Imran Khan will be the next Pakistani Prime Minister

By Jai Kumar Verma

New Delhi. 01 September 2023. The trouble in Pakistan is not ending. It is not only suffering with political uncertainty it’s economic woes are also increasing. The inflation and unemployment are at their highest, in addition the cost of daily commodities have crossed beyond the reach of common people. The general elections which should be held within 90 days of the dissolution of National Assembly are already postponed. The National Assembly was prematurely dissolved on 10 August 2023 hence the elections should be held on or before 08 November 2023 but on 5 August 2023 digital census was approved and new delimitations would be published on 14 December. Afterwards Election Commission had to make arrangements hence the general election cannot be held before February 2024.

Jai Kumar Verma
             The Author

The critics claim that all this exercise is done as the popularity of Imran Kahn is not diminishing. In fact, his following among the masses is increasing and the popularity graph of all the political parties as well as Pakistan army, which claims itself as the saviour of Pakistan and its ideology, is going down rapidly.

The civilian government with the connivance of army has convicted Imran Khan in the Tosha Khana case in August 2023 although his government had fallen in April 2022. Khan was sentenced to three years imprisonment and was disqualified from politics for five years. He was convicted as he sold state gifts which were received by him and his family when he was Prime Minister of Pakistan. The ruling party watched the activities of Khan for more than a year with the hope that his popularity would decline. Sharif government also used the press and social media to defame and malign Khan but when nothing worked then he was sentenced imprisonment and debarred from contesting the elections.

During the leeway time Khan and his party leaders openly criticised and condemned not only the political rivals but even the army and serving army chief General Asim Munir was not spared. Khan and his associates openly put outrageous allegations against serving army generals which was rare in Pakistan where army directly or indirectly rules the country. More than 100 cases of different nature were filed against Khan.  Besides corruption, cases included rebellion, murder, terrorism etc. Last time workers of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and the followers of Khan had created law and order problem including the attack on the house of a serving core commander in favour of Khan hence this time before imprisoning Khan the administration first mellowed down PTI leaders and workers. The so-called free press and electronic media was screwed which stopped coverage of Khan and PTI leaders. PTI leaders were arrested, jailed, and tortured hence several top leaders publicly deserted the party, while few left the country or went into hiding. The leaders who got bail, were rearrested and their family members and relations were also tortured, and their businesses were ruined.

Although selling of gifts which Imran Khan and his family received was not only illegal but immoral too. Nonetheless his popularity was not diminished as the masses felt that selling of gifts is an insignificant dishonesty while the leaders of the ruling party and generals are thoroughly corrupt and dishonest. The public claims that Khan sold the gifts while opposition leaders and generals sold the country. However, disqualification of contesting polls for five years would adversely affect Khan as public memory is generally short. Khan would appeal in the higher judiciary against the judgement.

As Khan is out of electoral politics and senior leaders of PTI either deserted him or joined Jehangir Tareen’s party Istehkam Pakistan Party (IPP) hence Pakistan Peoples Party and Muslim League (N) as well as other political parties would contest election without fearing the popularity of Imran Khan and PTI.

Imran Khan is ousted from power, imprisoned for three years, and debarred from participating in electoral politics for five years hence he is down but he is not out of Pakistani politics, and he has solid support of masses. The basic reasons for his popularity include that the middle class especially the young Pakistanis who are fed up with rampant corruption and increasing gulf between poor and rich feel that Khan has the capability to clean the politics and can build a new Pakistan. The youths feel that he has the guts to confront political dynasts of PPP, PML(N) and other political parties. They also claim that he is Mr. Clean and the allegations against him and his family members are just to malign him. The youths are of the view that he is the only person who criticised army and at a point of time created a rift among army officers.

Secondly Khan’s supporters firmly believe that he has not done anything incorrect, and his all acts were constitutional. Faisal Javed Khan a PTI Senator tweeted that “Just saw off Prime Minister Imran Khan from Prime Minister House. He walked out gracefully and didn’t bow down. He has lifted the entire Nation.”

Thirdly Pakistan which gets lot of financial assistance from USA, but the masses have lot of anti U.S. sentiments. Hence his anti-American stand and charge that U.S. deposed his government increased number of his followers. The normal Pakistani feel that U.S. has interfered in their internal matters.

Fourthly the religious and conservative Pakistanis also support Khan as in his speeches he raises religious emotions. He supported Pakistani Taliban and mentioned Osama Bin Laden as a martyr.

Fifthly since Imran Khan left office the economic condition has further deteriorated. The present coalition government has failed to give any relief to the public. The policies of 73 years old Finance Minister Ishaq Dar have only increased the problems of the masses. Hence the resentment towards the present regime has multiplied and the support base of Imran Khan has not reduced.

Sixthly Imran Khan himself was a celebrity once and even now Pakistan’s celebrities like sports persons, actors, singers, and models support him. Leading personalities of the country back him.

The public viewed large scale defection from PTI as handiwork of corrupt politicians with the connivance of army. Public as well as the opposition leaders feel that Khan has the capability of overturning the calculations of opposition parties even if he does not get relief from the court and remains disqualified. Persons from his opposition groups also fear that he would take revenge from all the persons who worked against him. If the opposition parties come to power after blatantly rigging the elections, it will have adverse implications in Pakistan.

Pakistan watchers claim that there is no chance for Imran Khan to come back till General Munir is chief of Pakistan army. His tenure is up to 2025 and after it he would certainly get an extension which is usual norm in Pakistan. Not only this in Pakistan the influence of foreign countries including United States, China and Saudi Arabia also work but unfortunately, Khan personally or his ministers have antagonised all the three countries. Hence no foreign country would help Khan to return back to power. In view of this though Khan has lot of public support, and he is not out of politics but his chances of coming back to power are remote.

(Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based strategic analyst and member of United Services Institute of India and The Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The views in the article are solely the author’s. He can be contacted at