Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nawaz Sharif - Can He Keep Army In His Grip?

A civil disobedience movement was declared against the Nawaz Sharif-led government started by Pakistan's opposition leader Imran Khan recently. He feels that the future of Pakistan is not in the able hands. This came after the cleric Tahirul Qadri gave a 48-hour ultimatum to the embattled Prime Minister to resign. Khan has urged the people not to pay taxes, electricity or gas bills. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief asserted that under the rule of these businessmen who only want to make money for themselves, Pakistan's future is bleak. Sharif's PML had won 190 out of 342 seats where as Khan's PTI got only 34 seats which is the third largest bloc in the legislature. Khan accused vote-rigging by Sharif's PML was the reason otherwise his party would have won many more seats. Khan said that anyone who tried to hold Nawaz accountable was offered bribes. Judges, the election commission last year and the generals all were in his kitty. Qadri who has given a 48-hour ultimatum to the embattled Prime Minister to resign and wants Sharif and his brother Shahbaz arrested for the killing of his 14 supporters in Lahore on June 17.   Imran KhanIndia called off the Foreign Secretary-level talks scheduled for August 25 as Pakistan was interfering in India's internal affairs by holding talks with Kashmiri separatists though they were warned not to do so. In a major ceasefire violation that lasted throughout the night, Pakistani troops resorted to heavy mortar shelling and fired with automatic weapons at 20 Border out Posts and civilian areas along the International Border in Jammu sector, leaving a villager injured. There were 11 ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops along LoC and IB in Jammu region during the past 10 days which were made deliberately. Hence it is very clear that Pakistan and the powers within do not want to tie with India and continue the rivalry. Ceasefire 2Though Sharif is making all promises and trying his best to better the relations between both the countries only time can tell what will be the result. Let us look at what can be expected from Nawaz Sharif and if the Pakistan army will allow him to do what it takes to unite both the nations.

 Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif commonly known as the "Lion of the Punjab" is the president of Pakistan Muslim League is the current Prime Minister of Pakistan who is in office since June 2013. He is a veteran politician and industrialist and the third time Prime Minister. He previously served as Prime Minister from November 1990 to July 1993 and from February 1997 to October 1999.As the owner of Ittefaq Group, a leading business conglomerate he is also one of the country's wealthiest people. TalibanUpon controlling office Sharif promised good relations with all its neighbours and launched trade talks with India with promise of liberalizing trade relationship. Sharif meet Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013 however no major agreement was reached. He took significant steps to improve relations which will liberalize trade however on Mar 26, 2014 The Times of India reported that Pakistan military has pressurized Sharif to stop any trade liberalization with India. Sharif also telephoned congratulated Modi on BJP's victory in the general elections in India and invited Modi to visit Pakistan becoming among the first leaders to do so. Nawaz SharifEven though some political parties expressed reservation about Modi's invitation to Nawaz Sharif and holding of talks with him the meeting between Modi and Nawaz Sharif was not merely a cordial exchange of pleasantries. Modi sent out an extremely tough message to the Pakistani premiere as a precursor about why it has become extremely important for Pakistan to contain cross border terrorism. Modi is very serious about the issue of terrorism and possibly this is the reason why he decided to use the occasion of Nawaz Sharif's visit for the swearing-in ceremony for holding bilateral talks.

Nawaz Sharif belongs to the industrial class of the Punjab. Both he and his Indian counterpart are openly pro-business and pro-market. Nawaz Sharif’s party takes pride in the so-called development projects in Punjab just as Modi does in Gujrat. It is in the interest of Nawaz Sharif and his industrial constituency to improve relations with India. It is not a secret that Pakistan has a lot to gain from having better economic relations with India.pakindiaThis is not the first time Sharif is attempting to improve relations with India. When he was last in power in the late 90s when BJP was also in power in India he had openly embraced India and the Indian prime minister. But to spoil the peace process, the Pakistani army, lead by General Pervez Musharraf, launched a war against India in the mountains of Kargil in Kashmir without his knowledge. Latter the army overthrew Sharif and took over the country and martial law was imposed. Modi NawazNow in his third term as a PM also Nawaz Sharif faces the same issues. Though he managed to negotiate with the army and come to Delhi for Modi’s inauguration this does not mean that the future is rosy. There is hardly a chance that the army would allow Sharif to continue improving relations with India. The army’s opposition to India is deeply ideological. For the reason of maintaining its hold on Pakistan and protecting the economic interests of the armed forces, the Pakistani army would never let Pakistan and India normalize their relations.

However one thing we can be sure of is that the Pakistani intelligence services will not take the same road as before and mount another attack inside India as the present situation does not allow for such tactics. Pakistan is already facing a threat from within its borders as the Taliban insurgency increases and the theatre of war moves from the tribal areas into the country’s major cities. Hence it is extremely unlikely that the army would try to thwart the peace process by sending its jihadi proxies into India. The army will not venture beyond Pakistan’s borders in order to send Nawaz Sharif the message. The conflict will stay within Pakistan. The recent rallies in Islamabad of Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri point to the tactics the army would use. These two politicians were called by the army to compel Nawaz Sharif to behave.ParwezHowever, there is still a danger that the tensions between the civilian government and the military could spill over into India. Pakistan, over the years, has created so many fifth columns that many of its proxies are no longer under state control. If Nawaz Sharif continues with his India-friendly policy, any one of the dozens of Jihadi elements could carry out an attack inside India on their own. If something like that happens, the consequences are too great for anyone to even imagine. As the real power still lies with the Pakistan Army the position of the Pakistan Government remains vulnerable. The Pakistan Army continues to wage war against the Taliban elements in the North West Frontier Province and FATA region. A major section of the Pakistan Army is extremely sympathetic towards the radical Islamic terror groups like Tehreek e Taliban or the Lashkar e Taiba BSF JawanThe way Pakistan treated the BSF Jawan who mistakenly fell into their waters recently was really a welcome sign from Pakistan. But on one hand where India feels that talks with Nawaz Sharif is a positive step we should not set high expectations from it as the real power in Pakistan is with the Pakistani Army and not the Pakistani Government and ultimately if situation arises India will have to directly talk to the Pakistani Generals instead of the Political leaders if it wants results. A strong message has to sent to the Pakistan Army that this Government of India means business and will not tolerate nonsense anymore.

Few questions that arise in everyone’s mind when we talk about India and Pakistan are Whether Nawaz Sharif will be able to go against the Pakistan Army to mend the relations with India? Will India and Pakistan ever become friends? Will terrorist groups be eradicated from Pakistan and terrorism vanish one day?

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