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Pakistan: In a Bid to Become the King Again, Imran Khan Catalysed His Own Arrest

Unpacking Tuesday’s “revolution” will disappoint many because what lies underneath is rather banal.

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No. Neither was Imran Khan’s arrest on Tuesday a conspiracy to make him a hero again with the aim of bringing him back into power with a two-thirds majority, nor were the events of the day orchestrated to impose martial law. Further, all analyses/predictions of martial law, even in pure reaction to the shambolic performance of the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) government and its inability to achieve politico-economic normalcy in the country, are quite unsound.

Unpacking Tuesday’s “revolution” will disappoint many because what lies underneath is rather banal. It will be easier to process the underlying banality if people understand that Imran Khan’s arrest, his disqualification, and his eventual conviction in some of the serious cases were always a question of when, not if. Interestingly, whilst Imran Khan has done everything in his power to avoid all three, and instead become King again, he actually catalysed his own arrest.

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At What Cost?

Like the dog in the manger, and in keeping with all his past attempts, Imran Khan gave a call for a country-wide “protest” on Saturday, aiming to sabotage the tri-partite Afghanistan-Pakistan-China Foreign Ministers level dialogue on the same day to extend CPEC to Afghanistan. To add fuel to the fire, he once again accused the DGC ISI General Faisal Naseer of attempting to kill him twice. This was designed to encourage violence leading to instability and ultimately failure of the current government to accomplish anything – no matter the consequences for Pakistan. And then he repeated the accusations.

The timing of his arrest was not ideal, because the government’s plans to drive him to complete insanity and self-destruction had been working like a charm – the bunker and balti stage was even beyond its own expectations and the PDM was delighting in the show. But the price of the front row seats was becoming higher and higher.

The government had managed to defeat Imran Khan’s bid to thwart the no-confidence-motion in April 2022; it exposed his “brilliant” cipher ploy next; it diffused the mines he had laid and managed to re-start the IMF programme at great political cost; it tried to kill his “long marches”. All at the cost of not being able to focus on the business of governing the country.

Perhaps Imran Khan’s arrest was also forced by new revelations of the existence of a special cell within PTI which was trained by former DG ISI General Faiz Hameed and his network. This cell was trained in how to effectively cause chaos and violence to the point of anarchy. An officer interrogating one of the operatives of the cell asked incredulously, “But don’t you realise that that is damaging for Pakistan?” The reply: “But that was the aim – let government fail, let the state fail so that people realise that without Imran Khan at the helm, Pakistan has become destroyed.”

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Where are the PTI Leaders?

 As for the successful PTI attacks on Corp Commanders' Houses, the GHQ, and other military targets in reaction to Imran Khan’s arrest, a conscious decision was taken by the military, in a meeting presided over by the Chief of General Staff, to provide clear passage to the “protestors” – and document the crimes they were sure to commit, with evidence to be collected with the aid of mobile data enabled geo-fencing, photographs, videos, and forensic analysis. Arrests would then follow, and the law allowed to take its course. Thus, instructions were issued to all formations to ensure restraint, and to commit no knee-jerk reactions at any cost to allow any opportunity to the “protestors”.

Similarly, the Inspector General Police’s office issued almost identical instructions for the police on duty. Only the guards of a few senior police officers would be carrying weapons on the day. All other personnel would be unarmed to ensure not even any accidental altercation. They too were instructed to withdraw from the expected routes and targets of the PTI to allow free access, or in other words, to give them enough rope to hang themselves.

Erstwhile jubilant PTI leaders and supporters realised several hours too late that they had walked right into a well-laid trap. A few half-sensible senior PTI leaders were approached by some in the media: “If you’re trying to disassociate from your workers now, why don’t you step in, turn it into a political opportunity and demonstrate responsible leadership, urge peaceful protest and return?”

Response: “How can we stop them…they have been given open passage and when we try to urge restraint, they turn on us and abuse us.” So, it’s a case of Frankenstein’s Monster’s monsters. Most PTI leaders vanished from the public scene, and the ones on record instigating attacks on the military were very busy Tuesday night disowning their “workers” and their “work”.

In parallel news, the PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif will not be accepting the superior judiciary’s evident retreat and entreaties. There is no forgiveness on the cards for the political judges including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The younger brother has been ordered not only to stand firm but to raise the ante.

No order of the Omer Atta Bandiyal gang will be accepted or complied with, and a show of popular support will be demonstrated if needed. Parliament is to remain supreme, at any cost. The elder Sharif seems to have learned from history that when you let a Musharraf go, it begets you a Bajwa. The judges cannot be allowed to live to fight, or bite, another day.

(Gul Bukhari is a Pakistani journalist and rights activist. She tweets @GulBukhari. This is an opinion article and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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Topics:  Pakistan   Imran Khan 

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