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Confrontation between De Facto Ruler and Imran Khan: Unprecedented Protest in Pakistan

Confrontation between De Facto Ruler and Imran Khan: Unprecedented Protest in Pakistan

15-06-2023
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Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, an Oxford-graduate cricket superstar, had a playboy image with a very controversial personal life and has always been a hot topic in the media. Imran took Pakistan cricket to unprecedented heights with his fabulous all-round performance, exceptional and brave captaincy, discovering Waqar, Wasim, and Injamam, who are the legends of the game, and finally winning the World Cup at the end of his career in 1992. 
He retired from cricket, became a well-known philanthropist and social activist, and established a cancer hospital named after his mother, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, where 75% of people are treated free of charge. Then he became a politician without any kind of political background. In 1996, Imran Khan founded his own political party, PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), which means the Movement for Justice. In the first election of 1996, he contested five seats and lost all of them. After a 22-year political struggle, he was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan on August 18, 2018. He was the PM of a coalition government along with MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement), BAP (Baluchistan Awami Party), PMLQ (Pakistan Muslim League Qayed), and AML (Awami Muslim League). After 3 years and 8 months of his rule, he was ousted from power, maintaining the continuation of not fulfilling the tenure of Pakistan’s PM. On April 9, 2022, Imran Khan is removed from the Prime Minister’s office as the no-confidence motion against him succeeds the 13 political party’s alliance called PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement).
Imran’s political opponents and critics always try to establish that Khan is just a puppet of the Pakistan Army Establishment and ISI (the Intelligence Agency of Pakistan). But Imran claimed that (Rt) General Bajwa and the army establishment were behind his removal from the PMO (Prime Minister Office). After his removal, Imran became the most popular and celebrated politician in the history of Pakistan. People were ready to fight in favor of Imran; some of them were even ready to die. Before Imran, all the PMs of Pakistan had, throughout their tenure, allegations of big corruption, money laundering, or compromises with state security. But Imran was free from these kinds of allegations; the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared him truthful and faithful, and he carried an unlavish personality. He is a national hero. The people of Pakistan have known him for 50 years, and he has advocated for their country all over the world. Here are some topics that have come forward in which Imran and the Army establishment weren’t on the same page, and analysts are pointing those out as the cause of the removal of Imran from power. 
Establishment of Justice 
Imran Khan’s government has placed a strong emphasis on accountability and anti-corruption measures. Imran is always very vocal about corruption, white-collar crime, money laundering, and injustice in society. One of his big narratives is that a nation will be destroyed when there is a different law for the upper class or the power holders stay above the law. Some open and shut causes, like the Shabaj Sharif money laundering cases, Panama leaks, and Dawn leaks, are well known, and big corruption is associated with some big PMLN (Pakistan Muslim League Noon) and PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) leaders. Imran failed to bring these privileged classes under the law because of their power and strong connection with the army establishment. Nawaz deals with the army, leaves the country, and now stays in London. Bajwa and the Army establishment weren’t as determined to establish justice as Imran.
Kashmir Issue and Foreign Relations with India
Imran Khan has been vocal about supporting the rights of Kashmiris and advocating for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute following UN resolutions. After the removal of 370 A and Section 35 from the Indian constitution, which give the Kashmiris special status, Imran raises his voice all over the world and becomes the true ambassador of Kashmir. He picked up his ambassador from India and cut off all kinds of diplomatic and business relations, taking a strong position to embargo air space as well. The Army wants a stable relationship with India, but Imran refused completely and gave India one condition: give Kashmiris their rights back.
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Bujhdar
Punjab is the largest and most populous province of Pakistan. After winning the election, some PTI leaders, like Hamad Azhar, Shah Mehmud Qureshi, and Faowad Choudhury, declared themselves the CM of Punjab. So the MPA (members of the provincial assembly) got divided and had strong points of argument with each other. So to form a stable government, Imran chose a very unknown person, Usman Bujhdar, as the CM of Punjab. Who was always ready to follow as Imran ordered him. The establishment had strong questions about his competency and administrative actions because he wasn’t the chosen one by the army.
Israel-Palestine Issue 
