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Khan Can’t


It is the general opinion among Pakistan’s political analysts that the ‘Establishment’, another word for the Army, has decided to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan. This is largely because he is increasingly becoming an embarrassment with his delusional posturing (Riyasat-e-Medina), even as the people are unhappy with the mishandling of the economy. Khan, on his part, is trying to present himself as a global leader playing an important role in various strategic arenas. He goes rushing off to countries without being invited, offers unilaterally to solve problems between nations, tries to make Pakistan part of international power structures, but ends up being rebuffed by all. One such example was his attempt to forge an ‘Islamic’ alliance with Turkey and Malaysia, which succeeded only in miffing Saudi Arabia, which considers itself leader of the Muslim world.

Analysts point out the reality that US President Biden has not even had a telephone conversation with Khan ever since taking over. The reason for this is the haste displayed by Khan in taking credit for the United States’ retreat from Afghanistan. Now, he is being allowed to repent at leisure the collapse of relations with its greatest benefactor.

Now that the Pakistan economy is in the ICU, Khan has suddenly discovered the merit of ‘geo-economics’ over ‘geo-politics’. It is believed the Army has much to do with this change in posture, because its generals are more into business than military activity. It is increasingly being felt that reviving trade relations with India would be essential for economic recovery. However, with Khan having targeted PM Modi personally like some Indian leader of the opposition, there is little chance of India adopting a magnanimous approach. Like other South Asian nations that adopted a populist approach during the pandemic, economic recovery now requires an even harder dose of pragmatism. Loans and handouts from other nations as well as financial institutions require introduction of painful reforms. Khan has left himself little political space to do so. The developing crisis in Ukraine is bound to stress the global economy severely, sending teetering economies like that of Pakistan over the edge. While aid provided for humanitarian reasons may provide some relief, long term prospects for growth will be entirely scuttled. The system will need a scapegoat so that necessary policy changes and U-turns can be made. Khan totally will fit the bill for that role. It is only a matter of when!