Amid violent riots sparked by the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan, a country with more than 150 nuclear weapons, faces the threat of civil war.
The tension adds to the economic crisis the nation is going through, raising concerns about the safety of its arsenal. Recent events have unleashed a climate of uncertainty and the possibility of a change in the balance of power in the region.
Pakistan is on the Brink of collapse.
The rioters have spread violence across Pakistani territory, from Lahore to Karachi and Peshawar. The arrest of Khan, who was sacked last year after a vote of no confidence, has sparked a wave of riots by his supporters.
The same military that brought him to power is now facing them, raising concerns about the safety of nuclear weapons left unguarded in the country. Political and social tension is at a critical point.
Pakistan: A Conflict That Spreads
Subversion and riots have reached Pakistan’s major cities, including Lahore and Karachi. Rioters have attacked military installations and burned government buildings.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), linked to the Afghan Taliban and militant Islamist groups, has also been the target of protests. The situation is aggravated by the inability of the security forces to contain the violence.
The events after former Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s arrest on the grounds of alleged corruption at the Islamabad high court on Tuesday have led to an unprecedented breakdown in Pakistan’s law and order situation and its internal stability.
The Pakistan Rangers, a paramilitary force, broke window glass panes to enter the portals of the high court, physically manhandled and injured Imran’s legal team and then whisked away the former PM in a rough manner.
Imran has denied all the corruption charges against him and has openly criticized the Army for its conduct towards him. After Imran’s arrest, lakhs of supporters from his Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf party have run berserk and attacked many of Pakistan’s cherished institutions, such as the Army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and the Mianwali airbase. The violent protests spread like wildfire across Pakistan, with the PTI declaring that Pakistan would be in flames if Imran is not released swiftly.
The Pakistan Army was caught unprepared for the scale and speed of the public reaction, and some reports suggest that the lower ranks in the Army did not go all out to quell the public protests. Despite this, the nation is on the Brink of a total economic collapse, with millions of hapless Pakistanis on the verge of starvation. Despite this, the polity remains divided, with the Sharif family and the Bhuttos on one side, pitted against the increasingly popular PTI led by Imran Khan.
The former PM has accused the Shehbaz Sharif government and the Army of plotting to murder him, which is not a far-fetched possibility. Imran Khan’s clarion call of a “jihad for freedom” has found resonance among his supporters, whose numbers are swelling.
Over the past few decades, the Pakistani Army has perfected the art of ruling the roost without staging a coup, selecting its favorite politician and the political party which will remain loyal to it, and ensuring that Pakistan’s judiciary keeps within bounds. A sham democracy also keeps the United States, and The next few days will determine how the situation in Pakistan will unfold.
If the current agitations do not subside, it will have ominous tidings for India and the wider region. Internally, the Pakistani public must find ways to restrain their Deep State’s unlimited powers, including the Pakistan Army, its intelligence agencies, and the many terror “tanzeems” it shelters. A fully functional and stable democracy in Pakistan requires solid, incorruptible, selfless political leadership, with the all-powerful Pakistan Army back in the barracks.
A people’s revolution may be one of the scenarios Pakistan may encounter. The following 24-48 hours remain crucial to underwrite Pakistan’s destiny.
Nuclear weapons in a critical situation
The situation in Pakistan is critical, and with an arsenal of nuclear weapons, civil war must be avoided. Concerns about the safety of nuclear weapons need to be addressed and political stability restored. Pakistan could become a danger to the region and the world if no action is taken.