Pakistan was seen as a global example of economic success in the 1960s. Other nations were watching Pakistan’s economic progress at the time. But now after seven decades of independence, Pakistan’s political stability has been plagued by prolonged political volatility, which has impacted the country’s overall progress. Pakistan is also experiencing a severe economic crisis as a result of high inflation, dwindling foreign exchange reserves, and a growing trade imbalance, as well as rising poverty and unemployment. As a result, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is putting in place a multibillion-dollar rescue package to help alleviate the economic crisis.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted from power after parliament passed a no-confidence resolution against him on April 3. Afterward, Shahbaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition, was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Previously, a deputy speaker from Prime Minister Khan’s party blocked the opposition from moving the no-confidence resolution. President Arif Alvi, who is linked with Khan’s party, instantly supported Khan’s demand to dissolve parliament. Khan dissolved the parliament but the Supreme Court reinstated it.
As Khan sensed that the no-confidence vote against him would be passed, he appears to have taken the decision to dissolve the parliament. Members of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) fled the parliament building before the meeting alleging fears of an international plot. Khan has stated that there was a US-led plot to depose him. He has also claimed that parliament members were being ‘bought and sold.’
Khan has been losing support from both the coalition parties as well as the military in recent days. The opposition parties have claimed that corruption has become widespread and the administration has chosen a compromised foreign policy. Since a disagreement over the departure of ISI chief Faiz Hamid, relations between the administration and the military have deteriorated. Because Pakistan has a long history of military control, military backing is essential for any ruler. Since independence, Pakistan has seen four military coups, and efforts to alter the government have been made several times.
One of the main causes of Pakistan’s political instability is sensitive geopolitics. China, India, Afghanistan, and Iran all share borders with Pakistan. India and Pakistan have gone to war twice over the border dispute, and the continued animosity between the two nations is still centered on the border and religious concerns. Pakistan and China look to have strong relations. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $62 billion investment that is the centerpiece project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has taken the five-decade-long strategic relationship between the two nations to a new level. China has also contributed a significant amount of money in the form of loans. In recent years, the United States has expressed unhappiness with China’s expanding influence.
Khan was in Moscow during the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. His ties with the United States and other Western countries have worsened as a result of this case. Khan further claimed that he was the victim of a US-led plot because Russia and China backed him.
For a long time, the US government has provided Pakistan with various forms of support. Following the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, the United States believed Pakistan was shielding terrorist groups, while India also shared that view. However, India has received little attention in recent political developments.
Pakistan occupies a strategic location geographically, and its continued political unrest is likely to have an impact on South Asian politics as a whole.
According to Khan, the US viewed Muslims as terrorists after the 9/11 attacks. If his statement is to be believed, foreign powers, including the US, were heavily involved. He also claimed that a large sum of money had been spent on fomenting the current political crisis.
Recent political events appear to be having a significant influence on Pakistan’s political, social, and economic developments as a whole. Pakistan occupies a strategic location geographically, and its continued political unrest is likely to have an impact on South Asian politics as a whole. The US and Western countries’ influence in this region appears to be growing.
A similar sort of political crisis occurred in Nepal a few years ago. After learning that he was losing parliament’s support, KP Sharma Oli chose to dissolve the parliament. He dissolved the parliament twice in a row—in December 2020 and May 2021—to save his power. After the opposition filed a petition against him in court, the Supreme Court reinstated the dissolved parliament and issued an order to appoint Sher Bahadur Deuba as the PM.
The practice of dissolving parliament seems to be common in most developing countries. In comparison to Nepal, Pakistan has been heavily influenced by the army and intelligence since its inception. Such attacks on constitutional entities may pave the way for the emergence of a tyrant.
For politicians in Nepal, there is a lot to learn from the unfolding situation in Pakistan and to work to ensure that Nepal does not have to face a similar situation.
Yogendra Prasad Lamichhane is the Chairman of the Rastriya Adhyan Kendra.