Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, glances at a ray of hope from the retired and current army officers to handle the economic structure of the country, as he sees his power and fame dwindle due to a downfall in the economy, high consumer prices and corruption investigations involving his close aides due to the global pandemic, coronavirus. The Pakistani army has played an important role in the support and economic department of the country and holds 46% of seats in parliament, to hold together a government that relies on several smaller coalition partners to stay afloat.
Pakistan is the most infected nation in Asia after India, with more than 108,000 coronavirus cases and about 2,200 deaths, and military support in such circumstances is just the “need of the hour” for the country since the military of Pakistan has been the most powerful institution and has directly ruled the country for large parts of its seven-decade history.
“By appointing an increasing number of current and retired military officials in key positions, the government is ceding what little space civilians had in developing and executing policy in the country,” Uzair Younus, non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said by phone. “The military’s overt and covert role in governance continues to grow.”
Retired lieutenant general, Asim Saleem Bajwa, has taken the charge to be Khan’s communication adviser and also to look into the implementation of about $60 billion in Pakistan investments as part of China’s Belt-and-Road Initiative. Moreover, 12 army loyalists in the cabinet also took part in dictator-turned-President Pervez Musharraf’s administration, which ended in 2008. That includes Interior Minister Ijaz Shah and Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Khan’s finance adviser.
The greater military involvement even has the support of civilian government advisers such as Zaigham Rizvi, a member of the Naya Pakistan Housing Program taskforce in charge of running Khan’s main economic project of building low-cost houses. Two army officers were appointed to the body last month.