Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan was arrested for the second time on Saturday, August 5, a few months apart, but this time the reaction from his party’s supporters was completely different from the reaction after the May 9 arrest.
After Imran Khan’s first arrest, buildings were also set on fire during violent protests from Peshawar to Karachi, after which the army had to be called in. However, August 5 was a normal night like any other night in Pakistan.
Imran Khan is currently in jail and has been sentenced to three years in jail for not disclosing the proceeds of the sale of gifts from Toshakhana in his assets to the Election Commission and due to this punishment he will be disqualified for the upcoming general elections.
In a video message before his arrest, the former prime minister had called for peaceful protests in the event of his arrest, which has not worked so far. What could be the reason for this?
If you ask government ministers, they will tell them that this is because people do not want to support Imran Khan or his party PTI anymore because it is a ‘violent party’, but Imran Khan’s supporters do not agree with this opinion.
The PTI chairman’s relations with the establishment deteriorated about a year and a half ago.
After this, Imran Khan, instead of sitting quietly till the next elections, continued to criticize the leadership of the army. However, after the arrest of Imran Khan on May 3, when military properties were attacked, the Pakistan Army made it clear that they would not give any concession to those responsible. The subsequent crackdown has greatly weakened Imran Khan’s party.
Hundreds of PTI activists involved in the violent protests have been arrested, some of whom are also being tried in military courts. This has been criticized by human rights organizations, who say that civilians should not be tried in military courts.
Some people in the Pakistani media told the British broadcasting agency that since the end of May, journalists can neither name Imran Khan nor show his picture. His name can’t even be published in Tickers.
Several PTI supporters said they have stopped posting anything on social media about the PTI or the leadership, deleted old content and now they do not even watch Imran Khan’s speech on YouTube because no one knows who is watching him do so.
The government told the BBC it does not arrest peaceful protesters. However, on Saturday, the police detained the activists who gathered outside Imran Khan’s residence in Zaman Park Lahore after his arrest. It is not yet clear whether he was formally arrested.
A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the BBC that they had arrested about 100 PTI activists. He said that the police were ordered to be alert so that people do not gather in support of Imran Khan.
“I think Imran Khan’s supporters are scared of this brutal crackdown and have given up,” said Michael Kugelman of the South Asia Institute of Wilson Center, a Washington-based think tank. They don’t want to put themselves at risk this time like they did on May 9.”
He said that in a way, the army played its cards perfectly; they have prevented a big reaction from Imran Khan’s supporters through this strategy.
On the other hand, Imran Khan’s legal team has made it clear that he will appeal against the verdict in the Toshakhana criminal case.
Over the past few months, his lawyers have been continuously getting temporary relief from various courts, due to which they have not been able to overturn the decisions of some serious court cases but have been able to delay them.
It is not yet clear whether this will continue. Imran Khan’s arrest on May 9 was dramatically converted into a release. However, the political environment and situation at that time was different.
Imran Khan is one of several Pakistani leaders who have faced cases in courts. Others include Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and former military dictator Pervez Musharraf, among others. Imran Khan has also jailed many of his rivals as prime minister.
Pakistani politicians often argue that Pakistan’s judicial system is used for political vendetta against them, while what happens to their opposition is right.
If Imran Khan remains incompetent, there are significant questions about what will happen to his party.
Imran Khan had told the BBC that the PTI would remain present whether he was elected or not. However, this opinion is not very close to reality.
“There are elections in the coming days, so the next big question is how the rest of the PTI leadership will mobilize the people. Will they try to bring their supporters to the streets, will they succeed? It will be a good test.”
THE PTI is a party that revolves around Imran Khan. The party’s election symbol is also called, which gives a glimpse of Imran Khan’s international career as a cricketer.
Most of the senior political leaders who were around Imran Khan at the start of the party have now left him. Most are currently in hiding and trying to evade arrest.
Given all this, it is not difficult to predict that it will not be easy for the PTI to run an effective political campaign.