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India: Rise in Police Encounters in UP Under Yogi Adityanath’s Leadership



Since Yogi Adityanath assumed office as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2017, the state has witnessed a significant rise in the number of police encounters, sparking intense debate and concerns over human rights violations and extrajudicial killings. While the government argues that these encounters are a necessary tool to combat crime, critics and human rights organizations contend that they raise serious questions about due process, transparency, and the rule of law.

Under the leadership of Chief Minister Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh has experienced a surge in reported encounters between the police and alleged criminals. These encounters often involve suspects in cases ranging from organized crime to petty offenses. The encounters typically result in the death of the alleged criminals, with the police claiming self-defence or retaliatory action.

An investigation of police records by The Indian Express reveals that since March 2017, when Yogi Adityanath took charge, and till date, the state has witnessed 186 encounters. This works out to more than one alleged criminal being killed by the police every 15 days.

Also read, The Appalling State of Muslims in post-colonial India

Supporters of Police Encounters

Supporters of these encounters argue that they have contributed to a decrease in crime rates and instilled a sense of safety among the public. The government points to statistics showing a decline in major crimes as evidence of the effectiveness of this approach. However, critics remain skeptical about the veracity of these claims and emphasize the need for a thorough and impartial investigation into each encounter.

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Human Rights Organizations on Police Encounters

Human rights organizations and activists have raised serious concerns regarding the legality and propriety of these encounters. They argue that extrajudicial killings erode the foundations of a democratic society and undermine the principles of justice and fairness. These encounters bypass the judicial process and deny individuals their right to a fair trial, potentially leading to the abuse of power and the violation of human rights.

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Self-defence Claims on Police Encounters

There have been allegations of encounters being staged or manipulated to fabricate self-defense claims. Concerns have also been raised about the lack of transparency surrounding the circumstances of these encounters, with limited independent oversight or mechanisms to ensure accountability. Such issues further erode public trust in law enforcement agencies and the justice system.

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The Uttar Pradesh Government on Police Encounters

In response to mounting criticism, the Uttar Pradesh government has defended the encounters as necessary in the fight against crime and asserts that all encounters are conducted within the framework of the law. They emphasize that these operations are carried out to protect the safety and security of the citizens. However, the lack of independent investigations and public scrutiny has fuelled scepticism and calls for greater transparency.

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The Rise in Police Encounters

The rise in police encounters in Uttar Pradesh under Chief Minister Adityanath’s tenure has drawn attention not only within India but also internationally. Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have expressed concerns about the pattern of extrajudicial killings and the potential violation of human rights. They have called for independent investigations into these encounters to ensure that the principles of justice and human rights are upheld.

Critics argue that a comprehensive approach to law enforcement should prioritize measures such as professional training, intelligence-led operations, and an efficient and impartial judicial system. Strengthening these areas would provide a more sustainable and accountable framework for crime control while preserving the fundamental rights of all individuals.

Balancing the need for effective law enforcement with the protection of human rights and the rule of law remains a significant challenge. It is essential for the Uttar Pradesh government to undertake measures that address these concerns, ensure transparent and independent investigations into encounters, and establish mechanisms for accountability.

The police encounters in Uttar Pradesh since Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath assumed office have ignited a contentious debate over the methods employed in combating crime. Striking the right balance between security and the protection of individual rights is crucial for the state to foster a safe and just society. Upholding the principles of due process, transparency, and accountability will be key to restoring public trust and upholding the rule of law in Uttar Pradesh.

In recent developments, the controversial rise of police encounters in Uttar Pradesh has gained further attention and sparked renewed discussions about the need for accountability and transparency.

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Civil Society and Human Rights Advocacy

Civil society organizations and human rights activists have been vocal in their condemnation of extrajudicial killings and the lack of accountability in encounters. They have continued to raise awareness about the issue through campaigns, public awareness programs, and legal advocacy. These efforts have played a significant role in keeping the issue in the public spotlight and demanding justice for the victims.

