Red lines.

Former prime minister Imran Khan believes he is the latest target of the establishment's version of 'cancel culture'. Ever since the shifting sands of Pakistan's treacherous political landscape caught up with the PTI chairman last April, he has railed against the powers that be for having pulled the rug from under his feet, or in his words, for becoming 'neutral'.

Of late, however, Mr Khan has been alleging that these quarters are engaged in political engineering to keep him out of power, an assertion that various developments in the country appear to support.

A few days ago, in the run-up to the Punjab chief minister seeking a trust vote from the provincial assembly, the PTI chief claimed his party members were being persuaded to part ways with him on the grounds that he had no political future, that he had been marked with a 'red line'. Decrying as 'arrogant' and lacking in political acumen those who wanted to write him off, Mr Khan vowed he would erase the barriers being erected against him with the help of his supporters. The people of this country alone, he said, had the right to place red lines on people.

The ousted PM's assertion certainly has historical precedent in this country. Several civilian leaders have found themselves shunted into the political wilderness after falling foul of the powerful security establishment. Some managed to claw their way back, often only after compromising with the power brokers, when changing circumstances opened up the opportunity for a...

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