Imran vs Bajwa: Will the Pakistan Army Finally Be Defeated by a Govt?

So, the battle is not new and has been brewing for some time — but there was plausible deniability and papering over each time. However, with the current impasse, things appear to have come to a head with gloves coming off. In the end, one side will have to blink, for this is more a war of nerves than pistols. But if the notification doesn’t come from Imran Khan ultimately, General Bajwa’s authority will be completely undermined and it would then be fair to state that for the first time, Pakistan’s Army has been defeated at the hands of one of its own creations. One does not hope it comes to that, but one is sure General Bajwa has long been rueing the day he decided on Imran Khan to front his 10-year project with the help of Hameed.

What next? Does General Bajwa’s chessboard have the pieces aligned for a decisive blow to Imran Khan? Clearly not, else he would have delivered it by now. It appears that on Monday night, by allowing a delay in the transfers, he is buying time to move the pieces in place. This is how it is at the moment: while General Bajwa has the Army behind him, Imran Khan has got hold of Allah. Therefore, General Bajwa needs a real and viable shield, as well as an alternative to the current set-up to get out of the soup he has landed himself in.

That points to mending fences with Maulana Fazl ur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JuI). And his real political alternative is the popular PMLN headed by Mian Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif. Whether he’ll be able or willing to meet their conditions in time is anyone’s guess.

The only funny corollary in this dangerous situation is that erstwhile one-pagers and self-styled spokespersons of the Army establishment are all clueless as to who will win, and are therefore running for cover. For the first time in history, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, instead of blustering as usual, passed the parcel to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who is also uncharacteristically quiet. The nervousness of these weathervanes tells of the severity of the uncertainty prevailing.

(Gul Bukhari is a Pakistani journalist and rights activist. She tweets @GulBukhari. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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