Times are weird. When only a few months are left for a Pakistani army chief to hang up his boots, posters would appear pleading him not to go: “Janay ki baatein janay do.” At least for the rare occasions when an army chief wasn’t given an extension. Today, when current Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is nearing retirement, the cry has been converted into #BajwaHasToGo, #BajwaTraitor, or #BajwaSurrender. The hashtag game is running strong, especially for the same lot who, till last year, wanted Pakistanis criticising the army to go to jail for five years. Weird times indeed.
Want Bugatti, join Illuminati
The hate has been in the air since April. Ever since the ouster of Imran Khan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf members and his fan club have been protesting to get him back in the prime minister’s office. We have witnessed fans defacing posters of Supreme Court judges with jogger shoes, others having meltdowns on why the universe, along with the top generals, are to be blamed for the ‘catastrophe’. On placards, they say, ‘Bajwa khol kar samnay aa (Bajwa, come forward like a man)’. There was one who made a case that the Illuminati brought the regime change in Pakistan: “You want Bugatti, join Illuminati. They’ll give you money and women, you just have to kill.” Now we all want Bugatti even if we don’t care how that will reinstall Imran Khan as PM.
Still, there were those who vowed to become suicide bombers if anything were to happen to their leader — one who himself believed that dropping an atom bomb on Pakistan was better than him not being the selector’s choice. Most amusing was the former information minister yelling “Hum leke rahenge azaadi, tera baap bhi dega azaadi (We will get independence, by hook or by crook),” notwithstanding that every election season, their ‘political baap’ changes, and disappointment with the current one is massive.
— Ihtesham Afghan (@IhteshamAfghan) April 18, 2022
Hashtag is political currency
So why is “Bajwa has to go” doing the rounds? Not that he announced his second coming. Why is “Bajwa traitor” a thing for those who were on the same page? Why is “Bajwa surrender” now a cry for help? It is all part of the melodrama that the ousted PM Imran Khan built around him. According to him, the world conspired to get him out of office, and those who conspired with the world have to pay. Hence, the anti-Bajwa trending hashtags. Hashtags are now the political currency for the dispirited tigers of Imran Khan.
The contention on the surface is: Why did the establishment become neutral and not help save the emperor’s chair? Then, in countless mentions, ‘neutral’ became ‘jaanwar’, and a constant reference to Mir Jaffar, who was the Commander-in-Chief. In a nutshell, the civilian supremacy version of Imran Khan and his fan club is: Army will help him win elections, army won’t let him get voted out in a no-confidence move, and if that happens, army should mend its ways and bring him back in office again. Or else, the hashtags will come. Although before being anointed the prime minister in 2018, Imran Khan thought General Bajwa was the most neutral and democratic Army Chief, sang praises of the “Bajwa Doctrine”, which, according to him, stood by the Constitution of Pakistan.
I hate General Qamar Javed Bajwa so much that I pray that he will be buried in Pakistan after his death so that I can throw stones at his grave.
This is the greatest desire of my life at this time@OfficialDGISPR #BajwaTraitor pic.twitter.com/rhcuZJwmyB
— Anti Gaddar (@WaqasMa54337600) June 13, 2022
— حمزہ کلیم بٹ (@hamzabutt61) June 16, 2022
That unending story of a US-backed saazish is still a point of contention, with the Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) refuting time and again that no Services Chief had said that the cipher from Pakistan’s ambassador mounted to a conspiracy for regime change. And time and again Imran Khan has refuted that claim — the latest being how the DG ISPR could even decide whether a conspiracy was hatched or not. ‘He said, she said’ continues.
Earlier this week, all post-retirement benefits, including pension and free medical cover of five retired army officers were withdrawn, including an ex-major general, for being a part of the anti-army campaign. Last week, a bunch of retired servicemen supporters of Imran Khan held a press conference (without questions) with a list of demands—asking for new elections, arresting the interior minister et al. One of them claimed that Gen Bajwa had promised them an election in 90 days. Imagine the naivety, first to think that the Army Chief can make such promises, and second to believe that it would happen in 90 days when, historically, it has taken much longer — even 10 years for General Zia-ul-Haq.
What were once considered the ‘red lines’ that couldn’t be crossed, no matter how justified your criticism of the State was, now seem to have withered away. The question remains as to why some people are dealt with differently than others. Ali Wazir, a Pashtun member of the National Assembly, has been in jail for two years for saying much less. Even the said ‘red lines’ are based on a two-nation theory — us versus them.
The dilemma of the ousted party is that they began their journey with a hope of a civil war, which they couldn’t start. Then the idea of Pakistan going the Sri Lanka way and officials’ residences being burnt down — that also didn’t happen. Serious threats poured in: If the establishment doesn’t make the right decisions, army will be destroyed, Pakistan will default, it will be denuclearised and break into three. Make no mistake, “right decisions” mean bringing Imran Khan back into the PM office. Till that happens, in hashtags or otherwise, you remain a traitor who surrendered and now has to go.
#COAS your kids won’t be able to walk around with respect. They will be remembered as the kids of a #Traitor . They’ll be ridiculed all over the world for your #cowardness . May Allah give you what you deserve for treating 22 crore people as your personal slaves. #BajwaTraitor pic.twitter.com/uXVgIrzv1a
— PTI TIGER (@AbirAnwar8) June 10, 2022
— تحریک آزادی پاسداران (@logic_facts_ik) June 13, 2022
The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.
(Edited by Humra Laeeq)