Imran Khan Pakistan Under ‘Undeclared Martial Law’

Imran Khan Pakistan Under 'Undeclared Martial Law' ameridaily

Imran Khan, the former Pakistani Prime Minister, finds himself effectively held under house arrest by the army-backed government, expressing his concerns that his country is currently under an “undeclared martial law.” Speaking from his police-ringed home in Lahore, Khan emphasized the threat to the democratic progress in Pakistan, stating that this situation could potentially roll back everything that has been achieved thus far.

Pakistan has experienced numerous setbacks in its journey towards democracy, including four periods of direct military rule. Although the country has experienced its longest stretch of elected governments since the departure of Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 2008, the transition to civilian authority has proven challenging to sustain.

The political turmoil has further exacerbated Pakistan’s already precarious economic situation. The nation grapples with soaring inflation rates exceeding 35%, dwindling foreign reserves, and the looming possibility of default. In an attempt to salvage the situation, the government is seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund and its ally China.

The opposition and military orchestrated Imran Khan’s ousting from office following a parliamentary no-confidence vote in 2022. Khan, renowned as a former cricket star, believes in this event. As Pakistan’s economy continues to struggle, Khan’s popularity among voters has surged, and he has emerged as a vocal critic of the military’s interference in politics.

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In a recent turn of events, authorities arrested Khan on corruption charges, igniting sometimes violent protests that directly targeted the armed forces. Subsequently, the authorities arrested thousands of Khan’s supporters, including prominent members of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Many of them now face trials in military or special terrorism courts.

The government has even contemplated banning Khan’s party, citing the crossing of a red line due to violence perpetrated by his supporters. The aftermath of protests witnessed acts of rioting, including the ransacking and burning of military compounds, as well as defacing monuments honoring fallen soldiers.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who assumed power after Khan’s removal, drew parallels between the actions of the crowd and the storming of Capitol Hill in the United States in 2021. He justified punishing the rioters in Pakistan, highlighting a further deepening of the divide.

With protests prohibited and social media access restricted, the fate of regional and national elections remains uncertain. Imran Khan laments that it appears those in power have made up their minds and are determined to prevent him from returning to office, even suggesting that they may imprison him or resort to worse measures.

Imran Khan has called for dialogue with the authorities to reach a political agreement, including setting a date for new elections. The authorities frequently disrupt his internet connection and exert pressure on television channels, causing them to refrain from broadcasting his speeches.

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Initially, Khan worked in coordination with Pakistan’s powerful military during his tenure, but he eventually clashed with the army chief over corruption cases involving opposition politicians. Since his ouster, he has launched an unprecedented and unrelenting criticism of the military, a stance that has resonated with his supporters.

Despite initially blaming the U.S. for his removal from power, Khan now appeals to Washington and other Western governments to denounce the alleged human rights abuses taking place in Pakistan. He believes it is essential for those advocating democracy, human rights, and the rule of law to make their voices heard.

The ongoing situation has resulted in the arrest of over 10,000 people, with approximately 4,000 facing terrorism charges related to the pro-Khan protests. The authorities have handed over 33 suspects for trial in military courts, while they have released others who are not facing terrorism charges on bail.

Khan’s party alleges that family members of activists are being targeted to pressure them into surrender

ing or turning against Khan. The interior minister denies the harassment of female family members but acknowledges that they will address any wrongdoing if it exists.

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Despite the government’s claim that they are not responsible for the campaign against Khan’s party, resignations have surged within the party ranks. Prominent figures have publicly announced their departure, attributing it to coercion and their time spent in jail.

The recent wave of resignations peaked as party members held news conferences across the country, condemning the earlier violence and officially announcing their withdrawal. The overwhelming number of press appearances led to some channels showing two conferences simultaneously on split screens.

As the exodus continues, more party members go into hiding, evading capture in the ongoing raids. Ali Zaidi, a close friend of Khan and former cabinet minister, joined the departure rush. He had previously expressed his unwavering loyalty to the party. However, he has now made the difficult decision to retire from politics altogether.

These events unfold against the backdrop of Imran Imran Khan surviving an assassination attempt, which he attributes to the military and government, despite their denial. The charges leveled against him include murder and corruption, allegations he vehemently denies.

Throughout this tumultuous period, the authorities have frequently interrupted Khan’s access to the internet, and they exert pressure to prevent the airing of his speeches delivered via YouTube on television channels. The situation remains uncertain, and Khan’s fight to restore democracy and ensure human rights in Pakistan continues.