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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

All that’s left for them now is to murder me: Imran Khan writes for Telegraph

The ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan pens articles solely for The Telegraph while incarcerated

Today, Pakistan and its people stand in confrontation with each other. Almost two years ago, an engineered vote of no confidence was moved against my government and a government cobbled together by the military establishment came into being.

Since then, the military establishment, under direct guidance of Gen Asim Munir, the chief of army staff, has tried every tactic to decimate my party’s presence from the political environment of Pakistan.

The oppression, torture and denial of our election symbol have been extensively documented, but nothing has worked for the military and the powerless civilian leadership acting as its puppets.

Pakistan’s general elections on Feb 8 2024, showed the utter failure of their design.

With no single electoral symbol in a country where the vast majority of voters are guided by a party symbol, the people came out and voted overwhelmingly for candidates supported by my party, the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI), despite standing as “independents” with a host of diverse symbols.

This democratic revenge by the people of Pakistan against the agenda of the military establishment not only was a national defiance by the people but also a complete rejection of the official state narrative of May 9 2023, when PTI supporters were falsely accused – as a pretext for a crackdown – of attacking military installations.

Unfortunately, instead of accepting the people’s mandate, the military establishment went into a fit of rage and electoral results were manipulated to bring into power the losers.

The same vote tampering was seen in the recent by-elections.

As a result, today Pakistan is at a dangerous crossroads. The people have shown in no uncertain terms their rejection of state electoral machinations and of the oppression, incarceration and torture of not just the PTI leadership but also of its workers.

The military leadership has been subjected to overt criticism at a level unseen before in our history. The government is a laughing stock.

More oppression and violence

The response of the state has been to unleash more oppression and violence not just on party workers but also on journalists and human rights defenders. Social media restrictions have been put in place with a complete ban on the X platform.

Perhaps the most ominous development has been the systematic attempt to destroy the independent functioning of the judiciary at all levels.

Read more: Video of groom gifting Imran Khan’s picture to bride goes viral on internet

Judges have been subjected to all manner of pressures including blackmail and harassment of family members. As a result, our trials on false charges are conducted with no proper defence allowed and no concern for the law of the land and the constitution.

The chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) and of the Islamabad High Court have been found short of delivering unbiased justice.

But members of the senior judiciary have risen against the attempted destruction of the independence of the judiciary. Six brave judges of the Islamabad High Court have written a letter to the CJP highlighting instances of harassment and blackmail including of their families by intelligence agencies. Specific instances are cited and details given.

This is unprecedented in our history – although, informally, many knew what was happening to the senior judiciary but for such a letter to have come from these judges shows the level of despair, anger and frustration.

Read more: Here’s how much Imran Khan’s security cost in Adiala Jail

The sorry state of judicial affairs is reflected in the hesitancy shown by the CJP, who eventually felt compelled to act but instead of  calling for a full bench hearing of the supreme court and summoning those named by the six judges, he has sought to put the six judges effectively in the dock.

With an economy in crisis, spiralling prices and a people politically angry at having their electoral mandate stolen and being economically beleaguered, the state stands isolated.

Unwilling to mitigate its grave errors which have led Pakistan to this precarious juncture and unable to go beyond its mantra of oppression and violence against critics, the State is treading the same path it trod in 1971, when it lost East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

Upsurge in terrorism

At the same time, it is seeing an upsurge in terrorism and a growing alienation in Balochistan where the issue of enforced disappearances is growing in severity. On Pakistan’s borders, India has already admitted to undertaking assassinations inside of Pakistan and the international border with Afghanistan remains volatile.

The military establishment’s expectation of unquestioning support from the US, in return for the provision of access to airspace and related facilities to the US for military purposes, has been punctured after the publication of the latest US state department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which highlights the many human rights violations in Pakistan.

Again, seeking salvation by relying on support from the International Monetary Fund when there is a confrontation with the people will not result in any stability for Pakistan. There is no other way out of the crisis but to restore the people’s mandate and release all political prisoners including those being held for trial under military courts. The constitutional functioning of state institutions must be restored.

The military establishment has done all they could against me. All that is left for them is to now murder me. I have stated publicly that if anything happens to me or my wife, Gen Asim Munir will be responsible.

But I am not afraid because my faith is strong. I would prefer death over slavery.

Imran Khan is the leader of the Pakistan-Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) party. He is serving a prison sentence for controversial corruption charges.