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Is Surging Violence and Instability in Pakistan Fueled by Imran Khan’s Supporters?

Is Surging Violence and Instability in Pakistan Fueled by Imran Khan’s Supporters?


Umar Moiz

Pakistan's socio-political landscape is a multifaceted and intricate matter as it’s political and security environment has become increasingly unstable and uncertain since the detention of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on charges of corruption. The erstwhile leader's adherents have initiated aggressive demonstrations, besieging military installations and personnel, vandalizing public property, and clashing with law enforcement. The violent incidents have resulted in the deaths of eight individuals, and hundreds have been detained.

The prevailing turmoil has the potential to propel Pakistan into further political unrest and instability, along with the possibility of straining its relations with neighbors and allies. The United States, which has been attempting to rekindle its association with Pakistan following troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, has expressed anxiety over the violence and implored all parties to uphold the rule of law. Meanwhile, China, Pakistan's closest diplomatic and economic partner, has emphasized the need for calm and stability.

There remains a possibility of Imran Khan's re-arrest, which could rekindle violence in the region. Furthermore, he may face additional allegations or convictions, resulting in an escalation of the conflict and an increase in violent incidents. The question remains, however, whether the use of violence to achieve one's objectives is a legitimate or lawful course of action.

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Violence against the state and attack on military installations by members of PTI could harm Pakistan in several ways. It could undermine the legitimacy and authority of the elected government and the judiciary, which are responsible for upholding the rule of law and the constitution. It could weaken the security and stability of the country, which is already facing multiple challenges such as terrorism, extremism, poverty and COVID-19.

It could also damage the reputation and morale of the military, which is regarded as a key institution for Pakistan's defense and sovereignty. It could pit public against the security forces, which could result in more casualties. It could alienate Pakistan's allies and partners, such as the US and China, who have expressed concern over the violence and urged for calm and dialogue.

Both PTI and populist and fascist movements use violence and intimidation as a means to achieve their political goals and to suppress their opponents. Both PTI and populist and fascist movements appeal to the emotions and grievances of their supporters, often using nationalist, religious, or anti-establishment rhetoric.

Both PTI and populist and fascist movements have charismatic leaders who claim to represent the will of the people and to challenge the corrupt elites. They also tend to reject democratic norms and institutions, such as the rule of law, the separation of powers, the free press, and the rights of minorities.

It is not okay for PTI to use this violence or it will lead to more problems for Pakistan. It will cause more deaths, injuries, and arrests of innocent people, as well as damage to public and private property. It will create more chaos and instability in the country, which is already facing economic, political, and health crises. It will also undermine the democratic process and the rule of law, which are essential for resolving the political differences peacefully and constitutionally.

Unfortunately, it will also strain Pakistan's relations with its allies and partners, such as the US and China, who have urged for calm and dialogue. In addition to embolden Pakistan's rivals, such as India, who accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism and fomenting trouble in the region before.

As a political analyst, I would say that the PTI’s violence against the military after Imran Khan’s arrest is a serious challenge to the stability and security of Pakistan. It reflects the deepening rift between the civilian and military leaderships, as well as the frustration and anger of Khan’s supporters over the corruption charges against him. The violence also shows the lack of trust and confidence in the judicial system and the rule of law in Pakistan.

The PTI’s violence should be condemned by all political parties and civil society groups, as it undermines the democratic process and the constitutional order in Pakistan. It also damages the image and reputation of Pakistan in the international community, especially at a time when the country is facing an economic crisis and a regional security situation. The PTI should respect the verdict of the court and pursue legal remedies instead of resorting to violence and agitation.

Some possible similarities between PTI’s violent approach and the modus operandi adopted by Nazis and Neo-Nazis are that both use violence as a means of political expression and intimidation, targeting their perceived enemies and state institutions. They rely on a charismatic leader who mobilizes their followers with populist rhetoric and appeals to nationalism and victimhood.

Moreover, they portray themselves as the defenders of a pure and oppressed group (Aryan race for Nazis, Pakistani people for PTI) against a corrupt and oppressive elite (Jews for Nazis, military for PTI). Both seek to undermine the democratic system and the rule of law, and to establish a totalitarian regime based on their ideology. Both use propaganda and misinformation to spread their message and to discredit their opponents. Lastly, they exploit the economic and social grievances of their supporters, and promise them a better future under their leadership.

About the Author

The author is a peace activist with masters in security studies from University of London, currently pursuing his PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies.

*Opinions expressed in this article are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The South Asia Times  

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