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Unending problems

Internal turmoil and uprisings continue to plague the Imran Khan administration

Unending problems
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Problems of different sorts continue to haunt Prime Minister Imran Khan, his government and the armed forces. No sooner than the tension running high in the aftermath and of the Hazara miners' killings seemed dying down, opposition PML-N spokesperson Marrisum Aurangzeb disclosed (January 14) Progressive Democratic Movement's (PDM's) plans to organise a protest march on January 19 in front of the office of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Islamabad.

PML-N is an affiliate of the PDM which has been trying to put pressure on Imran Khan to quit the government over various allegations. This time, the march to ECP will be to implore the constitutional body to initiate action against the government in the foreign funding case which was filed by none other than the ruling party, PTI's leader, Akbar S Babur on November 2014. PTI is in a tight spot as it had earlier accepted that funds had come through 23 undeclared foreign accounts.

It is believed that the funding had come from two US-based companies. This assumes political significance in Pakistan's mainstream politics as the opposition parties are making attempts in full throttle to put Imran Khan on backfoot by opening up scandals. Meanwhile, Kaveh Moussavi, CEO of the UK-based asset management company LLC, has recently opened a can of worms by further embarrassing Imran Khan and his party. He has thrown an open challenge to Mirza Shahzad Akbar, advisor in the Accountability Commission, to dare Imran Khan to publish the arbitration order that had resulted in the loss of a colossal amount worth USD 29 million to the national coffers.

Moussavi, relentless in his diatribe against Imran Khan, has further provoked him by saying that if there is a claim to the credibility of Imran Khan in fighting corruption, people of Pakistan should read the threadbare published report. If he does that he might gain some credibility. Here, it's equally important to mention that Moussavi, of late, had reiterated his allegations against Nawaz Sharif, Gen Pervez Musharraf, Asif Ali Zardari along with Imran Khan for receiving funds from external sources. These allegations and counter-allegations have led to the opening of a new front against Imran Khan, putting more pressure on him and making him and his party further vulnerable to opposition attacks. As already underscored, PDM has planned to bring it to the notice of the ECP at its march on January 19.

With regard to Imran Khan's allegations about India's hand in using the IS to carry out the killings of Shia Hazaras near Quetta, the same has not augured well with the critics of the Prime Minister. Reacting to such statements, his adversaries have dismissed such insinuations as figments of imagination, bereft of any substantial proof and instead, they say it was to hide the failure of intelligence and security mechanisms to protect the brutal slaying of hapless Hazara miners.

In another Pakistan related development, a webinar was recently held at the initiative of Dr Moeed Yusuf, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on national security, to discuss the "Reset of US- Pakistan relations". To give it a name, this digital meet was done at the behest of Karachi Council on Foreign Relations. Former US Ambassador to Pakistan, Ameron Hunter (posted in Islamabad ten years ago), who participated in the meet, said that President-elect Joe Biden offers a new chance to Pakistan to create a new way of engaging with Washington DC. Hunter further said that the new US regime is expected to focus on re-engaging Iran on the Joint Competitive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, which had an abrupt collapse two years ago following President Trump's decision to snap it. The former US envoy also hoped that Biden being familiar with Pakistan is likely to contribute in resetting ties with it. Dr Yusuf, however, harping on the same old tune, underlined that the US would be benefited from Pakistan for the latter's geo-economic location. More significantly, Yusuf, again taking the old anti-India stance, stressed that the problem of a renewed tie-up of Pakistan with the US, will incur the wrath of India as it had been openly saying that it would attack Pakistan. This hints at a kind of war hysteria and disinformation campaign. Here, we also see a pattern of India bashing for nothing and these utterances are emanating either from a sense of insecurity, a sense of guilt complex, or a calibrated attempt to preclude India on a game of one-upmanship in Pakistan's efforts to woo the US as soon as Biden administration is in place.

That said, Pakistan needs to first fix its internal uprisings by combining the opposition before embarking on resetting ties with other countries. Foreign governments, in their wisdom, will apply utmost discretion before prioritising on Pakistan. As of now, it doesn't appear to be in the list of dos in the US scheme of things.

The writer is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal

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