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Pakistan descends into chaos; what is happening in India's neighbourhood

Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee said in 1999, 'strong and stable Pakistan is in India’s best interest'

Pakistan descends into chaos; what is happening in India's neighbourhood

Imran Khan supporters chant slogans outside the Supreme Court. PTI

Tribune Web Desk

Vibha Sharma

Chandigarh, May 12

A day after the Pakistan Supreme Court ruled as “unlawful” his arrest, former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan on Friday appeared before the Islamabad High Court (IHC). 

Khan’s arrest on Tuesday saw India’s hostile neighbour descend into chaos, leading to massive, violent and unprecedented protests across the country.

The former Pakistan PM was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on allegations of corruption following which his supporters went on a rampage, also  targeting Pakistan's “real political power”, the mighty military, in what are being seen as first-of-its- kind incidents in its history.

According to the social media and the ground reports, protestors torched the residence of the corps commander in Lahore and laid siege at the entrance to the army’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi.

This is not the first time a Pakistan politician had been arrested or jailed; there have been many incidents, but there have been hardly any incidents directly challenging the military.


What is the case against Khan

Khan was arrested during a court appearance related to a separate case “for the crime of corruption” in the Al-Qadir University Trust.

The Trust is headed by the PTI supremo and his wife Bushra Bibi.

According to reports, the case was being pursued by Pakistan’s anti-corruption body NAB.

Pakistan Interior Minister Rana Sana Ullah Khan tweeted in Urdu on May 9 explaining the reasons, one of which was that Khan did not appear in the case “despite notices”.  

“Imran Niazi has been arrested in a corruption case, no exception will be taken with those who attack the state. It has been decided to take strict action against political terrorists and gangsters.

“There will be zero tolerance for those who take the law into their hands. They will not tolerate illegal and riotous behaviour. A decision to deal with an iron hand on trespassing or vandalising public private property. The security forces have been instructed to deal with the miscreants and gangsters according to the law.

“Imran did not appear despite the notices, NAB has arrested him for damaging the national treasury. No violence was done to him,” according to the available translation of the Pakistan minister’s tweets in Urdu.  

Denying the charges, PTI leaders claimed that Khan had not been issued any arrest warrant before Tuesday when he was arrested.

Khan has against him more than 100 cases, including of “corruption,” “terrorism” and also “blasphemy” since he was removed from power last April. He called all the charges against him as “politically motivated”.

Khan and his party have been taking on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif over issues, including the devastating floods and a major economic crisis, which have made his government unpopular.

He has also called for fresh elections in the country.

Citing changes made to NAB laws last year, his legal team called the arrest “illegal”. 

Apparently, under the new amendments, the NAB must issue multiple notices to the accused and warrants can be issued only in case of repeated failure to cooperate and “wilfully and intentionally” avoiding arrest.


What does it mean for the region

People clashing with Pakistan’s “real political power” was something that has never been witnessed.

It spelled bad optics as well as bad news for the army establishment. 

The Tribune today reported “back-channel negotiations” between Khan and the army over restoring a semblance of normalcy revolving around the timing of the next elections in Pakistan.

According to experts, chaos and turmoil of this level in Pakistan can never be good for the region. 

Even when things are not so bad, Pakistan continues with its shenanigans in India. Now that there are real and existential problems concerning its economy, internal situation and terrorism, Pakistan military may plan and attempt situations to divert attention, they add.

They also read the remarks made by the Pakistan foreign minister at a recent meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Goa in this context.

The remarks by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari saw a scathing and hard-hitting reply by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar who called him a “justifier (and) spokesperson of a terrorism industry”.

“As a foreign minister of an SCO member state, Mr Bhutto Zardari was treated accordingly. As a promoter, justifier, and I’m sorry to say, spokesperson of a terrorism industry which is the mainstay of Pakistan, his positions were called out and they were countered, including at the SCO meeting itself,” Jaishankar said, slamming Bhutto Zardari.

The bottomline is that a failed, unstable Pakistan is not in India’s interest, as also pointed by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee not long back

Vajpayee famously wrote in the visitor’s book of Minar-e-Pakistan in 1999 that a “strong and stable Pakistan is in India’s best interest”. The fact is subsequent Indian prime ministers tried for a stable neighbourhood, attempting friendly relations with our hostile neighbour. 


About The Author

The Tribune Web Desk brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune Wed Desk for not just breaking news stories but wide-ranging coverage of events.

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