Arrest or unrest | By Shahnoor Waqas Malik


Arrest or unrest

WITH over 76 cases registered against Imran Khan as per the former Prime Minister of Pakistan himself, along with his reluctance to attend his court hearings has allowed the issuing of the non-bailable arrest warrants against him. With the simple matter of appearing in the court to avoid arrest, prolong the case or post bail for his release, the country has seen countless attempts of the Police to arrest him – only to result in civil unrest.

The police are portrayed as the enemy while the rioters are seen as the good guys protecting their leader against what essentially is the Rule of Law.  While the common man waits weeks, months and years for their legal cases to be pursued, one man simply refuses to attend – citing allegations of torture and conspiracy to murder if in custody.

This message has been reflected by the behaviour of his followers to uprise, to not submit to legal authority but to undermine/challenge whoever shows authority. With so many truly believing in/supporting Imran Khan, the country continues to suffer in its divide over those who support him and those against him. If the court orders an arrest warrant for him, the legal system is labeled corrupt – if the police initiate the arrest warrant, the police are labelled as compromised – if politicians question his absence of respect for the law, they are alleged to be corrupt themselves.

While it’s true that a helicopter flew from Islamabad to Lahore with the intent to present Imran Khan with his arrest warrant – the same is true that followers all over Pakistan have traveled to Lahore for their support of him outside his Zaman Park residence.

As it furthers the fact that people truly see and believe in Imran Khan and his vision. It’s simply not reciprocated by the leader himself who see these people as expendable and as a human shield against him, painting them as victims/martyrs of his political cause. Many have fallen in this political/litigable saga – some have been used to promote a narrative/agenda legitimatising support even if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, most often than not, innocent civilians and children.

Unfortunately, arrests in and civil unrest within the country has been a timeless plague of Pakistan. Senior political leaders who’ve been in jail are seen as hero’s resisting the ‘corrupt regime’ – most notably Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was tried, arrested and sentenced to death by the Zia regime.

Interestingly, Imran Khan had been advocating for a now suspended ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ movement in which he and senior political members of PTI would voluntarily turn themselves into custody along with their workers to overburden the prison system and overflow the already backlogged legal system as a sign of being unwilling to work with the system.

Undeniable mass support behind him and mockery of the system failing to get him – Imran Khan is one man representing and inspiring millions of others, with the potential to tip the country in consequential ways. With the IMF looming, inflation rising rapidly, the active terror threat along the borders and in the country, all eyes depend on the political stability of Pakistan to allow the long-term relief and road to economic growth.