During the Trump Administration, Imran always felt pressure to acknowledge Israel according to the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement with the Muslim world. As Pakistan is the only recognized nuclear-armed Muslim country, they have that kind of influence on the Muslim community. And the Pakistan Army had a strong connection with the USA from the Russian annexation of Afghanistan in 1978; they also pressurized Imram, but he always revealed that Kashmir and Palestine were the same issue in his thought process. If he acknowledges Israel, he will not have the moral right to take a position in favor of Kashmir.
Governance Approach 
Imran Khan emphasizes a civilian-led government with a focus on anti-corruption measures, social welfare, and economic reforms. He has expressed his commitment to strengthening civilian supremacy and reducing the military’s interference in political matters. He aims to limit the military’s involvement in domestic affairs, including areas such as law enforcement, counterterrorism operations, and intelligence activities. While the Prime Minister sets the overall foreign policy direction and prioritizes allocating resources to social development, education, healthcare, and poverty alleviation, Khan’s administration focuses on attracting foreign investment, promoting business-friendly policies, and stimulating economic growth.
On the other hand, General Bajwa’ and the Army establishment prioritize national security concerns and military influence in decision-making processes. As they have controlled foreign policy, agriculture, industry, and politics for the last 70 years. They thought that Imran would not come into their grip. He wants to perform as an independent statesman.
If all that happens, the Army will lose all of its stakes in Pakistan. The powerful nexus with the corrupt politicians, mafias, business typhoons, and bureaucrats led by the Pak army would be destroyed in seconds. So that they can’t take the risk of the continuation of Imran’s regime. They made the USA favor them and got the green signal by accusing Imran of being pro-Russian and pro-Chinese.
Their mechanism started, all the coalition partners of Imran took their support back, and 24 PTI MNAs were found in Sindh House opposing Imran. They were bought by the opposition through horse trading. Imran lost his majority in Parliament and his prime ministership.
So, it was a master plan to remove Imran from power, and now 13 parties enjoying the power unconditionally had forgotten their extreme rivalries. Each and every time the Pakistani PM was ousted from power, the country started celebrating their relief. But when Imran left power after domestic and foreign conspiracies.
In people’s minds, he has become a leader and the pearl of the people’s eye. This time all the youths, families, women, children, and general mass from each side, whether it’s Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Karachi, Islamabad, Jhelum, or Mujaffarabad, came and showed their anger by gathering and supporting Imran. After the regime change, Imran won 31 out of 37 seats by election. He made mass gatherings all over the country and went to the Long March and public meetings. He was shot at least four times, and 145+ causes were registered against him in the allegations of corruption, sedition, violence, and terrorism. Minus Imran from the scenario is the main purpose of the current Pakistan Regime and Army establishment. On May 9, 2023, Imran was abducted from the Islamabad High Court by the Rangers (paramilitary force).
Children, women, old people, youth, and teenagers all came to the streets against his arrest and started protests and violence all over the country, shutting down the country and blocking the roads. attacking the cantonment and the Corps Commander’s houses for the first time in the history of Pakistan. People accused the Army establishment of Imran’s arrest. More than 25 people have been killed and 700+ have been seriously injured for wanting Imran’s release. After that, on May 12, Imran got bailed from the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Why Imran Khan is so popular: 
First of all, Pakistanis have four political figures to choose as their PM. Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, or Maulana Fazlur Rahman It will be humiliating to compare them against Imran. Nawaz and Zardari are well-known corrupt politicians all over the world. Their corruption stories are found in books, documentaries, the Panama Papers scandal, and the Dawn Leak Scandal. PMLN and PPP have always had massive rivalries and accused each other of corruption, money laundering, and destroying the economy. Maulana Fazlur Rahman always enjoys power, whether it’s the PPP or PMLN government, and he had accusations of using religious sentiments and selling the Kasmir issue when he got the permit for diesel dealerships all over the country. So when people saw these three on one side and removed Imran from power, they got frightened, angry, and humiliated when the army establishment stood behind these three. So they took the only option to support Khan.
On the other hand, Imran is a true Pakistani patriot. He is always willing to defend Pakistan’s interests on the world stage. Imran Khan’s vision of a “Naya Pakistan” (New Pakistan) resonates with many Pakistanis who aspire to a progressive, inclusive, and prosperous nation. Imran Khan possesses a charismatic personality and can inspire and motivate people. He declared his objective to come into politics to make Pakistan prosperous and developed. During his time of governance, he took some major steps in health, education, and social security that also made him very popular, such as:

