June 29, 2022

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What political upheaval in Pakistan means for rest of the world

2 min read

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD — Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan blocked a no-confidence vote he looked sure to lose on Sunday and advised the president to order fresh elections, fueling anger among the opposition and deepening the country’s political crisis. 

His actions have created huge uncertainty in Islamabad, with constitutional experts debating their legality and pondering whether Mr. Khan and his rivals can find a way forward. 

The nuclear-armed nation of more than 220 million people lies between Afghanistan to the west, China to the northeast and nuclear rival India to the east, making it of vital strategic importance. 

Since coming to power in 2018, Mr. Khan’s rhetoric has become more anti-American and he has expressed a desire to move closer to China and, recently, Russia — including talks with President Vladimir Putin on the day the invasion of Ukraine began. 

At the same time, US and Asian foreign policy experts said that Pakistan’s powerful military has traditionally controlled foreign and defense policy, thereby limiting the impact of political instability. 

Here is what the upheaval, which many expect to lead to Khan’s exit, means for countries closely involved in Pakistan: 

AFGHANISTAN
Ties between Pakistan’s military intelligence agency and the Islamist militant Taliban have loosened in recent years. 

Now the Taliban are back in power, and facing an economic and humanitarian crisis due to a lack of money and international isolation, Qatar is arguably their most important foreign partner. 

“We (the United States) don’t need Pakistan as a conduit to the Taliban. Qatar is definitely playing that role now,” said Lisa Curtis, director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security think-tank. 

Tensions have risen between the Taliban and Pakistan’s military, which has lost several soldiers in attacks close to their mutual border. Pakistan wants the Taliban to do more to crack down on extremist…

Neil

2022-04-04 02:32:37

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