By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi
Nawaz's ability to hang on is driven by external support and the acceptance of a perception by the USA and their South Asian proxy partner, India, that he is the sole option available to them to advocate peace with India and Afghanistan, but it's this "Rogue" Army that dents and checkmates his efforts towards better relations.
Reinforcing this perception in the USA and India are countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf States. For all of them Nawaz is a much more benign option, irrespective of his corruption and incompetence and the dangers he poses to Pakistan, because he serves their national interests more than Pakistan's, primarily geo political and economic.
Iran is a mixed bag. Still struggling to survive and reaching out to all who support their position. In that process their reach out to India has significantly dented their equity in Pakistan. In this they will have to make a clear choice, at least for now, between Pakistan and India.
For them it's both about economic survival and maintaining a geo political dominance against an arch rival, Saudi Arabia, which they've never had in the Region in the recent centuries.
Hence Iran is doing everything to support their friends, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon to maintain their position and dominance and in this context would be happier with Nawaz gone, given his support from and to Saudi Arabia.
The Army, I'm sure, must be cognizant of these factors, both external and the obvious internal ones.
What Gen. Bajwa and Co have to decide is whether they will support the external selfish self interests of countries supporting Nawaz, or align to our internal self centered national interests.
National interests in which there is no space for Nawaz or people like him in our Governance.
The Dawn Leaks episode must be seen in this context and it seems for now, Gen. Bajwa may be towing the line of the external forces, especially USA and Saudi Arabia, in maintaining the status quo, and given reports of now publicly lauding Gen. Raheel's role about which he had a different view, earlier. The hurried visit of the Iranian foreign minister is also to be seen in this context.
Clearly discernible from the "chatter" is an emerging picture that Nawaz may have somehow convinced Gen. Bajwa, that all this noise on Social and Electronic media about Dawn Leaks and Panamagate is a figment of hyperventilating people, including the Supreme Court Judges, and hence perhaps, bought himself some more time by negotiating a "deal" with the Army Chief.
In my opinion, I think, he's taking advantage of Gen. Bajwa's apolitical, overzealous and in my opinion, misplaced, view of supporting the civil administration.
Misplaced not because it's the wrong thing, but because Nawaz's position as a legitimate PM has become extremely controversial given the Panamagate Judgement.
Hence any support to handle Nawaz with "kids gloves", which in local parlance is called "Noora Kushthee" between Nawaz and Gen. Bajwa becomes seriously questionable!
We must remember that for people like Nawaz or his family, Maryam Safdar, topping that list, waving the ethics or moral card is irrelevant. Their only objective is to politically survive and remain in power, in any way possible.
Ethics, morality, conflict of interest, due process, honour, dignity, self respect are alien to these people brought up in a family and value system where their God is money and hence "buying" their way to power and survival the only language they know.
So he will say and do anything to convince the General.
There's news that in his recent address to the garrison in Hyderabad the Chief, amongst a host of other things, explained that Jindal's visit to meet Nawaz was part of so called "back door diplomacy" with India.
If true, this explanation by him to his constituency is very insightful.
The key question is, Why has the General taken it upon himself to offer this rationale about a very dubious, very secretive and extremely suspicious visit, when the entire governance infrastructure is quiet?
Not a peep from the "Sher khaay ga Kaboothar" PM, nor the effervescent Interior Minister, nor the Minister of Information Maryam with rapidly improving make up, nor the "koi haya honi Chahyay" Khawaja Asif and most importantly the impotently, rudder less and clueless step son, our poor Foreign office.
Why should the Army Chief explain an Indian's highly controversial visit to meet an under siege PM, when all others are quiet?
How Gen. Bajwa can buy into this hogwash, if he has or done so, beats me, given his intellect?
I honestly believe Gen. Bajwa is being lead a merry dance like his predecessor was, by Nawaz, a past master at these Machiavellian strategies and tactics.
I'm not implying that some elements in the Army rank and file, may do something stupid and foolhardy, but Gen. Bajwa must not forget that the anger and polarization we see in our society is similarly manifested in the Army.
The differences in the mood of younger officers and rank and file and the highly privileged 2 and 3 stars is very high.
There's a high wall between these two groups in the Army, built on the power, privileges, plots, enjoyed by senior officers during service and on retirement. An elitist military bureaucracy!
He must tread carefully, lest events overtake him.