By Hashim Arain
Over the past month or so, anti government protests have been flooding the country of Pakistan. The protests started when a leader of one of Pakistan’s oppositions, Imran Khan, rallied the constituents of his party, Pakistan Tehreek i-Insaf, which is roughly translated to the Movement for Justice Party. Khan and his supporters are protesting the current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over corruption charges. According to the website World Politics Review, Khan and another opposition leader Tahir-ul Qadri are accusing Prime Minister Sharif of election fraud in Pakistan’s parliamentary elections last year.
The accusations by Khan and Qadri have resonated with some of the Pakistani public, and has created a flurry of protests
largely in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad. According to Reuters, there have been talks between Pakistani government officials, Khan and Qadri. Reuters goes on to report that Khan and Qadri have demanded some changes that they want to see in the government, the major one being that Prime Minister Sharif should step down, and that new elections should take place.
This movement of protesters led by Khan and Qadri have created a desire for change in a country that has been plagued by political corruption for years. According to the Chicago Tribune, Pakistan is no stranger to political corruption, the Tribune notes that these protests started because supposedly Khan has the backing of the country’s military, which is not afraid to get into a political conflict if it wants to.
Some in Pakistan see both Khan and Qadri as populist figures who are able to rally their masses of supporters on anti government rhetoric. The Huffington Post notes, specifically Imran Khan already made a name for himself in Pakistan by starting out as a famous cricket player for the Pakistan team. The Huffington Post also reports, Khan has done some philanthropic work throughout Pakistan, and as soon as he entered the political world, he instantly became one of Pakistan’s most popular politicians.
Some of the Pakistani public is resonating with Khan’s message of change for Pakistan, and that particular message gained more traction after Khan and Qadri started these protests. The question is though, will the country get any better if Khan and Qadri get their way? It’s showing that people are already dissatisfied with the way Nawaz Sharif is handling things after nearly a year being in power, this shows how fragile Pakistani politics are.
Imran Khan and his allies have sparked a type of political movement against corruption in Pakistani politics, it’ll be interesting to see how long this will last. According to the Pakistan Observer, those who follow politics in Pakistan closely have noted that Khan has inspired people get out of their homes, and protest on the streets. The big question here is whether Khan and Qadri will be able to deliver their promises of change to the government.
I can understand the pessimism that some Pakistanis may have with this anti corruption movement that Khan and Qadri have created. It will be up to the two of them appease the public of the worries of their government. Negotiating with the Prime Minister may be a good first step, but it remains to be seen if any good can come out of these protests.