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International Attention

The issue of encounters in Uttar Pradesh has drawn international attention. Human rights organizations and foreign governments have expressed their concerns over extrajudicial killings and violations of human rights. The international community has called for independent investigations and accountability, urging the Indian government to uphold its international obligations and protect the rights of all individuals.

While the recent developments indicate a growing recognition of the need for accountability and transparency in encounters, there is still much work to be done. It is crucial for the Uttar Pradesh government to take concrete steps to ensure independent and impartial investigations into encounters, establish mechanisms for accountability, and provide support to victims’ families.

Addressing the root causes of crime, improving the professionalism and training of law enforcement agencies, and strengthening the judicial system are essential components of a comprehensive approach to law enforcement that respects human rights and upholds the rule of law.

The ongoing discussions, judicial interventions, and advocacy efforts are crucial in holding authorities accountable and bringing about systemic reforms. Only through a collective commitment to justice, transparency, and the protection of human rights can Uttar Pradesh strive towards a society where the rule of law prevails and the rights and dignity of all individuals are safeguarded.

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Lack of Accountability

Critics argue that the government has failed to hold law enforcement officials accountable for their actions in encounters. The absence of independent and impartial investigations into these incidents has created an environment where impunity prevails. Without proper scrutiny and consequences for wrongdoing, there is little deterrent to prevent potential abuses of power.

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Insufficient Reforms

While the government has established commissions or committees to examine select encounters, critics contend that these efforts are piecemeal and lack comprehensive reforms. There is a need for systemic changes that address the root causes and structural issues surrounding encounters, such as inadequate training, biased policing, and the absence of transparent protocols.

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Lack of Transparency

Transparency is a crucial aspect of any democratic society. However, critics argue that the government has been reluctant to provide clear and detailed information about encounters, making it difficult to assess their legitimacy. The absence of publicly available data, including information about the number of encounters, the identities of the victims, and the circumstances leading to their deaths, hampers efforts to ensure accountability and justice.

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Scepticism of Official Narratives

There is widespread scepticism among critics regarding the official narratives presented by law enforcement agencies in encounters. The claims of self-defence or retaliatory action are often met with doubts, given the lack of independent verification and the pattern of encounters being used as a means to eliminate alleged criminals without due process.

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Failure to Address Root Causes

Critics argue that encounters, as a response to crime, are a superficial approach that fails to address the underlying causes of criminality. They believe that the government should focus on comprehensive measures such as strengthening community policing, improving socio-economic conditions, and reforming the judicial system to ensure a more effective and sustainable approach to crime prevention.

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The absence of robust action on the part of the current government has led to a growing sense of frustration and disillusionment among human rights activists, civil society organizations, and concerned citizens. They argue that addressing the issue of encounters requires proactive measures, including impartial investigations, reforms in law enforcement practices, and transparency to ensure justice for victims and uphold the rights of all individuals.


Modi Visits US Amidst Human Rights Criticism



Modi Visits US amid Human Rights Criticism

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently embarked on a state visit to the United States, where he addressed a joint session of Congress. However, Modi’s visit was met with huge criticism from both India and the US. Many questioned America’s stance on Modi’s illiberal and anti-democratic policies. They raised concerns about Modi’s past human rights record in Gujarat when he was the Chief Minister of the state, as well as the growing discrimination against Muslims since he assumed office as Prime Minister. As a result, there were calls for US President Joe Biden to discuss these issues with Modi during the visit.

However, the White House declined to raise the concerns regarding human rights violations and discrimination against Muslims during their meeting with Modi. They stated that President Biden would not lecture Modi on India’s democratic record during the visit. In a joint press conference at the White House, Modi faced a single scripted question, raising eyebrows as he appeared to answer from a teleprompter. Although the question was related to minority rights, Modi chose to emphasize India’s democratic achievements rather than directly addressing the concerns about minority rights in the country.

