IRSHAD SALIM — The United Nations (UN) chief has called for an independent and impartial legal process for former PM Imran Khan who has been charged with anti-state rhetoric. Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during a press briefing was asked to comment on the recent situation in Pakistan. He said, “The Secretary‑General is aware of the charges brought against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, and he emphasizes the need for a competent, independent and impartial legal process.”
A police report aka first information report (FIR) was registered against the former prime minister under Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) for saying at a public rally that he and his party would sue an additional sessions judge and senior police officers of the Islamabad Police. The rally was held in the federal capital on August 20.
“We will not spare you. We will sue you,” Khan said in the speech that named the police chief and the judge involved in the case against his aide Shahbaz Gill. Several independent observers say Gill was ‘tortured’.
On Sunday, in a major boost and with a huge margin, Khan’s party PTI was handed a win –it retained its mandate from the constituency in Karachi, the country’s biggest city and economic power house. The by-poll victory comes a week before the local bodies elections in the mega city. This gave setback to the key contestant Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) which was enjoying the support of the ruling parties at the Center.
For Khan, his followers and supporters, the big win in Karachi is a score card of where the nation stands.
His movement for change, and call for elections have been drawing active support from the populace –they comprise all genders, ages, ethnicity, the educated and the middle-class, plus his traditional support base: the overseas Pakistanis.
“They are by all accounts not extremists or militants,” says a political analyst…”more than 70 percent of the population back Imran Khan, and his rallying cry for a just, equitable and rule of law based system and society has found resonance countrywide,” an observers tells DesPardes.
Head winds, tail winds for Khan
“If Khan is actually arrested, all bets would be off and the country could see heightened risks of political violence in major cities,” Michael Kugelman, the deputy director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center tells TIME. “Khan enjoys backing from a rabid support base that would not sit quietly.” More here.
A buildup of narratives’ sharing for weeks on the social media, characterizing Khan as a narcissist, a cult leader, and a fitna (divider) has been observed via-a-vis Khan a hero, a challenger, and ‘not a slave, absolutely not’ narratives propagated by his supporters.
Asked to further comment on chances of Khan being docked, the observer cites Aitzaz Ahsan’s (renowned lawyer, scholar, and political thinker) famous oft-repeated quote that “if there is anything predictable in Pakistan politics, it is its past”.
Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Ajaz Ahmed, Ammar Jafri, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, G. R. Baloch, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Nayeem, Syed Hamza Gilani