Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan
Pakistan, still dreaming for a 'Naya Pakistan, continues to struggle for its credibility on many counts. Prime Minister Imran Khan who is believed to be controlled by the Deep State will be completing one year in office next month but his innings so far has been extremely troublesome both within and outside the country.
Economic turmoil, terror strikes, political uncertainty, relations of unease with neighbours, occasional admonitions by the US for Pakistan's failure to rein in terror and dismal failure to appropriate US sponsored funds and other miseries have glaringly compounded problems for Imran and his government and there are no signs of any abatement in the near future.
In addition to these prevailing irritants, the Financial Action Task Force ( FATF) of late has stepped up its vigil cornering Pakistan for the latter's poor record of stopping funds from abused by the terrorists for furtherance of the terror activities.
In an objective assessment, political and security analysts feel that other than Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia and China, there are no friends of Pakistan in the global community as it enjoys the status of a pariah state, internationally. China too wriggled out subtly succumbing to international pressure in declaring Jaish e Mohamed ( JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. Hence, China can no longer be accepted as an all weather friend of Pakistan.
In this light, all eyes are now fixed on US President Donald Trump when he meets visiting Prime Minister Imran Khan in DC on July 22. Trump has probably been a bit concessional to Pakistan in his stance to use it for Taliban talks aimed at bringing peace in Afghanistan and the subsequent troops pull out but with growing evidence of Pakistani complicity in fomenting terror in Kashmir and in light of reinforced bilateral Indo- US ties, Trump has toughened its stance against Pakistan and the existing creases need to be ironed out in this month's meeting between the two leaders.
Given the 'blow hot blow cold 'attitude of Trump as seen in the recent G20 summit in Osaka, it's still vague as to what will be the outcome of Imran's talks with Trump. This is also stated in view of Trump's volte face in dealing with North Korea and Chinese trade wars. Hence things remain unpredictable but it looks certain that Trump will stress Pakistan to keep home grown terrorists in check and enforce fiscal discipline in the funds meant to contain terror.
In the meantime, Pakistan efforts to warm up to Russia continue. Gen Oleg Salyukoi, Commander in Chief of the Russian ground forces, was met by the Pakistani Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa at the GHQ, Rawalpindi on July 2. Reports, awaiting confirmation, say that the Pakistani General hinted for a vibrant military cooperation between the two countries but the Russian General emphasised for economic collaboration.
In an apparent bid to end the growing isolation in the international arena, Imran Khan is expected to participate in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) scheduled in Russia in the near future being held under the aegis of President Putin . Pakistan has also been eyeing to buy military hardware from Russia and trying to wean India away from Russia due to their warm ties.
Apart from being steadily isolated externally, numerous problems on the domestic front continue to haunt the Pakistan polity amid growing concerns within the journalistic and political circles that there is an emerging tendency to curb freedom of expression.
To illustrate this unfortunate development, very recently Geo news channel was about to air an interview of former President Asif Ali Zardari but it was abruptly taken off. Stifling opposition voice is becoming more a norm than an exception. Prominent PML (N) leader, Rana Sanaullah was recently arrested by the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) for allegedly being in possession of drugs in his car.
Knowledgeable sources are attributing these developments to a well crafted censorship and political vendetta. Some are describing the present regime as the renewed version of government run by Pervez Musharraf. Nawaz Sharif is already facing corruption charges and local administration has forbidden Maryam Nawaz from holding a political rally at Mandi Bahauddin scheduled on July 7.
Meanwhile, Federal Rail Minister Sheikh Rashid recently indicated likely arrest of ex Premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. He also said bringing back from the UK, former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to face criminal charges.
It would seem from these developments that the military is perhaps calling the shots and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is directly exercising oversight of TV interviews as in the case of Zardari's being blacked out at the last moment.
Reacting to such a partisan move, some responsible quarters have alleged stark discrimination as recent interview of the Tehrik i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan was prominently beamed in TV. TTP remains tainted with blood for killing thousands of Pakistanis through terror strikes. It's a blatant act of partiality.
In another reaction expressed against the establishment, Fahd Humayun of the Jinnah Institute felt that restrictions in journalists, fake news and media clampdowns are condemnable and being watched by the world.
Prime Minister Imran Khan's problems within and outside Pakistan remain multiplying and it would be worth taking a stock of his progress report after mid August when he completes one year in office.
The suspicion that it's the Pakistan military which is the de facto ruler of the country is slowly seeped into the minds of the people and if this suspicion is affirmative then the 72 year country stays threatened with multiple challenges.
The writer is a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal
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