By Mohammad Mazhari

Highly unlikely that Pakistan would go back to U.S. camp: professor

April 12, 2022 - 18:3

TEHRAN - A leading Indian academic says that Washington is happy over the development in Pakistan, however, it looks highly unlikely that Islamabad would go back to the U.S. camp.

“The U.S. is happy over the development; however, it looks very less likely that Pakistan will go back to the U.S. camp,” Ashok Swain tells the Tehran Times.

“The U.S. was not happy with Imran Khan's outright shift to China's camp. His support for Putin in the Ukraine crisis has not gone down well with the U.S.,” Swain adds.

Pointing out that the U.S. has many more things on its table to worry about, the Indian academic is of the opinion that “the U.S. has not led the process to oust Imran Khan from the power, but some powerful forces within Pakistan have managed to use the growing rift between Imran Khan and Washington to their use.”

His ouster came as a result of the alignment of major opposition parties with the instigation of the Army, according to Swain.

Following is the text of the interview: 

Q:  What are the main reasons that Imran Khan failed to get the confidence vote of the Pakistani parliament? Critics say his economic policies were unsuccessful. Your opinion, please.

A: Imran Khan's downfall has several reasons, internal as well as external. He had promised a lot before the election but failed to deliver. Besides the lack of experience in administration, the Covid-19 crisis also contributed to worsening the country's economic crisis. After the failure to improve the economy and governance of the country, he redirected his focus to targeting political rivals, which brought together the opposition. His pro-China tilt and wish to make some unilateral decisions on military appointments resulted in losing key support from the Army.

“He (Imran Khan) is seen as a clean politician by his supporters, and his opponents are seen as a corrupt political dynasty.”Q:  Imran Khan accused Washington of being involved in a conspiracy against his government, but the White House rejects such a claim. Do you think foreign meddling is possible in Pakistan?

A: The U.S. was not happy with Imran Khan's outright shift to China's camp. His support for Putin in the Ukraine crisis has not gone down well with the U.S. However, at this point, while the U.S. has many more things on its table to worry about, it seems to me that the U.S. has not led the process to oust Imran Khan from the power, but some powerful forces within Pakistan have managed to use the growing rift between Imran Khan and Washington to their use. His ouster became possible with the alignment of major opposition parties with the instigation of the Army. Judiciary also played along. The U.S. is happy over the development; however, it looks very less likely that Pakistan will go back to the U.S. camp.

Q: How do you see the future of Pakistan after ouster of Imran Khan? Will Pakistan degenerate towards instability?

A: Imran Kahn and his party members have resigned from the National Assembly en masse. That has brought a big question mark over the legitimacy of the new government's decision under a parliamentary system. I see Imran Khan leading the street protests against the incoming government in months to come as he would like to keep his constituents enthused before next year's election. That is likely to lead to his arrest, or he will be forced to be confined to his home. His popularity has grown among Pakistan's youth and the educated mass, and his cult-like status among the Pakistani diaspora remains intact. He is undoubtedly the most popular leader in the country at this time, and he is an excellent divider like other populists. That makes him a mighty force in the 2023 election.

Q:  What are Imran Khan's options to confront political rivals and foes? Legal process or streets?

A: It will be most likely a street fight between Imran Khan's supporters and the security forces before the next election. I don't think the judiciary will come to his rescue. Imran Khan is projecting himself as a victim of foreign conspiracy and alleging that his opposition is working against Pakistan. It will be a dirty political street fight in Pakistan for some time to come, at least until the next election.

Q: Who are the main supporters of Imran Khan? Can he count on his social base while the Pakistani Army is reluctant to support him?

A: Imran Khan's support base consists of youths, conservative poorer sections of the society, and the middle class. He is seen as a clean politician by his supporters, and his opponents are seen as a corrupt political dynasty. Many Pakistani celebrities and the majority of the Pakistani diaspora also support Imran Khan. After his removal as the prime minister, his popularity has grown, and he is seen as a fighter who sacrificed his position to fight for the country and its people. The Army is less likely to be openly aligned with Imran Khan's opposition due to fear of losing its support among Pakistanis. So, it seems to be a matter of time only before Imran Khan is back in power.



 

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