World View: Pakistan's Army Called to Quell Massive Anti-Government Protest

This morning's key headlines from

  • Pakistan's army called to quell massive anti-government protest
  • 34 people killed in Central African Republic

Pakistan's army called to quell massive anti-government protest

Pakistani opposition leaders Imran Khan and Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri attempted to force prime minister Nawaz Sharif to resign by leading tens of thousands of anti-government protesters to shut down Islamabad, the capital city. 

The police had attempted to block the protesters by erecting huge walls of shipping containers, but protesters crossed past them anyway to enter the "Red Zone" and reach the parliament. Sharif had ordered the police not to shoot in order to prevent violence, but when the protesters reached the Parliament building, Sharif called out the army. 

Khan has been and continues to be a very divisive figure in Pakistani politics. He launched the march on Monday evening by calling for "civil disobedience" and taunted the prime minister by saying: "Nawaz Sharif, you need to stop hiding behind the police and army. Face me like a man, and become a real tiger instead of circus tiger."

Actually, it's not clear who's heading up the circus. The Pakistan stories and editorials that I've reviewed are extremely critical of Khan. One called Khan a "confused" politician who led a "failed march" and said that "having abused his democratic rights, whipped up a crowd into a frenzy for blood, and after breaking faith over his written assurance to not enter the Red Zone, if protesters are arrested or violence occurs, the responsibility lies entirely on Imran’s head." 

Imran Khan, a Pashtun born in 1952, was one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time, and was once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australian magazine Oz, turned to politics in the 1990s and has become extremely colorful and extremely anti-American. He's claimed that the terrorist attacks in Pakistan were caused by American drone strikes on Taliban terrorists, and last year he got his followers to blockade the "Khyber pass," a major route into Afghanistan. This route was heavily used by NATO forces to truck equipment between the port of Karachi and NATO bases in Afghanistan, and is an essential part of the plan to move American and NATO forces out of Afghanistan by the end of the year. The blockade finally ended in February. 

Sharif won the vote last year in an election that was widely described as fair. It was the first election in Pakistan's history that would lead to first peaceful transition from one civilian government to another, with the highest election turnout in decades. 

However, there's a question whether Sharif will remain in office for his full five-year term. The army has ruled Pakistan for about half of its 65 year history, and in recent months there have been rumors of a new army coup, as the army has been getting impatient with civilian rule. By having to call out the army to quell Khan's protest, Sharif has had to give up some power. According to one unnamed government source, "The military does not intend to carry out a coup but ... if the government wants to get through its many problems and the four remaining years of its term, it has to share space with the army," meaning that Sharif will have to focus narrowly on domestic political affairs, and leave security and strategic policy to the army. Daily Times (Pakistan) and Pak Observer and Reuters

34 people killed in Central African Republic

Although the Central African Republic has been out of the news lately, thanks to the crises in Gaza, Iraq, and Ukraine, the generational crisis war that we've described in the past is continuing with full force. Last week, fighters from Seleka, along with some herders and some Fulani, attacked villages located about 220 miles north of the capital city, Bangui, killing about 34 people. The villages lie along the informal border between the Muslim-dominated north and the Christian south. In response, the opposing "anti-balaka" militias carried out their own wave of sectarian killings, pushing thousands of Muslims northwards. 

As I've explained in the past, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis war is increasingly likely. 

The new war began last year when Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities. French Foreign Legion troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias, but then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum" and began committing atrocities this year for revenge. Thousands of French and African Union peacekeeping forces have succeeded in bring the fighting under control in Bangui, but it's spread north and east to villages far beyond the grasp of the peacekeeping troops. As we've said repeatedly, whether it's in the headlines or not, this is a generational crisis war, and it will not end until it's run its course. Reuters and Daily Maverick (South Africa)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Pakistan, Imran Khan, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, Nawaz Sharif, Central African Republic, Bangui, Seleka, anti-balaka, Kongo-Wara Rebellion, War of the Hoe Handle 

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