Modi’s US Visit: Obama’s Views on Minority Rights in India

Former US President Barack Obama weighed in on Modi’s visit. Expressing his belief, he said that that discussing the rights of ethnic minorities, particularly Muslim minorities, with Modi was essential. Obama emphasized that if India fails to protect the rights of ethnic minorities, it risks “pulling apart.” However, his comments drew criticism from leaders of India’s ruling government. BJP leader and Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sharma, who was sarcastically questioned if action would be taken against Obama by the Assam police for criticizing the Prime Minister replied that he would go after “Hussain Obamas” within the country first. It is worth noting that the Assam police is known for taking action against critics of Modi.

Also Read: Why Is Indian PM Modi’s Silent About Attacks Against Muslims?

Backlash from Indian Leaders towards Obama

India’s Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, also strongly rebuked Obama for his statement. She suggesting that Obama was the real enemy of Muslims, while Modi was a friend to the Muslim community. Sitharaman supported her claim with data, pointing out that during Obama’s tenure, he had conducted military operations in six Muslim-majority countries. At the same time, out of the total 13 state honours that Modi has received, six were from Muslim-majority countries.

Notably, Egypt recently conferred its highest state honour on Modi, further highlighting his international recognition by Muslim dictators. In 2018, the Palestinian Authority also awarded him the Grand Collar of the State of Palestine, the highest Palestinian honor for foreign dignitaries.

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Modi’s Ban from Entering the US

It is significant to mention that prior to becoming Prime Minister in 2014, Modi had faced a decade-long ban from entering the US due to “severe violations of religious freedom”. He was the only person in the world denied a US visa for this reason. However, after assuming office, the US revoked the ban, allowing him to travel to the country on several occasions.

Strategic Interests: US-India Partnership

The question that arises is why the US chose to host Modi despite his democratic transgressions. In recent years, there has been a growing strategic interest between the US and India, driven by the rise of China. While India had previously adopted a non-aligned foreign policy, it is now leaning towards closer ties with the US. The US sees India’s geographic location as an advantage in countering China’s influence and seeks to involve India in its strategy to contain China, especially considering India’s existing disputes with its neighboring country. As a member of the QUAD, a group aiming to counter China, India’s support is crucial for the US.

US’ Compromised Stance on Human Rights

It is worth noting that while the US often speaks out against authoritarian regimes with which it lacks mutual interests, it paradoxically encourages and supports worse authoritarians and dictators around the world if they align with its interests. The US operates based on the principle of pursuing its permanent interests rather than maintaining permanent friendships.

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Balancing Interests and Ethics

In conclusion, Modi’s recent visits to the US was marred by criticism regarding his human rights record and concerns about the treatment of minority communities in India. Despite these criticisms, the US government chose to host Modi, prioritizing strategic interests and the containment of China over addressing human rights issues. The strategic partnership between the US and India has gained importance due to the geopolitical dynamics in the region. India’s potential as a counterbalance to China has led the US to turn a blind eye to Modi’s policies against the Muslim minority. India’s participation in the QUAD, a coalition aimed at countering China’s influence, further solidifies its significance in the US strategy.

While the US is known for condemning authoritarian regimes, it often compromises its principles when there are mutual interests at stake. This inconsistency raises questions about the ethical foundations of US foreign policy and its willingness to support leaders with questionable democratic records.

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The Appalling State of Muslims in post-colonial India



South Asia is home to one-third of the world’s Muslim population. Contrary to the popular belief there are more Muslims in South Asia than there are in middle-east which is popularly known to be the heart-land of Islam. After Indonesia, India is the second country in the world with the largest Muslim population. India is anciently known to be the hub of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. So, when and how did a country largely consisting of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains become so densely populated by Muslims? How did Islam emerge in pre-colonial India? As much as there is a controversy around this inquisition, there is also a lack of historical, geographical and political awareness related to it. The most important aspect to this bone of contention is the appalling state of the Muslims in post-colonial India, and how is it different from that of the Muslim diasporas in the rest of the world, in specie the West. Albeit there have been events of religious violence in pre-colonial and British India, the post-colonial period has seen an enormous increase in riots and hate crimes against Muslims in India.

