working relationship with India. The relationship with India is worse than it has been in living memory. Although Imran Khan could have ignored all of this had he not committed the cardinal sin of politicizing the Army and interfering with the internal functioning of the Army, all of this could have been ignored by the military. 

The Pakistan Army will never forgive or forget this transgression. Imran may have been upset over what appeared to be a routine transfer of an ISI chief who had completed his contract for some reason why he dug in his heels and rubbed the Army the wrong way. A momentary lapse of judgment that snowballed into a full-fledged crisis between civil and military? Or did he, or his ‘selected’ regime, have a method to the madness (or vice versa) behind it all? About half a dozen reasons are contributing factors to this self-inflicted wound, the majority of them overlapping and a combination of all of them.

Miscommunication: A miscommunication culminated in a confrontation. Gen Qamar Bajwa and Imran Khan have, at least since summer, discussed the need to post out Faiz Hamid. Imran Khan wasn’t opposed to the new ISI chief being appointed, as he was consulted and did not object to the announcement. The announcement embarrassingly led Imran to change his mind. As a result, the Army Chief and the Prime Minister ended up sticking to their guns. They eventually came to a compromise. After Imran Khan makes all the necessary arrangements, Gen Anjum will be appointed head of the ISI.

Asserting Civilian Supremacy: Assuring civilian supremacy was Imran Khan’s aim. In light of the military shenanigans that led to his becoming PM, this statement is a little rich coming from him. According to the facts, he has survived in office only with the military’s support and continues to rely on its dirty tricks department to keep him in office until 2023.

Imran has, however, on at least two occasions since the Army confrontation, quoted from Islamic history in ways that had many eyebrows raised and raised further questions regarding the meaning of what he was saying. 

Pakistan's Deep State-Run, Imran Khan, Crossed The Red Line And Must Pay For It

Imran gave a hint that a military commander (Gen Bajwa?) may be removed by the ruler of the realm a few days after the controversy broke out when he referred to Caliph Umar ordering his top general Khalid to transfer command to someone else. It is generally seen as an endorsement of Hamid, who is credited with the victory in Afghanistan, that he referred to the State of Medina, where generals were promoted based on their performance.

If he doesn’t believe he has carved out a mirror image of Riyasat-e-Medina where he can order the generals around, he would know he is only aggravating the military leadership and giving them nothing to fight for.

Political Henchman: Imran Khan wanted Faiz Hamid to stay on as DG ISI. He said he believed he needed him in the post until Afghan issues were resolved. He even proposed that ISI be given Corps status so Hamid could be eligible to succeed Gen. Bajwa when his second term as Army Chief ends next November. His desperation to keep Hamid is apparent in his plan to have ISI become a Corps. Imran Khan’s desire for Hamid is more personal and political than national.

Hamid has been instrumental in keeping Imran and bringing him to power for the past five years, first as ISI’s number two man and then as its chief. Having served as Imran Khan’s political henchman and hitman, he has played a pivotal role in his political career. Imran Khan wants Hamid to succeed Bajwa, even though Hamid will rank fourth on the seniority list when Bajwa’s term ends next year. Exactly the sort of politicization that the Pakistan Army abhors is caused by Imran Khan’s dependence on Hamid in the military.

Hamid’s transition out of the ISI and his deployment to the Corps as a commander was known to Bajwa as a wise solution. However, Imran Khan’s insecurities have fouled up the situation to a point where Hamid has now become even more controversial than he was already and is no longer considered acceptable by his peers to be the next chief of the army.

Pakistan's Deep State-Run, Imran Khan, Crossed The Red Line And Must Pay For It

The impact of this factor will probably be felt within the army, as senior generals will see this as a legitimate opportunity to obtain the top job by manipulating the system, to undercut not just one another but also the military establishment. In the absence of immediate action, this situation could get out of hand to the point where the internal cohesion of the military begins to shift, ultimately making the army resemble the Punjab Police.

Asif Gafoor, the controversial former ISPR chief, has reportedly been campaigning for the position of ISI chief. It is alleged that Gafoor and his wife are spiritually following Imran Khan’s wife and that he is using her influence to acquire the job of Hamid.

In-House Oracle: There are claims that many decisions of the state are based on astrology and occult practices practiced by Bushra, a.k.a Pinki Pirni, the oracle at Imran Khan’s house. The Pirni, for example, is said to have chosen both the Chief Minister and Prime Minister of Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir based on their crystal balls.

Analysts claim the lady warned Imran he should keep Hamid in the ISI for at least until December 4 when a solar eclipse is predicted to happen. The Pakistan Army does not adhere to astrological calculations in its transfer and posting schedule. Hamid’s successor is also rumored to have a name beginning with a specific alphabet, according to Imran.

Entitlement of Indulgence: The Army has been kinder to Imran than to anyone else. His outrageous statements and gaffes – dissing the Secretary of State as ignorant, admitting that the Army and ISI have trained terrorists, and spoiling relations with Saudi Arabia – have been allowed by the military brass to stand unchallenged and unpunished. Imran Khan refused to change Punjab’s chief minister despite the Army chief’s repeated requests. Why should Imran Khan think that he can defy the military brass again after all this?

The T.I.N.A Factor: The army has no viable political alternative except Imran, as he has told some of his cronies. It doesn’t matter if he gets rid of him, it will be pretty difficult to replace him with someone else. The chances of changing things in-house will be slim without the support of Nawaz Sharif, but it’s easy to say than to do, seeing as how Nawaz and his daughter Maryam are fighting the Army over its interference in politics. The army might refuse to pay any price that Nawaz and Maryam are asking from Imran, even if Nawaz and Maryam still intend to settle scores with him.

The problem with Imran is that when the Army involves itself in guillotining a political leader, constitutional and political niceties never come into play. To jettison a political liability, they can pull whatever lever they want – legal, political, judicial. Even though Imran wishes to disagree, he doesn’t stand out from the crowd. The ‘one Jeep and two truck’ solution is always a good option in case all else fails.

How Pakistan’s political situation will shake out in the next few weeks should be evident in the next few weeks. There is a sudden revival of activity in the Pakistan Democratic Movement, as though they have smelt blood. Election Commission cases of corruption and foreign funding may be investigated. There is once again a Dharna in Lahore by the dormant Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan. In Balochistan, a motion of no-confidence has been presented. 

Pakistan's Deep State-Run, Imran Khan, Crossed The Red Line And Must Pay For It

There could be dissenting voices in Punjab and Parliament, forcing the current dispensation into a tight spot with no ISI backing down. Here are some signs that something bad may happen next. Until then, the military will make deals with opposition figures to ensure a smooth transition – probably an internal exchange, followed by an early election next summer.

How will it all play out? Imran Khan’s term ends officially in 22 months, and this makes his staying in the office for the next 22 months increasingly difficult.


Edited by Anupama Roy

Nandana Valsan

Nandana Valsan is a Journalist/Writer by profession and an 'India Book of Records holder from Kochi, Kerala. She is pursuing MBA and specializes in Journalism and Mass Communication. She’s best known for News Writings for both small and large Web News Media, Online Publications, Freelance writing, and so on. ‘True Love: A Fantasy Bond’ is her first published write-up as a co-author and 'Paradesi Synagogue: History, Tradition & Antiquity' is her second successful write-up in a book as a co-author in the National Record Anthology. She has won Millenia 15 Most Deserving Youth Award 2022 in the category of Writer. A lot of milestones are waiting for her to achieve. Being a Writer, her passion for helping readers in all aspects of today's digital era flows through in the expert industry coverage she provides.

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