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Has Imran Khan’s political career come to an end since being imprisoned?

by Noor Zaman
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The second time in a few of months that Imran Khan has been detained, the response appears to be considerably different this time. What might occur next?

There is no other way to describe this year’s 9 May and 5 August but as a dramatic difference.

While the first arrest of Imran Khan sparked demonstrations in the streets from Peshawar to Karachi, with buildings on fire and the army in the streets, Saturday night in Pakistan was just like any other typical night.

Mr. Khan is currently serving a three-year prison term for failing to declare earnings from selling state goods.

He will be disqualified from running in the forthcoming elections as a result of the sentence.

His appeal for nonviolent demonstrations and advice to citizens to avoid remaining at home silently has not, as of now, been effective. Why?

Ask any minister in the administration, and they’ll tell you that it’s because people don’t want to support Imran Khan or the PTI because they don’t want to be connected with an organization that has a history of violence. Supporters of Mr. Khan do not convey that message.

Imran Khan’s relationship with the establishment, which in Pakistan is slang for the militarily and politically potent intelligence agencies, soured more than a year ago.

Analysts generally agreed that Mr. Khan had risen to power with the support of the establishment and lost it when that relationship soured.

Moves that are emasculated?

He hasn’t waited patiently until the next election since then; instead, he has persisted in criticizing the army’s top brass. Following Mr. Khan’s detention in May, when army buildings were attacked, the military made it clear that those who they believed to be culpable would face zero tolerance.

Imran Khan’s party has been destroyed as a result of the subsequent crackdown.

Thousands of his supporters were detained, and some of them will face trials in military tribunals despite protests from human rights organizations that the system shouldn’t be applied to civilians.

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Several members of Pakistan’s media have claimed to us that starting in late May, after TV station owners met with the military, journalists were no longer permitted to mention Mr. Khan by name, display his image, or even write his name on the tickertape.

Numerous PTI supporters who had previously been outspoken told us anecdotally that they had stopped talking about the party or its leader on social media, deleted their tweets, and stopped watching his public broadcasts out of concern for the privacy of those who might be watching them watch him.

According to information provided to the BBC by the authorities, peaceful protestors are not detained. On Saturday afternoon in Lahore, PTI supporters had gathered outside Mr. Khan’s home when BBC Urdu journalists spotted them being arrested by police. It is unclear if they were properly taken into custody.

A contact in the police told the BBC, under the condition of anonymity, that they had detained roughly 100 PTI supporters. He claimed that the force had been instructed to be on the lookout for any gatherings of Imran Khan supporters.

Director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington, Michael Kugelman, believes that the draconian crackdown’s reaction has scared Khan’s followers into submission.

In Peshawar, Pakistan, on August 5, 2023, police detain a supporter of the former prime minister and leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after he was detained in accordance with court rulings that had sentenced him to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case.

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