The telltale signs that the Pakistan army was getting ready to take control of the reins—and quash the Nawaz Sharif government’s tentative attempts at outreach with India—came much earlier than the horrific mutilation of two Indian soldiers at the Line of Control. When the Pakistan military made the shock announcement that former naval officer and Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav would be executed for espionage, both the timing and the message were proof that Pakistan’s deep state had resurfaced to diminish its elected government.
Since then, a string of events appear to be unravelling the slender thread by which the Sharif government is still holding on. The Panama Papers inquiry, in which three of Sharif’s children have been accused of having unaccounted offshore accounts; the opposition furore over a meeting between the Pakistani prime minister and Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal (I first broke the story of how Jindal was used in the past as an informal conduit between Sharif and Narendra Modi, even providing cover for a secret meeting between the two leaders in Nepal in 2014); and the open takedown of the Sharif government on Twitter by an officer of the Pakistan army because of a leaked story to the Dawn newspaper join the dots. And there is now a question mark over whether Sharif will be able to complete his term in 2018. If Sharif had hoped that his new army chief would give him more autonomy, that hope has been crush