The Perils of Pakistan’s Stability – Opinions & Blogs News

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Pakistan is suffering from catastrophic floods which have affected the whole country. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres visited the country. This calamity may have come at the worst time Pakistan could have expected.

The country is already suffering from political, economic and geopolitical problems. For a few months, Pakistan has been in a harsh state. Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, recently warned that if this continues, Pakistan could become another Sri Lanka.

Let’s take a detailed look at how one disaster led to another. It all probably started last April, when then-Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted by Pakistan’s National Assembly in a no-confidence vote.

Shahbaz Sharif, former chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province and younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has taken over as the South Asian nation’s new prime minister.

In a parliamentary democracy it is very common to lose the majority and sit on the other side of the table, but not in Pakistan. Khan, who proclaimed himself head of the Muslim ummah, refused to recognize the outcome of the no-confidence motion.

He claimed the whole motion was a conspiracy by the US government to dethrone him. Khan argued that the West does not approve of Pakistan’s close relationship with Russia and China. He alleged that the Deep State (Pakistani military) with the help of US intelligence conspired against him and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

Khan along with all his PTI legislatures resigned from the National Assembly. Since then, he has called for early elections. But the current government, along with coalition partners, is keen to complete the remaining one-and-a-half-year term.

Before leaving office, he steadfastly oversubsidized rations and fuel. This made it very difficult for the current government to undo these actions. Eventually, the political storm coupled with the uncertainty in the market led to an economic crisis in the country.

Pakistan, which was already struggling to secure an IMF bailout, faced more economic strain due to Khan’s grant decision. Over the past 60 years, Pakistan has received 22 IMF loans, all with stringent conditions such as increased energy prices, elimination of energy subsidies, increased taxes, privatization of public bodies, budgetary adjustments, etc.

Economists perceive that once the bailout is finalized, Pakistan will notice a sudden increase in inflation rates. Pakistan’s economy, which has already been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and has been on the FATF’s gray list (since 2018), is in yet another moment of experiencing a fiscal shock, the current government not being able to reverse the risk of default.

While Miftah Ismail last week imposed an additional fuel tax and avoided the subsidy, former Prime Minister Khan was ready to absorb the political gain from the situation. Khan over the past few months has made it very difficult for the current government in power to make a substantive decision. In his political rallies, he constantly targets Prime Minister Shahbaz and the current army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Pakistan is currently facing the perfect storm. With the arrival of the Taliban in Afghanistan, another security risk, the Pakistani Taliban or TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan), is spreading to the northwestern borders. The TTP which is considered a Pakistani branch of the Afghan Taliban wants the same fate as Afghanistan for Pakistan. The TTP is responsible for the disastrous terrorist attack at Peshawar Military School in 2014, in which more than 150 people lost their lives, including 134 students. The TTP is once again active in Pakistan as political instability approaches.

The following months will be very hard for the Pakistani leaders, the opposition and especially the establishment. On the one hand, they will fight with political unrest over other economic uncertainties. Likewise, on the one hand, they will fight with the groups of extremism and terror on the other against the climatic floods. It is the need of the hour for Pakistani politicians and the Pakistani establishment to come together and work for the collective good of the people ignoring personal gains and benefits.

(Disclaimer: The views of the author do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. WION or ZMCL also does not endorse the views of the author.)

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