Imran Khan: Pakistan stays on Rawalpindi script

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, November 3: Within days of convicting former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan which barred him from holding office for five years, the ex-cricketer survived an attack on his life after a gunman opened fire on the container during the march of PTI to Islamabad on Thursday. The assailant is stated to have been shot dead, while a PTI worker bravely overpowered the gunman to stop him from taking aim at Khan.

The murderous attack on Khan reminded of the images of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Zardari who was assassinated in similar fashion, while her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was eliminated through judicial capital punishment. Khan is arguably the only former Prime minister of Pakistan who stays put in the country, while all his predecessors had gone on exiles as part of deals with the military czars.

Khan was leading a march to Pakistan, and he was pulling massive crowds all around the country. Under his leadership, the PTI registered an impressive victory in the recent bypolls for the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly, demonstrating that he was enjoying the popular support. Khan had been rallying the people with his allegations that the western powers conspired to oust him from power. Circumstantially, the people, particularly the middle class in Pakistan, are believing the charges of Khan, as the US rolled the ted carpet for the Army Chief Javed Qamar Bajwa, while Germany feted the Pakistani foreign affairs minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and subsequently Pakistan was taken off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, which gave Islamabad a reprieve from the terror funding scanner.

Incidentally, Khan has also been opposing Pakistan agreeing to the costly Belt Road Initiative projects of China on grounds that his country is being dragged to debt trap. Khan was also opposed to $5 billion train project under which China is seeking to sell its railway system to Pakistan, while there is no other market for such exports from Beijing. It is estimated that China accounts for $23 billion of Pakistan’s foreign debt, and the Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif rushed to Beijing to congratulate Xi Jinping for gaining the third term as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, while also pleading for the restructuring of the outstanding loans.

The assassination bid on Khan appears to be an attempt to silence him, as Pakistan is bracing for elections in the summer of next year, while a few generals in Rawalpindi are backing the former Prime Minister. While Khan has survived the assassination bid, Sharif will now be under pressure to deny an extension to Bajwa, who is seen to be remote controlling the government in Islamabad.

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