Divided Pakistan Ep 5: Has the political divide really had an impact in the army

Political instability has been going on in Pakistan for many years. But it seems that this chaos has reached its peak in the last two years. This divide can be seen in the public, politicians, media and even state institutions.

First of all, we find signs in ex-servicemen, i.e. retired military officers. Interestingly, most of them were given a green signal in the past by ISDR, to come to the political platforms and defend the army’s policies. Not only this, their opinions were also considered military opinions on political issues.

But everything changed between the former PM Imran Khan and the military establishment after the Mubayana fallout. BBC contacted several ex-officers. All of them claimed that they were being guarded for criticizing the army’s policies and supporting the former PM Imran Khan.

But none of them were ready to talk on camera. An ex-military officer’s wife said, I can never forget the moment when a young man in uniform was taunting my innocent husband with a gun. If someone does injustice, it is not a problem.

They were our own people, so it is a shame. An ex-military officer claimed, I was asked to go to the GHQ and told that people respect your opinion and you should support the army chief. I said I will not talk anywhere.

Our families are threatened. Our homes are looted. Our phones are taped.

We are kept under surveillance. The situation is bad. I never thought this would happen.

Another retired Lt. Gen. said, You should stop talking for Imran Khan and end this problem.

I told him that I am not speaking for Imran Khan nor am I speaking against the army. I am only against the policies and interference of a few people who are destroying this country. Thousands of people were arrested after the violent protests of 9th May.

Ex-military officers and their families were among them. Some of them are still under surveillance and legal action is being taken against them. At present, a retired 4-star general’s grandson, a retired 4-star general’s son-in-law, a retired 3-star general’s wife, and a retired 2-star general’s wife and son-in-law are facing an indisputable and irrefutable evidence of this violent action.

After these proceedings, we see complete silence from the retired officers. But it is clear that this was a rare moment when these ex-military officers criticized the policies of the military leadership. All the plans and projects that have been launched and there has been an intention to suppress the political and democratic forces, they backfire in the same way.

All these people are included in this, including your defence analysts. Now a whole generation, at least in my mind, has been ready since 2011. They are convinced that all politicians are corrupt.

Maybe they don’t have much sympathy with Imran. They were concerned that why should we remove him and bring in those thieves who took the first steps. So it’s being hostage to a narrative that they themselves had drummed up.

The BBC also questioned the ISPR about these threats and allegations of harassment. But we have not yet received any answer to that. But last year, the DG ISPR did make this statement.

The veterans are our foundation. They are the foundation of the army, the navy and the air force. And we acknowledge their sacrifices for the army of Pakistan.

Being a veteran does not mean that you are exempt from the law of Pakistan. Being a veteran does not provide you impunity from the law if you break any law. Veteran organisations should not be subjected to political exploitation.

But the question is, what impact did this have on the army? Despite all the efforts of the internal and external parties, the Chief of Army Staff, Munir Chandra, was united, is united and will remain united. According to the political and defence analysts, when Imran Khan was not trusted, the army also had an opinion against his support and military intervention. After incidents like the military raids on 9th May, Imran Khan’s support in the army has been greatly diminished.

The army had issues in different ranks which became clear on 9th May. And then they started to investigate it. But this would not have happened overnight.

It would have taken time and a lot of thinking. Thieves, robbers, corrupt politicians, bad names, bad people, all these things were going on for a long time. And you created a whole generation to say that he is a thief, a robber and he is a messiah.

If there is a divide in our society, it will have an impact on the army as well. I think that the division was visible before 9th May. Before 9th May, it seemed that Imran Khan had a lot of support in the army.

After 9th May, suddenly everything disappeared. How can we forget the people in this situation? You must have heard the army leadership saying that they have the complete support of the people of Pakistan. But now it seems that this support is a little dented.

The talks of military intervention in the politics of the establishment, which were limited to the extent of drawing rooms, are now going on the public level and on social media as well. We have looked at profiles on social media which are not related to any political party. They belong to different regions and social classes of the country.

Looking at the content of these accounts, it is clear that after April 2022, there is an open discussion on military intervention in the politics of the military establishment. The anti-establishment narrative was always there. The language was spoken by the forces of the PDM or the opposition forces of that time.

And then Imran Khan cashed the charged environment. The ultimate loser is not any institution. We as a nation are a loser.

We are standing face to face and our hearts are full of hatred. Some people hate us, some people don’t. But I have never seen so much hatred against institutions.

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