Political Turmoil in Pakistan

PAKISTAN Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday praised India’s “independent foreign policy” in his address at a public rally in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which some have started calling his swansong. Khan lauded India for importing crude oil from Russia despite American sanctions. Pak PM’s speech was part of his attempt to mobilize public opinion in the run-up to the no-trust motion being brought against him by the opposition. And considering that many of Khan’s party’s members have switched sides, it looks unlikely that the government will survive. So, the week ahead promises to be full of political turbulence for the neighbouring country. It is too early to say who will replace Khan if his government is toppled. Or whether the country will go for fresh elections. But one thing is clear, in the case of the Khan’s government losing a no-confidence motion, it will take at least another six months for Pakistan to stabilize.

Looking back, we can very well say that the last three and a half years of Khan's term saw relations with India nosedive. And with the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019, the ties deteriorated almost to the point of no-return. Khan became one of the fiercest critics of the Indian government. But in February 2021, the militaries of the two countries dramatically signed a ceasefire agreement. The move came reportedly following an extended back channel dialogue between the two countries. But thereafter there were no efforts to improve the relations. Or to resume dialogue which otherwise appeared a logical course of action following the ceasefire. The reason for this was Pakistan's insistence that India reverse the repeal of Article 370 but for New Delhi the move is now a fait accompli.

Going forward, the situation looks bleak. Should Khan's government fall, there will be little chance of the relations between India and Pakistan reviving in near to medium future. That is, if at all there was any chance at all.

Meanwhile, a halt to the frequent firing exchanges along the Line of Control has made a redeeming difference to the lives of lakhs of border residents on both sides of the border. But it won't change anything as far as the situation in the Valley where militancy continues to linger. This problem could certainly have been addressed through a sincere dialogue between the two countries, whose chances now look slim until after the fresh national elections are held, first in Pakistan and then in India. Khan's survival in power or otherwise will make no difference to this reality.

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