- Imran Khan replies to Nawaz, but raises questions about himself
Prime Minister Imran Khan used his address to a Tiger Force convention on Saturday to give a reply to predecessor Mian Nawaz Sharif, who addressed the first Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) rally in Gujranwala on Friday by video link from London. He accused Mr Sharif of having ‘maligned’ the military leadership. That is likely to be a standard reply in the days to come, because it seems that Mr Sharif intends to contribute to the PDM movement against Mr Khan’s government by discussing the role of the armed forces. His Friday speech claiming the military was interfering in politics was not an aberration; it followed up his speeches to the opposition APC which led to the formation of the PDM, and to the PML(N) Central Committee, in which he said much the same thing.
Mr Sharif has brought into the mainstream of political discourse something that had previously only been hinted at: the role of the military in politics. Mr Khan, by the very act of pointing out what he is doing, is merely shedding more light. Mr Khan’s own constant refrain of being on the same page with the military would have been enough to raise awkward questions, but his concomitant persecution of the opposition for corruption, painted the opposition into a corner. One proponent of traditional politics, PML(N) President Shehbaz Sharif, has only recently been arrested by NAB, leaving the movement in the hands of those that want an end to a political role they claim has led to the installing of Mr Khan’s government, which they say is incompetent.
In a way, Mr Khan may be responsible for getting the military accused of a political role. His threats to bring Mr Sharif back to Pakistan, and to make him answer for what he is saying, is only going to make Mr Sharif speak against Mr Khan’s supposed backers even more. Mr Khan’s reliance on being on the same page with the military does not mean that he must not come to some modus vivendi with the opposition. Politics is supposed to be the art of the possible, and if Mr Khan wishes to remain in politics, he must find a place for both the military and the opposition.