Imran Khan’s Altaf moment is rapidly approaching as evident dissension within the PTI, which had previously appeared unconcerned by regular courts, is being brought on by the threat of punishment under the special standing courts or army courts.
The accused who committed vandalism on May 9 have apologised to the country and the Pakistan Army for destroying national symbols. Additionally, they have criticised the senior leadership for allegedly giving orders to go on a rampage.
Army Chief General Syed Asim Munir during his visit to Jinnah House, Lahore, reiterated: “The legal process to try the planners, instigators, abettors and perpetrators of violence on May 9 under Army Act and Official Secrets Act has begun”. The ISPR press release said.
The vandalism of May 9 was for PTI a comparable episode to Altaf Hussian’s speech on August 22, 2016. Now, PTI leaders have to vehemently condemn these attacks in order to preserve their political survival among the ordinary masses, with PTI having to express remorse across the board.
The PTI leadership and all of its supporters have been intimidated by the prospect of trials in military courts if proven guilty. However, the rest of the party have understood the gravity of the situation and started distancing themselves from Imran Khan politically by denouncing the May 9 incident.
Numerous PTI former MNAs and MPAs from all around Pakistan have left the party. The area where the PTI most likely suffered political setback is South Punjab, where the outcome of the next political conflict will determine which government would rule after the general elections. According to press reports, a significant PTI section in KP is in talks with the PMLN to make an agreement if they leave the party. Another PTI stronghold that is losing is Karachi.
After May 9, Imran Khan’s political career is anticipated to be significantly impacted by the divisions inside the PTI. They might make it harder for him to bring the party together and guide it to success in the upcoming general elections.
They might harm his reputation among Pakistani citizens. He might be made to resign from his position as party leader. They might result in his loss in the upcoming general elections.
It’s crucial to remember that these are only a few potential effects that the PTI divisions could have on Imran Khan. The way the party leadership responds to the crisis and how the Pakistani populace responds will both have an impact on how the divisions really manifest themselves.
So far, it is not clear how Imran Khan will handle dissenting party members. His former stalwarts Jahangir Tareen and Haleem Khan will likely take on a bigger role. However, he has not vehemently denounced these attacks, which have further wounded the martyrs’ families and compounded his situation.
It is evident now that following the vandalism on May 9, PTI lost a lot of public support since Imran Khan breached the line separating a political party from a terrorist organisation. The Establishment may have withdrawn from the crisis because they have understood the value of neutrality.
However, PTI acted illegally on May 9 as an implicit result of the weakening of the deterrence of the power that be. To convey a message, special standing courts or military courts were deemed important for this reason. After all, May 9 required a reevaluation of how the current legal system operates. The Army probably does not have confidence in the present legal system.
Despite the legal requirements of the May 9 events, Pakistan’s economic sustainability and the attraction of private investment rely heavily on a strong justice system.
This is particularly important for Pakistanis committed to restoring their nation’s self-esteem after the detrimental effects of Imran Khan’s radicalisation of the diaspora. The expeditious resolution of disputes and prompt delivery of judgments by the courts are directly correlated with the ease of conducting business in the country. Therefore, it is imperative that Pakistan prioritises the development of a robust justice system to foster a favourable business environment and promote economic growth.
To achieve this, the mandate of military courts needs to be expanded to cover the corporate climate in the country. Pakistan has been dubbed a banana state due to its corrupt justice system. Therefore, the military courts should prosecute land snatchers, mafias and other criminals in addition to arsonists of May 9, as many observers have suggested. If Pakistan is to have any chance of becoming a normal nation, it must take this step, they add.
This move would ensure Pakistan’s corporate environment is free from vested interests, marking a good beginning for judicial reforms. The army courts are the right place to start this process, and their role serves as a wake-up call for the need for judicial reforms.
Interestingly, this move would also allow the Establishment to distance itself from the political sphere, which was its original intention. For now, the military courts have helped make clear Imran Khan’s MQM moment is rapidly arriving. The possibility of a party without him is greater than ever. Really, it’s only a matter of time.
Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a Balochistan politician and a former media and strategic communications advisor to GOB. He tweets @jan_Achakzai