Pakistan's Imran Khan loses fight against army: The Economist
The Pakistani government is already aiming to ban the former Prime Minister's party, as Khan could be tried by a military court.
After Pakistan's most popular politician and former prime minister, Imran Khan, was arrested by the military and released instantly by a Supreme Court order, he seemed keen on winning the elections this year.
However, three weeks later, generals pertaining to the government of Shehbaz Sharif dismantled the Khan-founded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Now, he may be losing his fight against the army, according to The Economist.
Khan's arrest sparked deadly protests across the country, with army establishments being attacked and state buildings set ablaze. Khan voiced concern that his wife could be arrested next in an attempt to pressure him and as part of the ongoing campaign against him.
The government is already aiming to ban the party, as Khan could be tried by a military court and as Pakistan’s civilian institutions appear to remain under the army’s influence. Sharif justifies this through the need to revive economic and political stability.
Due to a collapse in the rupee, and annual inflation estimated to have hit 37% this month, a risk of sovereign default remains and the IMF already called on the government to respect constitutional means in resolving the crisis, stressing that the country must obtain “sufficient financing from partners’‘ before it releases a $1.1 billion in bail-out funds.
According to a report by Geo News, some of PTI's leaders and members attempted to flee the country over the past three days and have been stopped at the airport. It further stated that Khan is preparing to apply for political asylum in the US, as per allegations made by the Special Assistant to Prime Minister Faisal Karim Kundi.
The army itself once promoted Khan as a way to suppress other civilian parties, including Sharif’s, and after he became prime minister in 2018, some described his government as a civil-military “hybrid”.
An army spokesperson vowed a crackdown on all “planners, instigators, abettors and perpetrators” of the violence. Options Khan is facing include jailing, nudging him into exile, disqualification from politics, and the possibility of allowing him to proceed to the election seems unlikely.
However, rumors state that the formation of a technocratic government is what will instead take place.
Political commentator Zahid Hussain said, “The army can’t help itself”. “Its urge to intervene is irresistible.”