In this fiery editorial for The Economist, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, paints a chilling picture of his nation’s impending elections. He warns of a farcical charade orchestrated by a powerful “establishment” seeking to maintain its grip on power while silencing the voice of the people and crushing his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
With stark accusations and unwavering conviction, Khan exposes the alleged unfairness, intimidation, and manipulation threatening to derail democracy itself. Get ready for a gripping tale of political intrigue, fierce defiance, and a desperate plea for Pakistan’s future, all woven through the passionate words of a man fighting for fair elections and the soul of his nation.
- Current Pakistani government illegitimate: Imran Khan argues that the caretaker governments at both federal and provincial levels are unconstitutional, and doubts the credibility of upcoming elections scheduled for February 8th.
- Biased Election Commission: Khan accuses the Election Commission of defying the Supreme Court and targeting his party (PTI) by rejecting nominations, hindering internal elections, and launching contempt cases against him and other leaders.
- Establishment’s interference: Khan claims the “establishment” (army, security agencies, bureaucracy) is not providing a level playing field for PTI in the elections, citing his removal from power due to American pressure and subsequent attempts to marginalize him politically.
- PTI’s popularity and public defiance: Khan highlights PTI’s success in by-elections, mass rallies with record female participation, and its consistent high opinion polls despite facing repression.
- Economic turmoil under the current government: The current administration is blamed for worsening inflation, currency devaluation, and economic instability, contrasting it with PTI’s record of growth and international praise during their rule.
- Political targeting of PTI: Khan mentions numerous forms of harassment and intimidation tactics used against PTI, including assassination attempts, arrests, torture, and false legal cases.
- Nawaz Sharif’s return and alleged deal: Khan suspects a pact between Nawaz Sharif and the establishment to ensure his acquittal and electoral support, but believes the public remains opposed to him and the “selected” government.
- Unfair campaign conditions: Khan emphasizes the unequal campaign restrictions placed on PTI, with him in solitary confinement and party activities severely curtailed, while other parties enjoy free campaigning.
- Potential for further instability: Holding elections under these unfair conditions is predicted to be disastrous, leading to further political and economic turbulence.
- Solution: Fair and free elections: Khan emphasizes the urgent need for fair and free elections to bring political stability, the rule of law, and democratic reforms, highlighting this as the only way out of Pakistan’s crisis.
Overall, the column presents a bleak picture of Pakistan’s political landscape, with Imran Khan portraying the current government as illegitimate and undemocratic, and advocating for free and fair elections as the only path towards stability and progress.