“Im, The Dim” Plunges Pakistan Into Anarchy
The cinematic turn of events in Pakistan during Imran Khan’s long march to Islamabad has taken the whole country by surprise even though this was predicted by Imran Khan himself and is very much on expected lines.
Imran Khan was shot at by an unknown gunman while he was on a container taking part in a political rally in Wazirabad as part of his long march to Islamabad. It was deja vu as it reminded the people of the way Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. Imran Khan is presently recovering at a hospital in Lahore.
Reports say that the gunman opened fire with an automatic rifle and fired three times. One man died on the spot and four PTI supporters were injured. Imran Khan was hit by the bullet in his legs after which he was rushed to Lahore where he is being treated at the Shaukat Khanum hospital.
The hospital was built by him and is named after his mother. The gunman has been arrested by the police and is being interrogated.
The gunman has confessed to his crime and has categorically stated that he wanted to kill Imran Khan because he thought he was misleading the country. No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a televised address to the nation from the hospital where he is recuperating, former Prime Minister and presently PTI Chairman Imran Khan has accused the present Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior officer of ISI, Major General Faisal as conspirators behind this attack and has demanded their resignation.
The government has vehemently refuted the charges as baseless, and Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered an investigation into the incident.
The government claims that Wazirabad, where this incident happened, falls in the Punjab province which has a PTI government in place, and so the onus of the incident falls on PTI. The PTI supporters are, however, angry and enraged at the incident and are calling it an attempted assassination.
For the present, Imran will not be part of the protest march but the protest march will soon resume. Imran Khan is expected to join the protest in Rawalpindi.
From being the blue-eyed boy of the Pakistan army, Imran Khan has now become their arch enemy and nemesis.
This seems to be a classical case of history repeating itself. Nawaz Sharif also met a similar fate at the hands of the army. Imran Khan got elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan, with the tacit endorsement and support of the army, in 2018, and his term was due to end in 2023.
Initially, this hybrid arrangement seemed to be working, but Imran’s complete failure on the economic front, and his naivety, inexperience and gross incompetence in matters of governance became apparent to all. His failure to contain price rise started taking its toll on the citizenry who started questioning this arrangement.
Furthermore, Imran started riding roughshod over the army disregarding their advice on national security and foreign policy issues which led to considerable embarrassment for Pakistan as it became a laughing stock for the world.
He also went hammer and tongs after the opposition and tried to finish them off so that he remains unchallenged in Pakistan politics.
The army put up with all of this, but things started going downhill when he started interfering in the internal matters of the army like dictating appointments and transfers within the army.
This was the beginning of the end of bonhomie between Imran Khan and the army. The relationship started souring. The proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back was the appointment of Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum as DG-ISI, which Imran tried to stop. This was unacceptable to the army and a point of no return.
Given the paramountcy of the army in the politics of the country, it started thinking of an alternative to the PTI. This led to the formation of PDM (People’s Democratic Movement), which was an umbrella organization consisting of all the political parties opposed to Imran Khan.
The opposition came together and introduced a no-confidence motion against the PTI government in the parliament of the country which Imran Khan lost. He had to vacate his office in April this year following the loss in the no-confidence motion.
Imran Khan was never happy with the new dispensation and branded it as an imported government of crooks installed on the country with the connivance of foreign powers (read America).
He also alleged that he was removed as a result of conspiracy hatched by foreign countries, primarily America. He wanted early elections and to get his demand accepted, he was marching with his party supporters from Lahore to Islamabad when this incident happened.
The government, on its part, has levelled charges of corruption against Imran Khan. The present coalition government has also alleged that Imran Khan violated a fundamental tenet of Pakistan politics by accepting foreign funding for his political party.
Imran Khan has dismissed these allegations as politically motivated. In October, he was barred from holding any public office for five years by the election commission of Pakistan for illegally possessing foreign gifts. Imran Khan has challenged the decision in the Supreme Court.
Pakistan, apart from experiencing political turmoil because of the shenanigans of Imran Khan, is also suffering on the economic front because of high inflation and price rise as a result of structural changes demanded by IMF for its bailout package.
Further adding to its woes is a devastating flood that has almost 30% of the country under water. The population reeling under these hardships is feeling exasperated facing these challenges. Under these circumstances, this assassination attempt of a popular politician might lead to anarchy and civil war.
This attack comes at the backdrop of an unprecedented press conference held by DG ISPR as well as DG ISI. This had never happened before in the history of Pakistan politics.
In the press conference, both of them were alluding to the allegations levelled by Imran Khan on the army and General Bajwa and termed them as completely baseless.
They also accused Imran Khan of misleading the country by spreading lies and fake stories of foreign conspiracy. The government also refuted the allegation of the PM conspiring to get Imran Khan killed and has asked the allegation to be substantiated by evidence.
Pakistan has a long history of political assassinations, the most prominent among them being that of the country’s first Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan as well as very recently that of Benazir Bhutto.
Any politician in Pakistan who dares to challenge the hegemony of the Pakistan army has had to eat humble pie and some had to pay with their lives. It was widely rumoured that it was President General Pervez Musharraf who ordered the elimination of Benazir Bhutto.
Many conspiracy theories are floating with most of them implicating the ISI as the mastermind behind the attack. Imran Khan also has said as much but has not been able to substantiate it with any evidence.
The future looks uncertain. Pakistan is on a downward spiral economically as well as politically with many analysts predicting balkanisation of the country. This would have grave consequences for India as well as the world.
Pakistan is a declared nuclear weapons state with a sizable nuclear stockpile. Taking advantage of the volatile political situation, terrorist organizations that are in plenty in Pakistan could lay their hands on the nuclear arsenal, which could threaten the geopolitical stability of the world.
Most terrorist organizations consider the USA to be their main enemy and target. They could aim the weapon towards USA and fire it. All kinds of apocalyptic scenarios are being taken into consideration.
India too is on their hit list. This situation is a good enough reason for the international community to think about the denuclearisation of Pakistan. For the moment, let us keep our fingers crossed and hedge our bets.
edited and proofread by nikita sharma