After five Indian Army soldiers died post exchange of fire with Pakistani security forces along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, top intelligence sources said the situation at LoC was under control and the incident had been a “desperate attempt” by the Pakistan army to divert attention from its domestic issues.
The sources said the Pakistani Army was under “tremendous pressure” due to a spate of recent events which had heavily undermined its authority inside and outside the country.
For the first time, a United Opposition in Pakistan, under the banner of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) came out with a series of rallies against the government.
PDM on Tuesday announced it would proceed with its rallies despite a ban imposed by the Imran Khan-government citing a rise of Covid-19 cases in the country. The 11-party opposition alliance also rejected the results of the recent elections in Gilgit-Baltistan, where the ruling PTI emerged as the leading party.
Nawaz Sharif Speaks Out Against Army Chief
Last month, Nawaz Sharif, the 70-year-old supreme leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) who was ousted from power in 2017 by the apex court on graft charges, for the first time directly named Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI head Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for interfering in the general elections of 2018 to ensure victory of Imran Khan. Sharif had made the comments virtually on October 16 during a joint rally organised by the Opposition parties under the banner of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), formed to oust the Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf: government. In response, Prime Minister Khan said Sharif was sitting in London “like a Jackal” and targeting the Army.
Graft Allegations Against Imran Khan’s Aide Bajwa
Khan’s top aide Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa resigned recently after allegations that he used his offices to help family set up several off-shore businesses. Former Pakistan Army spokesman Bajwa, who also served as Commander of the Southern Command, rejected the allegations against him and resigned as special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM) on information and broadcasting.
Arrest of Nawaz Sharif’s Son-in-Law
Recently, the Pakistan Army also came under fire after the arrest of deposed ex-PM Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law. Later, the Army said the security officials who had carried out the arrest of Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar, from a hotel room in Karachi last month were suspended for acting “overzealously.” Safdar was arrested on October 18 for raising slogans and violating the sanctity of the mausoleum of Pakistan’s founder MA Jinnah. PDM had however decried the detention, saying the government was trying to scuttle the much-publicised anti-government protest planned later that month.
Strained Ties With Saudi Arabia
The country’s ties with Saudi Arabia have also come under strain over Riyadh’s reluctance to toe Islamabad’s line on the Kashmir issue. Pakistan has been unsuccessfully trying to drum up international support against India for withdrawing Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution was its internal matter. It also advised Pakistan to accept reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, for the first time, criticised the Saudi government in a recent TV interview and threatened to call an OIC meeting by sidestepping the Gulf country.
Saudis avoided directly responding to Qureshi’s remarks, but reportedly stopped renewing a $3.2 billion oil credit facility to Pakistan despite requests from Islamabad. Pakistan has also paid back $1 billion loan to Riyadh which, according to some reports, the Saudis had demanded. Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had also made a visit to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to smooth over the bilateral ties.