The recent arrest of former Pakistani Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan in the Al Qadir graft case has caused a split within the Pakistani Army, according to a high-ranking military official familiar with the situation, who spoke to CNN-News18.
The military official disclosed that several senior commanders have expressed concerns regarding the ongoing crisis and the current political environment in Pakistan.
Furthermore, the official revealed that the leadership of the Pakistan Army, particularly Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces (COAS) General Asim Munir’s team, has taken an unprofessional approach, leading to trouble within the command structure.
As a result, the top commanders are demanding a formation commanders’ conference to address the existing issues and ensure the involvement of all commanders.
If convened, this conference would be the first since the change in command, as the previous formation commanders’ conference was called by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, General Munir’s predecessor.
According to the source, top corps commanders have sent messages to COAS Asim Munir, urging him not to support “political thugs” due to concerns about the situation spiraling out of control.
The source also revealed that the current Army Chief’s position is increasingly undermined on a daily basis, making it the weakest leadership the Pakistan Army has witnessed in 75 years. Even lower-ranking soldiers and officers are calling for the institution to remain neutral.
While it may raise suspicions, the performance of COAS Munir and his core team has prompted questions within the corridors of power.
It is worth noting that in the past, a significant number of retired and active army generals openly expressed their support for Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician.
Despite clashes between PTI supporters and police officers, as well as instances of targeting army institutions and vandalizing public property, some high-ranking military officials from Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar, and Lahore have voiced their opposition to the use of repressive tactics against the protesters and have even refused to comply with orders.
The source explained that the division within the Pakistan Army is hierarchical, as lower-ranking officers and major generals have declined to follow orders.
Additionally, the source pointed out that General Asim Munir’s commissioning into the Pakistan Army was through the Officer’s Training School (OTS) Mangla, which differs from the usual path taken by senior Army officials who graduate from the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) in Kakul.
This difference in training background could be another reason why General Munir lacks the support and camaraderie of those senior generals.