Following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan has been plunged into a state of unrest as violent protests erupt across the nation. Khan’s supporters have taken to the streets, storming the army headquarters in Rawalpindi, blocking roads and highways, and setting a police vehicle on fire in Karachi. In an unprecedented move, thousands of PTI supporters gathered outside the residence of the corps commander in Lahore and the headquarters of the Frontier Corps in Peshawar.
While political protests are common in Pakistan, it is unusual for people to gather outside army headquarters and directly confront the military. The army has reportedly fired at protesters, causing casualties, though the exact number of fatalities remains unconfirmed. As the situation escalates, there is growing concern that Pakistan may be on the brink of a civil war.
Amid the chaos, reports suggest divisions within the army over the current power struggle with Imran Khan. Army Chief Asim Munir is said to have a strained relationship with Khan, with two factions forming within the army – one supporting Munir and the other favoring former ISI chief Faiz Hameed. Experts predict that the next 48 hours will be crucial in determining the country’s future.
If protests continue to intensify, there is a risk that law and order may collapse, potentially leading to civil war in Pakistan. The country has a history of military coups, and the army’s support for a coalition that has lost public favor puts it in a difficult position. Imran Khan, however, maintains strong support from the people, with many analysts suggesting he could return to power if elections were held today. This outcome is not favored by the Asim Munir faction of the army.
In response to the escalating situation, the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada have issued travel advisories for their citizens and diplomatic staff. They are urging caution and advising people to avoid locations with large crowds, carry identification, and follow local media for updates. Protests in Pakistan can occur with little warning and may quickly turn violent, posing a threat to international travelers and diplomatic personnel alike.