Pakistan PM Imran Khan (File photo) Photograph:( Reuters )
Islamabad has been taken by a storm of union-led protests from various sectors and including the opposition leaders
It's a double whammy for the Imran Khan government in Pakistan. The opposition is set to go on a nation-wide offensive on October 16.
However, demonstrations of a different colour have erupted in the national capital as hundreds of Pakistan citizens have hit the streets of Islamabad.
Islamabad has been taken by a storm of union-led protests from various sectors. Yesterday thousands converged outside the Pakistani parliament and staged a sit-in. This included government employees, farmers, teachers, doctors, health workers and pensioners.
They were protesting against price hike and what they call 'anti-employee policies' of the local government. Most of them called-off their sit-ins after "successful negotiations" with the government.
However, women health workers are refusing to cede ground. They are on what you call a dharna at Islamabad's famous D-chowk.
They are demanding a unified pay structure, job insurance and physical security. These are not big demands, especially for the Pakistan Prime Minister who has always made tall claims about supporting daily wage earners.
He is now using the socio-economic crises and IMF loans as a pretext to reject these demands. At the same time he is cracking down on opposition voices.
Asif Ali Zardari, the former President of Pakistan and the leader of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has been issued an arrest warrant by the national accountability bureau of Pakistan — the country's anti-corruption watchdog.
Mr. Zardari is being accused of corruption worth 8 billion Pakistani rupees. The ant-graft body is investigating his alleged suspicious financial transactions.
His son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says this is yet another attempt by Imran Khan to vilify the opposition's anti-corruption movement.
In a tweet, he said these tactics are not new and they will do nothing to deter his party.
The Zardaris are not the only ones being targeted by the Pakistan government. Maryam Nawaz of the Pakistan muslim league is also on the radar.
Reports say the Pakistan government may block all routes to Maryam Nawaz's residence to stop her from attending the first opposition demonstration scheduled for Friday.
Additionally, according to Dawn, more than 400 opposition workers have been detained for flouting COVID-19 guidelines. This is yet another exucse to sabotage the planned demonstrations. Those held include district presidents and lawmakers of both the Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League.
Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan has requested the Pakistan police "to not comply with Imran Niazi's unlawful orders to arrest PMLN workers, raid their homes or hinder their travel to Gujranwala."
So Pakistani citizens are out on the streets, the opposition is gearing for nationwide demonstrations and the Prime Minister is responding with force. It is quite a fall from grace for Imran Khan — once a champion of free speech and civil rights movements, and now a Pakistan army puppet trying all he can to crush dissent.
"No matter how many problems pakistan is faced with and how difficult they might be, they all can be resolved. Everything is possible; all that is required is intent and desire. Nothing is impossible once the nation unites," said Imran Khan, Chairman of PTI.