Last night’s speech by @NawazSharifMNS was an astonishing public attack against a sitting army chief by a politician whose political career took birth in the GHQ, fathered by a dictator and who became prime minister with the support and blessings of the same GHQ several times.
Similar attacks have been launched before by leftist politicians but not a mainstream Punjabi politician.
Nawaz has had testy relations with the COASs before (Musharraf was the last) but he has never so forcefully raised his voice against the military’s political shenanigans.
What has changed? Nawaz - in the twilight of his political career and in the midst of launching his daughter’s career - really does believe it is time politicians take full control.
I spent time with him in 1997, and what he said yday in public, he then said more politely but in private. With time he has come around to the views of the democratic forces even more. Except then he needed the generals and the generals needed him.
Maryam Nawaz is a PM-in-waiting if the PML-N comes to power. Everyone who has spent time with her say she’s a complete package.
Or maybe - quite plausible - some elements within the army have signaled to him it is time to send COAS Bajwa packing.
As much as the army portrays itself as one united force, it is an open secret that generals are equally political and never hesitate to play the power game. Bajwa’s extension limited the careers of many 3-stars; his “restrained” handling of Kashmir crisis left many faujis fuming.
Whatever the case, this is a bold and risky strategy. One risk is the fine line b/w attacking Bajwa and damaging the army as an institution. Pakistanis are rightly proud of the army but may now also hold the chief accountable.
They may have crossed the bridge where a chief can not be the law, above the law and beyond the law. He has to be the same as the “bloody civilians.” The initial reaction of the army will be to close ranks behind the chief. Preserve the GHQ.
Any inclination to teach these bloody civilians a lesson, a coup against its own puppet government is not the answer, especially since the army has invested so much in first defining and then implementing a hybrid system where a COAS is also effectively a co-prime minister.
The army not only now controls defence, foreign and interior policies but it is now also fully invested in economic and social policies too.
Fresh elections will bring Nawaz and opposition coalition to power. And I still believe Imran will complete his term, unless the lotas who dumped Nawaz and others, dump him. Anything is possible when the pot is stirred.
So, a grand bargain will be struck. Bajwa will “retire” early but it will ensure the current hybrid system continues. In return, the legal & political pressure that Nawaz, Zardari and others are under will be dialed back.
And then the jockeying for the army’s blessings before the next election will begin. Who will be the favorite, the army will decide.

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