With the military running out of options, could the assassination of Imran Khan be on the cards?
Rumour swirls in Pakistan and among the Pakistani diaspora. The rumour concerns the de facto leader of the opposition, Imran Khan. Khan was prime minister of Pakistan before his removal from office in 2022. The rumours concern the possibility of Khan’s coming assassination.
This may seem strange: Khan is a heroic sportsman, a national figure. Why would he be killed? The possible reason lies in Pakistan’s politics, and the hold the army still has over the government of the country.
Ever since his ouster, Khan has been on a roll. He has denounced the country’s politicians as corrupt and the military as a malign force. He has called for fresh elections. And he has toured the country, giving barn-burning speeches in a populist manner unknown to the rest of Pakistan’s political class, calling for major reform.
And he has been met with violence, bans, and censorship wherever he has gone.
Khan’s supporters charge that the army is behind all this: the torture and arrest of Khan’s people, an attack on Khan’s person with a gun which left the politician unable to walk, and repeated attempts to jail Khan for alleged corruption (corruption his supporters say is fabricated).
Faced with the prospect of a major shake-up in Pakistan’s elected politics, therefore, they argue that army has decided to do everything it can to remove Khan from the stage. Now that these gambits have failed, and elections loom later this year, only the worst option remains: murder.
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