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Pakistan appoints new army chief amid deepening political turmoil over military influence

As November draws to a close, large crowds have gathered in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and its twin city Rawalpindi to cheer on the charismatic former prime minister, Imran Khan, who was ousted from power last April, and his It is expected that he will join the relentless call for dissolution.

The rally scheduled for Saturday coincides with the habitually tense transition that occurs every three years in Pakistan by law. He is the most powerful person in a country without

On Thursday, the incumbent government, a multi-party coalition led by Shebaz Sharif, ended weeks of intense speculation by appointing Lieutenant General Saeed Asim Mounir to the post. The decision comes at a time of intense debate over the role of the Pakistani military in politics.

Pakistan is also reeling from a sluggish economy and the effects of recent historic apocalyptic floods that submerged a third of the country and affected more than 33 million people.

In this photo released by Pakistan’s prime minister’s office, newly appointed army chief Lieutenant General Saeed Asim Munir (left) meets with Prime Minister Shabazz Sharif in Islamabad after being named head of the Pakistani Armed Forces on Thursday. and put an end to months of speculation. (Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office/Associated Press)

Khan’s Criticism Destabilizes the Transition

Khan, a former cricket hero turned populist politician, has been accused of colluding with his political opponents and the United States to orchestrate his ouster in a no-confidence vote in parliament last April. consistently denounced the military. Washington calls it baseless.

Still, criticism has tarnished the military’s reputation at home, and analysts say the transition is particularly precarious and means higher-than-usual risks for the country’s fragile democracy.

Mosharraf Zaidi, senior fellow and founder of Islamabad-based think tank Tabadlab, said: “This is a very large event because the military is an extraordinary force in Pakistan.

“There really isn’t a huge divide in how Pakistan should conduct its relations with the rest of the world,” Zaidi continued, referring to foreign policy and how Pakistan manages its strained relationship with its neighbor India. How to handle it hopes it will remain stable under the new chief. Domestic politics, however, is another matter.

“The disagreement rests on the question of who should run Pakistan,” he told CBC News.

“Thus, the biggest question for the new army chief is whether the military should withdraw substantially from civil affairs, or double down to brokering peace between the incumbent government and rival political factions like Imran Khan. should continue

Two men are standing watching multiple televisions showing Pakistani news broadcasts.
Mounir is the country’s former spymaster, and his new role as secretary of war is a position long considered a true seat of power in a nuclear-armed nation of 220 million people. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)

Resigning chief insists military won’t interfere

Mounir, the new chief of the army, is the most senior rank general aside from the general he replaces.

He was previously the head of Pakistan’s intelligence arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), but was dismissed as ISI chief in 2019 after clashing with then-Prime Minister Khan.

Since independence 75 years ago, the Pakistani military has seized power and declared martial law three times. The military is widely believed to manipulate politics behind the scenes, even when civilian governments are in power.

In his final speech earlier this week, Army Chief Kamal Javed Bajwa acknowledged that the military was “unconstitutional” and that decades of meddling in politics have led to mounting criticism. .

Nonetheless, Bajwa claimed that the military had chosen not to interfere in Pakistani politics this February, and senior military leaders “resolutely” insisted that the policy of non-interference would continue. said that

But experts are very skeptical.

Crowds of people waving flags surround a car during a political rally.
Khan, who has been a staunch critic of the military, had drawn large crowds to an anti-government march calling for early elections before being shot in the leg by gunmen earlier this month. I plan to attend the meeting again. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

Experts predict political instability

Madiha Afzal, a fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., said, “You’d find it hard to believe that the ultimate reason Khan lost power in April was because he fell out with the military. ‘ said. Email CBC News.

“Pakistan’s outlook will be politically unstable whenever the next elections are held.”

Khan wants elections to take place soon as he accuses his political opponents of corruption and elitism. Refusing to bend.

“The government has lost political capital in the last seven months and hopes to regain it through some economic upturn before the next elections, but it will take time,” Afzal said.

The loss of political capital was scathingly received by Khan’s ardent supporters.

Khan’s supporters, including many young Pakistanis like this man attending a rally in Lahore on October 28, are keen on their demands for new elections and their contempt for the current government. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

“The protests continue,” Malik Qasim Shehzad, one of the supporters, told Reuters earlier this month. “It is God’s will. It will continue until Khan’s legitimate demands are met.”

Zaidi considers Khan to be Pakistan’s most popular politician, but believes Khan’s approval rating is lower than his supporters think.

“There is no demographic in this country where he is not supported,” Zaidi said. “He’s a nationally popular leader in a way Pakistan hasn’t had in a while.”

An assassination attempt that shot Khan in the leg in early November forced him to stay away from what his supporters called “true freedom” for weeks while he recovered.

Watch | Assassination Attempt Against Imran Khan:

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan injured in shooting

A gunman opened fire on a container truck carrying former Prime Minister Imran Khan in Pakistan, injuring him slightly. The suspect was arrested on the spot.

The former leader is now back, just as the Secretary of War is set to take over.

Analysts expect more volatility to come.

According to Zaidi, the country will “continue to turmoil and waver from one economic and political crisis to the next.”

Pakistan appoints new army chief amid deepening political turmoil over military influence

Source link Pakistan appoints new army chief amid deepening political turmoil over military influence

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