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The Image of Muslims in the West

The image of Muslims in the west has been in question lately more than ever in the world in general. The rise of hate crimes against Muslims usually chalk up to the 9/11 attack against the United States which was allegedly carried out by a religious extremist organization Al-Qa’ida. Having said that there have been some crucial conspiracy theories that called for a new investigation into the attacks, because they asserted that there was evidence of individuals from within the US government being either responsible for or knowingly having conspired in the attacks as a means for America of justifying the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, majority of the general public held the opinion that Al-Qai’da had orchestrated the attack. Because the members of the Al-Qai’da were people who proclaimed to be the adherents of the religion of Islam, this gave rise to a sense of bigotry and intolerance in the west towards the entire Muslim community.

The widely accepted notion among the broad commonality incriminated the Muslims of effectuating the attack. Non-Muslims started generalizing Muslims and started viewing them as people who endorsed terrorism, which led to a common prejudice against them in the western society. From their customs and religious practices, including their eating habits, to their appearance and clothing, Muslim men and Women were looked down upon and stereotyped as radical and fundamentalists. This generalization and stereotyping of Muslims gradually turned violent in nature and this turn of events gave rise to a series of hate crimes resulting in abuse and even unfortunate deaths of many Muslims. Howbeit, even before the 9/11 attack, many bookmen and laypeople alike had accepted a prior perception that religious terrorism had become the most common form of terrorism, particularly with regard to Islam. This suggests that Islamophobia was a common practice even before 2001.

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Islamophobia before 9/11

People have associated Islamophobia with various manifestations. While some people reckon the phenomena with the increasing population of Muslims in the United States and Europe, others deem it to be retaliation for an ostensible anticipation of the emergence of a global Muslim identity. Yet many others identify Islamophobia with xenophobia and racism. Another less talked about reason for Islamophobia is the media’s double standards while reporting terrorism. A recent study has found out that terror attacks by “muslims” receive 357% more press attention. This was University of Alabama researcher’s newly study which was published in Justice Quarterly (academic journal covering criminology and criminal justice) authored by Dr. Erin Kearns, UA assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice. Still and all the causes of Islamophobia have always been and till date are debatable.

In the spate of attacks on Muslims in the western countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland and New Zealand, it should be noted that the occurrence of such deplorable crimes in the West have one regularity. They are all driven by Islamophobia, the impetus of which is the bigotry for Muslims, a sequence to the specious notion that Muslims endorse Terrorism.

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Appalling State of Muslims in post-colonial India- Partition

Talking about Islam and Muslims, then like in West the appalling state of Muslims is much the same in parts of South Asia explicitly in India, but for wholly different reasons. Though there have been incidents of religious violence in pre-colonial and British India, the history of modern India has seen a compelling surge in the estimate of both subjective and objective violence. But what accounts for this rise of violence against Muslims in independent India? Is it Islamophobia that drives this hatred, just like it does in the West.

Inasmuch these crimes are a result of anti-Muslim sentiments in both the West and in India, the causes of these crimes are primitively much different. Benchmarking the nature of these crimes and the disparity in the claims of the perpetrators, one finds out that there is significantly a historical aspect to the nature of violence against Muslims in India. The partition of British India into two different countries, now called India and Pakistan, was originally borne out of a religious divide amongst Hindus and Muslims. As history claims, different people were for and against partition, as each had a different vision in mind.

There are many theories that explain the reasons for the establishment of Pakistan. One of the most agreed upon consensus of the pro-partition leaders for the formation of Pakistan was the subject of safety of the Muslim minority in the otherwise Hindu majority India. The earlier incidents of religious violence in India had taken a toll on both the Hindus and Muslims. The Muslims being the minority were now more insecure about their safety while living amongst Hindus. Because the safety of Muslims had been in question, ultimately the demand for a separate country for Muslims by the pro-partition leaders was unanimously supported by most Muslims. The Muslims who were not able to migrate then to the land given to Pakistan were left in India, and thus were even less in number, making them an even smaller minority than before.

