A former Pakistan diplomat has described Prime Minister Imran Khan as “a low-level government employee who is there because the army wanted a ‘face.’” Former diplomat Husain Haqqani’s description of the prime minister is another indication of the real power behind the throne in Pakistan – the army.
The prime minister, after all, is not the first “face” to the outside world the Pakistan Army has given its support to. He will not be the last either. As outrage mounts in India over the attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14 which killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, Indian policymakers face public pressure to come up with an adequate military response, and quickly, while fending off calls from the United Nations to “engage with Pakistan.”
But the question really is, who should India engage with? Imran Khan, who Haqqani says cannot make any decisions? Few Pakistan prime ministers have been able to ignore the army and chart their own course. And whenever anyone has tried, the army has cracked down ruthlessly.