While Khan stands as the most popular political figure in the country at large, his popularity graph has started to feel the heat of decline because the ruling government has piled up dozens of legal cases against him…reports Hamza Ameer
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has been surrounded with a towering pile of files, paperwork and corresponding court proceedings as he struggles to mount pressure on the incumbent government led by his successor Shehbaz Sharif to announce early elections.
Currently, Khan has over 76 cases registered against him across the county, which are believed to be the way forward for the Sharif government to tackle the former premier’s glaring public support and popularity.
Since his ouster from office in a no-confidence vote last April, Khan, also chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has been on the streets protesting against his ouster, which he has termed it as a pre-planned US-backed regime change operation against his government.
And while public support on his regime change narrative has been strongly backed by strong social media campaigns, over 80 public rallies and gatherings, public addresses through video links and consistent demand of holding early elections in the country; it would not be wrong to state that Pakistan has not seen over 24 hours pass without any discussion, address, statement or a debate about Khan and his regime change narrative.
While Khan stands as the most popular political figure in the country at large, his popularity graph has started to feel the heat of decline because the ruling government has piled up dozens of legal cases against him with charges of corruption, terrorism, treason, hate speech, incitement to violence and anti-state speeches.
The government seems to have targeted the PTI chief from all legal means.
From non-declaration of his love child Terrian White, sale of gifts from various heads of states to Khan during his premiership, prohibited funding case, contempt of court case, attack on Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) case to hate speech, incitement to violence and unwarranted accusations on state institutions.. the former premier certainly has his hands full when it comes to legal the legal battles at his doorstep.
Among the many cases being heard in the court, Khan’s non-bailable arrest warrants have been issued by Islamabad’s Anti-Terror Court (ATC) and by a session court in Quetta, Balochistan.
He has been called in by the courts to appear before the judges repeatedly. However, his reluctance or refusal to go to court in cases against is linked with his recovery phase after his bullet injury and also with what his party leaders and legal representatives maintain as lack of security at a time when Khan himself has repeatedly stated that there are clear and serious threats to his life.
On the other hand, the Shehbaz Sharif government is well aware that they have to go into elections sooner or later. And in order for them to stand a chance in competing and winning the elections, Khan’s popularity, his political standing and his narrative needs to be cut in size and impact.
It is a common understanding among experts that the PML-N and its coalition political partners want to ensure that Khan gets disqualified in legal cases against him gets ruled out of the political race for the next general elections.
And that can be done through verdicts in the Toshakhana case, in which, Khan and his wife are accused of illegally getting gifts out of the Toshakhana and selling them off to the local market at high price, after deliberately getting them evaluated at less cost and later paying only 20 per cent of its established value.
It is also believed that Khan’s foreign funding case is also something, whose verdict may see him going to prison and being disqualified from the political race as PTI chief may find himself in hot water for issuing wrong declarations to justify his party’s foreign aka prohibited funding from various individuals, organisations and entities abroad.