It appears that the people of Pakistan now have no tolerance towards their nincompoop democracy. As a result, in no time they have declared their verdict on their favourite cricketer tThe Fall of the dictatorurned premier of Pakistan, Imran Khan. His tall claims of “Naya Pakistan” have been thrashed as farcical and a mere eye wash. It would not be wrong to say that Imran Khan self inflicted this verdict by jumping the gun and setting deadlines for his new government. Little did he realise that he had a herculean task of curing a nation, which over a period of time was fighting many ailments – a failing democracy, debt ridden economy, lawlessness etc. almost akin to a patient surviving on a life support system.
Delusional ‘Naya Pakistan’
Imran Khan’s miscalculation, disabled him to bridge the gap between promises and reality and so the public backlash. This is another low for the democracy in Pakistan.
So when “Naya Pakistan” is trying to find a grip, insiders suggest that a “coup is knocking” is the mantra it is quietly dispersing for its own benefit. Creating panic in the name of a coup to stay in power even when the reign is encumbered with feeble governance and mismanagement.
Power sharing tussle between the polity, military and civil is a open secret in Pakistan. Who actually runs the state is known to all. So in such a scenario where decision-making is usually in limbo and the populace is upset with the shaky progress of political affairs such ‘rumours’ of a ‘coup’ take no time in quickly translating into reality.
Pakistan’s powerful military says it has “no direct role” in political affairs, but a history of coups and dictatorships permanently casts fears over the balance of power in civil-military relations.
Here is a brief overview of Pakistan’s troubled path to democracy under the shadow of military rule.
Chaos and the first coup
Pakistan is created as a homeland for Muslims in 1947 as the subcontinent gains independence from Britain.
But its founder, the venerated Mohammad Ali Jinnah, dies one year later. Over the next decade, some seven prime ministers come and go before the military finally has enough of the chaos, with General Ayub Khan launching the country’s first military coup in 1958.
He is succeeded by General Yahya Khan in 1969 in the face of mass unrest, but Pakistan does not come back under civilian leadership until a disastrous civil war sees East Pakistan splinter away to form Bangladesh in 1971. Khan hands over the presidency to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto that same year.
Bhutto’s hanging and the second coup
Bhutto, the founder of the populist Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), appoints a new army chief in 1976 – General Zia-ul-Haq – a surprise promotion that some say reflected the prime minister’s view that Zia was no threat.
If so, it proves a wild miscalculation. Not only does Zia depose Bhutto in the country’s second coup in 1977, he jails the prime minister and, two years later, has him hanged.
Zia’s totalitarian rule sees him impose Islamic laws and organize sham elections. He remains in power until he is killed in 1988 when his Hercules C-130 aircraft mysteriously crashes in Pakistan.
Benazir, Nawaz, and the third coup
Zia’s death ushers civilian rule back in under the leadership of his old nemesis Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir, who becomes the first female leader of any Muslim country.
She leads from 1988 until 1990 when she is ousted on corruption charges that she insinuates were fuelled by the military.
She is replaced by Nawaz Sharif, in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader’s first stint as prime minister, setting in place a paradigm of revolving leadership between the two politicians that continues until the army, once again, loses patience.
By 1999, the relationship between Sharif in his second stint as premier and then-army chief General Pervez Musharraf is rapidly deteriorating. PML-Qousts Sharif in the country’s third coup.