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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

What lies ahead for the prime minister?

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Illustration courtesy The News.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has been a man of crisis, be it cricket or politics. Today he is faced with some new challenges and crises. The tension between the opposition and the government already exists, and the Electronic Voting Act is acting as a catalyst. Relations with the establishment are turning cold at a time when the dust of the NAB Ordinance has yet not settled. The hanging sword of curbs on the media, including social media, is further worsening the government’s already strained relations with the media, the fourth pillar of the State. Elaborate charge sheets were brought against sugar, flour, cement, and cigarette mafias but with no results. These mafias are spurring inflation. Life has become really hard for the ordinary people, especially the salaried class. The hike in the prices of essential commodities has become unbearable. The increase in the prices of petroleum products and banaspati ghee and cooking oil is linked to inflation in the international market. But people fail to understand why the prices of flour, sugar and vegetables, produced locally, are skyrocketing.

The situation is serious at home. At the same time, Pakistan’s performance on the diplomatic front is also not something to be proud of. The CPEC agreements with our long-standing friend and great neighbour China have slowed down and quite obviously, China is not happy with the unkept promises. On the other hand, our relations with the Western world are also embroiled in mistrust. The US looks unhappy at Pakistan’s support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. One of these ills is the pressure on Pakistan regarding the agreement with the IMF. Such pacts are political in nature and it is difficult to conclude them without the support of the US and Europe. The dollar is going up and the rupee is going down due to the delay in finalising the agreement with the IMF.

Some challenges for the government are beyond its control such as the petrol and ghee prices which are increasing in the international market. These challenges demand good planning and strategy. But many domestic challenges cropped up due to wrong decision-making e.g, the delay by the first incompetent economic team in going to the IMF. The dollar rate spiked due to this delay. The flour and sugar crises were the results of ill-planning and gross mismanagement. The matters are getting out of control due to inflation on one hand and mismanagement on the other.

The government and the establishment have remained on the same page for three years. But unnecessarily tearing that page at a time when internal and external crises are at their peak, will only bring political instability. Pakistan is in the international focus due to its geographic location. Pakistan will face the ‘do-more’ demands again if there is a civil war in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the Taliban will expect help from us. Pakistan will be crushed between these demands and expectations.

Imran Khan has been successfully coming out of crises in the past. But now the real issue is not to find a solution to the crises, but not to leave them unattended and unresolved. Like in the past, Imran Khan will have to act as a champion once again, be it the matter of relations with the opposition, inflation due to mismanagement or improving his economic team. If things keep worsening at the current speed and Imran does not tackle them proactively, they may become too heavy for him.

Originally published in

The News

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