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

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-Qadriattempted to force prime minister Nawaz Sharif to resign by leadingtens of thousands of anti-government protesters to shut downIslamabad, the capital city. 

The police had attempted to block theprotesters by erecting huge walls of shipping containers, butprotesters crossed past them anyway to enter the “Red Zone” and reachthe parliament. Sharif had ordered the police not to shoot in orderto prevent violence, but when the protesters reached the Parliamentbuilding, 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 forpolice and army. Face me like a man, and become a real tigerinstead of circus tiger.”

Actually, it’s not clear who’s heading up the circus. The Pakistanstories and editorials that I’ve reviewed are extremely critical ofKhan. One called Khan a “confused” politician who led a “failedmarch” and said that “having abused his democratic rights, whipped upa crowd into a frenzy for blood, and after breaking faith over hiswritten assurance to not enter the Red Zone, if protesters arearrested or violence occurs, the responsibility lies entirely onImran’s head.” 

Imran Khan, a Pashtun born in 1952, was one of Pakistan’s greatestcricket players of all time, and was once voted as the “Sexiest Man ofThe Year” by Australian magazine Oz, turned to politics in the 1990s and has become extremely colorful and extremely anti-American. He’sclaimed that the terrorist attacks in Pakistan were caused by Americandrone strikes on Taliban terrorists, and last year he got hisfollowers to blockade the “Khyber pass,” a major route intoAfghanistan. This route was heavily used by NATO forces to truckequipment between the port of Karachi and NATO bases in Afghanistan,and is an essential part of the plan to move American and NATO forcesout of Afghanistan by the end of the year. The blockade finally endedin February. 

Sharif won the vote last year in an election that was widely describedas fair. It was the first election in Pakistan’s history that wouldlead to first peaceful transition from one civilian government toanother, with the highest election turnout in decades. 

However, there’s a question whether Sharif will remain in office forhis full five-year term. The army has ruled Pakistan for about halfof its 65 year history, and in recent months there have been rumors ofa new army coup, as the army has been getting impatient with civilianrule. By having to call out the army to quell Khan’s protest, Sharifhas had to give up some power. According to one unnamed governmentsource, “The military does not intend to carry out a coup but … ifthe government wants to get through its many problems and the fourremaining years of its term, it has to share space with the army,”meaning that Sharif will have to focus narrowly on domestic politicalaffairs, and leave security and strategic policy to the army.Daily Times (Pakistan) and Pak Observer andReuters

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 generationalcrisis war that we’ve described in the past is continuing with fullforce. Last week, fighters from Seleka, along with some herders andsome Fulani, attacked villages located about 220 miles north of thecapital city, Bangui, killing about 34 people. The villages lie alongthe informal border between the Muslim-dominated north and theChristian south. In response, the opposing “anti-balaka” militiascarried out their own wave of sectarian killings, pushing thousandsof Muslims northwards. 

As I’ve explained in the past, CAR’s last generational crisis war wasthe 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion (“War of the Hoe Handle”), whichwas a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generationalCrisis era, where a new crisis war is increasingly likely. 

The new war began last year when Muslim Seleka militias begancommitting atrocities. French Foreign Legion troops arrived to disarmthe Seleka militias, but then the Christian anti-balaka militiasforces have succeeded in bring the fighting under control in Bangui,but it’s spread north and east to villages far beyond the grasp of thepeacekeeping troops. As we’ve said repeatedly, whether it’s in theheadlines or not, this is a generational crisis war, and it will notend 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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