Pakistan: Khan Announces 'Long March' on Capital

Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan on Tuesday announced a protest march spanning an estimated 236 miles (380 km) from Lahore to Islamabad to call on his government to hold early elections.

Pakistan: Khan Announces 'Long March' on Capital
Image credit: Hussain Ali/Pacific Press/Sipa [via Gzero]

Facts

  • Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan on Tuesday announced a protest march spanning an estimated 236 miles (380 km) from Lahore to Islamabad to call on his government to hold early elections.
  • The so-called "long march," to be launched on Friday, comes as Pakistan's Election Commission last week barred Khan from holding public office for five years. This was after an investigation ruled he had unlawfully sold gifts from foreign leaders and dignitaries while in office between 2018 to 2022.
  • The 70-year-old Khan was ousted from office after a no-confidence vote in April, which he claimed was a US plot to topple him and his government. Current PM Shahbaz Sharif and Washington have denied the allegations, and Sharif's government rejected calls for an early election asserting they will be held next year as scheduled.
  • In a press conference announcing the protest, Khan said, "I am marching to press the government to announce elections immediately. This will be the largest long march in the country’s history."
  • Despite the charges brought against Khan, which he is expected to fight in court, the former PM remains a popular figure in the country. His ousting as PM and the Election Commission ruling sparked widespread protests, some of which turned violent as demonstrators clashed with police.
  • The government has stated it will prevent protesters in the "long march" from entering Islamabad and that it expects to deploy 30K law enforcement officials to surround the capital.

Sources: Al Jazeera, NPR Online News, and Hindustan Times.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Firstpost. Amid a crisis with a cash-strapped government reeling after catastrophic flooding, Khan is playing poker with this "long march" with Sharif and the country's military establishment. It's unknown if Khan can regain power, but his popularity continues to surge.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Gzero. The corruption charges brought against Khan are just a minor preliminary move from Pakistan's military-controlled bureaucracy. If these don't stick, more serious allegations will be brought to keep the former PM out of office, posing serious roadblocks for him.

Predictions