Behind slogans against Pakistan’s Military

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” This saying 6f Albert Einstein’s is very fit in this current situation of Pakistan. Tensions between military and PTI supporters escalated in big cities of Pakistan after the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 9. Being an army officer’s wife, It was very painful for me to hear chanting slogans against Pakistan’s military. I was thinking who would come to give blood to our troops during war when Pakistan always remains under war threats from its neighbo4r country? Who will struggle to join Pak army when there will be no more respect for this most powerful institution of Pakistan?

Later on May 11, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled the arrest of Khan to be illegal and ordered for him to be immediately released. Supreme Court Chief justice also asked Khan to seek relief the next day from the Islamabad High Court, where he was arrested, on the issue of NAB arrest warrant and said Khan will have to accept the decision of the court in this regard. The Chief Justice also asked Khan to issue an appeal to his supporters to remain peaceful, as the country faced growing turmoil in its streets.

- Advertisement -

‘Imran khan will be arrested; tensions would escalate, then it would be easy to skip elections;’ the rumors of this plan had been in the news everywhere in the media by PTI supporters since February 2023 which was continuously negated by the caretaker government in the last two months.

Now former prime minister Imran Khan was arrested on May 9 inside the Islamabad High Court where he was signing the papers for his bail in another case. Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency NAB arrested Imran Khan apparently in a bogus case when only four days had left for elections decided by the Supreme Court.

He is accused of illegally acquiring land to construct a university and was placed on “physical remand” for eight days; On the other hand, Khan has denied any wrongdoing. In February, Aftab Sultan, chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), had resigned from his position, reportedly after refusing to comply with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government which had allegedly asked him to arrest Imran Khan. He resigned because he refused to build a case against him.

Twice the elections have already been postponed despite a clear popular demand and categorical orders of the Supreme Court. Now if the Pakistan Army takes control in three provinces, it would not be difficult for the military to conduct elections.  Elections are the only solution to calm down the situation and create a cool and friendly atmosphere in Pakistan.

Going back, On March 3, President Arif Alvi announced April 30 as the date for general elections in Punjab— keeping in view that the ECP proposed the Punjab general polls date between April 30 to May 7. Later the Supreme Court fixed May 14 as the general polls date for Punjab.  Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah’s comments came after the top court nullified a decision by the election regulator to postpone polls in the Punjab province “When circumstances develop, the option of emergency is stated in the constitution.” It becomes a way to declare a state of emergency in case the country is threatened by war or external aggression, or by internal disturbance.

After Khan’s arrest, his political party, Pakistan Tehreek Insaf, called for peaceful protests across Pakistan. Before his own arrest, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi had reiterated the party’s call for “peaceful protest”. PTI supporters began marches in various cities and burned state buildings. Within hours, roads had been blocked on main thoroughfares in major cities. The police fired tear gas shells at the protesters in all big cities. Not only PTI workers, but the common mass who are Khan’s supporters came on roads to protest in high anger.

In this escalation, many had been killed and hundreds were injured including some policemen. The police have arrested hundreds of supporters of Khan, including former ministers, for violence after his arrest. Mobile data services were shut for a third day while Twitter, YouTube and Facebook were disrupted, as security forces tried to restore order after violence killed many in all big cities. PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry who was arrested outside the Supreme Court when he had expressed fears that plans were being made to extend the tenure of the current coalition government by declaring an emergency.  He emphasized that elections must be held to transfer the government to the elected officials, and he criticized those who were putting the country’s future at risk.

- Advertisement -

Pakistan is facing a multidimensional crisis. The economy is teetering on collapse due to a political crisis, the rupee is plummeting and inflation at decades-high levels, devastating floods, and a significant shortage of energy. Despite concerns raised by PTI workers, as well as the opposition party in the past, the government in December of last year ruled out the possibility of imposing an economic emergency.

Unfortunately, the crisis comes as the nation of 220 million people grapples with an acute economic crisis. And now after Khan’s illegal arrest, the largest protests took place in the cities of Lahore and Peshawar, both political strongholds for Khan, and saw crowds clash with security forces. Authorities in three of the country’s four provinces have imposed an emergency order banning all gatherings.

The military has been called into Islamabad and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to provide security assistance. Khan has repeatedly accused the military of conspiring with Prime Minister Mian Shehbaz Sharif to remove him from office, even calling out a senior official by name and accusing him of being behind the shooting that injured him in November2022.

Going on Khan’s claims, his supporters have targeted their rage toward the military, fervently taking to social media to put out messages against the establishment and current Government. Khan’s supporters are mostly from urban middle class and youngsters. This has put increased pressure on the military establishment. Here this would be wrong to say that the establishment has been solely responsible for derailing democracy. In fact, it happens only when some political parties join hands with the establishment.

In this scenario, it is clear that the army’s coalition with 14 political parties cannot afford Khan’s return to power. However, it would not be wrong that such a move would have “severe consequences” for the country’s democratic institutions.  The imposition of a state of emergency and denied access to internet with illegal arrest of big mass would likely result in the suspension of civil liberties, and the curtailing of press freedom. In turn, it would lead to further chaos and instability, creating hurdles for Pakistan to attract foreign investment and maintain its economic growth when it is already badly suffering from inflation.

Twice the elections have already been postponed despite a clear popular demand and categorical orders of the Supreme Court. Now if the Pakistan Army takes control in three provinces, it would not be difficult for the military to conduct elections.  Elections are the only solution to calm down the situation and create a cool and friendly atmosphere in Pakistan.

The Pak Army remains Pakistan’s most powerful institution, having ruled the South Asian nation directly for close to half its 75-year history through three coups. But now I feel sorry for the Pakistan Army who has been pushed in this anger when every army officer and his family enjoyed love and respect by common mass being a sign of high values, dignity and patriotism. Alas! We are going to lose all this respect for the army due to some political parties who drag Pak army in politics for their interests.

Aisha Noor
Aisha Noor
Aisha Noor is a freelance writer. She can be contacted at [email protected], Twitter: @aishaz99


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

Is India a Rogue State?

The term rogue state is used to describe a country that is perceived as acting in a way that is contrary to international norms...

Suicide blasts on Eid Milad

Epaper_23-10-1 LHR