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Islamabad, May 13 – The ruling coalition government in Pakistan led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif finds itself in a difficult situation where it is under serious criticism over mishandling of the chaos, violence, protests and unrest in the wake of the dramatic arrest of its arch political rival and former Prime Minister Imran Khan, forcing it to get into emergency huddles to review the political situation turning ugly within a matter of 48 hours.
Since May 9, when the officials of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) along with the Rangers troops barged into the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to arrest Imran Khan in the Al-Qadir Trust land scam case, there was absolute chaos for 48 hours when violent protests erupted in the major cities across Pakistan with PTI supporters expressing their anger against Khan’s arrest by targeting the military installations and residences, looting and vandalising them along with other government installations.
The situation that brought the country on the verge of a civil war also forced the ruling government to join heads and hold emergency meetings to discuss the way forward.
“The situation got so much out of control that the government, which came to power after a successful vote of no confidence against then PM Imran Khan, was forced to consider the prospects of imposing a state of emergency in the country and handing it over to the military establishment,” said a source in the government.
The federal government held a daylong Cabinet meeting along with a parallel meeting of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). As per insider information, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) suggested the option of implementing a state of emergency in the country and then move towards elections under the control of the military establishment.
However, this suggestion was strongly opposed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Mutahidda Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), which insisted that elections should be held on their given time, i.e., October 2023 and no emergency should be declared before that.
The past 72 hours of chaos and political unrest later turned into countrywide celebrations after the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) and later the Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted bail to Imran Khan in multiple cases against lodged him and declared him a free man, but for a few more days.
On the government side, the version of PPP to hold general elections on their given time has put the PML-N leadership in a state of concern as its stronghold area, the Punjab province, is where a caretaker setup is in place and which was previously controlled by Imran Khan’s party; PML-N wants to regain its strength in the provinces, for which, it wants to use this current political narrative building against the judiciary as a hyped-up narrative to reach the masses and reclaim the throne it lost to the hands of Imran Khan previously.