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Pakistan is on a good track – Imran Khan’s shooting could turn the tide | Politics


It was foretold.

The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday was shocking, if not surprising. During a protest in his hometown constituency in Mianwali in early October, he has asserted that he has information about a plan to kill him. If that happens, a video revealing those names will be released, he said, adding that the motive would be religion.

He blamed Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Pakistan-Nawaz Muslim League (PMLN) leader Nawaz Sharif and niece of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and other leaders in her party accused him of blasphemy. In Pakistan, a blasphemous whisper can carry an executioner’s sword.

One Confession video of accused gunman on Thursday, Naveed Ahmed, appeared to support Khan’s allegations. A resident of the area where the protest was attacked, he showed no remorse, instead he regretted not having managed to kill Khan, who received a bullet wound in the leg.

“Imran Khan thinks he is a prophet,” Ahmed said. His phone is said to have videos of the leader of the far-right political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP). The TLP has weaponized blasphemy for votes and protests, with assassinations embedded in its DNA.

The symbol of TLP is Mumtaz Qadri, who shot and killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer in 2011. Taseer has publicly campaigned for the president’s pardon for an Asia Bibi Christian woman who was sentenced to death later. when convicted of blasphemy. When Qadri was executed for the assassination of Taseer, the huge crowds at his funeral were indicative of the ensuing event. the rise of TLP.

But the story of Thursday’s dismissal doesn’t begin with Ahmed: it’s more murky than one might expect.

Before the 2018 elections that brought Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to power, the PMLN itself – in power then and now – is being accused of blaspheming a law passed in the country festival.

The TLP organized the protests, while Imran Khan and his party leaders cheered and encouraged the protesters from the sidelines. Right before the election, PMLN’s Ahsan Iqbal, a former interior minister, survived an assassination. Defendant is believed to have affiliation with TLP. As I watched the campaign in central Punjab, PTI leaders continued to play the religious card against their opponents even after shooting.

Indeed, the TLP has incorporated both blasphemy and the far-right diversion of the major parties. Religion is sold in Pakistan, on TV, at shopping malls and at polling stations. More worrisome is that it’s not the right-wing parties – with effective street power but limited electoral power – that are making money, but more mainstream parties like the PTI and PMLN.

Khan himself has used religion effectively on his way back after he was ousted from power through a parliamentary vote in April by a coalition of parties led by the PMLN and the Pakistan People’s Party (Pakistan People’s Party) PPP) leadership. He has framed his struggle to return to power as a jihad, a battle between good and evil.

On the side of evil is the current political establishment – a coalition of parties representing the old guard and military establishment – who have removed him from alleged power by order of the United States.

Khan’s recipe for victimization – a shell of justice, a wave of anti-Americanism, a hint of nationalism and a flurry of corruption allegations against his opponents – is being advocated by a fiercely loyal supporters base, young voters and fencers. He won the vote in by-election, and crowds at rallies across Pakistan. Indeed, PTI and Khan were able to revive themselves after the government was overthrown unpopular.

Khan was on the seventh day of his long march to promote the formation of the army and the government to call elections, when he was shot. With inflation at a tearful rate and no hope or hate story to tell, the current government and powerful military have been unable to dampen his growing popularity.

The march coincides with the likely announcement of a new army chief this month. That is not random. Khan has said that he does not think the current leadership is in the moral standing to appoint the head of the most powerful institution in Pakistan.

He also accused top and middle-ranking military members of being traitors for helping “criminals” take power and ordering the torture of key aides. But he did not announce a march in backchannel negotiations with the army under General Qamar Javed Bajwa, whose term is being extended. Khan’s subsequent announcement of the march indicated that those negotiations had broken down. It is clear that the focus of Khan’s onslaught has shifted from his usual political opponents, to his former benefactors – the military.

Although Khan’s books are new to Pakistan, his failure to form an army brought him to power in 2018 and questions surrounding the assassination attempt against him all follow the guidelines. the pattern is all too familiar.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s repeated defeats with the army led to a coup and the two went into exile. Benazir Bhutto was stripped of his powers several times with the support of the military. She also accused former military dictator Pervez Musharraf threatened her before her return to Pakistan and the assassination that followed. While Bhutto’s killers are believed to be Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Musharraf admitted the state was involved in her death. He was declared a fugitive in her murder case. Subsequent investigation revealed a cover-up.

Since the attempted murder of Khan, there have been many protests across Pakistan, most notably in front of the residence of the commander of the Peshawar Corps. In a video message on behalf of Imran Khan, PTI’s senior leader, Asad Umar, accused a serving general of being behind the attack, as well as Shehbaz Sharif, the current prime minister. Former PTI information minister Fawad Chaudhry has called for revenge. Khan may no longer have the military on his side, but he certainly has both popular support and a wave of sympathy, and his party seems to be looking to create an advantage.

Pakistan is on the brink – of something old and something new. In this religious box, hatred, populism, unequal military-civilian relations and poor governance, a small spark can mean more violence. Perhaps it was foretold.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of Al Jazeera.

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