Soon Raja Ali Ejaz, Pakistan’s envoy to Riyadh, will be packing his bags to fly back home to Islamabad, as the GHQ, the Pakistani military headquarters, approved Lt. Gen. (Retired) Bilal Akbar boards his flight to take charge as the new Pakistani Ambassador to the Royal Kingdom.
This might look like a significant move by the Pakistani military establishment towards mending the badly dented relations between Islamabad and Riyadh, but, in my opinion, the significance of this appointment lies elsewhere.
That is because Imran Khan was carried like a baby to the corridors of power and made Prime Minister of the country by the military establishment. This baby has not only failed to learn how to walk but has also been unable to learn how to talk. At every major step in the way of turning around a gravely troubled economy, he has stumbled and his political vocabulary has not expanded beyond the anti-India demagogy taught to him by his masters at the ISI during the election campaign. Hence, this pick of the Pakistani military establishment has proved that he suffers from political and economic infantilism.
It did not take long for the Generals to realise that Imran Khan would create a mess and so, he was presented with members of former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s Cabinet in order to form a PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) government. Even that did not work and soon the Cabinet also realised that their role as ministers was not to run the country, but to manage Imran Khan as a nanny would nurse a child.
The Kinder-Egg Prime Minister
No sooner had he assumed office as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he forgot all the promises made during the election campaign. The Generals were not in a mood to build five million houses or create 10 million jobs. They wanted him to become the extended arm of a begging campaign. Imran Khan flew to Saudi Arabia barefoot, and much to the embarrassment of his country folks, he was seen on national television wearing socks while being greeted by the members of the Saudi royal family.
He claimed that the holy land of Muslims was too sacred for him to walk on with shoes. This gesture of utter submission helped him win a $3.2-billion oil credit line with deferred payments and an extra $3 billion to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis. He got a pat on his shoulder from the establishment, but the nation was stunned that the guy who, until entering the PM House, remained adamant that a country which borrows money ends up losing its sovereignty, was beaming on national television over his successful procurement of the Saudi loan.
Buoyed by his achievement in Saudi Arabia, this prodigy never stopped trotting the globe, begging for more. Forgetfulness was the first visible sign of infantilism that Khan displayed. As everyone knows, toddlers have a very short attention span.
The second symptom he displayed was poor judgement. In his recent speeches, he has admitted that he never knew that the country was in such a bad state, and he had no clue about how to run a government, and that it took him three months to just figure out its workings.
A third symptom, that of being a political pre-schooler, was revealed when he impulsively began sacking his advisers and ministers, especially his Information Adviser, the de facto Minister for Information, Firdous Ashiq Awan and replacing her with the most corrupt military general of recent times, Asim Saleem Bajwa.
He is also a very slow learner. Imran Khan’s problems were compounded when on August 5, 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi abrogated Articles 370 and 35A which gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir its so-called special status. The Kinder-Egg Prime Minister had earlier gone on record, stating that Modi winning a second term would be better for settling the Kashmir issue. However, after the Modi government’s move, Imran Khan began calling the Indian Prime Minister a fascist.
It was then that, on cue, the military establishment gave him the boot and forced him to send his Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, knocking on the doors of the United Nations Security Council, asking it unequivocally to condemn India and its ‘fascist’ Prime Minister.
Not a single country agreed to call a special session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. In desperation, and on the advice of the neo-natal prime minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a press conference and threatened the OIC by extending an invitation to like-minded Islamic countries to hold a separate session on Kashmir. This infuriated the Saudis. Without any delay, they asked Pakistan to pay the $1-billion it owes to the Royal Kingdom. They even cancelled the $3 billion oil credit facility to Pakistan. The Army Chief travelled to Saudi Arabia, but to no avail. Perhaps he should have gone, barefoot. But then, how can a general be a general without his boots?
Chaos turning into anarchy?
Meanwhile, and to the envy of the Pakistani military establishment, Saudi Arabia and India together established the Strategic Partnership Council, which now oversees their new friendly relationship and their mutual business interests.
Not only has this Primary School Premier failed to garner any international support against India, something which is vital to sell the anti-India hate narrative to his people, he has also turned the public opinion against the military. For the first time in the country’s history, slogans against the army, such as “ye jo dehshat gardi hai, is kay pechay wardi hai” (the army is behind terrorism), are echoing through the land.
The military gradually is taking over from the civilian government. It has begun deployment of large Frontier Constabulary troops in Gilgit-Baltistan, large-scale military action is currently underway in Balochistan, forced disappearances of nationalists in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are on the rise, and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is effectively under the direct command of the pizza-selling General, Asim Saleem Bajwa, and finally in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir, the military has taken over almost every single village and town along the Line of Control.
The question is, would this new manoeuvre by the Pakistani military establishment work in Saudi Arabia? Would the appointment of a retired three-star General help mend the dent in the Pakistan-Saudi relationship? I seriously doubt it. Pakistan is slipping into a stage where chaos turns into anarchy. As economic chaos deepens and the political and diplomatic isolation of Pakistani establishment increases, the rogue Islamic state seems to be moving in the direction of disintegration. They know it and the Saudis know it as well.
Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK.