Power struggle in Pakistan is a common phenomenon. With their economy in tatters, foreign reserves plummeting and political polarisation at its peak, the opposition has taken on the existing regime with vengeance.
Following the arrest of former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, the situation in many cities in Pakistan, has worsened from a security perspective.
Protests have taken aplenty in this country because of economic and other reasons but Imran Khan’s protests against the current Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, had started an anti-establishment mode. Sharif claimed that Imran Khan is a blatant liar and that the former PM was only interested in getting his chair back.
Imran Khan had openly said that the army and intelligence agency, ISI, is involved in trying to destroy the democracy in Pakistan. The dichotomy lies in the fact that Khan had received a lot of support from the defence forces in his ascent and finally getting the position of the Prime Minister.
Army offices and headquarters and many other government buildings have been attacked or set on fire in several parts of the country by the supporters of Khan’s party. Many government vehicles have been set on fire and mobile internet have also been suspended in some parts of the country. Sources say a few of his party supporters have been killed in police firing since his arrest.
Meanwhile, the defence forces of the bordering country of India, are keeping a close watch on the situation. Protests by Imran Khan’s party supporters have taken place outside the Pakistani high commission in London.
The current situation sparked because of the ouster of Imran Khan from his position as prime minister in April 2022 in a vote of no-confidence. Khan’s response was with a series of political rallies. His party, Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has had over 100 cases against its leaders. Imran Khan voiced that there was no democracy and the government had retorted back saying that Khan’s ego was at stake. Police had come to his residence earlier twice to arrest him because of his non-appearance in court. Meanwhile, Khan has taken the government to court and tried to force a national election. The on-going court battles have left the judiciary and even the armed forces divided in the country.
Sources say some senior defence officers are against him whereas the junior officers are in favour of him.
But one thing is certain. The Pakistani army and intelligence play an important role in domestic politics and history has shown how military coups have also usurped power in the country.
There are reports that general elections, scheduled this year, may be postponed on the ground that the security situation and financial situation is not conducive enough to hold the journey of ballot boxes.
At a time when a country reeling from an economic meltdown should stand united to overcome the situation, it has again got polarised over the rule of the chair.
The former Pakistani fast bowler may have got the wickets of many batsmen during his playing days, but he has got himself out in the playground of politics.