Imran Khan, former prime minister of Pakistan, and his wife, Bushra Bibi, have been put on the no-fly list by the government. According to reports, at least 80 of his party leaders are on this list. It comes after his arrest on May 9, which led people to come out in his support and attack government and defence installations. However, the volatile political environment hardly obscures the country’s precarious economy, which is on the brink of collapse. The Pakistan government has come down heavily, arresting leaders and political workers of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
In the changing geopolitics, Pakistan is no longer what it was when former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former President General Parvez Musharraf left the country and lived abroad. Today, Pakistan’s political and military leadership is discredited, and the economy is in complete disarray. In this environment, Imran Khan is the only hope for the masses and the current political and military leadership.
Given this, his name on the no-fly list is more of a strategy to benefit from his presence as it symbolizes hope in a complete breakdown of official machinery than a punishment. In this sweltering heat, Imran Khan needs to stay put and enjoy his country’s great mountains and glaciers. He should be with his fellow citizens at a time when Pakistan is going through one of the worst economic crises and when people’s faith in the system is at its nadir.
Coming to the current politics, his close aide and former information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, has announced his resignation from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. This development comes in the aftermath of the government’s pressure on the party due to the violence that occurred on May 9.
Chaudhry’s decision to step down from the PTI comes as another setback for Imran Khan, following the recent departure of Shireen Mazari, the former minister for human rights, who also quit the party and vehemently condemned the actions of the former prime minister’s supporters involved in attacking and setting fire to sensitive defence installations across Pakistan on May 9.
Taking to Twitter, Chaudhry stated, “In light of my earlier statement where I unequivocally condemned the incidents of May 9, I have decided to take a break from politics. Therefore, I have resigned from my party position and am parting ways with Imran Khan.”
Having held crucial positions within the government, including the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting and the minister for science and technology, Chaudhry’s resignation marks a significant blow to the PTI. He also served as the PTI’s senior vice president and the party spokesman, making his departure a substantial loss for Imran Khan and the party’s leadership.
Shireen Mazari, aged 72, announced her retirement from active politics after being released following her fourth arrest since May 12. She had been taken into custody after the violence on May 9. Mazari served as the minister for human rights from 2018 to 2022 during Imran Khan’s tenure.
The violence on May 9 erupted after the paramilitary Rangers arrested Imran Khan from the Islamabad High Court premises. In response to Khan’s arrest, PTI workers vandalized numerous military installations, including the Lahore Corps Commander’s House, the Mianwali Airbase, and the ISI building in Faisalabad. In addition, the mob stormed the Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi for the first time. The clashes resulted in a death toll of 10, with Khan’s party claiming that 40 of its workers lost their lives in the firing by security personnel.
The government’s response to the violence has been persistent. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced that those involved in the attacks on military installations would be tried in military courts. In contrast, those charged with attacks on civilian targets would be prosecuted under civilian laws. Furthermore, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif indicated that the government was considering a possible PTI ban following its supporters’ attacks on military installations.
Imran Khan, who was deposed from power in April 20022 after losing a no-confidence vote, has claimed that his removal was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him due to his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan. However, Imran Khan’s political future remains uncertain with the recent resignations of key party members, including Fawad Chaudhry and Shireen Mazari.
The departure of prominent leaders from the PTI signifies the challenges faced by Imran Khan and his political aspirations. Moreover, the government’s crackdown on the party and the repercussions of the May 9 violence have intensified the already difficult circumstances for the PTI. As Imran Khan grapples with internal and external pressures, the resignations of Chaudhry and Mazari serve as a significant setback for his party and raise questions about the future of his political career.
Imran Khan now confronts an uncertain political future. The departure of key allies erodes his support base and creates doubts about his ability to maintain stability and implement his policy agenda. Moreover, as the PTI experiences the departures of prominent leaders, questions arise regarding the unity and coherence of the party moving forward. Moreover, the resignations of Chaudhry and Mazari may also signal a broader disillusionment among party members, raising concerns about the PTI’s ability to rally support and retain its influence.
The political landscape in Pakistan remains dynamic and unpredictable. The fallout from the May 9 violence and the subsequent resignations highlight the complex challenges faced by Imran Khan and his party. It remains to be seen how the PTI navigates this turbulent period and whether Imran Khan can regain the trust and support of his allies and the public. (IPA Service)