In Pakistan, Imran Khan, cornered, lowers his arms

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By John

Undoubtedly aware that the violent face-to-face which opposes him to the government and the army is turning to his disadvantage, Imran Khan is looking for a way out. The former Pakistani Prime Minister made an offer to return to calm on Wednesday May 24. In a video message to his supporters from his home in Lahore, he said he was ready to form a committee to hold talks with the government, and possibly drop his demand for a snap election. ” Whether [les membres et l’establishment] tell the committee that they have a solution and the country can be better governed without me, or if they tell the committee that having an election in October benefits Pakistan, I will step down”Imran Khan said in a speech on his party’s YouTube channel.

For a year, he had been fighting to obtain the organization of general elections and to try to regain power through the ballot box after being defeated in Parliament in April 2022, after the vote of a motion of no confidence. The 70-year-old former captain of the Pakistan cricket team knows he lost a set, and possibly the game, against his opponents. The noose is tightening a little more each day around him and his team. The government led by Shehbaz Sharif decapitated its formation, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), arresting all of the leaders and thousands of supporters. “Pakistan is experiencing a repression never seen in history. Everyone has been put in prison, I don’t know who to contact anymore,” Imran Khan lamented in his address.

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif threatened to ban the PTI, accusing it of attacking the state. On May 9, the arrest of Imran Khan by paramilitaries, while he was inside a court, had provoked an unprecedented movement of anger in the population. Thousands of supporters took to the streets across the country to protest. Public and military buildings had been targeted, without it being possible to establish whether the perpetrators of the violence were followers of Imran Khan or provocateurs acting in such a way as to discredit his movement. The authorities’ response to these outbursts was implacable: the army chief, General Munir, promised to bring those responsible before military tribunals. The police arrested 10,000 people. On May 12, Imran Khan was released, by order of the Supreme Court.

“A ruthless war of attrition”