How will Imran Khan’s removal affect Pakistan's fragile democracy?

Now, out of power, Imran Khan actually has a better chance of striking a blow for democracy and civilian supremacy – if he chooses to do so, writes Ahsan I Butt

It may sound strange, given there was a parliamentary vote of no confidence, an emergency Supreme Court hearing, boisterous speeches, mysterious helicopter rides, and a clandestine meeting between now-ex Prime Minister Imran Khan and the military and intelligence chiefs, all around midnight local time, but nothing fundamentally important shifted in Pakistan this week.

The transition from Khan’s government to the opposition alliance was the result of an intra-elite power struggle, not a people-based mass mobilisation, such as those of the late 1960s, the late 1980s, or most recently, 2007-08. The military went from propping Khan up to declaring its neutrality. The so-called “electables” of parliament switched sides. The opposition suddenly had the numbers and, poof, Khan was gone – for now.

Given the lack of popular participation in Khan’s removal, the most egregious faults of his so-called “hybrid regime” – the enforced disappearances of activists, the vicious clampdown on media freedom, the imprisonment and harassment of political opponents, the wide and welcoming space given to religious extremists – all stand unchallenged.

© Al Jazeera 2022



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