All politics is local, and all politicians are elected for resolving domestic issues, not foreign policy. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s PTI led government faces multiple challenges – from economy to Covid – none of which they have been able to solve. In addition, the coalition government is weaker than it was a few months ago and relations with the military are more fractious.
What Imran Khan appears to have forgotten – or never understood – is that he will not regain his popularity with the Pakistani electorate simply by his rhetoric on corruption or blaming the institutions of government for his electoral losses. Rather, they will judge him by his actions on the economic front and on dealing with Covid.
At a time when the Finance Minister lost the Senate elections, the next round of the IMF package needs to be dealt with, and the government needs to start thinking of what to do with the ‘fiscal stimulus’ that it began administering during the Covid days in 2020.
As, economic journalist, Khurram Hussain notes, fiscal stimulus packages “are easy to launch” but “very difficult to extricate oneself from because the relationships they create between government and controllers of capital are fickle and can prove politically costly in the event of a disruption. Already murmurs of consternation are being heard from the various chambers around the country as the rupee appreciates, corporates face a new round of income taxes, subsidies on power and gas have to be unwound, cotton prices rally, oil climbs, exports hit a plateau and seem to be trending downwards since January, incomes in urban and rural households continue to erode and inflation continues to climb, driven mostly by food prices and fuels.”
Hussain warns that this is difficult for any government but “For a government consumed by political challenges emanating from within its own fractured ranks as well as from the opposition, they can be crippling. Halfway through his tenure, facing a rising arc of political headwinds, can he now swivel and start doing what he and his government have not managed to do in two and a half years? Count me among the sceptics.”