Since the fallout of Pakistan’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Pakistani army called out a meeting with its top commanders. The failed economy and volatile political crisis are posing extreme situations. Based on the information, there are indications that Pakistan is heading towards military intervention.
The escalating feud between former prime minister Imran Khan’s supporters and security forces is approaching a “military-led solution”.
While an economic crisis comes around every few years in Pakistan, the unprecedented violence has reached a tipping point, as a report indicates. So far, Pakistan has been facing its worst political crisis with the highest number of terrorist attacks.
The January bombing was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s history, where more than 100 people were killed. It adds to the series of such suicide attacks in Karachi and Balochistan.
The biggest fallout is the failure of institutions.
According to Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based research organisation, the country had already witnessed a 27% spike in terrorist attacks in 2022 compared to 2021.
In the 75 years since Pakistan gained independence, the army has seized power three times and directly ruled the country for four decades.
An economic crisis comes around every few years in Pakistan. Amid an ongoing economic crisis, Pakistan’s external debt and liabilities have almost reached $130 billion — 95.39 per cent of its GDP.
For a long time, Pakistan’s economy is heavily reliant on external debt. Without industrial output and falling export, the debt crossed a dangerous level– ~96 percent of GDP– that the economy simply can’t sustain itself. What made it worse is the unprecedented flooding.
The possible coup
The report hints at the conflict at the commanders’ conference which is about the massive cut in the military expenditure which was put forth by the concernment ministry under the bailout negotiations.
However, the expert has pointed out the panic situation within the Pakistani army after the police were unable to arrest the deposed prime minister Imran Khan on March 14. Imran Khan was due to be arrested on terrorism charges which led to a violent protest by his supporters. The aftermath has been unlike anything in contemporary Pakistani history which cast a humiliation within the ranks of the army establishment.
The United Nations Development Program calculations also point out Pakistan’s spending of $17.4 billion in the form of freebies–land and other concessions– to the political class and military establishment. In fact, the army controls more than 10 percent of the country’s real estate in addition to its interests in diverse sectors ranging from construction to oil import.
As former U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad pointed out that some countries had already “suspended planned investments” in Pakistan while the IMF’s “support remains doubtful.”
The military-government conflict has further escalated as the Pakistan military had to curtail its military parade which was taken by the “top leadership”.
Report also indicates an impending election in October which is being deliberated within the establishment. The fact that Khan’s PTI party has won several local and regional contests since he was removed from power, makes it a matter of serious concern for the army.
The army might intervene as Pakistan is heading into a deeper crisis amid political polarization and violence.