Charges of economic mismanagement . . .
Opposition lawmakers in Pakistan have submitted a “no-trust” motion against the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, accusing him of economic mismanagement. Their complaints include skyrocketing inflation, which is hitting lower- and middle-income Pakistanis especially hard. Amid the general rise in prices, Prime Minister Khan has had to implement austerity measures as part of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package to stabilize the economy. Islamabad reached the C$7.7-billion agreement with the IMF in 2019, but some payments were delayed after Pakistan failed to cut fuel and electricity subsidies and raise tax revenues. If the “no trust” motion gets the support of a simple majority in the lower house, voting on the no-confidence motion could take place by late March.
Investor uncertainty . . .
Some observers suggest the political turmoil caused by the opposition’s no-confidence threat could worsen the country’s economic situation, spooking foreign investors and possibly jeopardizing projects funded as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Some also worry that if Khan’s government is toppled, whatever government replaces him could take actions that undermine the IMF deal. In fact, last week, Khan slashed fuel and electricity prices to try to soften the blow from the rise in energy prices expected as fallout from the international community’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Even if Khan survives the no-confidence motion, he may be reluctant to take additional fiscal austerity measures, given that Pakistan will hold a general election next year.
Threats from many directions . . .
Alongside the economic crisis, the Pakistani government is facing a resurgence of political violence, marked last week by the bombing of a Shia mosque during Friday prayers in Peshawar, in the country’s northwest. The attack, which claimed 63 lives and injured nearly 200 people, was carried out by Islamic State Khorasan (ISK), an ISIS affiliate based in neighbouring Afghanistan. The bombing comes on the heels of deadly clashes between Pakistani security forces and other insurgent groups in the Baloch region. While the recent violence has not reached the alarming levels seen a decade ago, the targeting of civilians in last week’s attack is a worrying trend, adding to Prime Minister Khan’s long list of crises to manage.
- Dawn: Opposition submits no-trust motion against PM Imran
- The New York Times: ISIS claims bombing of Pakistani mosque, killing dozens
- Wilson Center: Imran Khan’s mounting political challenges (audio)