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DG-ISI, COAS & PM Khan – Pakistan’s new powerful troika

Hina Ayra, a political analyst, in a hard-hitting piece, discusses General Faiz Hameed's entry into the troika ruling Pakistan. Usually, the musical chair of power has players to include the Prime Minister, Army Chief, and Chief Justice of Pakistan. However, General Faiz Hameed had given a new dimension to this troika.

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DG-ISI has redefined ruling troika? Pakistan although has a parliamentary form of government where the PM should be considered as the most powerful person, however, it is not followed. On many occasions in recent history, various power stakeholders have overstepped their mandate and challenged the system, and become ever-powerful than the PM.

In 1999 General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff took over the power through a military coup by putting the Prime Minister behind bars and then sending him in exile for almost ten years. Similarly, Iftikhar Chaudry, Ex-Chief Justice of Pakistan, during the culminating period of General Parvez Musharraf challenged his authority by refusing to resign as Chief Justice and emerged as the most popular person who kept dictating his terms throughout his tenure as Chief Justice. He also sent packing the PM Yousaf Raza Gillani by disqualifying him.

Since 2007 Pakistan Army after back-to-back failure in governance through direct intervention seemingly has decided not to directly get involved in politics, however, it stays covert and exhibits power when and where needed. This can be qualified by the various incidents and circumstances where despite clear compulsion of direct intervention by the army, it was being avoided to get involved directly and that’s a good change in policy. Imran khan’s famous sit-in of 2014 at Islamabad is a case in point.

Read more: Imran Khan threatens to protest against Election Commission of Pakistan

General Faiz: A new major player

This musical chair of power has usual players to include Prime Minister, Army Chief, and Chief Justice of Pakistan, however, recent times have witnessed new entry in the form of Director General ISI General Faiz Hameed.

Although the role of Chief of Inter-Services Intelligence has always been important, General Faiz has given a new dimension to it and has emerged as a mover and shaker in the country. Likewise, the present office of Chief Justice has lost its trust and credibility mainly because of previous Chief Justices like Iftikhar Chaudry and because of poor professional performance where hundreds of thousand cases were waiting for the Judges to have a look upon while they were unnecessarily focusing on administrative and political matters only.

Interestingly, the present troika comprising Imran Khan, General Bajwa, and General Faiz seems to be pulling along well and is likely to continue despite posting out of General Faiz from ISI, thus, avoiding the traditional Civil-Military tug of war. A critical evaluation of the present troika highlights that each member is drawing maximum benefits by staying intact and complementing each other.

Read more: Why did PM Imran choose DG ISI Gen Faiz to head intelligence body?

At the same time, the most powerful General Faiz being head of ISI exhibits this power through his grip on all political, non-political, and other pressure groups which may disrupt and dislodge the present peace, stability, and even government. Through this exhibition of power, he very smartly has established an impression of being invincible.

His usual presence during all the meetings between the Prime Minister and Army Chief and also numerous ISI headquarters visits by the Prime minister is the testimony of his relevance and influence. This impression and his previous role since 2018 to date can make him one of the most suitable candidates for the next Army Chief office in 2022.

While the Army Chief General Bajwa seems to be the most powerful person in this troika, the grant of extension in service seems to lose to an extent. He was chosen as Army Chief Ex-Prime minister Nawaz Shareef but Imran Khan granted him a full term extension.

Following the principal decision ‘no direct intervention’ General Bajwa has followed his own way which is being termed as “Bajwa doctrine”. So far he has supported the present government overtly like never before. It is believed that all this was possible because of the support of General Bajwa’s years old confidante General Faiz, as he has spread his outfits across the country to implement all the directions he receives from the Army Chief.

Read more: General Bajwa’s extension: Supreme Court vs Government of Pakistan?

Challenges ahead for PM Khan

Imran Khan although constitutionally has to be the most powerful person but his power was compromised from the outset after the widely believed rigged elections of 2018 and after the election, he has lost the majority of his popularity and his own supporters because of unfulfilled promises he made before holding Prime minister’s office.

Opposition parties, especially PML(N) have always termed 2018 elections as ‘engineered elections’ and its well-articulated media campaign has always kept Imran Khan in a challenging position. Imran Khan, being executive head of the government may consider himself as the boss but in fact, he is not powerful enough and we have witnessed this on numerous occasions in the past three years of his being in the office.

The real challenge that Imran Khan is going to face is next year is when he has to appoint a new Army Chief. By appointing General Faiz as Army Chief next year, he will return the favor to the troika and would likely be utilizing this in the next general election. Time will decide whether this troika will stay intact after posting out of General Faiz or fails to survive any longer.

Read more: Can Faiz Hameed be next Army Chief of Pakistan?

Hina Ayra is an economist, political analyst, business consultant, and writer. She studied economics at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, has written for Arab News and tweets @HinaAyra. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

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