In a Rare Show of Power, Pakistan Opposition Elites Challenge the Generals

thediplomat.com
6 min read
fairly difficult
Political temperatures rise in Pakistan as the opposition takes on the military and Imran Khan headlong.
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Pakistan is heading toward an imminent political deadlock as leading opposition parties, with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the vanguard, have chalked out plans for a countrywide movement against the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

As per their plan, public gatherings will be held in different cities in October, November and December with the expected result of bringing the government to its knees, or at the negotiating table at the least. Beyond this, the opposition plans on a long march toward Islamabad and a sit-in protest in in the federal capital in January next year.

Turmoil is not new in Pakistan's tumultuous politics. But what seems to be somehow atypical this time around is an across-the-board anger and discontent among opposition leadership against the military's meddling in political affairs. What used to be discussed by politicians in drawing rooms or behind closed doors and off-the-record conversations with journalists is now being talked about in public meetings.

Moreover, what used to be criticized by ethnic Sindhi, Baloch, and Pashtun leadership in the three smaller provinces — Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan — is now being aired by mainstream political leadership in the mainland Punjab, the fourth federating unit often sarcastically referred to as the "big brother."

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Breaking his two-year-long silence, ex-premier Nawaz Sharif told a multi-party conference through a video link from London last month that there is a "state above the state" in Pakistan. Referring to the widespread allegations of poll rigging by the military in favor of Khan in the 2018 elections, Sharif said his struggle was against "those who had imposed such an incapable person" upon the nation through a manipulated electoral process. Opposition parties in Pakistan refer Khan as the…
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