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Pakistan Disenchanted with Prime Minister Imran Khan:

Paper No. 6593                                  Dated 10-June-2020

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Pakistan is widely disenchanted in 2020 with PM Imran Khan who rode into office in mid-2018 rousing high expectations in Pakistan’s middle class and youth that he was the ‘messiah’ who would rid Pakistan of all its political and economic ills and deliver to this Islamic Republic a “Naya Pakistan” translated—a :New Pakistan”.

Strange are the political dynamics of Pakistan that before he became the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan as a political leader was a staunch critic for thirteen long years of the Pakistan Army Generals, their collusion with United States in drone bombings of Pakistan’s Frontier Regions targeting Islamic Jihadi terror groups and the widespread corruption flourishing with Pakistan Establishment’s permissiveness. Notably, at that time Imran Khan was also a supporter of the Taliban.

As Tehriqe-e-Insaaf  or ‘Justice Party’ leader Imran Khan ,a year or two before the 2018 Elections did a complete ‘U-Turn’ had allowed himself to be adopted by the Pakistan Army as its ‘Selected Prime Minister’ to prevent the return of Former PM Nawaz Sharif for a third term who had shown sign of clipping the Pakistan Army’s wings.

Avoiding repetition since it is well known that Pakistan Army and its intelligence wing ISI went into overdrive to rig elections, imprison Former PM Nawaz Sharif of PML-N and Former President Zardari on dubious corruption charges so as to eliminate active electioneering by leaders of Pakistan’s two major political parties.

In 2020, Pakistan’s middle class and youths romantic illusions of PM Imran Khan as the ‘Great Redeemer’ has turned into widespread disillusionment which does not augur well for Pakistan’s stability.

Politically, PM Imran Khan’s initial mass appeal has fast evaporated as he has unlike past Pakistani PMs who at least displayed some semblance of not toadying completely to Pakistan Army Chiefs completely.  PM Imran Khan sickeningly has repetitively parroted on every occasion that he as PM and Pakistan Army are “on the same page”.

The above certainly does not imply that Pakistan Army has ceased to be the dictating master of its “Selected PM” but that in actual fact it is PM Imran Khan who spinelessly offers deference to the dictates of the Pakistan Army Chief without any political demurring.

Surely, that is not lost on the Pakistani masses and the rank and file of his political party. No preceding Pakistani PMs have taken so much pain to publicly assert that the PM was supinely submitting to every command of the Pakistan Army.

The above perception also has its external implications for Pakistan’s image and its risk forecasts.

Economically, PM Imran Khan has been unable to come to grips with Pakistan’s dismal economic state wherein Pakistan’s economy is in a ‘Meltdown State’.

PM Imran Khan’s strong assertions against any IMF Borrowings thinking that China to which he is overly reverential would bail Pakistan out has boomeranged against Pakistan plunging it into further economic misery.

China other than the CPEC which serves China’s strategic blueprint has not showered any financial largesse on Pakistan without political strings. The IMF has laid down stringent economic conditions in terms of higher income tax rates, doing away with subsidies and raise of power tariffs which will hit Pakistan’s middle classes and breed economic unrest.

It has also been demanded from Pakistan that IMF loans will not be used to service Pakistan’s exorbitant loans repayments connected with CPEC. That will complicate Pakistan’s economy even further.

Under PM Imran Khan’s regime corruption scandals involving senior leaders of his political party have started erupting tarnishing his self-proclaimed image as ‘Mr Clean’

For the Pakistani people in 2020 PM Imran Khan now emerges as no different from earlier Pakistani PMs. In tandem the image of Pakistan Army Chief also is dented as they implied that the Army was giving Pakistan a PM who would usher-in a “Naya Pakistan”.

In terms of Pakistan’s external relations, Pakistan under PM Imran Khan has only downslided further in relations with his two flanking neighbours---India and Pakistan.

In case of India, PM Imran Khan has distinguished himself by his venomous personal attacks on Indian PM Narendra Modi and that India is turning into a ‘Hindu Republic’. This shows his foreign policy frustrations with India’s growing proximity to the United States and leading Gulf Monarchies like Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Many political analysts in Pakistan have started commenting on the declining appeal of PM Imran Khan as Prime Minister of Pakistan and his inept handling of Pakistan’s political and economic challenges.

Some have commented that even the Pakistan Army is getting frustrated with PM Imran Khan’s mismanagement of Pakistan’s governance. The latest dent in PM Imran Khan’s image is his being grossly inadequate to handle Pakistan’s China Wuhan Virus19 epidemic which is spiralling in Pakistan.

Such is the current deferential supineness of Pakistan towards China that at the height of the China Virus19 breakout Pakistan sent its President on a visit to China to express Pakistan’s solidarity with China!!!

Concluding, India needs to watch out and be vigilant as when Pakistani PMs are weak and their popularity down sliding and the Pakistan Army in a dilemma as to whether to intervene politically, the handiest option for Pakistani rulers and the Pakistani establishment is to divert domestic attention by military adventurism against India. Indicators to this effect are already visible in escalation of border tensions synchronising with China’s escalations on India’s borders with China Occupied Tibet