COAS’ meeting with Imran Khan

There is a lot of discussion about the COAS’ meeting with Imran Khan on the media with, so called experts giving their two scents of opinion on;

  1. What may have conspired at the meeting
  2. Why only Imran Khan was invited and not other political leaders
  3. Or for that matter, is this the beginning of series of meeting by COAS with the political parties heads?
  4. There is a deal made between the COAS and Imran Khan
  5. Imran Khan has been told that he is the next PM (as claimed by PTI), and so on

Although I am not privy to any information, here is my take on this meeting.

  1. The meeting must have been called at the behest of the govt to deliver certain messages. The COAS is not likely to ask for this meeting unilaterally as this would be out of order and in appropriate
  2. Imran Khan must have been warned not to support the TTP and likes as Pakistan govt and the army are fighting these terrorist.
  3. FATA will not be merged with KPK as this is not feasible until the governance issues sorted out
  4. There is no deal between the army and Imran Khan as this will be an illegal act and considered a subversive activity.
  5. Imran Khan has not been given any understanding to the affect that he will be the next PM, as PTI asserts, because this would be pre-poll rigging and another illegal act.

So, my take is that Imran Khan’s meeting with the COAS is a warning to Imran kahn and is not a good sign for PTI. If, by any chance, the meeting was arranged without government’s consent or on its behest, the COAS would have been asked to pack his bag and go home.

Conspiracy Theory; Minus One Could Mean PTI minus Imran Khan?

This is based on the unfolding events in the last three months. The theory is only intuitive with no input or information from any person or any agency.

If we look at the events in the since March 2014, we see that Imran Khan has taken a more aggressive stance against the government than ever before. It started from 4 seats and now it has come down to Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. We all know that forcing an elected PM to resign is unconstitutional and tantamount to treason. The only way the PM is asked to go is through the parliament vote of no confidence or by a voluntary resignation. The PM has made it clear that he will not resign voluntarily, at least that is his position as of now

Now lets get back to a conspiracy theory that hidden hands want PTI minus Imran. Why would they want that? The reasons could be as follows:

  • Imran Khan is known to have links with Taliban and he holds a soft corner for them. In 2013 elections, while the other party rallies and corner meetings were threatened to be bombed by TTP, PTI’s rallies were supported by TTP. As such, Imran Khan got an unfair advantage of getting an unchallenged ground for campaigning during 2013 elections, which cost some loss of seat for Awami National Party (ANP) in KPK and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in all the four Provinces.
  • Buoyed by the success of operations in South Waziristan (SW), the Armed Forces wanted to conduct similar operation in North Waziristan (NW). Kiyani, however, thought that talks were a better option. Imran Khan did not support army action and protested against it.
  • After Kiyani left, the new Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) decided to go for the military operation and deal with Taliban once and for all. Imran Khan is considered an impediment to the successful completion of the military campaign against TTP and the following key factors for the success of military operation:
    1. A go ahead and an unequivocal support from the government, which army finally got from, initially reluctant, Nawaz Sharif’s government. If Imran Khan comes to power this support could be withdrawn
    2. Remove, as far as possible, the tacit support of the political parties like Jammat e Islami (JI), Jammiat e Ulema e Islam (JUI), Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) and likes.
    3. To make it a longer-term endeavor, possibly lasting a decade to clear the region of Taleban and establish a complete government’s administrative writ.
    4. In order to do that, Taleban and their supporters are not be allowed to get a foothold in North and South Waziristan again.
    5. Southern Punjab and Karachi are the next targets against which the operation is likely to start in the next few months, possibly in the winter.
  • While JI & JUI gave their open support to the military operations, PTI does not support the military action in NW. Instead, Imran Khan started complaining about the displaced persons and used it as an excuse to demonize the military operation.
  • Imran Khan’s demeanor in this regard clearly showed that his sympathies lie with Taleban and he cannot be trusted with regard to his loyalties with army and the military operation.
  • Hence, it is considered, in the best interest of the country that Imran Khan is neutralized for good. Of course, he could be assassinated, but this route is never advisable until other options are exhausted.

With this backdrop, It may have been decided:

  • To isolate Imran Khan politically
  • To use him to discredit all institutions. Use abusive language. Harp about unsubstantiated allegations
  • Stage a long march and sit in, take over the Parliament House, the PM Secretariat, cross into the red zone and create law and order situation, as we saw recently.
  • Create reasons to file criminal cases against him under the terrorist act. Remember, how quickly the cases were registered against Imran and Tahir ul Qadri – essentially in 2 days after the incidence.
  • Create a dissent in the party, remove him from the party leadership and then get him convicted or sent in exile. The partial resignation of MNAs only was used as one tool to create dissent. The party President, who is probably the most respected politician in the country, publicly disowned Imran Khan’s action to move into red zone and bring into knowledge public the “Woh kehtay hain” theory. Every body dislikes any association with “Woh” hence further loss of reputation politically and strengthened belief among the general population that PTI has ISI support, which is also not appreciated.
  • Have Imran Khan meet with the COAS to show the third umpire neutrality. Remember after this meeting, Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri entered the red zone.
  • Bring out in the open the unholy alliance between PAT and PTI to further damage PTI’s image. Imran Khan, who initially planned the long march and sit in on his own, was given to understand that he would need some die hards to achieve his long march and sit in objectives and that TUQ can only provide that. Hence this unholy alliance was struck in London.
  • Encourage Imran Khan to make increasingly unacceptable demands; the real non-starter among them is PM’s resignation.
  • Allow Imran and TUQ continue a sit in until the postponement of all important visit of the Chinese President was the final nail in the coffin and will have broad and long-lasting implications on Imran Khan.

All of the above actions and some more, that are not mentioned here, have now isolated Imran Khan – both within his own party and politically.

Now where can things go from here?

  • It is quite likely that a vote of no confidence is moved in Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa (KPK) against the Chief Minister to topple his government
  • A criminal proceeding to start against Imran Khan for inciting violence, damage to the property, asking Pakistanis not to pay taxes, do money laundering, civil disobedience etc. There is evidence to easily convict him for life, disqualify him to run a political part and having anything to do with the politics.
  • The final delivery, as Imran Khan puts it, could be a Yorker that will bowl him out from the politics and spend the rest of his life in jail or in London like Altaf Hussain.




Mohammad Masood

Political Analyst and an Economist