Pakistan has often, over the last seven decades, lurched from crisis to crisis and been variously termed, failed or failing or flailing state. Once again, the country appears to be in a period of instability and uncertainty. The so-called ‘hybrid’ regime of ‘selected Prime Minister Imran Khan is both politically and economically struggling to stay afloat.
According to the editor of The Friday Times and veteran analyst, Najam Sethi, the regime “has mismanaged the economy, demonstrated a cavalier approach to the pandemic and hounded the opposition without successfully discrediting it. The Miltablishment that engineered the PTI’s accession to office is smarting from the popular backlash against it and drawing up plans to get out of the fix.”
However, the challenge the Miltablishment faces, Sethi notes, is that “the most popular party in the country, the PMLN, backed by small sub-nationalist regional parties, is challenging the writ of the Miltablishment while the mainstream PPP, ANP, et al, are lining up behind it. This is a historic role reversal. The PML was always a handmaiden of the Miltablishment because of its base in the Miltablishment’s Punjab heartland, while the PPP in Sindh and ANP in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa always billed themselves as anti-Miltablishment players. Consequently, the outcome of this struggle for political office is threatening to become a bid for redistributing power in the civil-military matrix of Pakistan.”
The Miltablishment, Sethi argues, “is in a hurry to tilt towards “geo-economics” away from “geo-strategy” as the defining parameter of Pakistan’s national security. It is wooing the international community, in particular the US and its allies in the Middle-East, to secure this gain.”
However, “it is hindered in its quest by the unpopular PTI that is unable to deliver its part of the management bargain and by the popular Alt-PMLN that is in open confrontation with it. Something(s) or someone(s) will have to give way sooner rather than later.”