Nawaz Sharif disqualified as Pakistan PM in Panama papers verdict: Should India step up caution at LoC?

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Published: July 28, 2017 5:48:41 PM

Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified as Pakistan's Prime Minister by the country's Supreme Court in the Panama-gate case.

nawaz sharif, nawaz sharif panama papersDefence experts are of the view that Pakistan has always been de facto ruled by its military and that will not change – ever!

Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified as Pakistan’s Prime Minister by the country’s Supreme Court in the Panama-gate case. The court verdict means fresh political crisis for Pakistan and the decision comes at a time when the country is seeing a surge in militancy and dealing with a poor economy. Even as the political crisis in India’s neighbouring country unfolds, one wonders what this means for the Indo-Pak ties in the future and whether a new establishment would take seriously the threat of homegrown militancy.

What it means for India – step up caution – but nothing more, really!

Defence experts are of the view that Pakistan has always been de facto ruled by its military and that will not change – ever! At a time when ceasefire violations from Pakistan and insurgency are in focus, India should be even more vigilant.

According to Harsh V Pant, Distinguished Fellow and Head Strategic Studies at Observer Research Foundation, Pakistan Army has been calling the shots for years now. “The impact of the ongoing developments in Pakistan would not be much on India, but there is little doubt that we need to step up our vigilance along the border. In the last 2-3 years, Pakistani Army had completely taken control of the situation with regards to India; Nawaz Sharif had virtually no say. However, he was still a nominal head, with him gone, Pakistan’s Army might be even tempted to make a case for military rule,” Pant tells FE Online. “They may try to create a perception in the minds of people that India would take advantage of the political instability. There would hence be chances that they would up tensions along the border to strengthen their case. That is something that we should watch out for and be prepared,” he adds.

Watch: Pakistan SC disqualifies Nawaz Sharif as country’s PM

Sushant Sareen, a Strategic Affairs Expert and Senior Fellow at Vivekananda International Foundation believes that the deep state continues to rule Pakistan and that scenario won’t change. “I don’t think it makes any difference to us (India) – whether it is Nawaz Sharif or anybody else or Imran Khan comes to power – it makes absolutely no difference to us. India’s policy towards Pakistan is made by the Pakistani deep state and the Pakistani Army. That’s not going to change, it hasn’t changed in the last 70 years, it’s not going to change in the next 70, unless we want to fool ourselves,” Sareen told India Today TV.

Sareen goes on to say, “The Army was important even to start with. Nawaz Sharif never really challenged the Army, on some occasions he did try to push the envelope a bit, but then when he got sort of a blast coming from the Army’s side, if you remember how the Army got Imran Khan in 2014 to pull Nawaz Sharif down when he wanted to prosecute Musharraf. And after that Nawaz Sharif laid his arms down, went on his knees, he never challenged the Army. Frankly if it is Nawaz Sharif or anybody else, the Pakistani Army will remain powerful no matter who comes as a chief or who doesn’t come as a chief. The deep state continues to rule Pakistan,” he adds.

That Pakistan’s policies toward India are influenced and to a great extent even made by its Army is not news to India. Aggression and ceasefire violation at the LoC has been Pakistan’s persistent tactic and with Sharif gone that may go up, requiring the India to be more cautious on that front. However, in terms of India’s foreign policy toward Pakistan is concerned – diplomatic talks have always been strained – and that’s a scenario that is unlikely to change.

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