Battlelines drawn between Imran Niazi and Gen Asim Munir in Pakistan – Hindustan Times

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After the supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan Niazi targeted Pakistan Army and its spearhead institutions in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on May 9, the Shehbaz Sharif government is likely to pass a resolution on the Cabinet to try the rioters and their leaders under the Army Act and the Official Secret Act.
With Pakistan President and apex judiciary overtly revealing their soft corner towards Niazi and tying the hands of Sharif government, the Pakistan Army under General Asim Munir has started the process of dismantling the PTI and isolating their mercurial leader in the past days. Feeling the heat from the Army and the ISI, described once by former PM Benazir Bhutto as a state within the state, several powerful party office-bearers close to Niazi have either left the party or are in the process of doing so in the coming days.
At present it is Niazi versus the Pakistan Army as PTI chief’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore is under Punjab Police siege since May 18 and the supporters, who were thronging in the area since May 16, have long gone away. Barring the menacing Punjab police, Zaman Park bears a deserted look according to media reports from Pakistan.
While Niazi is now making conciliatory gestures towards the Army, the Rawalpindi GHQ has decided to take on the PTI and plans are afoot to divide the party into various factions minus Niazi. According to Pakistan watchers, former member of National Assembly of Pakistan and business magnate Jahangir Tareen has been activated to form a strong faction comprising majority of Members National Assembly and Members of Pakistan Assembly for playing a major political role in the post-Niazi set-up. It is understood that PTI leaders like Pervez Khattak and Asad Qaiser will play the lead role in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Fawad Chaudhary and Pervez Elahi will be the points person in Punjab. Faisal Wavda, who left the PTI many months ago, will be considered for a future role in Sindh.
Clearly the battle-lines have been drawn between Niazi and the Pakistan Army with support from the Sharif government and it is a fight to the finish. If General Asim Munir cannot hold Niazi and his supporters accountable for the May 9 chaos, then Rawalpindi GHQ is losing both its power and credibility before the people and its allies in the Middle-East.
Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.


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