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Commencement of the Appalling State of Muslims in post-colonial India

 What marked the commencement of the violence against Muslims in Independent India was the demolition of Babri Masjid, a 430 year old mosque in Ayodhya by extremist Hindus and members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad(VHP) and Bajrang Dal. What followed was a sequel of incidents feuled by the religious animosity stirred between Hindus and Muslims. There has been a continuing rise in the manifestation of hate crimes and incidents of religious prejudice against Muslims in India ever since. However, with the emergence of the current government in India, the last few years have seen an enormous and noticeable amount of hate driven crimes including rape, public flogging and lynching. The motives of the perpetrators for committing such heinous crimes are as bizarre as they are abominable. Concepts like cow vigilantism and theories like “Ghar Wapsi” have been doing rounds in the air and have accounted for most of these crimes if not all.

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The idea of “Ghar Wapsi” in the appalling state of Muslims in post-colonial India

The idea of “Ghar Wapsi” has also been endorsed and publicized by the right-wing extremists in India, including the leaders of the current government. It is a concept that propagates religious conservation of non-hindus to Hinduism. The reason behind the ideology of these people is their belief that all the people living in pre-colonial and ancient India were originally Hindus. They believe that the emergence and presence of non-hindus in India is only because of the forced conversions by missionaries and invaders that came to India from outside, who were by and large Muslims. This ideology is linked to the pre-colonial past of India. It refers to the period when Islam first emerged in India in 711, when Mohammad Bin Qasim, who was a general in the Umayyad -empire conquered the area of the Southern Pakistan. This was the initial interaction of Islam with South Asia.

Afterwards in the 13th century, the Mongol Invasion uprooted a large number of Persian Turks from Iran and Central-Asia driving them to India where they settled in. And so gradually the tradition and practices of these people started to blend in the syncretic culture of India. Subsequently in the late 13th century with the establishment of the Empire of Timur, began the era of the rise Muslim rulers in India.

Later on in 1526, Babur, a direct descendant of Timur, founded the Mughal Empire, which then ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent for more than 200 years. During the growth of the Mughal Empire under Babar’s son Akbar (1526-1605) there was an essential blending of Hindu-Muslim cultures. Akbar married a Hindu princess of a pure Hindu Rajput blood-line. This made Akbar’s son Jehangir half Rajput and half-Hindu.  After Akbar, his son also married a Hindu woman, and therefore Jehangir’s son Shahjahan was three-quarters Rajput. With the rise of the Mughal Empire, biologically each successor of the dynasty became less and less Turkic and more and more Indian. They adapted the culture of India and also the Indian culture was insinuated by the Islamic traditions, resulting in the concoction of two separate cultures and religions.

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Historic Bias as a reason for the Appalling State of Muslims in Post-Colonial India

These religious and cultural adaptations are, however, still seen as unethical and blameworthy by many Hindus in India, as they see Islam as a threat to their own culture and identity, as a foreign concept brought to India from outside. They consider the presence of Muslims in India as a result of the historic invasions and forceful conversions by Muslim outlanders and conquerors, and not the gradual amalgamation of two different cultures and religions over the course of time. Crimes like lunching and theories like “ghar wapsi” are not mere co-incidents but are borne out of such historic beliefs. They are a corollary of a historic hurt that these people carry. The violence in the west or bread out of islamophobia is sporadic in nature and often spontaneous while in India violence is structured. Unlike the west, the primeval and ever-growing intolerance towards the practices and culture of Muslims in modern day India is not because of the nature of these practices. On the contrary, in India Islam as a religion is not seen as much of a threat but Muslims are.

Also, read Dehumanizing Representation of Tribals and Muslims in the Oscar fame RRR

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Pakistan Establishment’s Move Against Imran Khan and PTI



Pakistan Establishment Moves Against Imran Khan

The recent political developments in Pakistan, involving the Establishment’s crackdown on Imran Khan’s political party Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf (PTI) have marked another watershed moment in the chequered political history of Pakistan. The Establishment in Pakistan is once again involved in breaking and making political parties. The developments are not unprecedented and follow a model. A charismatic political leader who commands legitimacy among the masses rises. The army or the Establishment becomes wary of the leader’s power. In order to protect their political power, they go after the leader, by breaking their political party and killing them.

