Imran Khan's Conviction Routine Ploy to Prevent His Return to Power: Expert
Khan was arrested on 9 May at the Islamabad High Court by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on corruption charges related to the Al-Qadir Trust. He has been jailed ever since.
Ahead of the upcoming national assembly elections, Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has stated that the safety of Imran Khan is his government's legal responsibility and that "the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman is safe in jail".
In an interview with a Pakistani TV channel, Kakar sought to point out that it was not his government under which the ousted premier and PTI chief was imprisoned.
While denying any threat to Khan's life, the premier sought to clarify that "nobody has personal enmity with the PTI chairman". He particularly rubbished allegations that his government was partial toward any political party (Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz).
Sputnik India talked to a geopolitical expert to understand the significance of Khan's remaining incarcerated and its likely impact on the political situation of Pakistan.
According to Dr. Priyanka Singh, a geo-political expert from IDSA, India's foremost think tank for advanced research in international relations, Khan languishing in prison while the country prepares for February polls doesn't come across as a strange reality to those conversant with Pakistan's political history.
"Several former Prime Ministers including Hussain Suhrawardy, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and others have all been either convicted or imprisoned in the past," she said.
The Associate Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) believes that this is something that has remained a perpetual pattern in Pakistani politics especially with regard to civilian leaders.
"Therefore, Imran Khan being convicted and imprisoned and largely kept isolated from the centre-stage of political spectrum at least till the upcoming polls must be seen as a tried, age-old method that is re-applied to prevent his return to power mainly at the behest of the all-powerful military," Singh stated.
Khan irked the military so much that they found their fall-back option in Nawaz Sharif, once upon their friend turned foe in 2017-2018, she explained.
"Therefore, it is rather futile to overthink or overreact to such incidents/developments in Pakistan or judge the merit of such impositions. They are as mundane as the acceptance of reality that the democracy or no democracy - Pakistan army rules the roost," Singh opined.
She, however, sought to underline the fact that Khan, the populist leader, has retained appreciable approval ratings and mass support even after imprisonment.
"Whether his physical absence from the poll campaign will dent/erode his support base remains to be seen," the expert remarked.