As you know Imran Khan was ousted from the office of prime minister after he lost the confidence motion rolled against him by the opposition. In this article we’ll get to know role why Pakistani Army turned against Imran Khan and what does it mean to India with the appointment(“selection”) of Shahbaz Sharif
The Tussle Between Imran Khan and Gen Bajwa
Gen Bajwa “selected” Imran as prime minister in the 2018 elections by rigging the elections. The army needed a change from Zardari and Nawaz who wanted to break from the army’s policy of supporting militant jihadi groups and wanted to improve trade and political ties with India. The army hoped that Imran Khan would provide a “handsome and modern” face for the army rule, perhaps Normal Pakistanis saw him as a hero who bought the cricket world cup home.
But Mr. Khan had different plans, he dreamt to become a world leader. He attempted to align with Turkey & Malaysia and tried to set up a new Islamic bloc that angered Pakistan’s traditional friends in the Gulf — Saudi Arabia and the UAE who were de-facto leaders of the Islamic World. But since Pakistan Army had very good relations with Arabs and in fact Generals of the Pak Army stationed their illegal Millions perhaps billions of dollars in these countries.
Other than this Khan has been incompetent in governing Pakistan, has deepened Pakistan’s economic crisis, sharpened internal conflicts, and worsened its international relations by his constant Anti-American/west rhetoric despite knowing the fact that the US and Europe are the biggest export destination for Pakistani exports. Pakistan army which has long maintained a close strategic partnership with the US and Europe was not happy with this. Bajwa publicly distanced himself from Khan and criticized and even condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and underlined the traditionally close ties to the US and Europe.
But when Imran Khan refused to appoint Lt General Nadeem Anjum as ISI Chief, as recommended by Gen Bajwa, as part of the routine army transfers, this proved to be the final nail in the coffin. It was crystal clear that PM and army chief were no longer on the same page. Rumors about a deepening relationship between Imran Khan and Lt General Faiz Hameed and plans to appoint him as the next Army Chief
It seems Imran Khan did not learn anything from history, that what happens to those who dare to go against the Pakistani Army. With the removal of Imran Khan, the Pakistani Army has thrown its weight on Shahbaz Sharif who believed to have a cordial relationship with the army and believes that Army and Civil institutions should work together
What Does It Mean To India?
India must not see the changes in Pakistani leadership through the lens of bilateral relations. Delhi must focus instead on the potential shifts in Pakistan’s strategic orientation. Shahbaz Sharif believed to have good relations with the west. He’ll focus will be on trying to rebuild the relationship with US and Europe along with balancing ties with its “iron brother China”. Thus it is important to make sure that the US and Europe do not supply weapons to Pakistan which would be a security challenge to India though the chances of Pakistan getting western weapons are slim.
As far as Kashmir is concerned, Shahbaz Sharif in his speech in the assembly, mentioned Kashmir many times but raised the issue of Article 370 only once unlike his predecessor who refused to normalize the bilateral relations until India restores the Article 370, well it has to be seen what will be the stand of current PM on this issue. In a letter to PM Modi, he aspired to solve the dispute via dialogue through diplomatic means. Sharif maintained cordial ties with the military and advocated for military and civilian government cooperation in favor of a hybrid regime, it has to be seen whether he will be able to bring civilian administration and Military on the same page concerning resolving the Kashmir issue.
During his tenure as CM of Punjab(Pakistani), he visited India and met with then PM Manmohan Singh and advocated increasing trade between India and Pakistan. Being a former businessman Sharif want’s to resume trade with India.
But it has to be seen how the relationship between the two countries unfolds but things would move in positive directions if Pakistan stop’s supporting the jihadi groups, which are hurting Indian security interests as well as disturbing the peace and affecting the life of Kashmiris in the valley. Therefore with the change in leadership in Pakistan, experts suggest India be “Cautiously Optimistic” regarding advancing its relationship with Pakistan