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Amid tussle with military, Imran Khan admits next three months are crucial for his survival

In an interview to a Pakistani channel, Prime Minister Imran Khan asserted that he is the boss, not the military establishment of the country (Image courtesy: Facebook/ImranKhanofficial)

Amid speculation about the survival of his government, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has admitted that the next three month would be crucial for the survival of his government. In an interview to a Pakistani channel Dunya TV, Khan asserted that he is the boss, not the military establishment of the country. His public assertion is expected to further sour the relations with the military, which has so far been the anchor of the Pakistani state.

Nevertheless, Khan said that he enjoyed “exemplary relations with the military leadership” . But when asked about giving extension to the Army Chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, he said he had not thought about it so far, as  November, when Gen. Bajwa’s term expires was still far away.

“The current year has just started and November is far away. Then why there is worry about extension in the tenure of the army chief,” Khan told Dunya TV.

Pakistani watchers say that Gen. Bajwa would like to give another extension to himself, but before that can happen, he has to deal with his “puppet” Imran Khan whom he made the prime minister after rigging the polls in 2018.

The tiff between Gen. Bajwa and Khan is now vocally public. The all-powerful army chief has been unhappy with the overall performance of the Khan-led government, including handling of economy, relations with the US and pressure from the IMF, persons familiar with Pakistan politics and civil-military told indianarrative.com. The rift further widened when Imran Khan tried to assert himself over the appointment of the chief of the Pakistani spy agency ISI, which is “prerogative” of the military establishment. After a month-long standoff, Khan finally surrendered” but not before leaving Bajwa red faced and since then speculations are rife about the future of the Imran Khan government. Bajwa also does not like the way Imran Khan’s policies of Islamisation in the country.

“Imran knows that only Islamisation can ensure his political relevance. And he knows that this weapon of his is even difficult for the military establishment to fight against,” says Mobin Riyaz, a US based Pakistani expert.

Also Read: Is the Imran Khan regime in Pakistan heading for a meltdown in March?

Amid the uneasiness between the two, Gen. Bajwa is mulling over various options including to put his weight behind the combined opposition front.  There are many indications that the Pakistani military establishment is in touch with the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the former President and co-Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari.

Though Imran Khan says that his allies are with his ruling party, he knows that all of them have close links with the military establishment. There is news that in its latest manoeuvre, Bajwa has been encouraging the opposition parties to bring a no confidence motion against the Imran Khan government, promising “neutrality” of the army.

Imran Khan stubbornly sticks to his own beliefs that his “Naya Pakistan” based on his dream of establishing an Islamic welfare state in Pakistan but that appears far-fetched. Khan’s reliance on soothsayers and fortune tellers, and channelling their “advise” into policy decision is also being widely slammed. By all accounts, the next three months are expected to be crucial in determining not only the longevity of the Khan government but also the balance of power between the civil administration and the military.

Also Read: Have Pakistan’s Army Generals struck a deal with Nawaz Sharif to replace Imran Khan?