Thursday, May 23, 2024

How Imran Khan Became a Symbol of Resistance in Pakistan

Imran Khan became the 22nd PM of Pakistan in 2018. He also formed the government in two provinces, Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan population-wise, and Frontier and sensitive province KPK which has a border with Afghanistan and is the most affected region of Pakistan regarding terror attacks.

Imran Khan

Before becoming the PM, Imran Khan was popular among the masses of Pakistan because he was the captain of the 1992 cricket World Cup winning team. He was also well-known in the Western world because of his fame in sports. He formed the Political Party named Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) in 1996, which eventually became successful in coming into power in 2018 after a political struggle of 22 years.

Let’s start with the fascinating story of the sudden fall of Imran Khan and his rebirth from the ashes of adversity.

PM Khan’s Historic Visit to Russia

The Russian visit of PM Imran Khan was arranged almost eight months ago, it was the first visit by any PM of Pakistan to Russia in the last two decades, and the foreign office of Pakistan was optimistic about this visit. Imran Khan reached Russia on 23 Feb 2022, but the irony of fate is that the next day, Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine while the important visit was in progress. This gave the wrong impression of Khan to the West, but Khan said that my visit was for the 220 million Pakistanis and I had nothing to do with the Ukraine war. We would stay neutral like India, just allow us the luxury to remain neutral.

Fall of Khan’s Government

When Imran Khan returned to Pakistan, political chaos awaited him. 20 MNA’s (Members of the National Assembly) of his party shift their loyalty towards the opposition alliance of 13 parties, The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). MQM and BAP Parties, allies of the Khan-led PTI government, also left the government. After that, PDM filed the Vote of No Confidence motion in the national assembly of Pakistan on 8 March 2022.

Khan announced that he will address the public gatherings in Islamabad on 27 March 2022. In his speech, he claimed that he possessed the diplomatic cable of the USA in which they have shown a desire to oust me, and revealed the USA threat that if VONC (Vote of No Confidence) failed, then there would be consequences to the State of Pakistan. In his speech, he also gave a clue that Pakistan’s military establishment is also behind the toppling of his government as they imposed four martial laws and were indirectly involved in overthrowing many governments in Pakistan.

Imran Khan and Vladimir Putin

On 3 April 2022, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan dismissed the VONC motion against Imran Khan and wrote a letter to the Supreme Court to investigate the matter of diplomatic cable. But, Supreme Court declared the ruling of the Deputy Speaker null and void and gave the order to hold the voting against Imran Khan on 9 April 2022, that’s how Imran Khan lost the government and PDM Leader Shebaz Shareef took oath as the 23rd PM of Pakistan on 10 April 2022.

Unstoppable Waves of Public Uprising

On the night of 10 April 2022, the world witnessed some unusual scenes on the roads of Pakistani cities. People burst out onto the streets without any official call from Imran Khan, and they protested against the unfair ousted of Imran Khan. Overseas Pakistanis also came out and recorded their protest against PDM and the military establishment.

This was the turning point that outplayed the PDM because they had no idea that most of the Pakistanis will become angry with them. Because just a month ago, Imran Khan became unpopular among the masses due to inflation and the economic meltdown. Imran Khan started addressing public gatherings in major cities and bashing military leadership and the PDM alliance, and his narrative has become stronger day by day.

Increasing Tensions with Military Establishment

Pakistan Army was the only famous institution of the country; the people of Pakistan loved and cheered for them even if they imposed martial law because they thought that their political elite was corrupt to the core, but Army was not. But the table was turned after the military clash with Imran Khan because he is the only politician in Pakistan who was not facing corruption allegations. That’s why popular support goes with Khan, not with the military. It’s the first time in the political history of Pakistan that the nation took a stand with any politician contrary to the tradition of supporting the Army chief.

The Narrative Building by PTI Social Media

PTI was the only political party with an organized social media wing and many volunteers up to the task. Pakistan’s 60% population lies within the age group of 18-35. They were all emotionally attached to the armed forces because of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, launched by Army in 2014 and eradicated terrorism from the country. Unfortunately, terrorism started again at the end of 2022.

PTI Social Media was working parallel with Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR), which is the information wing of the Pakistani Armed Forces, they are promoting the state narrative and fighting propaganda warfare alongside Army, but everything changed after the ouster of Khan from the office. Like any young population in other countries, all youth use modern communication methods like s