Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) President Javed Hashmi's startling claims of a scripted political crisis being engineered in Pakistan has led to widespread speculation among analysts that a version of the 'Bangladesh Model' may be in the works.
"Imran had told the PTI core committee it won't be called a martial law," Hashmi alleged at a press conference, hinting at a covert form of takeover by the military establishment, using PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Chief of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek Tahir-ul-Qadri as their instruments.
The 'Bangladesh Model', a soft coup, is based on the idea that the political system must be cleansed of corrupt elements for the welfare of the public, which perhaps has been left incapacitated to elect honest leaders.
The model works on the premise that the military and judiciary must intervene to help differentiate the 'right' from the 'wrong' before it is too late. The model stipulates that the democracy that follows such a 'cleansing' is therefore a truer form since the people have been rightly 'guided' and are now able to make informed decisions.
Technocrats, current and former officials aligned with the military and judiciary play a vital role in the implementation of the 'Bangladesh Model' of which the strings are pulled from the background and through an interim government that remains in power for a lengthy period as happened in Bangladesh in 2007.
"If Nawaz Sharif survives, for the rest of his term, he will be a ceremonial prime minister—the world will not take him seriously," said Ayesha Siddiqa, an Islamabad-based analyst told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday.
"A soft coup has already taken place. The question is whether it will harden."
Reacting to the drama in Islamabad, the International Crisis Group (ICG) had also warned last week that the possibilities of a coup were very high and that such a development "would imperil any progress that has been made in addressing grievous economic, development and security challenges."
"The protests rocking Islamabad threaten to upend the constitutional order, set back rule of law and open the possibility of a soft coup, with the military ruling through the backdoor," the ICG said in its statement.
According to the PTI president Hashmi, a script for such a move was laid out well in advance.
"When Imran laid out the plan, I said to Imran, 'Khan sahab what are you doing?'"
"He said, 'I am telling you there will be elections in September and everything has been worked out.'"
In January this year, the Washington Post cited Pakistan as 'high risk' on a list of countries likely to face coup attempts.