The Establishment crossed the opposition’s red line as part of their latest power play, practically daring people to publicly defy them and thus put their lives on the line.
Yet a large number of them are doing precisely that out of patriotic fervor since they fear losing their country.
The post-modern coup that removed former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (IK) from office last April as punishment for his multipolar foreign policy catalyzed cascading crises across the economic, judicial, political, and security spheres that have shaken this South Asian state to its core. The US-backed regime that was installed in his place refuses to hold free and fair elections as early as possible since they know they’d lose after the former premier’s PTI party won multiple by-elections over the past year.
During that same time, the post-modern coup regime viciously cracked down on society by abducting dissidents and censoring the media out of desperation to retain power. Far from pressuring the Pakistani people into silence and forcing them to accept what IK calls their imported government, they continued peacefully protesting for the right to exercise their democratic will sooner than later. Only upon resolving Pakistan’s political crisis in that manner, these patriots believe, can the other ones then be tackled.
To their credit, they remained committed to this path despite last November’s assassination attempt against IK that he blamed on The Establishment, the raid on his home in mid-March, and the Interior Minister’s continued death threats against him. Their red line was always that he wasn’t to be arrested on trumped-up charges as part of the post-modern coup regime’s lawfare since this scenario would pose a threat to his life due to The Establishment’s reputation and also likely doom any democratic solution.
That red line was just crossed after dozens of Ranger paramilitary forces stormed an Islamabad courthouse to abduct him on Tuesday in a move that former PTI Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari described “as if (they were) invading an occupied land”. Nationwide protests were organized in response and are still occurring at the time of this analysis’ publication, but the post-modern coup regime might exploit this reaction to justify a conventional military coup in the worst-case scenario.
The Establishment’s latest power play is extremely dangerous since these stakeholders already know very well how polarized society has become over the past year. They could have responsibly exerted influence on their political proxies that replaced IK after last April’s regime change to organize free and fair elections as early as possible in order to serve as a pressure valve. That could have averted the cascading crises that followed and just risked reaching their breaking point on Tuesday.
Some sort of pragmatic working arrangement could still have been brokered between them and the PTI in theory upon the latter returning to power as expected in that case, yet no such outcome appears possible now after The Establishment crossed the opposition’s red line as part of their power play. They’re practically daring people to publicly defy them and thus put their lives on the line, yet a large number of them are doing precisely that out of patriotic fervor since they fear losing their country.
In their minds, a new dark age is rapidly descending upon Pakistan, which might never restore the sovereignty that it’s losing by the day as a result of the cascading crises catalyzed by last April’s regime change. They can’t in good conscience sit back and let this happen without knowing in their hearts that they tried doing something tangible to stop it. This explains why they’re literally risking their lives right now protesting against IK’s abduction and all that it entails for their country’s democratic future.
At present, it appears unlikely that The Establishment will relent by releasing him and pressuring their political proxies to publicly agree on a date for holding free and fair elections sometime in the very near future, but that doesn’t mean that their calculations might not change. In any case, it’s clear that Pakistan’s year-long crisis is reaching its end game since there are really only two mutually exclusive outcomes that are possible: a chance at true democracy or continuing to languish under dictatorship.