Was Arshad Sharif Assassinated By Pakistan’s US-Backed Post-Modern Coup Regime?

Was Arshad Sharif Assassinated By Pakistan’s US-Backed Post-Modern Coup Regime?

By Andrew Korybko

This famous journalist’s suspicious death in Kenya by a sniper shot to the head, which came shortly after he announced the upcoming release of an anti-corruption documentary exposing his country’s US-backed post-modern coup regime, might prove to be a tipping point in Pakistan’s political crisis.

Famous Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif was killed in Kenya Sunday evening by a sniper shot to the head in what local police claim was a case of “mistaken identity” but which millions of his compatriots are convinced was an assassination. He was previously charged by his country’s post-modern coup regime with making “anti-state” statements for criticizing some of the figures that replaced former Prime Minister Imran Khan following early April’s US-orchestrated regime change.

Arshad subsequently fled Pakistan for his own safety and was preparing to release the anti-corruption documentary “Behind Closed Doors” at the time of his death. The trailer suggested that this detailed piece of investigative journalism would expose the corruption of incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s infamous family (no relation). The killing of this accused “anti-state” journalist in self-imposed exile who was threatening to expose the ruling regime is therefore objectively suspicious.

It’s little wonder then that many believe that Arshad was actually assassinated for his anti-corruption work and related activism against Pakistan’s post-modern coup regime. This dramatic development comes at an extremely sensitive time for this South Asian state seeing as how former Prime Minister Khan, who was just barred from holding office for half a decade after a contentious ruling that he plans to appeal, will announce the date of his Long March on Islamabad later this week.

Incumbent Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, who like the serving Prime Minister and the rest of that clique came to power due to the post-modern coup, earlier threatened to publicly execute the country’s former leader if he dares to go through with his planned peaceful protest. This security official issued his threat while speaking on Geo News, thundering that “We will hang him upside down.” Quite ominously, his Cabinet-level colleagues didn’t condemn him, which tacitly signalled their support.

The casual way in which Sanaullah conveyed his death threat to former Prime Minister Khan, who has also been accused by the ruling regime of being “anti-state” due to his anti-corruption campaign and related activism, makes one wonder whether he might have ordered Arshad’s death. After all, the Interior Minister already crossed the Rubicon by publicly threatening to execute his boss’ predecessor without a trial so it follows that assassinating lower-level figures like Arshad isn’t below him either.

To be clear, there exists no evidence that Sanaullah or any other member of the ruling regime played a role in Arshad’s suspicious death, but that doesn’t mean that such doesn’t exist and might eventually be forthcoming. Furthermore, those millions of Pakistanis who are convinced that this clique is responsible probably won’t change their minds either no matter what anyone says. Rather, their frustrations will continue growing and might very well soon reach a boiling point.

A critical mass of the population is already indignant at the injustice committed against former Prime Minister Khan, and they’re also very angry at their ruling regime’s inadequate response to their country’s recent floods. That second-mentioned sentiment has reached such a level that Shehbaz politicized it to urgently demand billions more in international aid after fearmongering that their failure to render such assistance as soon as possible “can obviously lead to serious problems.”

These two factors already combined to create an obviously combustible situation that’s now made much worse by Arshad’s suspicious death, which millions of people are convinced was actually an assassination ordered by their post-modern coup regime. More than likely, this means that the upcoming Long March on Islamabad might end up being one of largest peaceful protests in Pakistan’s history, unless of course the regime uses force – including lethal in the worst-case scenario – to stop it.

Therein lies the greatest uncertainty of them all since there’s no doubt that the former premier will go through with his planned protest, even Shehbaz himself acknowledges how frustrated folks are with their country’s response to its recent floods, and those millions who are already convinced that Arshad was assassinated aren’t going to change their minds no matter what the regime claims about his death. Large-scale peaceful protests therefore appear inevitable, but nobody knows how the regime will react.

The Establishment, which is Pakistani parlance for this country’s powerful military-intelligence structures, is therefore faced with a dilemma. Letting events unfold could easily lead to a situation where the ruling regime is successfully pressured to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible exactly as millions of people have demanded since the post-modern coup occurred. Violently dispersing these same peaceful protests could also lead to the same outcome, however, but after much bloodshed.

The third scenario is to tighten the unofficial martial law that’s characterized the post-modern coup regime since its imposition by the US, which could delay the regime’s dissolution but at the risk of radicalizing some members of the population and thus leading to latent security threats that might materialize at a later date. It would also herald perhaps the darkest chapter in Pakistan’s already difficult history, and it remains unclear exactly how sustainable that state of despotic affairs would be anyhow.

With a view towards Pakistan’s objectively existing national interests and considering the socio-political (soft security) dynamics at play, the best-case scenario would be for The Establishment to allow the peaceful protests to go through and then use them as the pretext for pressuring the post-modern coup regime into holding free and fair elections as soon as possible. That’s the only realistic pressure valve for responsibly managing and ultimately resolving the country’s political crisis without risking chaos.

If Sanaullah is allowed to implement his thuggish threat to publicly execute former Prime Minister Khan, let alone without a trial, then Pakistan will descend into pandemonium. That security official would probably also order those below him to use lethal force against the ousted premier’s peacefully protesting supporters, those who come out to rally against the ruling regime’s inadequate response, and others who join them due to their sincere belief that Arshad was assassinated.

Put another way, this famous journalist’s suspicious death might prove to be a tipping point in Pakistan’s political crisis, which was already extremely combustible prior to this unexpected development. It’s difficult to imagine that the population’s frustrations can be responsibly managed by The Establishment through any other means than allowing them to peacefully protest as the only realistic pressure valve that doesn’t credibly risk national security consequences like the other two scenarios do.

Violently dispersing those protests like Sanaullah has threatened or tightening the unofficial martial law that’s already been imposed across the country since early April could instantly destabilize Pakistan, which no truly patriotic member of The Establishment would ever want to have happen. It therefore remains to be seen how they’ll react to the seemingly inevitable large-scale peaceful protests that are poised to commence after Arshad’s suspicious death that millions are convinced was an assassination.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.

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Categories: Analysis, Current Affairs, Pakistan

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