Imran arrested

The country heads into uncertain territory

The arrest of PTI chief Imran Khan was perhaps inevitable. His latest outburst against the major general heading the ISI’s counter-terrorism department, in which Mr Khan said that the officer had been responsible for two assassination attempts against him, had led to an Inter-Services Press Release statement in the officer’s defence, in which it had said that Mr Khan should use legal avenues to deal with any grievances he had. However, Mr Khan was not charged with that. The arrest took place upon the charge of failing to appear before the National Accountability Bureau in the Al-Qadir trust case, where he and his wife are supposed to have received land from real estate tycoon Malik Riaz, who is supposed to have been given relief amounting to billions of rupees which had been received by the government from the UK’s National Crime Agency, allegedly because it was the proceeds of money laundering.

While he appeared in court without being assassinated, as he had predicted, he was arrested. It is perhaps ironical that he was arrested under a legal provision that his own government had used often to imprison political opponents, to the extent that the Supreme Court passed strictures against NAB. NAB can get physical remand for upto 90 days.

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Mr Khan will probably use amendments to the NAB law to obtain bail, amendments which his party had fought tooth and nail, to the extent of challenging them in the Supreme Court. However, it is to that Court that he will look, to obtain relief. Already, there have been clashes reported between PTI supporters all over the country, which have involved clashes between the law enforcing agencies and party supporters. It is telling that military symbols, such as GHQ and Lahore’s Corps Commander’s residence, have been attacked.

The extent of these protests will determine Mr Khan’s political future. Now that he is no longer around, one can expect there to be an unseemly scramble for the leadership of the party. The main contenders are Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and President Ch Parvez Elahi, but the race will probably not be limited to them. Such party heavyweights as Secretary-General Asad Umar and former federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Pervez Khattak will also probably have their hats in the ring. A sequence of events was lunched by the arrest whose end cannot be predicted.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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