But so was a model Pakistan Air Force jet, army installations in the garrison city of Rawalpindi and even the house of the senior military officer in Lahore once owned by Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. There’s no doubt in the protestors’ minds of who is to blame for Khan’s arrest: Pakistan’s military, which has run the country openly and from the shadows for most of its independent history.
We don’t know the truth of the many corruption allegations against Khan. The one he was arrested for involves Pakistan’s largest construction magnate, who was supposed to hand over £190 million (US$238 million) to the treasury, but was allowed to use it to pay down his tax debt instead. The government has accused Khan of receiving “donations” for one of his university projects as a payoff.
FROM BEING THE ARMY’S CHOICE TO ITS BANE
Unfortunately, however, the facts of this or other cases don’t matter. Khan’s supporters will argue that his troubles are all because the military wants him out. And that is undeniably true. It’s equally undeniable, however, that the military wanted him in first.
Khan’s two decades in the political wilderness only ended when the army put its massive thumb on the electoral scales in 2018, jailing and intimidating Khan’s opponents and ushering him into the prime minister’s office.
That it’s the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) being used against Khan is particularly telling, since it was originally set up by a former military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, to “put the fear of God” into Pakistan’s political elite. And it was, most recently, used to go after the military’s previous public enemy number one, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, as well as his brother, the current PM.
The military succeeded in pushing Nawaz Sharif out of politics to get Khan in; and now they have made peace with his brother, in order to push Khan out. They have used the NAB, the media, and even judges to keep Pakistan’s politicians under control.