Imran Khan began the struggle to return to power
In early April, the lower house of Pakistan’s parliament elected the president of the Pakistan Muslim League, Shehbaz Sharif, a protege of the chief of staff of the Pakistani army, General Bajwa, as the head of government of the country.
Immediately after that, Imran Khan, who was overthrown from the post of prime minister as a result of a conspiracy by the pro-American military, presented an ultimatum to the new government, demanding the immediate holding of parliamentary elections, following which a new head of government would be determined. Shehbaz Sharif rejected Imran Khan’s ultimatum and brought troops into Islamabad.
Authorities gave permission for the army to deploy to the capital after Imran Khan arrived in Islamabad and joined his supporters at Dee Chowk Square, where clashes with police broke out.
After Imran Khan’s six-day ultimatum to the government of Pakistan demanding early elections expired last week, Imran Khan and his Pakistan Justice Movement partyPakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, PTI) started civil disobedience.
A march of thousands of opposition marched on Islamabad from Peshawar, where de facto power belongs to Imran Khan’s ally, General Faiz Hamid, the former head of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The authorities called on the army to quell the unrest. However, in Peshawar, the army is on the side of Imran Khan, since General Faiz Hamid, who was removed from the post of ISI director of inter-agency intelligence in October 2021 by the head of the Pakistani army, General Bajwa, was sent by him to command the Peshawar garrison.
The removal of Faiz Hamid from the post of head of the ISI took place on October 6, 2021, and on October 21 a delegation went to Kabul, officially headed by Foreign Minister Kureishi, and unofficially by Faiz Hamid with the heads of key ISI divisions, “who put his people in Afghanistan at key points in order to do not burn bridges and do not lose control over the intra-Afghan situation.”
It is not for nothing that Imran Khan is in a hurry to organize protests and demand early elections. The economic situation in the country is extremely difficult. Inflation in May 2022 exceeded 13%, the highest in Pakistan in two and a half years, foreign exchange reserves fell to $9.72 billion. And in the last week of May, foreign exchange reserves decreased by $366 million, the Central Bank of Pakistan said in a statement. . In two months the country will have nothing to pay for imports. The authorities raised the prices of fuel and electricity.
It becomes obvious that Shehbaz Sharif’s government is unable to bring the economy out of the crisis. Upon coming to power, the new premier immediately introduced a six-day work week in the country, saying he wanted to boost economic productivity, and leaving Pakistanis with only one day off on Sunday. Convinced that this only aggravated the fuel and energy shortage, the unlucky prime minister again returned the country to the five-day period.
Shehbaz Sharif also eliminated fuel subsidies, passing the cost on to consumers, further fueling inflation.
Islamabad is currently in dire need of $36 billion to avoid economic collapse. In the past, Pakistan has applied for help from the IMF 22 times, but this has not helped to make the country’s economy successful. Realizing this, Imran Khan decided to break out of the IMF loan trap and began to establish cooperation with Russia. “We will buy from Russia 2 million metric tons of wheat and natural gas, which is necessary to meet the domestic and industrial needs of Pakistan. Deliveries from Russia will be carried out despite anti-Russian sanctions,” said Imran Khan upon his return from Moscow in late February.
He also stressed the importance of building the Pakistan Stream gas pipeline, which, according to him, is the flagship of Russian-Pakistani economic cooperation. The press service of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of Pakistan reported following the meeting of Imran Khan in Moscow with Vladimir Putin: “The Pakistani leader noted that the trust and cordiality that characterize relations between the two countries contribute to further deepening and expanding cooperation in various sectors.”.
This was the impetus, as we wrote, for his overthrow from the post of head of government by General Bajwa.
Now the position of Imran Khan has strengthened. Speaking at a rally of thousands in Lahore, he said: “The party is just getting started! I call… all of Pakistan! You must all prepare on the streets, in the cities and villages. You must wait for my signal when I tell you all to assemble in Islamabad. We do not want to harm our country, but we will not accept an imported government in any way. Our movement will gain momentum.”.
Dozens of Imran Khan supporters clashed with police in Islamabad, where demonstrators set fire to bushes along the capital’s main boulevard. Clashes erupted in other cities, including in Karachi, where demonstrators set fire to a police car. Authorities blocked major roads with barbed wire and dozens of shipping containers and trucks to block protesters from entering the capital.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan gathered in the small town of Miyanvalli (Punjab province) a rally of many thousands, which brought together almost the entire population of this province, the traditional fiefdom of the Sharif clan. The political crisis is deepening.
Amid rumors of a plot to assassinate Imran Khan, the Islamabad Police Department said all security services in the city were on high alert. Imran Khan’s nephew Hassan Niyazi said that the assassination attempt on the PTI leader would be regarded as an attack on Pakistan and the response would be aggressive.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif spoke at a business conference on June 8, amid rising mass protests, attended by business leaders and the country’s leading economists. “It’s time for the elite class to make sacrifices, and unproductive assets like real estate should be taxed… Until now, the poor have had a hard time, but today it’s the turn of the wealthy to take the burden.”– said the head of government. However, it is unlikely that the head of government’s belated appeal to the rich with a proposal to share income with the poor will pacify the political hurricane that is approaching Pakistan.
Chances of Imran Khan to dismiss the “imported government” are growing every day.
Photo: REUTERS / from open sources
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