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Pakistan’s Military Control over Politics is Waning as Anti-army Sentiments Rise

Currently, the anti-army sentiment is very evident in Pakistan

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

PAKISTAN: Imran Khan’s ouster as prime minister of Pakistan has sparked a never-before-seen backlash against the nation’s all-powerful military establishment.

After Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan claimed that the military was plotting his downfall with the United States, anti-army sentiments were aired. Protesters have shouted in favour of Khan and against the military during demonstrations organised throughout Pakistan.

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Protesters raised slogan, “Amreeka ka jo yaar hai gadaar hai.” The slogan translates to ”Anyone who is friends with America is a traitor.”

It is important to note that Imran Khan was the first prime minister in the country’s history to lose his position on a vote of no confidence.

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In Pakistan right now, anti-army sentiment is very evident. Despite the suspension of accounts and the arrest of individuals suspected of organising anti-army activities online, people continue to criticise the military on social media.

Following General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s October trip to the US, hashtags like “Bajwa Has to Go” and “Bajwa Traitor” became popular on social media, accusing General Bajwa of carrying out US directives in Pakistan.

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For the first time in the history of the country, the chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spoke at a press conference last week to discuss the killing of ARY News senior anchor Arshad Sharif and remarks made by Imran Khan critical of the military.

At a news conference, Lt. Gen. Babar Iftikhar and “spymaster” Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum claimed that the military and security services were not betraying their country.

According to reports, the situation happened after the Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) sent ARY News a notification regarding Shahbaz Gill, a leader for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)  making a comment that was carried on the channel.

Gill stated during an on-air interview that senior army officers should disregard their military superiors if they have been instructed to take any action that is contrary to the wishes of the general populace.

According to reports, the PEMRA claimed that Gill’s words amounted to “inciting the rank and file of the armed forces towards revolt.”

Later, Shahbaz Gill was seized in Islamabad, and Pakistan’s interior minister, Rana Sanaullah, was told that Gill had been taken into custody on suspicion of inciting sedition and aiding mutiny.

Arshad Sharif, a top anchor for ARY News, was accused of sedition for promoting an anti-state narrative while interviewing Gill. On October 23, local police in Kenya fatally shot Sharif.

The shooting of Sharif, according to Kenyan police, was a case of mistaken identity. The allegations of the death of a top journalist, however, were disputed by many in Kenya and Pakistan, with some campaigners asserting that it was a hit job. The incident exacerbated Pakistan’s anti-army sentiment.

General Bajwa’s criticism of Russia for starting an operation in Ukraine when former Prime Minister Imran Khan was in Moscow created a feud between Pakistan’s army and the PTI chief.

The fact that General Bajwa made his statement while Khan was up for a vote of no-confidence suggested that the army and the PTI-led administration were no longer on the same page.

Amid his dispute with the army, Imran Khan asserted that he was working to establish Pakistan’s own independent foreign policy and charged the US with scheming against him.

Imran Khan was recently heard discussing a US conspiracy theory in an audio clip with a top party member that appeared on social media.

Khan claimed that the conversation was leaked and that it occurred in the PM’s home. He called it a “breach of national security” and maintained that it was dangerous for the country. His political party, PTI, also petitioned the Supreme Court to order a judicial investigation into the incident, the magazine stated.

Also Read: Turkey to Increase its Military Presence in Northern Cyprus

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