After India’s Move on Article 370, Is Imran Khan Facing a Coup?

Pakistan army coup Imran khan

Even as the government in Pakistan tries hard to adjust with the new realities in Jammu and Kashmir, the one question that people in Pakistan have on their mind is whether Imran Khan miscalculated his adventure by urging President Trump to mediate in Kashmir issue. And, this may have prompted the Indian response. Pakistan’s main opposition Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) chief Shehbaz Sharif has reportedly accused the PM Imran Khan of selling the future of Kashmir.

Surprisingly, none of the Kashmir observers across the Line of Control had predicted this move by the government of India. No important event hinting at this move has also taken place before August 05, 2019, the day Home Minister of India Amit Shah first announced the abrogation of provisions of article 370. The only important event related to Kashmir that happened before August 05 was a desperate call by Imran Khan to Trump.

Now, whether it is the chances of US intervention in Kashmir or India’s apprehensions about US withdrawal from Afghanistan leading it to become a hotbed for Pakistan supported anti-India terrorists, this Imran-Trump meeting may have played the role of a catalyst to India’s decision on article 370.

Almost a year back, Pakistani Prime Minister had fought his election campaign on many issues like economy, corruption, and Kashmir among others. In fact, the promise of the liberation of Kashmir from India has always topped the list of promises by Pakistani leaders. When Imran was fighting his election, he had projected himself as the savior of Pakistan. But after coming to power, Imran has not been able to solve any of the problems, rather became witness to many failures.

Economically, Pakistan continues to face debt crisis and Imran himself had to go to IMF for a bailout package. Read one of earlier articles on “Is Pakistan Breaking from Within?” He has also faced a lot of criticism from Pakistanis for his blind support to China’s plans of an economic corridor going through Pakistan, putting the country under a debt trap situation.

Diplomatically, Pakistan has been facing humiliating defeats one after the other. Pakistan didn’t get any international support after India’s strike in Balakot of Pakistan despite it being an attack on Pakistani soil. On the issue of Masood Azhar, India was successful in getting him declared as a global terrorist by creating enough pressure on China, a neighbour, Pakistan has been very confident of.

Further, Pakistan has lost the diplomatic plot as it continues to swing between two rival countries China and the USA and not sure whose support will it get. So far, it has got no substantial support from either of them on most of the matters including the recent decision by India on article 370.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has himself admitted that they have not yet got many positive responses from the international community. Realising the international isolation, he said, “Giving vent to emotions is easy and raising objections is much easier. However it is difficult to understand the issue and move forward. They are not waiting for you with garlands in their hands. Any members out of the P-5 nations can be a hurdle… Do not live in the fool paradise.”

Also, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran couldn’t do much except the following.

Not surprisingly, Imran Khan himself seems to be very rattled on India’s decision as seen in his recent responses. Certainly, it’s a great loss of his political capital which ended even before it started to build. His name will go down in Pakistani history as the Prime Minister under whose watch India was able to integrate Kashmir.

History apart, the present conditions in Pakistan are ripe for a major upheaval, the country is known for.

One, any major political event (related to India) in Pakistan has given space to the army in the country. In 1977, few years after India’s successful liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan and in 1999, when war with India was imminent, Pakistan saw two military coups. Currently, the issue of Kashmir has become a major political event in Pakistan.

Two, it has seen at least three major military coups in 1958, 1977 and 1999. If one closely looks at the difference of years between the army coups in Pakistan, it is about 20 years. The last coup was 20 years ago from today.

Three, the US separate talks with Pakistani army recently in the US on Afghanistan deal can itself give latter enough ammunition for a coup especially on the pretext of restoring the peace in the region without attracting the international criticism.

Four, as explained above, the credibility of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is at its nadir.

Thus, all these factors above point to the fact that the conditions in Pakistan are moving towards a big change in the leadership. When will it happen is only for time to tell us?

Note – Views expressed here belong to the author only.