Imran khan

Pakistani democracy is on the brink

A senior official in Pakistan has publicly confessed to vote-rigging in the country’s general election earlier this month. It is an unprecedented admission of malpractice that raises fresh questions about the legitimacy of the electoral process and whether the final results were manipulated by the country’s all-powerful military. Commissioner Liaqat Ali Chattha claimed that authorities in Rawalpindi, Punjab province, changed the final voting numbers so that the candidates who were ‘losing’ the elections ‘were made to win’. Chattha says there was so much ‘pressure’ on him to manipulate the results that he contemplated suicide, before opting to make a public confession: ‘I take responsibility for the wrong in Rawalpindi. I

Portrait of the Week: The Crooked House fire, Liz Truss’s honours and a Commonwealth Games flop

Home The first of about 500 asylum seekers were taken to live on the Bibby Stockholm barge on the Isle of Portland, north of the prison and linked to the mainland by one road. The arrival of 339 migrants by small boat across the Channel at the weekend brought the year’s total to 15,071. The government declared it would increase enforcement action against lawyers who ‘coach illegal migrants to lie’ in making claims. Fines were to be tripled for employers and landlords who allow illegal migrants to work for them (up to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach) or rent their properties, the Home Secretary announced. The 18th-century

Pakistan is on the brink

On Tuesday I speculated that Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan, now the opposition leader, was so popular that he might have to be shot by his enemies to prevent him from coming back to power. This was not a throwaway statement. After Sri Lanka and Lebanon, whose political murder rate since the second world war has been off the charts, Pakistan with 44 political murders comes a clear third, not including the peripheral hundreds if not thousands who have died in bombings. As if in sync with my warning, Tuesday afternoon saw another political murder in Pakistan. Majid Satti, the leader of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in

Is Imran Khan Pakistan’s Donald Trump?

Imran Khan, the cricketing hero, legendary lothario and deposed prime minister of Pakistan, is in trouble again. His political opponents in the police and the judiciary, in a manner not dissimilar to the judicial attack on former US president Donald Trump, have moved against Khan in recent days by accusing him of terrorist activities. In theory, these charges could carry the death penalty. Khan’s crime was to threaten retaliatory action against the police and the judiciary in revenge for the arrest of his chief of staff, Shahbaz Gill. Gill had been roughly arrested by police and his assistant allegedly beaten up. In addition, police had tried to apprehend former Khan acolyte

What next for Imran Khan, Pakistan’s ousted leader?

On Sunday, Imran Khan became the first prime minister in Pakistan’s history to be ousted by a no-confidence vote. Followers of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party naturally took to the streets; much of their anger has been directed at the generals who engineered their leader’s downfall. It was a clash with the all-powerful military that, like so many of his predecessors, finally ended Khan’s prime ministership. The former cricketer had attempted to oust one of the country’s all-powerful spy chiefs, a move that finally ended the uneasy relationship between the PM and the military. Attempting to save his own politician skin, Khan tried to block a no-confidence vote by dissolving the

Can Imran Khan cling on to power in Pakistan?

In the brief interlude of Chechen independence between the Russia-Chechen Wars of the 1990s, I travelled with Imran Khan from Grozny to Baku, where we were due to meet Azerbaijan’s finance minister. We had different reasons for our visit. I was interested in the business potential of the countries of the Caucasus, while Khan, a former cricketer turned fledging politician who had recently formed the Pakistan Movement for Justice party (PTI), was keen to support the then independent Sufi Islamic state of Chechnya. To get to Baku we had to catch a plane from the neighbouring Russian republic of Dagestan. Our Chechen hosts told us that we did not need

Is this the end of Imran Khan?

Imran Khan’s innings as the Pakistani Prime Minister may be coming to an end. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, one of his coalition partners, has split from the government. Khan has now lost his majority in the National Assembly, which is set to meet for a no-confidence vote on Sunday. And while all this falls perfectly in line with parliamentary norms, in the context of the country’s tumultuous political history, Khan’s premature exit would be another blow to democracy. Not a single Pakistani prime minister has completed their five-year term in the country’s 75-year history, almost half of which has seen direct military rule. The previous two civilian governments, which ran

Islamists are frustrating Pakistan’s fight against coronavirus

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Pakistan currently sits at 2,042 alongside 26 deaths. With only limited healthcare facilities, the country is facing a perilously delayed reaction. Most of Pakistan’s initial cases were pilgrims returning from places like Iran and Saudi Arabia. But the virus quickly spread thanks to a failure to screen and quarantine. Even so, almost a third of the infections in Pakistan are now being spread from within the community. That figure is expected to rise owing to a combination of appalling mismanagement and masochistic inaction. Such failures can be gauged by the state’s refusal to shut down the mosques. Weeks after reporting its first coronavirus cases, and over a month since

Imran Khan’s dangerous bid to export Pakistan’s blasphemy laws

Imran Khan appears to want to impose Islamic blasphemy laws across the world. ‘I want the Muslim countries to devise a joint line of action over the blasphemy issue with a warning of trade boycott of countries where such incidents will happen,’ Khan said in an address on Monday. Last week, talking up his plan to launch a global movement, and his love for Islam’s prophet, Khan warned, ‘There will come a time when people in the West as well will be scared of blaspheming against our prophet (peace be upon him)’. The Pakistani premier’s rejuvenated bid to outlaw blasphemy against Islam came after he succumbed to the demands of

Imran Khan’s cowardly response to Pakistan’s rape crisis

Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan has once again blamed women for an appalling rise in rape cases. Khan used a televised question and answer session this week to say that sexual violence was a result of ‘increasing obscenity’. Women in Pakistan should remove ‘temptation’ because ‘not everyone has willpower’, he added, urging females to cover up to help reduce the sexual violence which has plagued our country. Khan pointed the finger of blame at Bollywood and Hollywood, for spreading ‘vulgarity’. He also repeated the growing divorce tally of the UK as evidence of the ‘ethical plunge’ of the West, which he said is messing up the moral compass of the Muslim world and Pakistan. ‘World history tells when

Imran Khan’s rape crackdown won’t make Pakistan safer for women

Rapists in Pakistan will soon face a stark choice. Under a law backed by the country’s prime minister, Imran Khan, those convicted of rape can either be chemically castrated, face life imprisonment or even a death sentence. But while the new law sounds radical, it’s unlikely it will be enough to curb the wave of sex attacks against women in Pakistan. The tough measures have been painted as something of a compromise by Khan, who has said those found guilty of sex attacks should be hanged in public. Dismissing this as an option, Khan said introducing such a punishment would ‘not be internationally acceptable’. ‘The trade status given to us by the European Union