This could be the turning point for Pakistan.
The world was shocked to see Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former premier, drag out of court and arrest by Pakistani paramilitary.
He’s been predicting it for years, accusing the government of political persecution. His sudden arrest has angered and energized his supporters in Islamabad.
They’ve gathered on the Kashmir Highway, which is a major route into the city to demand the release of their leader.
Some throw stones and wooden sticks at the police. Others insist that they are here peacefully, and they are being targeted by the people who should be protecting them.
A man, visibly shaken and struggling to speak in the midst of the tear gas, told me: “I’m a doctor, and I have been at the protest since yesterday, and all security staff, all agencies are shooting straight on the people.”
The man beside him said that Pakistan’s institutions had turned their backs on the country and democracy.
The authorities are not protecting the people. What’s happening right now is clear. What do we want to achieve? “We just want Imran Khan released.”
Few kilometres from where he lives, Mr Khan has been told that he will spend eight days in jail on charges of corruption. His party believes this could be a huge rallying factor for him.
They have called for a national strike. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI), however, lacks a charismatic leader who can instruct the members.
It is difficult to build and organise a critical mass that can tip the political scales without it and very little internet. There’s a lot of room for misjudgment.
Obviously, this arrest could play right into Imran Khan’s hands. It could also incite violence, creating unrest and giving the government an excuse to not deliver on its main goal of an early election.
The military has clearly had enough of Khan’s public criticism. Perhaps the final straw was when Khan accused a senior military official again of orchestrating an assassination against him.
In Pakistan, hundreds are detained and several people die during protests
Imran’s journey as a playboy to Prime Minister
The military is a powerful force, one that is feared and respected.
We have never seen civilians attack its offices or headquarters. Some people here believe that the military allows it to happen so they can step in when things start to spiral out of control.
I have been to Pakistan 5 times in the past 8 months. I watched a legal game of cat and mouse between Mr Khan, courts, and the government.
At times, it felt as if the country was about to explode if Mr Khan were arrested. It’s.
It’s just that I don’t know how deep, how far and who will benefit or suffer from it. It feels like it could be decided in the next few weeks.