Imran Khan crackdown on opposition as protests intensify in Pakistan



A coalition of 11 opposition parties, led by Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), has announced to intensify a nationwide protest against the “puppet” Imran Khan government over “failed policies that plunged the country into poverty and chaos”.Putting the plan into motion at a massive rally in Gujranwala on October 17, exiled PML (N) chief Nawaz Sharif accused Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and head of the spy agency Gen. Faiz Hameed of orchestrating his ouster to bring Mr Khan to power.

The opposition plans to launch a series of rallies across the country under the banner of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to force the government to step down. An observer said that it is the first time the military leadership has been named for ousting elected governments.

“I have come to light a fire in you,” Nawaz told the spirited crowd in Gujranwala. “Nawaz Sharif is with you today. You elected him, did you not? They have removed Nawaz Sharif, but they cannot remove him from your hearts,” he declared.

Sharif’s video speech from London has set the tone for the opposition which seeks to oust the government within three months, the Bloomberg said, quoting the chairman of the Karachi University’s international relations department, Naeem Ahmed.

Crackdown on anti-govt. rallies

Scores of protesters have been rounded up for disturbance and breaking the law since the past one week. Gen. Bajwa has also ordered a simultaneous probe into the violence that broke out after Sharif’s son-in-law Safdar Awan was detained early this week, media reports said.

Mr Awan was arrested after his wife and PML (N) vice-president Ms Maryam in a fiery speech accused the government of hiding failure on multiple fronts, including poor handling of the pandemic, the economy, and the rising disparity in the country. However, there was no immediate clarity on whether it was a retaliatory action.

At the time of his arrest, the government had said he was taken into custody for “disrespecting” the mausoleum of the country’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Although he was released later, his detention turned into a major controversy.

The opposition has accused the army of using strong-arm tactics to muffle their voice since it carried out the arrest, while Ms Maryam charged them with abducting her husband from the hotel in Karachi where they were staying.

The International Herald reported that the Sindh capital has become a dangerous place with protests and violence, and a ‘civil war’ like situation currently prevails in the city.

Rumors fuel more violence

Mr Awan’s arrest was preceded by rumors of Sindh Police chief Md. Aftab Anwar’s abduction by the army, which triggered violent clashes between cops and the soldiers. Media reports claimed that at least 10 policemen and five army soldiers were killed in the violence. However, there was no immediate official confirmation on the deaths.

The opposition claimed Anwar’s kidnapping is to put pressure on the police to take action against Mr Awan who is a senior leader of the PML (N). Karachi has witnessed a series of violence since the opposition rally in Gujranwala. On October 21, at least three people were killed in a huge blast at a building near Maskan Chowrangi in Karachi’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal area.

The army chief in his order has directed the Karachi Corps Commander to “immediately inquire into the circumstances” that led to violence, the Herald report said. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), has demanded a full probe into Mr Awan’s arrest.

The PML (N) and the PPP, the country’s two major political parties, also oppose the army’s growing influence and participation in Pakistani politics, which they claim is an attempt to take over parliament’s legislative power.

(Sanjeeb Baruah contributed inputs for this article)

Author Profile

India Writes Network
India Writes Network
India Writes Network ( is an emerging think tank and a media-publishing company focused on international affairs & the India Story. Centre for Global India Insights is the research arm of India Writes Network. To subscribe to India and the World, write to A venture of TGII Media Private Limited, a leading media, publishing and consultancy company, IWN has carved a niche for balanced and exhaustive reporting and analysis of international affairs. Eminent personalities, politicians, diplomats, authors, strategy gurus and news-makers have contributed to India Writes Network, as also “India and the World,” a magazine focused on global affairs.