Imran Khan’s Threat to the Establishment

Imran Khan and his party PTI pose a grave danger to the power of the Establishment. His supporters mostly come from the urban middle classes. This specific class has been historically a supporter of the Establishment. Khan thus ate into the support of the Pakistani army. The army views it as a zero-sum game— Khan’s increasing support is their loss.

Even though it was initially alleged that Khan came to power in 2018 because of the backing of the Establishment, he turned out to be dangerous for the Establishment. The differences came to the fore after the fall of Kabul. Khan refused the CIA’s requests to establish its bases in Pakistan for future operations in Afghanistan.

Pakistani Army has historically leaned towards the US. Immediately after independence, the Pakistani Army became a part of various defence and security treaties with the US. Further, the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan also brought the Pakistani Army closer to the US. Similarly, post-2001 when the US launched its operations in Afghanistan, Pakistani Army’s support was crucial to the US.

However, during the recent withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, the Pakistani Army was sidelined. Prime Minister Imran Khan took all the important decisions. The Pakistani Army felt threatened. After a few months, the opposition ousted Imran Khan from office through a no-confidence motion in April 2022. There were various accusations of US involvement in Khan’s ouster because the US had at various times publicly expressed its displeasure of Khan’s policies. However, these accusations have not been proven.

Also Read: Pakistan’s March towards Democratic Reform

Politically Motivated Corruption Charges Against Khan

After his ouster, the ruling government charged Khan and his family with various corruption cases. The government recently arrested him in these cases. His supporters took to the streets to protest the arrest. Later, Supreme Court of Pakistan had to intervene in the matter and the court released Khan on bail. However, during the protests, there were widespread incidences of violence in which several key army installations were damaged by the protesters.

The government alleges that Khan and his political party instigated their supporters to carry out violence. Khan and his party have denied the charges. However, the government arrested several key PTI leaders for instigating the violence. The courts released some of these leaders later but they have now either abandoned PTI or quit politics altogether. The army seems to have pressured these leaders to give up politics or face the consequences.  Further, it is also a tactic to isolate Imran Khan and criminalize any kind of association with him.

The Establishment is trying people associated with the recent violence under army law. The government is also publicly talking about banning PTI. Several international human rights organizations have called upon the Pakistani government to try these people under civil law.

Also Read: Pakistan Crisis Explained – Looming Threat of a Military Coup

Establishment’s Move Against Khan Not Unprecedented

The Establishment’s attempt to break PTI and obliterate Imran Khan by accusing him of terror and corruption is not unprecedented in the history of Pakistan. There were at least two cases where a popular political leader rose and the Pakistani Army felt threatened. They either killed them or tried to obliterate their political parties. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested and his party banned while Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was killed.

Sheikh Mujibur Rehman

When Sheikh Mujibur Rahman emerged as a mass leader in the erstwhile East Pakistan, his party won a majority of the seats in the 1970 elections. He was about to take the charge of Prime Minister of Pakistan, but the Establishment was against him. The Establishment arrested him and banned his party and launched the infamous operation in East Pakistan that culminated in the liberation of East Pakistan and the formation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Similarly, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto emerged as a mass leader in Pakistan in the early 1970s, he threatened the Pakistani Army’s power.  Pakistan Army’s chief, General Zia-ul-Haq staged a coup and arrested Bhutto on the charges of murder. After a lot of controversy, the court found Bhutto guilty in the case and subsequently sentenced him to death. They finally executed him in April 1979.

There is a standard model that the Establishment in Pakistan follows when it comes to the rise of popular political leaders. The Establishment either kills or politically obliterates any leader who threatens its power. It is still in the initial days of the process to make Imran Khan politically irrelevant in Pakistan, and it remains to be seen how the Establishment will deal with Khan.

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