Imran Khan’s cult-like followers may believe he is singularly blessed as unlike any other prime minister or political leader within three days of being unceremoniously bundled out of the Islamabad High Court a three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the chief justice yesterday deemed his arrest unlawful and took him into its own custody.
However, as an editorial in Dawn warned, “Khan should remember that his legal troubles are far from over. While the manner of his arrest was deeply problematic, he must now face the charges brought against him without any further confrontation.”
The editorial reiterated that “trials and arrests are part and parcel of the Pakistani political experience, and he should not expect special treatment. Other leaders have also braved such tests and passed.”
Not only have former prime ministers been arrested and gone to prison their followers have protested peacefully, not burned down buildings and indulged in arson and loot. Further, Imran Khan’s supporters would do well to remember that when most Pakistanis – lay citizens, civil society activists and political leaders – are arrested they have no recourse to courts, especially the Supreme Court.
Further, it is important for all of us to ponder on the fact that Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun, Muhajir, and other sub-nationalities of Pakistan have never been awarded the privilege that Imran Khan has managed to secure. Instead, former prime ministers, ministers, and Members of the National Assembly have been summarily jailed and faced weeks and months of onerous court appearances and other tribulations in politically motivated cases.
The current government “were understandably furious at the development: Mr Khan’s arrest had come at a steep cost both for them and the country, and here the Supreme Court — already much-criticized by the present government for being ‘overly sympathetic’ to the PTI’s worldview — once again pulled him out of the state’s grasp.”
The Editorial calls upon Khan “to ensure that his supporters and sympathizers do not get into any further confrontation with the state.” However, as a populist and narcissist it is more likely that Imran Khan and his followers will continue down the current path without consideration for the consequences their decisions might entail.