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Pakistan Stressed


After the fall of Afghanistan, it was hoped that Pakistan would be the bulwark against the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s emphasis on the principles of ‘Riyasat-e-Medina’ was thought to be an attempt to interpret the principles of Islam in the modern context. In practice, however, there has been a vast gap in what he seems to believe and what he has implemented on the ground. He would have the Pakistanis think that China and the western world have developed by practicing the teachings of Prophet Mohammed. He would have Pakistan do the same under his leadership.

Every nation has its political ‘Pappus’ and clearly, despite his repeated references to how Pakistan won the Cricket World Cup under his captaincy, the people are realising he cannot walk the talk. Pakistan traditionally had adeptly maintained a balance between long time patron, the United States, and ‘all-weather friend’ China, as a counter to existential adversary India. Khan has managed to alienate the US and is not exactly in sync with China’s international strategy. This has created, among other things, a major economic crisis that rivals that of Sri Lanka.

It is believed that the Army has washed its hands off him, even as almost the entire political establishment has come together to bring him down. He made a largely emotional appeal before his supporters during a public rally on Sunday, pressing every button from the ‘Riyasat’ to Muslim pride, but did not deliver what he had promised to do – some kind of brilliant counter-strike to the no-confidence motion awaiting his government in the National Assembly.

So, would his departure be good for India? Will Pakistan’s democracy survive the ongoing turmoil? Will it be possible to rescue the economy from its present decline? Are traditional funders like the Saudis willing to undertake yet another rescue? Can the opposition stay united enough to take up the reins? Or, are fresh elections in the offing? Should Khan survive the no-confidence motion, will he become stronger or mostly ineffective? Will the nuclear arsenal remain safe? His predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, worked to build good relations with India but was sabotaged by the Army and the terror groups. Has Khan’s co-opting of these two forces with his brand of fundamentalism lessened the friction between the two countries? There is much at stake and, as has been seen in Ukraine, even the smallest miscalculation can have serious consequences.