Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. After a week of long marches and escalating threats, one side has emerged victorious in the battle for control of Pakistan. While Imran Khan desperately tries to incite bloodshed and Nawaz desperately prays for the protesters to pack up and go home, the Army has brilliantly checkmated.
It has become clear by now that if Imran Khan once believed he would receive the support of the military in his quest to overthrow the Nawaz regime and seize power, he has since discovered that he, too, was a mere pawn in Army’s opening gambit.
Nawaz, knowing from the day he was elected that he was playing a true chess master. thought he saw some glimmer of Army machinations in this recent intrigue and sent his emissaries to inquire whether his time was up. What he heard back was masterful.
According to a government insider with a first-hand account of the meeting, Sharif’s envoys returned with good news and bad: there will be no coup, but if he wants his government to survive, from now on it will have to “share space with the army”.
No coup. The 111th will not be turning on the PM’s house today. Ah, but there is a price: The government must submit to the Army on certain issues. Where these lines are drawn, nobody knows. But that, too, is irrelevant. “Sharing space” with the Army is patently unconstitutional.
Of course, Nawaz does have other options. He can reject the Army’s offer and go it alone, but as is clear from the Army’s response, he should not expect his government to survive. But don’t expect to see tanks rolling through the streets just yet. With Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri whipping their supporters into a frenzy, the Army doesn’t need to scale the walls of PTV. They can just stand back and let things take their natural course. Once PM’s house is ransacked and chaos has overtaken the halls of Parliament, the Army can politely step in to “restore order”. And the “caretaker government” that will be installed will surely be more than willing to “share space” with the Army.
With its ultimatum to Nawaz, the Army has brilliantly pulled off a coup that is not a coup.
Yes, this is no coup. It is simply an understanding. A ‘sharing of space’. A gentleman’s agreement, if you will.
And the wheels spin on.