How Indian Establishment Insiders Are Viewing The Attack On Imran Khan
New Delhi: The assassination attempt on former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has not only plunged the country deeper into turmoil but spawned new strategic factors for India, ranging from the future of Pakistan’s all-powerful military and intelligence establishment to its political stability, government insiders say.
While Pakistan’s army tries to control the internal chaos, presenting a reprieve from hostilities on the border areas for India, New Delhi is also closely monitoring the “very critical” internal law and order situation in the country, officials in New Delhi have told NDTV.
Reports reaching New Delhi indicate that the internal struggle within the Pakistani army has “weakened its structure deeply” and its chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is himself involved in the firefighting, an officer claimed, requesting not to be named.
General Bajwa is scheduled to retire on November 29 after a second three-year term as army chief, but may not relinquish his grip on power just yet, he said.
“Protests against the army in recent times are a first. The army is trying to dominate the country and in present circumstances, Bajwa might continue also,” the senior government official told NDTV.
According to him, turmoil both in the army and in the polity of Pakistan is “good news” for India, as it can “breathe easy” for some time.
“Pakistan needs to address its divisions and problems – in the army and also political level. Both are taking an ugly turn due to economic distress there. As for us, we can breathe easy for some time as they would be engaged in their own problems,” said the official who handles Pakistan affairs.
Reports reaching Delhi also highlight the growing dissension within Pakistan over the attack on Imran Khan, another source said.
According to an assessment by Indian security agencies, questions regarding the attack are being raised based on the fact that it took place in the Punjab province where Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is the ruling party and the Home Minister of the province was accompanying him on the truck.
“Questions are being raised on what kind of ‘intezam’ (arrangements) was done, although supari (contract) killing is not new in Pakistan,” said a top government official.
According to him, Mr Khan has gained tremendous popularity after the attack.
“Imran has become a big challenge for the establishment, and he will win if elections are held sometime soon and if they are free and fair,” he said.
The official also shared a theory behind why Imran Khan, in his clash with the Pakistani establishment, chose the route of mass mobilisation as a show of strength, effectively paralysing the government, and engineering a possible collapse.
“Everyone in Pakistan knows that Imran wanted to make his protege Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, corps commander, Bahawalpur, the next army chief. But unfortunately for Imran, he retires on April 30 next year,” the officer said.
Indian officials handling the Pakistan desk claim that if General Bajwa now decides to continue as army chief, then Lt Gen Asim Munir, who is the senior-most among the contenders and currently serving as the Quarter Master General at the GHQ, has the best chances of becoming the next Chief of Armed Staff.
“Munir was DG ISI (Director General of the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence) when Imran was the PM, and it seems his reports had irked Imran, so the present regime might consider him too,” said an official.