Supporters of the Pakistan Democratic Movement in Karachi, Pakistan, October 2020
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters

Pakistan’s military has long used its rivalry with India to legitimize its political and economic power and to place itself above reproach. Although it has never prevailed in a military conflict, the army has waged a successful war against democracy, ruling Pakistan directly for roughly half the country’s post-independence history and wielding undue political influence over elected civilian governments for much of the other half. The generals helped the current prime minister, Imran Khan, rise to power through a grossly manipulated parliamentary election in 2018. And now they run the country from behind the thinnest façade of civilian

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