An Analysis of the Latest Political Developments in Pakistan

2024/02/28 | interview, political

Strategic Council Online – Opinion: A regional affairs researcher said that the legislative, judicial, and military institutions of Pakistan have a positive view of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the Muslim League candidate.

Farzad Ramezani Bonesh, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, pointed to the superiority of the candidates affiliated with Imran Khan in the parliamentary elections in Pakistan: While in the process of forming a government, the candidates affiliated to the Tehreek-e-Insaf Party of Pakistan and Muslim League were in a tough competition, but ultimately, the leaders of the Muslim League, the People’s Party of Pakistan and other parties who were able to win enough seats in the February 8 parliamentary elections to form a government1.  They did not become independent, and Shahbaz Sharif was nominated as their joint candidate to form a coalition government.

Referring to the developments on the days after the election, he said: “The protests continue, and it seems that we are still in the transition phase of the elections in this country, and the protests may continue until the formation of the government and even after that, or even lead to conflict.”

The regional researcher on the election of a future prime minister of Pakistan said: “Choosing a prime minister is a difficult and complicated process.” It was clear from the outset that Imran Khan’s plan to form a future government or coalition with some parties faced challenges, and it was unclear whether the military and legal institutions would allow pro-Imran Khan’s party candidates to form a government. Indeed, Imran Khan tried to negotiate some obstacles by introducing his previous government’s finance minister as prime minister. Still, the military, legal, and judicial institutions had reservations about Imran Khan and the candidate nominated by his party.

He continued: “The introduction of Omar Ayub Khan, given that he is the grandson of Mohammad Ayoub Khan, could have created to some extent a charismatic consensus in Imran Khan’s party.

Referring to the introduction of Shahbaz Sharif as the prime minister of the Muslim League and the Pakistan People’s Party, Ramezani Bonesh said, “It was clear from the beginning that Shahbaz Sharif’s work to compete for the prime minister of Pakistan was easier.” In fact, given the Muslim League’s consultations with other parties, Shahbaz Sharif had a more paved path to becoming prime minister.

The regional researcher on the continuation of opposition to the results of the parliamentary elections pointed out that given the view that the Special Election Commission and the Prime Minister of the Interim Government have not committed fraud in the elections, the opposition is unlikely to go anywhere. However, political parties such as Imran Khan’s, Jamiat Ulema Islam, and … The election results are unrealistic, and we see continued opposition in this regard, although there is no sign of intensifying it.

 

Regarding the Pakistani military’s approach to Pakistan’s future prime minister’s options, he said that although Nawaz Sharif’s party had second place in parliamentary elections, legal institutions and the military have a more positive view of the Muslim League and Shahbaz Sharif candidates.

Regarding the impact of domestic political developments on Pakistan’s foreign policy, he said: Given that the next government will be a coalition government with the participation of parties including the Muslim League and the People, it is unlikely that there will be any significant changes in the foreign policy of the country. Of course, we may see some tactical changes, especially in the way we interact with regional actors. Still, in general policies, the look at the major players in the region and the approach to India, the US, China, Russia, and Iran does not seem to be changing widely. At the same time, the country’s foreign policy may be aimed at boosting the economy and facing the broader economic challenges inside Pakistan. We may see an economy-oriented foreign policy from the Pakistani government.

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