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HomeThink-TanksNEWSKashmir's Beloved Leader Behind Bars: The Story of Imran Khan's Fall

Kashmir’s Beloved Leader Behind Bars: The Story of Imran Khan’s Fall

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The recent arrest and imprisonment of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in a high-profile corruption case have sent ripples of concern throughout the region, particularly in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Al Jazeera, the renowned news outlet, reported on the reactions and sentiments of the Kashmiri people, shedding light on the potential impact of this event on the already complex geopolitical situation in the area. This article delves into the multifaceted implications of Imran Khan’s downfall on Kashmir and the broader South Asian region.

 

Imran Khan’s Arrest and Kashmiri Anger

 

Al Jazeera’s report captured the distress of many in Indian-occupied Kashmir, including Ghulam Mohammad, a resident of Srinagar’s Habba Kadal area. Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mohammad expressed disbelief at the unfolding events in Pakistan, a country that claims Kashmir as its own while supporting the struggle for self-determination on the Indian side. This was the second time within a year that he felt anguished by the “ill-treatment” of his favored leader, Imran Khan, whom he believed did not deserve such a fate.

 

The emotional toll of these events was evident as Mohammad shared his feelings while watching updates on his mobile phone, recalling how Khan’s removal as prime minister in a no-confidence vote last year had resulted in a mild heart attack due to stress. The arrest this time, however, seemed less detrimental to his health.

 

The Kashmir Issue and Imran Khan’s Role

 

Khan, who served as prime minister from 2018 to 2022, faced significant legal challenges after his removal from office. He was charged in nearly 200 cases, including corruption and terrorism, a move he attributed to the country’s powerful “establishment,” a term often used as a euphemism for the influential military, which also has political involvement.

 

The court proceedings led to a three-year prison sentence for Khan, and he was subsequently barred from politics for five years by Pakistan’s election commission due to his conviction. Khan’s party, Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI), claimed that the government crackdown had resulted in the arrest of around 10,000 PTI leaders and supporters. The impact of this turmoil extended to the party, with several top PTI leaders reportedly leaving, possibly under pressure from the military.

 

Khan’s Approach to Kashmir and Regional Diplomacy

 

One of the most striking aspects of Imran Khan, according to Kashmiri political observer Mohammad, was his approach to the Kashmir issue, which he believed could have paved the way for resolution if Khan had continued as prime minister, and if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had shown flexibility. This sentiment was not unique to Mohammad; many in Indian-occupied Kashmir shared the hope that Khan’s leadership could lead to progress.

 

However, the political landscape shifted dramatically in August 2019 when the Indian government unilaterally abrogated the special status of the region guaranteed by the Indian constitution, placing the Muslim-majority region under direct federal control. This move strained diplomatic and trade ties between Pakistan and India, and a series of laws and policies further exacerbated tensions in the region.

 

Despite the challenges, Khan had been working on a peace proposal with India, but it never materialized. He explained this during an interview with the Atlantic Council, where he discussed the missed opportunity for a road map to address the Kashmir issue, which could have potentially led to a visit by Modi to Pakistan.

 

Conclusion:

 

Al Jazeera’s report captured the complex emotions and perspectives of the Kashmiri people in the wake of Imran Khan’s arrest. The unfolding events have not only stirred anger and distress but have also raised concerns about the region’s stability and the potential impact on regional diplomacy. While many in Indian-occupied Kashmir saw Khan as a potential catalyst for resolving the Kashmir crisis, the broader narrative of Pakistan’s state policy on Kashmir will continue to shape the region’s future, regardless of individual opinions or dislikes. This historical perspective, as highlighted by Kashmiri political analyst Sheikh Showkat Hussain, underscores the importance of Pakistan’s stability in orienting Kashmir politics. The regional dynamics remain in flux, and the aftermath of Imran Khan’s arrest adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing geopolitical struggles in South Asia.

Abu Bakr Alvi
Abu Bakr Alvi
Mr. Abu Bakr Alvi, Senior Journalist Based in Faisalabad

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