Imran jeopardized Pakistan’s national security in order to save his government. It remains to be seen whether this is just the government flexing its muscles to show-so Imran backs off-or if it is truly serious about it, but it appears Imran may be in for a whole new set of legal challenges very soon.
Following the latest audio leaks pertaining to the US cipher, the federal cabinet has decided to formally initiate legal action against former Prime Minister Imran Khan. The second round of audio leaks included PTI Chairman Imran Khan, his then-principal secretary Azam Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and Asad Umar discussing the cipher and how to best use it. There’s also the not-so-minor-but oh-so-convenient-revelation that a copy of the cipher has vanished from Prime Minister House. A visibly victorious and newly exonerated Maryam Nawaz has suggested that Imran’s Bani Gala residence be raided in order to recover the missing copy. In response, PTI leaders claim that the copy from the PM House was sent to the National Assembly speaker, who then forwarded it to Pakistan’s Chief Justice. In short, we’re in a tragically comic situation.
According to government ministers, Imran jeopardized Pakistan’s national security in order to save his government. It remains to be seen whether this is just the government flexing its muscles to show-so Imran backs off-or if it is truly serious about it, but it appears Imran may be in for a whole new set of legal challenges very soon. So, if the government makes a case against Imran, what exactly is the case? According to reports, serious violations were committed if it is proven that Azam Khan changed the minutes of the meeting to suit the PTI’s agenda, as this falls under the subject of national security. The government’s case is that it has since been proven, particularly following the audio leaks that Imran Khan was aware that there was no foreign conspiracy to depose him from power, but he still decided to “play” with the cipher and manipulate the contents to portray the US as being behind the successful vote of no-confidence. And it’s possible that this isn’t the only ghost haunting the former prime minister. An arrest warrant has already been issued for him in connection with his threats against a female judge and police officers. While he has already been granted bail by the Islamabad High Court, the PDM government appears unconcerned; especially since the PTI has signaled that it will soon announce its long march to Islamabad and has begun mobilizing its cadre.
We’re only three days into October, and the political stakes have already risen dramatically. There is little doubt that the PTI camp is nervous after the IHC overturned Maryam Nawaz’s conviction because the IHC ruling could also mean the end of Nawaz Sharif’s “self-exile.” There have always been rumors that the PTI, which has been at the pinnacle of its popularity, wanted early elections to capitalize on this popularity wave, while the PML-N, which is in power, is dealing with rising inflation and its two main leaders, Maryam Nawaz and her father, Nawaz Sharif, are not running. This gave the PTI an additional advantage. With an important meeting scheduled for next month; the PTI is using its final trump card – (yet another) long march to Islamabad – to put pressure on the political (and non-political) forces to call elections. But, with a long list of cases piled up against Imran and a PML-N suddenly feeling less isolated and fearful, things for the PTI may not be as simple as they appeared a month ago. Will this month shift the political tide in favor of the government, or will Lady Luck continue to favor Imran and his party? We may be witnessing the final flourishes being added to the post-VONC political thriller’s final chapter.
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