Pakistan Foreign Office’s attempts to fast-track the normalisation of relations with Afghanistan, India and the United States are already encountering problems. In a seeming frenzy to meet the 100-day reform target set by the newly-elected leadership, blunders are being made one after another.
To be fair, it is not clear that Imran Khan will have much choice regarding nuclear policy. For Pakistani politicians, the options largely come down to either support the Bomb, or keep quiet about it. Like other prime ministers before him, Imran Khan may go and have his picture taken with the missiles that will carry nuclear warheads and pose with the scientists and engineers that make them and the military units that plan and train to fire them.
Some in Pakistan have speculated that China may oppose an IMF program out of concerns that it would compel China to release the financing terms of many CPEC projects. But outside of situations where external debt restructuring is required, it would be exceedingly unusual for the IMF to make such a demand. Instead, the IMF would likely require confidential data on debt payment schedules and other financial information necessary to understand Pakistan’s full balance of payments situation.
Governing Pakistan is an unenviable task in the best of times, not least when the country is faced with an economic meltdown and a diplomatic squeeze. The solution to both is intrinsically linked — with the US holding one of the keys to relieving the pain. Incoming prime minister Imran Khan isn’t going to have an easy time managing this account.
A challenge facing Khan is that, for many Pakistanis, the optimism that accompanied his initial rise has yielded to wariness, if not outright cynicism. His critics see him as an opportunist who is poised for power now because he has accepted back-door support from the country’s powerful Army.
Amid allegations of rigging by various political parties, the 11th general election in the country produced some surprising results as a number of political heavyweights and seasoned politicians suffered defeat in their strongholds, albeit with a slim margin.
Imran Khan thought he was there in 2013, but it was not to be. He claimed the elections were stolen. He won’t accept defeat and was willing to go to any extent to force mid-term polls. He failed. He was a man in a hurry, yet the ‘umpire’ would not come to his help. It’s 2018 now and back to the hustings. Has IK’s moment finally arrived?
Pakistan today suffers from a crisis of governance. The radical right is ascendant. Institutional decay is advanced; the state’s writ is eroded. We soon go to the polls in a divisive, belligerent and to a great extent despondent environment. It is time for serious reflection and introspection.
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