India - Pakistan: Attack on Imran Khan Detrimental to Peace in the Neighbourhood
STORIES, ANALYSES, EXPERT VIEWS
The attempt to assassinate former Pakistan PM Imran Khan has not only thrown the country into chaos but can also have serious implications for its neighbours. India, ‘closely monitoring the situation’, would hope for democracy to prevail in Pakistan because military rule has been disastrous for that country, and detrimental to peace in the neighbourhood.
Several rounds of recriminations, which started soon after the attack, writes The Tribune, “have made everyone a suspect. His Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Insaf colleagues have quoted Imran to pin the blame on PM Shehbaz Sharif and an army General; the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) has blamed ‘religious fanaticism’; and critics have insinuated that he orchestrated the attack on himself to garner sympathy.
“Intriguingly, each one of these allegations could be true. Imran has been on a course of confrontation with the army, blaming it — and the US — for his ouster. The attack could be the handiwork of religious fanatics, too — the would-be assassin has said that he wanted to kill Imran because he was ‘misleading’ people and the loudspeakers of his cavalcade were interfering with the ‘aazan’ (call to prayer five times a day). And though it would be uncharitable to believe that it was a staged attack, there are many who believe this to be true.”
The attack on Imran took place exactly a week after two Generals, representing the army and the ISI, declared that the army ‘as an institution has decided that it would stay out of politics.’ This claim, according to The Tribune “is being treated with scepticism, and there are reports of there being pro-Imran and anti-Imran factions in the army. Indeed, it is believed that Imran could not have been so critical of the army if he did not have the backing of a few powerful Generals….”
India, Pakistan relations have entered an age of minimalism
On the possible impact on India of developments in Pakistan, Happymon Jacob (Associate Professor of Diplomacy and Disarmament Studies; columnist with The Hindu) writes, bilateral relations “have entered an age of minimalism, counter-intuitive as it might seem. There is very little bilateral contact today, even fewer expectations of a bilateral breakthrough, and hardly any warmth in the relationship. And yet, there is a certain ‘cold peace’ between the traditional rivals — on the Line of Control, inside Kashmir and in the verbal exchanges between the two sides……
“India-Pakistan relations of the kind we have been used to over several decades now — characterised by intense engagement, high value terror attacks, Indian responses, a breakdown of talks, and eventual resumption of talks; rinse and repeat — may well be a thing of the past. Today, there is no political will for any grand relationship, grand gestures or grand outreach. The bilateral contact is tactical, business-like and unemotional. It is ironic that for a political party that was initially Pakistan-obsessed and used Pakistan for domestic political purposes, Pakistan occupies little space in the foreign policy agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today.”