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Former cricket star, Imran Khan, is extremely popular with the Pakistani people. He has broken records for the size of the public crowds he is able to draw. Yet despite his popularity, he was ousted from his role as prime minister back in April 2022. A no-confidence motion was filed against Imran Khan by his political opponents.
This move has resulted in increasing political turmoil in the impoverished country, which is already struggling with a spiraling economy, food shortages and the aftermath of floods that put a third of the country underwater. Pakistan's summer floods also triggered a surge in malaria and damaged millions of acres of farmland. We will also emphasize that Pakistan is a nuclear armed super power right on the border of Afghanistan, a nation ruled by the Taliban. Peace and stability is needed in Pakistan now more than ever.
The U.S. should support Imran Khan's request for free and fair elections in Pakistan.
Unfortunately, there are troubling questions about the U.S. involvement in Pakistan's elections. In April, Imran Khan alleged that his opponents were pawns in a U.S.-led conspiracy to oust him from power for not sufficiently supporting U.S. foreign policy aims.
Here's a quote from Dawn, the largest and oldest English-language newspaper in Pakistan. This is from April 4th, 2022. "Mr Khan revealed that the US had sent a threatening message through Pakistan’s envoy. He was quoted as saying that US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu had reportedly in a meeting with Ambassador Asad Majeed warned there could be implications if he survived the opposition’s no-confidence motion in the National Assembly." (Dawn, 4-4-22)
After he was ousted, Imran Khan was replaced as prime minister by Shehbaz Sharif.
There's been a series of elections in the country since. In Punjab, the second largest province of Pakistan, Imran Khan's party won a stunning victory of 15 of 20 available seats. After this, Khan made a public demand for 'fair and free' general elections in Pakistan.
"There is only one way [to rid the country from political instability free and fair election. When they were removing me, I had announced general elections but courts overturned my decision. I still believe it was the right call," Khan said while addressing the nation following his party's landslide victory in the by-elections in Punjab. (Telegraph India, 7-18-22)
However, Pakistan's elections commission on October 21st, 2022, disqualified former Prime Minister Imran Khan from holding public office for five years, after finding he had unlawfully sold state gifts and concealed assets as premier, officials said. In response, dozens of angry Khan supporters gathered outside the commission headquarters in the capital, Islamabad. They chanted slogans against its decision. Security forces and paramilitary troops cordoned off the compound, blocking the crowd from getting inside. (NPR, 10-21-22)
The move to remove Khan from power is likely to deepen lingering political turmoil in Pakistan.
We're not going to get into whether the U.S. interfered with Pakistan's elections or not. But we just want to say that the democratic will of the people in Pakistan needs to be respected. There needs to be a peaceful, political solution for Pakistan. Or else the situation in Pakistan could devolve very quickly.
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Imran Khan Wins Majority of Seats in Pakistan’s By-Elections (Bloomberg, 10-16-22)
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Pakistan’s prime minister blamed ouster on U.S. meddling. Here’s why (Washington Post, 4-11-22)
What is going on in Pakistan? And why has the US been dragged into it? (The Conversation, 4-6-22)
Is the US interfering in Pakistan's internal matter to overthrow Imran Khan (Business-Standard, 4-5-22)
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