Mullah Mutiny: Is a coup in slow motion playing out in Pakistan?

  • Islamabad is badly exposed internationally after this episode. In political and security terms, the system is exposed as hollow.

A Turkey-style coup is underway in Pakistan. Slow, calculated and messy. It has nothing to do with the military.

Like Turkey, nobody knows where it’s coming from, who is controlling it. So far it appears to be going against Prime Minister Abbasi’s government, against the judiciary, and against the military. All three are on the backfoot. None of them benefits.

There’s little doubt that the manner of government’s police action yesterday against the illegal protesters was clumsy and incompetent. But the delay in action, and the preparations taken by the protesters over the past three weeks, including massive religious indoctrination through daily speeches, are anything but clumsy and coincidental. These preparations are calculated and lead to a lethal end-result.

If this situation continues, the military will be clashing with the mullahs, and specific elements will revive the controversy over army chief’s faith. A long-term religious divide will be created, a la Red Mosque and multiple internal and external players will use this to conduct a wave of terror acts.

Alternatively, firing the law minister at this stage would make him a marked man for assassination by religious zealots, and will weaken the authority of the Pakistani state.

Islamabad is badly exposed internationally after this episode in political and security terms. The system is exposed as hollow. There are no good options left.

It is important now to stop the spread of disinformation and incitement through all platforms, end this mini-mutiny against the state, reclaim the moral upper hand through the proper use of religious tools by the government, and firmly end this before other religious groups in the country are emboldened following this pathetic show of authority by Islamabad.

Who benefits from this situation? Apart from our usual adversaries in the region, all benefit from the current situation accrues only to those who were trying to mastermind political chaos in the country since August this year.

As dirty as Pakistani politics are, we will have plenty of time later to name names. Right now, the first task is to restore order and restore state power and respect. Take a cue from what President Al-Sisi did in Egypt after yesterday’s massive mosque attack. He delivered a terse message of faith and power on television, reassuring citizens and those watching from a distance, and then set about delivering a blow to anti-State elements through the use of media and the armed power of the State.

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Ahmed Quraishi

Ahmed Quraishi

Ahmed Quraishi is a journalist, public policy writer, researcher and television commentator on security & foreign policy. He tweets @Office_AQpk