Perceptionaly, China is in an impassive ‘spectator mode’ as Pakistan flounders on the edge of an abyss in its ongoing existential crisis mainly engineered by former PM Imran Khan politically displaced in a Constitutional coup.
When Pakistan is in a state of acute economic meltdown and reeling under widespread devastation of floods, does it behove former PM Imran Khan to provoke a political meltdown of Pakistan? Former PM Imran Khan emerges as the most unprincipled and insensitive Pakistani political leader in nation’s history.
On emerging as Pakistan’s Prime Minister with the label of ‘Selected PM’ courtesy the Pakistan Army, after vainly trying for a decade to capture political power, PM Imran Khan went on an unabashed kow-towing to Chinese rulers in Beijing.
Pakistan Army and Pakistani PMs in the past traditionally and promiscuously courted Chinese leadership while swearing loyalty to United States which in comparison had bestowed on Pakistan billions of dollars in financial and military aid over decades.
However, Imran Khan on assuming office of Prime Minister swerved wildly in vocal assertions of his strategic tilt towards China to the extent of declaring that he would never seek IMF loans from IMF and other US controlled financial institutions.
Analytically, such bold assertions could not have been made by Imran Khan without some degree of confidence in personal assurances given to him by Chinese leadership.
In tangent, Imran Khan besides unhitching Pakistan from its traditional moorings to United States also angered Arab monarchies by attempting to form a Pakistan-Turkey-Malaysia Bloc to displace established Arab Monarchies leadership of the Muslim World.
The crucial question that arises is as to on whose backing and strength was former PM Imran Khan making such revisionist and disruptive turnarounds in Pakistan’s existing policy directions?
One’s gut feeling is that Imran Khan having been snubbed by US President Trump snooked his thumb at the United States by going overboard on China, secure in the belief that China would provide and underwrite Imran Khan’s continuance as Premier of Pakistan.
This confidence could possibly have arisen from a calculation that China would underwrite Pakistan’s financial meltdown and also prevail on Pakistan Army hierarchy to be permissive on his staying on as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Intriguingly, neither of the possible assumptions of Imran Khan on China unfolded as stated above. That leads to the glaring questions as to why China held its hand on Imran Khan being constitutionally ousted from office of Prime Minister and also why China continues to be an impassive spectator of Pakistan’s existential crisis.
China’s motives seem to lie in a mix of the following factors (1) China is reluctant to support Imran Khan after he crossed swords with the Pakistan Army hierarchy (2) China is aware that even if Imran Khan with his ‘street populism’ is voted in as PM again, his propensity to impulsively demonise Pakistan Army with the derogatory term ‘Neutrals’ could bring about a second political downfall (3) China with its slowing economic growth cannot risk investing billions to bail out Pakistan’s economic meltdown.
The overarching question which can possibly over-ride the above factors is that can China afford to let Pakistan slip out of China’s political, strategic and economic stranglehold after over-investing in Pakistan’s strategic utility to China?
In conclusion, what needs to be highlighted is that Pakistan cannot be retrieved from its political and economic meltdown by ‘messianic’ leaders like Imran Khan, too much engulfed in their self-narcissism buoyed by ‘street power’ populism. Nor would China opt to stare at economic catastrophe for itself by burdening itself with Pakistan’s irretrievable economic meltdown.
Pakistan can only be bailed-out by United States & West along with global financial institutions, which are anathema for Imran Khan. Pakistan has to make hard decisions whether it can afford to vote-in anti-US Prime Ministers or opt for those political leaders who enjoy the confidence of US & West. Pakistan will be in for prolonged “Hard Times” till such time it makes political “Hard Choices”.