Tuesday November 29, 2022

October surprise?

By Editorial Board
October 03, 2022

The federal cabinet has decided to formally launch legal action against former prime minister Imran Khan after the latest audio leaks pertaining to the US cipher. The second round of audio leaks featured PTI Chairman Imran Khan, his then principal secretary Azam Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar – all discussing the 'cipher' and how best to use it. There is also the not-so-small – and somehow super convenient – revelation that a copy of the cipher has gone missing from the Prime Minister House. In a rather strident press conference, a visibly victorious and freshly-exonerated Maryam Nawaz has suggested that Imran’s Bani Gala residence be raided to recover the missing copy. In response, PTI leaders say the copy from the PM House was sent to the National Assembly speaker who then sent it to the chief justice of Pakistan. In short, we have a rather tragically comic situation.

Meanwhile, the government is gleefully looking at Article 6 proceedings against Imran Khan. For those still not familiar with Article 6 – and there may only be a handful of people left who don't know about this much-abused legal clause – the said article pertains to high treason. The rationale being used by government ministers is that Imran put Pakistan’s national security at risk to save his government. Whether this is just the government flexing its muscles for show – so Imran backs off – or if it's really serious about it remains to be seen but it does seem Imran may be in for a whole new set of legal challenges very soon. So what really is the case against Imran, if the government were to make one? Per reports, government sources say that some serious violations were committed if indeed it is proved that the minutes of the meeting were changed by Azam Khan to suit the PTI’s agenda – since this falls under the subject of national security. The government's case is that it has since been proved, especially after the audio leaks, that Imran Khan was aware of the fact that there was no foreign conspiracy to oust him from the government but he still decided to ‘play’ with the cipher and manipulate the contents to portray that the US was behind the successful vote of no-confidence. And this may not be the only spectre haunting the former prime minister. An arrest warrant has already been issued against him for his threatening remarks against a female judge and police officials. While he has already been granted bail by the Islamabad High Court, the PDM government seems to be in no mood to back down – especially as the PTI has given signals that it will soon announce its long march to Islamabad and has started mobilizing its cadre.

We are just three days into the month of October and already the political stakes are raised sky high. After the IHC overturned Maryam Nawaz’s conviction, there is little doubt that there may be jitters in the PTI camp since the IHC ruling could also mean an end to Nawaz Sharif's 'self-exile'. There have always been speculations that the PTI, which has been at the peak of its popularity, wanted early elections to cash in on this popularity wave while the PML-N in government was fighting with rising inflation and its two main leaders – Maryam Nawaz and her father Nawaz Sharif – were out of the electoral race. This gave an added advantage to the PTI. Now with an important appointment on the cards next month, the PTI is playing its last trump card – (yet another) long march to Islamabad – to pressurize the political (and non-political) forces to announce elections. But with a long list of cases being stacked up against Imran and a PML-N suddenly feeling a lot less isolated and fearful, things may not be as easy as they seemed a month back for the PTI. Will this month change the political momentum in the government’s favour or will lady luck continue to bless Imran and his party? We may just be seeing the final flourishes being added to the closing chapter of the post-VONC political thriller.


    Tariq Qurashi commented 2 months ago

    All parties need to stop playing these power games and get on with governing the country.

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