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Sat. May 25, 2024
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Political War and Conflicts in Pakistan
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The inevitable has finally occurred, and Imran Khan is now in jail. Khan’s political career has been fascinating. Even though he rode on the backs of the powerful to his position, he soon became oblivious to his popularity. He unexpectedly collided with the most important pillars of our nation, and without understanding where the power is, he drove himself into a dark alley. The events of May 9 put him in a vulnerable position and ultimately led to his arrest, which served as the final nail in the coffin. He has plenty of time at Attock jail to reflect on what went wrong and what he needs to do differently the next time he has the chance. Khan, who was once hailed as a savior, has polarized the nation by presenting an honest vs. corrupt narrative.

Imran Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on August 8 under Article 63(1)(h) in a significant move. He was disqualified under Section 232 of the Elections Act of 2017 as a result of his conviction, the ECP stated in its order. The section says, “Disqualification on account of offences—where a person has been convicted for any offence under this Act or has been found guilty of any corrupt or illegal practice by a Tribunal, he shall if the Commission is of the view that circumstances so warrant and makes an order to that effect, be disqualified for such period not exceeding five years as may be specified in the order from being, or being elected as a Member of an Assembly, the Senate or a local government.” The Punjab police then detained the PTI leader outside of his Zaman Park mansion in Lahore and sent him to Attock jail.

The military, which for the past 15 years has avoided direct accountability for Pakistan's governance and ownership of its numerous significant internal difficulties, is expected to continue to exert influence from behind the scenes in the coming months. The PDM government is anticipated to serve out its constitutionally mandated interim term. Elections for the federal government and provincial governments are expected to take place in October, with the majority of the well-known cast of parties running. Khan is likely to be suspended and the PTI will soon be made illegal. Already, new political alliances and parties are forming. Without Khan at the head, there may be an attempt to resurrect the PTI, but at most it would only be a fringe party. Pakistan's politics may in many respects mirror what they were prior to Khan's rise to prominence on the political stage if the establishment decides to reestablish a tense working relationship with a coalition led by Nawaz Sharif's PML-N. Pakistan will still need some time to move past its relationship with Imran Khan. He has sparked a political consciousness in some societal segments that, if carefully fostered, might one day constitute the cornerstone of a more fervent reformist movement. Khan may have been on a quest to sanitize politics and advance civilian rule, but despite his popularity and charisma, he failed as a leader due to his poor choices and character flaws.

Pakistan's economy and social cohesion have suffered greatly as a result of the country's ongoing political crises, which have also contributed to a major loss of faith in a democracy that was already in trouble. At the cost of reinstating the majority of what is responsible for Pakistan's poor constitutional institutions and reckless political elite behavior, the country may survive the current political condition without experiencing significant civil unrest. Historically, the military is heavily to blame for the country's political problems, but it also deserves praise for frequently saving Pakistan from itself.

Pakistan is currently dealing with unprecedented inflation and skyrocketing unemployment, for which it no longer provides data. Foreign exchange reserves are decreasing, and as a result, the country is increasingly dependent on IMF bailouts and at risk of default. A spike in immigration has been attributed to a dearth of employment possibilities. In June 2023, over 300 Pakistani migrants perished trying to enter Europe when their boat capsized off the coast of Greece. Pakistan's precarious economic situation has forced it to implement challenging fiscal cuts and tax increases in order to satisfy IMF requirements, which may cause popular discontent. Despite the economic and other crises, Pakistani politicians and establishment are concentrating on their intra- and inter-party disputes, which is fueling a political war.

Mohsin Fareed Shah is an undergraduate student of Government and Public Policy at National Defence University, Islamabad.

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