Pakistan became one with pandemonium and sheer chaos after the arrest of their former PM, Imran Khan, on charges of rampant corruption and alleged property fraud. The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday night ruled the arrest to be legal, which only fanned the flame of widespread protests and violence in the country.
Over a dozen people were injured, with the deaths of at least four as a result of clashes with the Pakistani police and PTI supporters, and the suspension of mobile internet, broadband services, and social media shutdowns across the country.
The ascent to power
Khan established the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996 to make Pakistan the kind of country that Muhammad Ali Jinnah (the founder of Pakistan) wanted, despite a “chequered history” between civilian governments and the army.
He was positive about a harmonious relationship with the army, hoping for collaboration and complete coordination with the military, standing by all the democratic government’s policies – whether it be with India or for a peaceful solution in Afghanistan.
Khan, however, soon came under fire for his administration’s inability to successfully address the Covid-19 pandemic and make good economic promises. Then the Lt. General Faiz Hameed scandal broke out, involving the potent spymaster of Pakistan at the time.
Just another corrupt PM?
A sugar price-fixing scandal in April 2021 had a negative impact on the economy under Khan’s administration. In October 2021, a YouTube personality’s remixed version of his catchphrase “Aap Ne Ghabrana Nahi Hai” went viral.
Khan issued a warning in January 2022 that if anyone attempted to remove him, he would turn dangerous. His stern message was interpreted differently by many, and a potential rift with the army popped up.
In April 2022, Khan’s government lost power due to a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly. Shehbaz Sharif, the brother of Nawaz Sharif, replaced him.
Attempts at regaining power
An incensed Khan gave several interviews to national and international media following his removal, during which he accused the US of planning a coup against him.
Khan continued to claim an unfair removal from office, mobilize his supporters in a “jihad,” and call for early elections. Huge crowds flocked to his rallies, and his support started to rise sharply.
However, the country’s election commission disqualified him from running for office in 2022 for a period of five years due to “corrupt practices.”
By April, Khan was showing up in court to fight for bail in a number of cases against him following an alleged assassination attempt shortly after the election commission’s decision.
Al-Qadir Trust is a non-governmental welfare organization set up by Khan and Bushra Watto, Khan’s third wife, when he was still in office. The trust operates a college outside of Islamabad that is dedicated to spirituality and Islamic teachings, a project inspired by the former first lady.
According to Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, the trust was allegedly a front for Khan to receive valuable land as a bribe from a real estate developer, Malik Riaz Hussain, one of Pakistan’s richest and most powerful businessmen. The trust has nearly 60 acres of land worth seven billion Pakistani rupees and another large piece of land in Islamabad close to Khan’s hilltop home.
According to the government, the scheme began with 190 million pounds that Britain returned to Pakistan in 2019 after Hussain forfeited money and property to resolve a British investigation into whether they were the proceeds of crime.
Khan’s administration used the funds to pay Hussain’s fines imposed by a court for the illegal purchase of government lands at a discount in order to develop Karachi rather than depositing them in Pakistan’s treasury.
The interior minister claimed that in exchange for the favor, Hussain allegedly gave Khan the land through the Al-Qadir Trust.
Pakistan burning in protest
PTI supporters flooded the streets shortly after his arrest. After smashing the Army’s exterior insignia, they stormed the Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi. They also broke into the Lahore Cantt home of the Corps Commander and set the items outside on fire. Protesters further destroyed police barricades and set them ablaze.
Due to ongoing protests against the former premier and PTI leader, all private schools in Pakistan will be closed starting on Wednesday until further notice.
Defense forces in India are closely monitoring the situation in Pakistan along the line of control and the international border. Both the United States and the United Kingdom demanded that Pakistan uphold the “rule of law.”