Pakistan: Arrest of Imran Khan: Why Pakistan’s latest round of protests is different

NEW DELHI: Mass protests have become increasingly common in Pakistan in recent years, many led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan who was arrested on Tuesday at the Islamabad High Court.

Though most of the protests have been against the government regarding food inflation, price hikes and other issues. The protests initiated by Imran Khan after his removal from power in April 2022 had a decidedly anti-establishment flavour.
Imran Khan stops LIVE updates
After losing the vote of confidence, Imran Khan launched a series of massive protests initially aimed at his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

But the narrative quickly took a turn when Imran, during a demonstration in Islamabad, began hurling accusations against the political-military nexus and claiming that a foreign hand was behind the political turmoil.
In the subsequent protests and video messages, Imran Khan started naming agencies like the ISI and the army as involved in the destruction of democracy in Pakistan.

Such allegations had never been made in public before, but Khan’s popularity grew tenfold as his attacks on the military and establishment became more scathing.
Khan’s supporters immediately felt comfortable challenging and speaking out against the unprecedented military-political complex.
The situation was such that for the first time in its history, the ISI and the Pakistan Army had to hold press conferences to defend themselves against Khan’s allegations.
Because these protests are different
The latest wave of protests sparked after Khan’s arrest shows this shift of anger towards the Pakistani military, an institution that has always been blameless.
As protests erupted across Pakistan, reports came in of thousands of Khan’s supporters gathering near army camps and bases.

In Rawalpindiprotesters broke down the gates of the army headquarters and were seen looting some buildings.
In Lahore, Khan’s supporters forcibly entered the home of a corps commander and ransacked the building. They later set it on fire.
In Quetta and Faisalabad, hundreds of protesters gathered at checkpoints and chanted slogans against the army and the establishment. Local media say police opened fire in these areas resulting in the deaths of at least 5 protesters. Many policemen were also injured.
(With contributions from agencies)


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