Pak unstable, India must remain alert

Imran Khan had threatened to recreate 'Tahrir square' outside Pakistan Parliament
It is hard not to be struck by the fact that the two sets of agitators who sought to besiege Pakistan capital Islamabad to protest the Nawaz Sharif regime arrived on the scene at the same time, and are pressing the same demand of the Prime Minister’s resignation.
The orchestration of the move seems obvious, and the agency with the capacity to do so is obviously the Pakistan Army. The Nawaz regime is just over a year old and hasn’t really done anything of note. Even so, the elephant in the room, the Pakistan Army, is far from pleased. Perhaps it was insecure about its ties with the civilian government which sided with the media house whose journalist was killed, allegedly on the Army’s orders.
May be the soldiers weren’t pleased about the PM showing an interest in affairs relating to Afghanistan or India, which they deem to be their preserve.
While civil-military relations in Pakistan have generally been uncertain, what seems pretty evident now is that the Nawaz regime has now lost any capacity for stability it might have even theoretically possessed. This will be taken advantage of by its opponents, which is exactly what the Army would like of course.
This means the Army would move on the country’s Afghanistan policy unfettered by any inputs from the civilian government. It would also determine how to pitch the India policy. So, while the civilians might remain nominally in charge, the men in khaki would call the shots, directly even if discreetly. That can pretty much raise a question mark on the question of normalisation of relations with India.
Some believe the Kashmir issue was close to solution under President Pervez Musharraf, an Army man. Such a sweeping hypothesis neglects the widely accepted assumption that self-preservation dictates that the Army must not let the Kashmir tangle to come undone.
The Nawaz government could survive the twin onslaught mounted by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf and the maverick preacher Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek, but it is doubtful India would have an interlocutor of any worth in Islamabad in the remaining part of Mr Sharif’s term on office, which may well be cut short at any time of course. An important reason for this is that
Pakistan is yet to arrive at the tradition of political parties getting together to challenge the machinations of the military.
Given the fact that uncertainties have crept in and favour the Army, India will need to keep a close watch on the Kashmir situation and on developments in Pakistan in the run-up to the Western withdrawal. Improving trade ties also now appears a long shot. It is a pity an elected government can so easily be put on ice. But we must accept the political dynamics in a neighbouring country, and just be watchful.
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