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A brief history of recent political unrest in Pakistan


Pakistan recently ousted former prime minister Imran Khan, a vocal critic of the military who remains hopeful of staging a political comeback in 2023. The country’s new army chief says the military will not will not interfere in the next elections, but the experts have their doubts. Here’s everything you need to know:

What’s going on with Imran Khan?

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted in April 2022 after unsuccessfully trying to block a vote of no confidence in his leadership. Khan’s increasingly fractured relationship with the military is seen as a major factor in his political downfall, reports the BBC.

After his impeachment, Khan took to organizing political rallies across the country, baselessly claiming that opposition parties were in cahoots with foreign governments, including the United States, in an effort to remove him from office. power. At a rally in early November, a gunman shot Khan in the leg in what authorities say was an assassination attempt, CNN reports. The attack sparked a number of protests across the country in support of Khan.

Khan blamed the assassination attempt on the military and further denounced the substantial role of the military in Pakistani politics. Former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has claimed that ‘the army has decided not to meddle in any political matters’ in the future, although experts say the opposite appears to be true . Khan also accused Bajwa of being the reason he was ousted from government, an allegation the general denied.

Bajwa retired at the end of November, allowing a new army chief to rise.

Who is the new army chief?

Pakistan has nominated Lt. Gen. Asim Munir, one of six candidates, to succeed Bajwa. Pakistan’s military has always wielded considerable political influence and many consider the army chief to be the most powerful position in the country, reports the Wall Street Journal. In the past, the army has admitted to illegally interfering in the country’s politics, but has vowed to stop doing so. It is widely acknowledged that the military also helped Khan rise to power initially.

Munir was previously the head of the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence in 2018, but only lasted eight months before Khan removed him without giving an explanation. Some officials said Munir’s removal was due to differences of opinion on foreign policy, as well as personal disputes. Khan claimed that the current Pakistani leadership, led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, should not have been allowed to appoint Munir due to their alleged corruption.

Munir takes office at a time of great tension for Pakistan, both domestic and foreign. Pakistan is located between two rival nations, India and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The country also faces an internal conflict with the Pakistani Taliban, which is allied with the Afghan Taliban and was against Islamabad siding with the United States in the war on terror, reports the Associated Press. Pakistan also continues to experience record inflation and is still recovering from the devastating floods that took place in August.

What’s next for Pakistan?

Elections in Pakistan are set to take place in 2023, although Khan has advocated for them to happen earlier in hopes of staging a political comeback. He also planned at one point to march on the capital in protest to call for a snap election, claiming he was wrongfully ousted.

Khan reversed his decision at his first rally since the assassination attempt, saying, “I don’t want there to be anarchy in the country. I don’t want to cause any harm to this country.” He agreed to allow the elections to proceed normally while remaining firm in his allegations against the army and the current government. In recent months, Khan’s party has won a surprising number of government seats, including in opposition strongholds, according to The Washington Post. He hopes to rise in the polls ahead of next year’s election.

The more pressing question is whether Pakistan’s military rulers will stick to Bajwa’s assertion that they will remain neutral in the election. Despite his words, analysts found that the military actually became more involved in politics under Bajwa’s leadership. “[The army] will need time to restore public trust, but it will also be under immediate pressure to ease political instability and reduce tensions between the government and Khan,” says Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Wilson Center. in Washington.

Many, however, see the new leadership in Pakistan as a beacon of hope. “This is a great opportunity for the next leader to really transform the very character of the military,” said Pakistani journalist Zahid Hussain, “but that may be wishful thinking.”




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