News Update


Imran Khan’s standing in the eyes of the Pakistani military following protests

It began as a typical Tuesday night. While her two young girls watched television, Komal, the wife of a Pakistani army officer stationed in a conflict area, was chopping vegetables for dinner.

But their military base, which was presumably one of Pakistan’s safest locations, was about to feel extremely uncomfortable.

When Komal’s husband unexpectedly called earlier than usual, she was taken aback. Because military quarters all around the nation were being stormed by Imran Khan supporters, he advised her to keep the doors shut. A lieutenant general’s home in Lahore had previously been set on fire.

Will our home be next if they could so blatantly target a general’s home? The very concept of it gave me chills,” said Komal, who doesn’t want to be identified by her real name.

In case they needed to hide, she instantly closed the windows and doors and stocked the storehouse with food. She even considered what to do if the flat was on fire: could she and her girls jump out the second-floor window?

“When I watched videos of the protests, it terrified me,” Komal claims. “I’ve never felt so uneasy and exposed.”

She was conflicted, though, since as a fervent Khan supporter, she felt betrayed.

“Me and a lot of other people supported Imran Khan in the hopes of seeing a change, but now I feel betrayed by the very person I supported,” the speaker said. She claims that the anger and violence that have wracked our nation were stoked by his reckless and incendiary statements.

enduring narrative
The demonstrations were an unprecedented test of Pakistan’s ruthless military, which has dominated the nation for many years and staged three military coups since independence in 1947. Despite the fact that military rule was officially terminated in 2008, many people still hold the army responsible for selecting politicians. And it was widely assumed that Mr. Khan had their approval.

Khan was regarded as the “military’s darling” even before his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the 2018 general election. His detractors claim that he was depicted as Pakistan’s savior and the sole leader who would oppose dynastic politicians and a corrupt governing elite by the army’s social media teams.

The story was so ingrained in many army rank and file members’ minds that even after Khan and the influential military establishment had a falling out and he was removed from office last year, it didn’t affect many of them.

Gul, a medical officer in the army who requests anonymity, is not political but is suddenly enraged at Khan’s fans. She was on duty the night of the riots, leaving her parents with her kids at home while she was away.

I wanted I could have been there. What if they are attacked, hurt, or, God forbid, killed? I wondered. I’m unable to articulate what was going through my mind. I had trouble falling asleep all night. All of this was traumatic, especially for a mother who is separated from her kids, she claims.

However, a significant portion of the army continues to back Mr. Khan, who continues to have widespread support among military rank and file as well as among civilians.

One officer informed me, under the condition of anonymity, “If given a choice, among the current politicians, there is nobody else but Imran Khan I’ll vote for.”

Protesters in Lahore set fire to a lieutenant general’s home.
Image caption: In Lahore, protesters set a lieutenant general’s home on fire
Another officer continues to back the former premier.

“I’m extremely sorry about what happened at the general’s house in Lahore, but we don’t know who did it; Imran Khan claims that none of his party’s supporters started the attack. But nothing has altered how I feel about Imran Khan. As a voter, I still back him and will do so in the future. He is an inspiration to me and a great leader,” she claims.

A senior officer from a security agency, who wished to remain anonymous, claims that his subordinates frequently ask him about politics. These subordinates often express viewpoints that are influenced by the internet and social media, and they occasionally inquire about the military’s role in the governance of the nation.

“They seek verifiable proof that the military institution abstains from interfering in politics. They inquire about its function, and we must provide them with persuasive answers, he argues.

The army’s image-shaping retired officers firmly support Mr. Khan as well. Raja Shahryar, a former officer who resigned 15 years ago, cast his first-ever vote for him in 2018.

“My viewpoint hasn’t changed, but I’m upset about the recent events since the PTI leadership let the demonstrators assault government buildings and property without being stopped. They ought to have behaved better than the others, he claims.

The army was quick to present a unified front following the attacks. A military official claimed during an appearance on Pakistani TV station Geo News that both the army and its commander supported democracy.

“The army is united, despite propaganda by extremists and enemies both inside and outside the country,” he claims.

anger toward the military
The nation is divided, though. “This level of political polarization and expression of resentment against the military,” claims Shahryar, has never been seen before.

Additionally, while PTI supporters believe law enforcement overreached when their cantonments were stormed and some police officers were hurt, many military families believe a line was passed.

During the protests on May 9, at than ten people died.

Omer Nasir, a PTI supporter slain during the demonstrations
picture caption
Before he was killed during the demonstrations, Omer Nasir was an ardent PTI supporter.
In a Quetta government hospital, Tariq Nasir looked for his brother Omer for an hour. The 26-year-old was slain while participating in a protest outside the city’s military cantonment.

“Tear gas shelling was widespread. Omer had salt and water in his hands for the affected individuals. He was peaceful and unarmed, and he was simply expressing his right to demonstrate in peace. They shot him in the head directly. He queries, “Why was he shot while he was unarmed.

Like many others, including Mr. Khan, Nasir insisted that individuals who attacked army sites or flung stones at police were not indeed PTI members. He fears wrongdoing.

According to a statement from the army, anyone responsible for attacks on army facilities would be tried in military and counterterrorism tribunals.

Police agencies are disseminating videos of folks apologizing for vandalism and saying that it was done at the leadership of the PTI’s direction. However, a lot of people claim they were forced to make these videos.

Mr. Khan claims that individuals who attacked military sites were not PTI members and has requested that a commission be established by the judiciary to look into the incident.

However, a number of his party officials and close associates have also deserted Mr. Khan in protest over the attacks on a general’s home and other military facilities; some of these individuals were detained and later freed.

On May 10, Imran Khan’s supporters and police in Peshawar got into a fight.
picture caption
Some ponder whether the authorities provoked the violent protests.
Nasir claims, “My brother passed away while conducting a peaceful protest.” He was wearing Khan’s flag around his neck when he was slain. He both lived and died for him. Khan was his best chance for a better Pakistan. His wish will eventually come true. And perhaps only then will we see justice.

The powerful military establishment in Pakistan has long been accused of meddling in politics and overthrowing governments. Additionally, ruling parties have been charged with employing state apparatus to forcibly remove political rivals.

Within police enforcement, resentment toward the politicians and the military is growing.

“I also wear a uniform, and I am familiar with all of them. They believe they are exempt from the law. Only Khan can fix them, a policeman informed me.

What can we reasonably anticipate from these politicians? Just enough money each month to cover our essential necessities. Is that asking too much? They have let us down as well. The country is headed for the gallows because everyone, including the military and government, is too preoccupied fighting among themselves.


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