Anti-Corruption Stance:
Imran is seen as a man of integrity and honesty. Khan has never been accused of corruption or any other wrongdoing. He is also a devout Muslim who is known for his strong moral values.
Imran Khan has consistently taken a strong stance against corruption, which resonates with many Pakistanis who are eager to see a clean and transparent government.
Social Welfare Initiatives:
He has initiated various social welfare programs, such as the “Ehsaas” program, aimed at poverty alleviation, education, healthcare, and the provision of social safety nets.

Focus on Education:
Imran Khan has emphasized the importance of unified education and has worked towards improving access to quality education in Pakistan. He also encourages a holistic approach to education by making the life of our beloved Prophet Mohammed (SW) mandatory from classes 7–12. Inspiring the students in moral and ethical responsibility and also practicing religion

Healthcare Reforms:
His government has introduced reforms in the healthcare sector, with a focus on providing better healthcare facilities and access to affordable treatment by introducing the “Health Card.” Up to 10 lakh rupees in health costs in any private hospital will be paid by the government. The government will provide a health card to each family and pay the insurance instalments.

Environmental Conservation:
Imran Khan has raised awareness about environmental issues and launched initiatives like the “Billion Tree Tsunami” to combat deforestation and promote reforestation.

Diplomatic Efforts:
He has worked on improving Pakistan’s relations with other countries and played a role in facilitating peace talks between neighboring countries, such as India, Afghanistan, China, and Iran.

Youth Engagement:
Imran Khan has actively engaged with the youth, recognizing their potential and encouraging their participation in politics and decision-making processes. Creating Tiger Force as a Volunteer Organisation during the Pandemic was appreciated. 

Anti-Terrorism Measures: 
His government has taken strong measures to combat terrorism and improve security in the country, which has been appreciated by the public. Especially the tribal area was very much affected by terrorism. Imran chose to have a dialogue with them. No drone attacks happened during his time in that region. Terrorism was reduced dramatically during that time.

Anti-Nepotism Stance:
Imran Khan has spoken out against political dynasties and the culture of nepotism in Pakistani politics, which has appealed to those who desire a more merit-based system.
Apart from all of these, Imran Khan has a strange and undiplomatic behaviour with very much straight forwardness. He was against Islamophobia, in the case of Kashmiris, with the creation of a Muslim block and preached around the world in his Muslim identity, in Punjabi and Peshwari slippers, holding Tasbih in his hand.
He told the hegemony, “He Absolutely not; I will not sacrifice my human life in your war; the price of my human life is the same as your human life. Stands strong and tells the world that it is “La ilaha illallah” that frees people from every kind of drawback and fear. He calls for Haqqiqi Azadi, says he has not bowed down to anyone except Allah, he shows dreams, he teaches to believe in dreams, he says if the drones come to kill my people, I will order the air force to shoot them down, he talks about the Madina model Islamic state, he talks about justice where all thieves, robbers, and powerful mafia will not make any concessions.”
At last, all Pakistani interest groups and their monopolies face an existential danger from Imran Khan. He has dismantled the monopolies of the Army establishment on nationalism, the Mullahs and religious leaders on religion, the PMLN and PPP on civilian dominance, and the media on stories. The liberals’ monopoly on “defending human rights” has also been broken by him. Never before have they been made so public. The “territories” of these tribes were established, and they never contested one another’s territorial claims. They are now yelling and wailing because Imran Khan has not only challenged them in their own regions but also taken away their traditional support base.
The author of this article is a Student of Political Science, University of Dhaka.
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Meftahul Maruf
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