US scholars have claimed that Pakistan’s military is not prepared to bring down the civilian government but would maintain its ‘dominating influence.’
This was said by Ambassador Robin Raphel, a former American diplomat. She was among half a dozen American scholars who analysed the current political situation in Pakistan at a recent seminar in Washington.
All the speakers agreed that any change of government in Pakistan in remote.
“The military does not want to snap elections,” said Raphel, a respected Pakistan sympathiser in Washington. She has faced an FBI investigation for her alleged friendly relations with Pakistani diplomats, however, in June she was cleared of charges.
According to Raphel, Imran Khan is likely to benefit the most if elections are held now.
She ruled out the possibility of a military takeover, but warned that the “military may move in if there is a major public disorder in the country”.
“Like the military, the public too has changed and may resist any abrupt move.”
Military dictators have ruled Pakistan for more than half its 70-year history, and the armed forces are widely seen as controlling the country’s foreign and defence policies.
But she underlined “some erosion in public support for democracy”, which she said was worrying and might lead to a situation where the people might be forced to welcome an abrupt change, as they did in 1999.
“If it happens, the United States will weigh its options and will take a decision that is compatible with US interests in the region,” she said.
Marvin Weinbaum of the Middle East Institute, said that the transfer of power in 2013 from the PPP to the PML-N was a game-changer, which greatly reduced the chances of an abrupt government change in Pakistan.
The experts agreed that despite some serious institutional problems, Pakistan would continue (its journey) on the road to democracy.
Raphel noted that democracy survived the dharna led by Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf party, which caused echoes of coup, but ultimately, “those echoes subsided and the government emerged stronger than before.”
Prime Minister Sharif is poised to select a successor to Gen Raheel, 60, soon as the army chief is scheduled to retire in November this year.