Pakistan currently faces an unfrequented existential crisis wherein Pakistan has entered “uncharted waters” of complete breakdown of mutual trust between State Institutions added to existing economic meltdown and now an even ongoing political meltdown.
With Pakistan’s State Institutions in disarray and under challenge from each other, is Pakistan once again will witness the scenario of a popular call for Pakistan Army for intervention in Pakistan’s governance?
Pakistan at intervals has passed through phase of being perceived as a ‘Failing State’ and ‘Failed State’. But those were different times when the United States, China, Saudi Arabia and UAE would bail out Pakistan with financial largesse to serve their respective strategic ends.
Geopolitically, Pakistan has lost its strategic utility to all its major donors of yesteryears. United States perceives Pakistan as serving China’s strategic interests. Saudi Arabia and UAE were displeased with former Pakistan PM Imran Khan to form a rival Islamic Bloc contending the traditional supremacy of Arab Monarchies in Islamic World.
China seeing the economic meltdowns in Sri Lanka and in Pakistan and with Chinese economy slowing down would not be forthcoming extravagantly like in the past to bail out Pakistan. Pakistanis opposition to CPEC would not be lost on China.
United States with complete control over the IMF remains the only source to financially redeem Pakistan from its economic meltdown. But will the United States do so?
Pakistan will have no more free lunches with United States solely because of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Pakistan has also lost its strategic utility to the United States in relation to Afghanistan.
Pakistan under three years of former PM Imran Khan of PTI decidedly put Pakistan into the Chinese strategic tent and to prove his pro-China bonafides was all along indulging in tirades against the United States. So much so, that after displacement constitutionally he whipped up hysteria that United States conspired in getting him ousted.
United States any bailout of Pakistan from its economic and political meltdown will come now with stringent economic and strategic commitments for Pakistan.
With the contextual backdrop outlined briefly one can now examine Pakistan’s ongoing political turbulence which certainly would be a crucial factor in ‘Risk Forecasts’ on advancing IMF loans to Pakistan or even direct economic aid, forgetting that no FDIs will accrue to Pakistan in its current mess.
Pakistan’s dismal and sordid political mess ongoing can be summed-up in a snapshot freeze. Pakistan Government of PM Shahbaz Sharif has lost faith in Pakistan’s Supreme Court after Pakistan’s recent verdict on Punjab Government dissolution. Within Pakistan’s Supreme Court there are serious divisions both on the Chief Justice’s selection of Judges Panel which gave verdict against PML- N Government in Punjab and also in the selection of five new Judges by the Chief Justice. It is being perceived that the Chief Justice and his panel have perceived bias in favour of PTI.
Punjab as majority province of Pakistan wrested way from PML-N, we now have a situation where Pakistan’s Central Government and Punjab provincial Government will be at loggerheads. This has a bearing on Pakistan’s next General Elections and their outcome.
Pakistan’s most serious disruptive factor politically has been the emergence of PTI in power under Imran Khan. Pakistan’s foreign policy and economic mess has been noticeable since his assuming power as Prime Minister in 2018 with General Bajwa’s blessings. As PM Imran Khan solely contributed to Pakistan’s economic meltdown but also Pakistan’s foreign policy mess resulting in Pakistan’s traditional donors like USA and UAE presently shying away from aiding Pakistan.
PTI Supremo Imran Khan’s dreams of returning as Prime Minister via control of Punjab provincial Government takeover stand aborted by Election Commission of Pakistan declaring that Imran Khan’s party in violation of laws has been receiving monies from foreign companies and foreign individuals. Imran Khan faces ‘Political Disqualification’ under Pakistan’s Constitution on the same grounds that were applied to former PM Nawaz Sharif.
This prospect will in its wake generate disruptive political, judicial and constitutional turbulence as Imran Khan thwarted from his political ambitions to return as Prime Minister can be expected to whip up countrywide unrest and disturbances.
Imran Khan with his ‘Disqualification’ to hold political office will definitely adopt for judicial review and legal challenges. With Pakistan’s Supreme Court, being a house divided, there will be an impact on Imran Khan’s filing review petitions.
Pakistan PM Shahbaz has bravely declared that Pakistan will not go the Sri Lanka route of meltdown as Pakistan is a nuclear weapons state. Implicit in this statement is that because of the ‘nuisance value’ of Pakistan as a nuclear weapons state it will not be allowed to go under. By whom?
It is debatable whether this time around the United States would do so without extracting a heavy price from Pakistan in terms of a “RESET” of Pakistan’s China-policy and also in terms of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
Concluding, the foregoing analysis above should have highlighted the dismal and unprecedented existential crisis that Pakistan today is facing. Is Pakistan staring at the spectacle of Pakistan Army being called upon by popular demand to intervene in Pakistan’s governance?