Pakistan faces foreign policy challenge amid political slugfest between PTI, Sharif govt
In the wake of the ongoing political slugfest between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Shehbaz Sharif-led PML-N government, Pakistan has been facing an unprecedented foreign policy challenge due to consistent 'anti-US' rhetoric by ex-Premier Imran Khan and his party members which continues to create political instability in Pakistan.
Pakistan is facing an unprecedented foreign policy challenge amid growing tensions between the two political camps in the country due to the Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government standing on a 'weak' electoral majority and facing a historic economic crisis amid strong political opposition from Imran Khan's PTI while Imran Khan's blame game against the US for allegedly ousting him from power also continues.
There are emerging cases of growing sentiments against Washington in Pakistan even three months after the incident, for its "alleged role" in dethroning Khan from power, and Khan has intensified his support for the betterment of Pakistan-Russia relations and has refused to condemn Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, Islam Khabar reported.
Several reasons have played a role in creating serious roadblocks in resetting Pak-US ties, a few being Khan's denial to attend Biden's Summit for Democracy event in December last year and Biden not paying heed to call Imran Khan while he was Prime Minister. All these reasons had hit Pak-US ties significantly under Imran Khan's almost four-year-long rule.
Moreover, the army establishment is facing serious credibility issues and a rare spurt of public anger against it for remaining silent/neutral during the ousting of Imran Khan's government. The whole issue has aggravated the civil-military imbalance in Pakistan and put the military establishment on the defensive mode.
Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had even spoken publicly about improving relations with the US and openly criticised Russia's "invasion" of Ukraine to prove the military establishment's neutrality on the issue, reported Islam Khabar citing sources.
Pakistan's 'brotherly' relations with China and Imran Khan's severe pressure on the Sharif-led government to import oil, gas, and wheat from Russia amid the growing food and energy crisis in the country are also becoming a roadblock for the country's foreign policy.
As per the reports by Islam Khabar, the PDM coalition in Islamabad is facing serious difficulties in choosing to either reset ties with the US or face public resentment and likely electoral defeat in the 2023 general elections in Pakistan and the Sharif-led government has taken the political risk to put its weight behind the 'West' to seek the immediate resumption of the stalled International Monetary Fund bailout programme and a desperate exit from the Financial Action Task Force's "Grey List".
Imran Khan has relied on "anti-American" rhetoric both in his rise to power as well as in his recent fall. Given that his relationship with the Biden administration was "non-existent", Khan's ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin -- who called him three times since August 2021 -- and Chinese President Xi Jinping was a major foreign policy shift for Pakistan, much to Washington's chagrin.
Notably, Imran Khan continues to put immense pressure on Sharif's coalition government through public speeches, media interviews, countrywide protests and a "foreign conspiracy" narrative against the United States and this has led to critical political instability in Pakistan and the country continues to falter in its bilateral relationships.