A Black Day For Pakistan

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by S N Smith — May 9, 2023
Like millions of other people all over the world, I am closely observing the unfolding events in Pakistan in which former prime minister Imran Khan was arrested on corruption charges. We all knew that this day was coming and now it is a reality.

Khan has faced dozens of charges since being removed – a tactic many analysts have said successive Pakistan governments have used to silence their opponents.

Eyewitness accounts have stated that Khan was pepper sprayed in his eyes, hit over the head with a baton and almost rendered unconscious. He was also kicked and hit in his injured leg. This is nothing more than an act of vindictiveness.

I am not an expert on Pakistani politics, but I do know that no Pakistani prime minister has ever stayed in office for a full term. In addition, Pakistan is one of the most corrupt nations on the face of the earth and this corruption extends to every sector of Pakistani society, from government to judiciary, police, health services and the educational system. One does not have to dig very deep to find corruption in that country.

There is little doubt in my mind that this arrest is politically motivated and the so-called case against Khan has not been proven.

Sadly, the Islamabad High Court has declared his arrest to be legal, which is no surprise at all.

The internet watchdog NetBlocks announced on its Twitter feed that total internet shutdowns are in effect in several regions of Pakistan. The watchdog said that live metrics show that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are now restricted across the country in the wake of Khan’s arrest. Amnesty International, South Asia regional office has called upon Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority to restore internet services in the country and to allow access to social media platforms.

Although thousands of people have taken to the streets in the capital Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and other cities, I doubt this will play any role in having Khan released. There are several reports that protestors are being fired upon by the military. It is still early and more eruptions are expected to take place with each one becoming progressively more violent.

Anticipating his arrest, party officials later released a pre-recorded video by Khan in which he urged supporters to come out in support of “true freedom”.

“My Pakistanis, by the time these words reach you, I would have been detained under an illegitimate case,” he says in the video.

“One thing that should become clear for all of you from this is that fundamental rights in Pakistan, the rights given to us by our constitution and democracy, have been buried.”

This is indeed a black day for Pakistan as the country is propelled into yet another political crisis at a time when it is already facing a major economic crisis.

It is not my place to say whether Khan is guilty or not of the charges being levelled against him, but these ridiculous and politically motivated arrests will not serve the interests of the country and generate even further instability at a time with stability is needed more than ever. 

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