Protests broke out across Pakistan on Tuesday after its US-backed post-modern coup regime’s paramilitary forces abducted former Prime Minister Imran Khan (IK), who was ousted in April 2022 as punishment for his multipolar foreign policy, on trumped-up charges as part of its “lawfare” against him. This development was a long time in the making but seems to have been most immediately triggered by him once again accusing “The Establishment” of being behind last November’s assassination attempt.
In Pakistani parlance, The Establishment refers to the country’s powerful military-intelligence structures that have historically exerted disproportionate sway over policymaking and society. While always controversial, the vast majority of the population accepted this role since they hitherto truly trusted that these forces had their country’s best interests in mind. These pertain to what can be described as “The Trinity” of the Pakistani state: national security, patriotism, and Islam.
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Understanding the matter better
That trust was shattered after last April’s regime change, however, and was subsequently ground to dust in the year that followed. Instead of responsibly encouraging those who replaced IK to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible in order for the Pakistani people themselves to decide who should manage their affairs, they unconvincingly feigned so-called “neutrality” and thus let that extremely unpopular imported clique retain power up until the present.
Even worse, that same clique worked hand-in-hand with The Establishment to impose a system of post-modern martial law onto the country whereby civil rights were unofficially suspended. Dissidents were abducted while others like journalist Arshad Sharif were assassinated abroad, the media was censored, protests were violently suppressed, and an unsuccessful attempt was made on Imran Khan’s life late last year. Amidst this spiraling political crisis, the economy collapsed and security drastically deteriorated too.
The only reason why elite elements within The Establishment and their post-modern coup lackeys refused to resolve the political dimension of their worst-ever series of national crises since the 1971 war that resulted in Bangladesh’s independence was because they knew the opposition would win. Free and fair national elections would have resulted in IK’s PTI sweeping back into power with an unprecedented majority as evidenced by its impressive showing in a series of by-elections over the past year.
They therefore resorted to what they thought they knew best, “political engineering”, in an attempt to retain power. This approach was predicated on the false assumption that The Establishment remained in control of the country’s socio-political (“soft security”) dynamics, particularly with respect to upholding its self-assumed role when it comes to The Trinity that was earlier described. The old-timers who pull all the strings behind the scenes, however, hadn’t noticed that everything totally changed in recent years.
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IK oversaw Pakistan’s return to the world stage as a confident regional power that was prioritizing the long-overdue reform of its domestic and foreign policies as part of his team’s visionary grand strategy to become a serious player in the emerging Multipolar World Order. None of this was driven by so-called “anti-Americanism” like the US and his enemies at home falsely claimed, but by their patriotic fervor to finally put Pakistan’s national interests first instead of continuing selling them out to others like before.
During his several years in office, people began to view The Trinity in a more modern light that was aligned with the genuinely grassroots desire of society. They were inspired by IK’s state goal to build “Naya Pakistan” (New Pakistan), which was in essence a democratic “nation-rebuilding” project aimed at updating the roles that national security, patriotism, and Islam play in society, reforming the state’s relationship with these three concepts, and ultimately strengthening Pakistanis’ national identity.
Elite elements within The Establishment, which as was mentioned are mostly old-timers out of touch with their majority-youthful compatriots, appeared in hindsight to have held a very cynical view of Naya Pakistan and seemingly thought that it was just a slogan to assist their political engineering at the time. From their outdated perspective, they were happy that IK was channeling popular sentiment but didn’t actually realize that he was making tangible progress in reshaping the very notion of Pakistan.
Precisely because they had absolutely zero understanding of the national pulse as it objectively existed, which in strategic terms can be summarized as them being ignorant of their country’s socio-political (soft security) dynamics, they arrogantly thought they could oust him without any consequence. In their eyes, society would never defy The Establishment no matter what out of fear that doing so would pose an existential threat to Pakistan considering these structures’ relationship to The Trinity.
This was a miscalculation of epic proportions that has only been surpassed in their country’s history by those related ones that were made in the run-up to the 1971 war, which IK warned was on the brink of being repeated if The Establishment dared to cross the opposition’s red line by abducting or killing him. Unlike those old-timers who remained deluded with the arrogant assumption shared at the end of the preceding paragraph, he knew very well how society would react to those worst-case scenarios.
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IK correctly assessed that his majority-youthful compatriots enthusiastically embraced the nation-rebuilding concept of Naya Pakistan and thus naturally regarded The Establishment’s ouster of him as an existential threat, hence their protests in his support and the PTI’s spree of victories in by-elections since then. The only factor holding them back from revolutionary activity was the hope that free and fair elections might be held as soon as possible and thus peacefully resolve Pakistan’s political crisis.
Once The Establishment signaled that nothing of the sort will happen after crossing the opposition’s red line by abducting IK on Tuesday, it was predictable that some people would protest in what can be described as a rowdy manner, with a few of them reportedly going even further. Regarding the last-mentioned observation, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi denied that his party’s supporters damaged property and claimed that “Official elements are doing this.”
The way forward
There’s no doubt that The Establishment was responsible for provoking Tuesday’s nationwide events irrespective of whether they had provocateurs embedded within the opposition or not. They’ve already proven that they can’t be trusted when it comes to anything that they say about the national security element of The Trinity after absurdly charging IK with over 140 charges on a variety of false pretexts including “terrorism”. It therefore wouldn’t be surprising if they carried out false flag attacks.
The purpose behind doing so is obvious enough, and that’s to justify banning PTI and possibly even commence a conventional military coup in the immediate aftermath, both of which would be supported by the post-modern coup regime’s American patrons. All of this is being done out of desperation to cling to power due to these conspirators knowing that they’d be democratically removed by their own people if they held free and fair elections, whether early ones or on schedule in October.
The Establishment’s latest political engineering project, which is driven by its ruling old-timers’ outdated delusions about their majority-youthful society’s perceptions of these institutions’ relationship to The Trinity, is its most reckless since 1971 and once again risks putting Pakistan’s existence on the line. Those who are protesting in support of IK’s release and early elections are patriots who want to save their country after The Establishment’s elite elements betrayed it at the behest of foreign powers.
Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst, radio host, and regular contributor to several online outlets. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia. The article has been republished and the views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.