Coup Is Not the Answer To Pakistan Crisis – Army Chief Asim Munir Thinks So, Too

Munir—a staunch opponent of Imran Khan, won't repeat the mistake of Martial law that brought Pakistan to the edge.

6 min read
Hindi Female

In the midst of an economic, political, social, and constitutional crisis, all eyes are on the Army Chief, General Asim Munir. Such is Pakistan as a country, because of its history of martial law. This is despite the fact that the military and military dictators are the root cause of where Pakistan is today, as opposed to them having found golden solutions to problems created by venal politicians.

Of course, the dictators and doctrinaires have always pretended to be acting in the best interests of the country when making naked lunges for power and self-perpetuation. But that’s a different story.


Pakistan and apparently India too, are pregnant with expectations of martial law to be imposed in Pakistan. “What else is there?” they ask as if this is a (if not only) solution to the current breakdown of everything.

Well, not only do I think martial law is no solution, but I suspect that Asim doesn’t think so either and that there will be no military coup. Let me take a step back for a minute before I argue my case.


Constitutional Violation Is the Order of the Day in Pakistan

On Monday afternoon, a complaint of misconduct against the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Omer Atta Bandiyal and three other Justices of the Supreme Court was filed in the Supreme Judicial Council (the adjudicating body on the conduct of judges). The other three are Justices Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, Ijaz ul Ahsan, and Muneeb Akhtar—all three known as “humkhiyal” for their naked and unashamed attempts together with the CJ to go to any limit to shield and protect former Prime Minister Imran Khan, and to aid and abet the CJ in his attempts at political engineering in favour of Imran Khan.

In this latest development in the war unfolding at a breakneck speed between the Federal Government and the CJP, a private citizen has filed the complaint; it’s not a reference by the federal government—because time is of essence. President Arif Alvi who acts like a worker of the PTI and not the uniting symbol of the Federating Units, has repeatedly obstructed constitutional processes and violated the constitution to either help keep Imran Khan in power or to aid him in making a return to power.

By having a private complaint lodged, the government has circumvented Alvi’s ability to delay a reference to be filed and gain time to instead allow the CJP to start proceedings against the senior puisne judge, Justice Qazi Faez Isa from becoming the next Chief Justice of Pakistan later this year in September.

Bandiyal’s conspiracy revealed itself when he got Justice Isa’s detailed note on his Suo Moto hearing and the decision was taken off the Supreme Court website within a couple of hours of it being published on Saturday, and fixing a hearing for a “curative review” petition against Justice Isa by Imran Khan when he was the PM.

The unprecedented petition (there is no provision for any such thing after an appeal has been turned down by the Supreme Court) was gathering dust for the last year and a half because it was clearly not going to go anywhere after a ten member bench had exonerated Justice Isa and declared its own earlier decision to send his case to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) as wrong.


So Bandiyal has not opened an unconstitutional, and clearly malafide, can of worms for no reason. Once he becomes Chief Justice, Isa is not expected to go out of his way to provide illegal, unconstitutional relief to Imran Khan the way he has been getting it under the series of CJs Nisar, Khosa, Sheikh, Gulzar, and now Bandiyal.


Judiciary’s Conflict of Interest

Currently, the Supreme Court is split between Isa and Bandiyal groups by 8-7 respectively. Bandiyal’s intent of political engineering is clear not just from his recent actions, but from his (and his predecessors’) record of never including Isa and other independent-minded Justices in any important constitutional cases unless they were in a minority on the bench.

By all that is legal and constitutional, Imran Khan is clearly headed for disqualification and perhaps even for the time in prison. Bandiyal wants to obstruct the course of justice to prevent to give a chance at political survival to Imran Khan, and have the next general election held under his own tenure to let Khan’s imaginary popularity bring him to power with a two-thirds majority whereby, Khan would be able to amend the constitution to increase the retirement age of judges to 68 from 65, such that Khan and Bandiyal rule the roost and change the constitution beyond recognition for the journey towards an autocratic one party and presidential system akin to North Korea/ China.


Where does the Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir figure in all this? He does not give remarks like the judges in court, and he does not make statements like politicians in rallies or in press conferences, neither does he call groups of anchors and hold "doctrine” briefings, nor does he leak half-truths and half-lies to journalists for his own political agenda like the former COAS Bajwa.

Therefore, assessing his position and his future actions come down to very careful reading of his mind from his reported past and present actions or, the lack, thereof.


Will Asim Munir’s ‘Arm’s Length’ Stand Cost Him?

First, Munir as the then DG ISI, is reported to have taken a file on the corruption of Bushra Bibi to the then PM Imran Khan to urge him to end corruption in his own house and party. As a result, he was transferred out and Faiz Hameed was appointed DG ISI within a day. Logic says that a man who is financially corrupt himself, would not confront his boss, instead, turn a blind eye or encourage it. This establishes that he is financially clean, and has no sympathy for Imran Khan.

Second, the fact that he went from his post of DG ISI so quietly abiding by the discipline, not having made it a political issue, that no one even noticed there was a change at guard in the ISI, shows he is the deep kind who lives to fight another day.

Third, he is perceived as a prominent corps commander who was instrumental in forcing the high command to become “neutral” and let politics take its own course for better or for worse (knowing full well the natural course would rid the country of Imran Khan).

While the entire military brass understood what a disaster they had imposed on Pakistan in the shape of Imran Khan/ PTI, Munir was among those who actually insisted that support was withdrawn from the PTI and the Army extracted from the mess.

Fourth, he has resisted any attempt by Imran Khan to meet with him, “negotiate” with him, or interfere in the electoral politics or process on his behalf.

Lastly, the fact that he overcame with dignity, an onslaught of intrigue by Generals Bajwa, Faiz, Azhar, and Imran Khan etc against him becoming chief, shows he fights to the end.

Now, though the current government has made appalling mistakes, he understands that there is no alternative. He has inherited a divided army, a divided polity, a Frankenstein’s Monster of his predecessors’ making, a world of social media that cannot ultimately be controlled, an economy in a vortex, a world without a strategic value for Pakistan, and a region without a war that might help sustain any illegitimate ambition. Importantly, he is not at loggerheads with the government. It is not a case of one grave and two potential bodies as it was in the cases of Zia with Bhutto or Musharraf with Nawaz.

Additionally, he is faced with the formidable challenge of the Taliban having fanned out in the country and carrying out daily attacks on law enforcement agencies and personnel of the Army and the ISI—a parting kick from the Bajwa, Faiz, and Imran trio. He knows the Army cannot be fighting the Taliban, the Baloch, the diplomatic isolation, and the people all at the same time when it is not even flush with money.

Asim Munir will not impose Martial Law as a solution for the present political and constitutional crisis, for he also knows that it is the very Bajwa-Faiz-Imran martial law that brought Pakistan where it is. He’s not going to look to cancer to cure cancer. Therefore, by logical extension, he will do nothing to conspire with Bandiyal and Imran Khan to let another heist be perpetrated on the people of Pakistan, nor will he impose Martial Law.

(Gul Bukhari is a Pakistani journalist and rights activist. She tweets @GulBukhari. This is an opinion article and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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Topics:  Imran Khan   judiciary   Pakistan Army 

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