Of the many questions have risen from the dual PTI-PAT protests that have rocked the nation, one of the most mysterious has been the question of timing. If the protests were really about election rigging, why now? Why over a year after elections? And why is it so important that PM resign immediately? The government may not have ushered in a new golden era for Pakistan, but it’s performance has not been outside an expected range. The mystery may be clearing up, though, as inside reports reveal that a group of Generals may have gone behind the back of the Chief of Army Staff and formed a ‘coup committee’ dedicated to overthrowing the government by hook or by crook – and their time is running out.
According to a new Reuters report, COAS Gen Raheel “is not interested in direct intervention”, but a secret cabal of Generals led by the ISI chief have their own plans.
Spy chief Zaheer-ul-Islam, one of the five departing officers, was among those pushing for the prime minister’s ouster, according to three senior government sources.
“It is not the army but elements within the ISI that have been backing Imran to get rid of Nawaz,” said one of the sources, referring to Pakistan’s most powerful security body, the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
In fact, this may explain the timing and sudden urgency of demands for the PM’s resignation. DG ISI Gen Zaheer-ul-Islam’s tenure is due to expire on 1st October – only a few short weeks away. And he’s not the only one. Also due to retire are Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Ashfaq Nadeem, Corps Commander Mangla Lt Gen Tariq Khan, Corps Commander Gujranwala Lt Gen Salim Nawaz, and Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani.
Inside sources knowledgable about the group say DG ISI is not ready to retire, and is attempting to obtain an extension of his tenure with the backing of each of the previously mentioned Generals as well as Corps Commander Rawalpindi Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. If Gen Zaheer-ul-Islam’s appointment is allowed to expire without an extension, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will have an opportunity to replace him with his own selection – something the group of insurgent Generals has allegedly decided constitutes a ‘national security threat’ due to the PM’s policy of improving relations with India and a belief that he does not fully back the ISI’s Afghan cell.
COAS Gen Raheel continues to insist on letting political events take their course, but DG ISI and others may have other plans and it is unknown how long COAS will be able to resist this powerful group within Army/ISI leadership. In a disturbing turn of events, Pakistan may be facing not only a coup…but a mutiny.