By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2022-03-28 15:44:06
Although the fact that Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan faces a no-confidence motion in the national assembly this week (the motion has already been tabled) should make people believe that democracy is maturing in the country, the real fact is that the country is in such dire straits economically and so dependent on foreign aid and IMF bailouts that the Pakistani Army does not want to intervene directly lest it causes a complete economic collapse. Hence, in the garb of being neutral, it is supporting dissidents from Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaaf party and a united opposition to effect a 'democratic' change when it is well known that no such change can be thought of or carried out without the backing of the all-powerful generals. Khan brought this upon himself by completely mismanaging Pakistan's economy and lately, getting into tiffs with the generals. Such is the mood in the country that a hopelessly divided opposition even one year back is now firmly united by a single-point agenda - to oust Khan from power.
What does this portend for India? In power without a comfortable majority, Imran Khan kept the generals in good humour for the major part of his three year rule. But during this time, there was an unwritten pact with India on not indulging in cross-border firing and Pakistan was uncharacteristically less agitated than is normal when India abolished Articles 370 and 35A. Although strong words were used to condemn the Indian action, there was no equivalent spurt in terrorist activity. It could have been due to Pakistan's financial woes, its problems with FATF (where it is dangerously close to being on the blacklist) and the pandemic, as also the fact that India had stepped up counter-insurgency operations after the Pulwama attack in February 2019, but the fact is that the last two years were relatively peaceful and fortunately no major issue cropped up. But if a rag-tag opposition front (with many hardliners and India-baiters) comes to power in Pakistan with the blessings of the Army, things might change, and change fast. India will need to be vigilant lest the new dispensation in Pakistan resumes support to terror groups, encourages infiltration and causes disturbances in J&K.