Pakistan is currently facing major economic and political crises. These are partly of its own making but mostly the result of external shocks in terms of commodity prices that have exacerbated the nation's balance of payments.  The Pakistani military's unnecessary meddling in politics and resulting political instability have not helped either. The unprecedented floods in the country have further added to the severity of the challenges.  

US and China Compete For Influence in Pakistan. Source: Wall Street Journal

Pakistan's multidimensional crisis has spurred many in India and elsewhere to predict the Pakistani state's imminent collapse. Some disgruntled Pakistanis have also jumped on the doomsayers' bandwagon. What is often ignored in such oft-repeated dire predictions is Pakistan's size and its geopolitical importance in the world. Indian analyst Amit Bhandari has summarized it well in a recent Hindustan Times Op-ed: "Despite the severity of the challenges, Pakistan is unlikely to collapse — largely because of its geostrategic importance. A bailout by the IMF or friendly countries will happen".  Let me expand on Bhandari's comments:

1. The collapse of a large country like Pakistan will be very destabilizing for the South Asia region and the world. Pakistan is the world's 5th most populous country. It has a large military armed with nuclear weapons.

2. Pakistan's location is geopolitically very important. It borders Afghanistan, China, India, Iran and the Indian Ocean.  It has a coastline next to the sea lanes that transport the bulk of the world's oil. It is connected to multiple strategically important regions of the world:  Central Asia, Middle East, South Asia and West Asia.  

3. China, the United States and Gulf Arabs have expressed a strong interest in maintaining Pakistan's stability. All of them are offering assistance to Pakistan.  China will continue to support Pakistan as it tries to stabilize its financial situation, state media quoted President Xi Jinping as saying, according to Reuters. Prince Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has offered to increase loans and investments of over $10 billion to Pakistan, according to Bloomberg.  American officials have said they support the IMF assistance to Pakistan, according to Dawn newspaper

4. Pakistan has received pledges of $10 billion worth of loans and grants to rebuild after devastating floods last year, according to Bloomberg News. The amount pledged exceeds the $8 billion that Pakistan sought at the United Nations Donors Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Debt to GDP Ratios. India 91%, Pakistan 87%. Source: Visual Capitalist

Pakistanis are no strangers to forecasts of their country's collapse. There have been many such forecasts over the last 75 years, starting with its birth.  Western and Indian forecasts of Pakistan's collapse are not new.  Lord Mountbatten, the British Viceroy of India who oversaw the partition agreed with the assessment of Pakistan made by India's leaders when he described Pakistan as a "Nissen hut" or a "temporary tent" in a conversation with Jawarhar Lal Nehru.

Here's the exact quote from Mountbatten: "administratively it [wa]s the difference between putting up a permanent building, a nissen hut or a tent. As far as Pakistan is concerned we are putting up a tent. We can do no more." The Brits and the Hindu leadership of India both fully expected Pakistan to fold soon after partition.

1999 DoD Forecast: Pakistan Disappears by 2015

A 1999 US Defense Department study titled "Asia 2025" forecast Pakistan's collapse by 2015.  It further said that Pakistan would become part of a "South Asian Superstate" controlled by India as a "regional hegemon". Two of the study's contributors were "South Asia experts" of Indian origin. Much of the South Asia section of this study appears to be wishful thinking rather than serious analysis.  Resilient Pakistan has defied this and many other similar forecasts of its demise since its birth. 

Goldman Sachs Forecast Over Next 50 Years

Goldman Sachs analysts Kevin Daly and  Tadas Gedminas project Pakistan's economy to grow to become the world's sixth largest by 2075.  In a research paper titled "The Path to 2075", the authors forecast Pakistan's GDP to rise to $12.7 trillion with per capita income of $27,100.  India’s GDP in 2075 is projected at $52.5 trillion and per capita GDP at $31,300.  Bangladesh is projected to be a $6.3 trillion economy with per capita income of $31,000.  By 2075, China will be the top global economy, followed by India 2nd, US 3rd, Indonesia 4th, Nigeria 5th and Pakistan 6th. The forecast is based primarily on changes in the size of working age populations over the next 50 years.  

OpenAI's ChatGPT on Pakistan's Possible Collapse

There's no question that Pakistan is in the midst of very serious political and economic crises. The nation is deeply divided politically. The country's economic performance is dismal. It is of paramount importance for Pakistanis to come together to deal honestly with their internal political and economic differences. Doing so will help Pakistan's large young population realize their full potential to join the ranks of the world's top ten economies. 

Here's a Wall Street Journal video on US-China Competition in Pakistan:

https://youtu.be/wvw-85CC1t4

http://www.youtube.com/embed/wvw-85CC1t4"; title="YouTube video player" width="560"></iframe>" height="315" src="https://img1.blogblog.com/img/video_object.png" width="560" style="cursor: move; background-color: #b2b2b2;" /> 
 

Views: 463

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 8, 2023 at 8:49pm

The Biden administration’s two-track Pakistan policy misses the mark
Madiha Afzal Thursday, March 2, 2023

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2023/03/02/the-bide...

NO PHONE CALL
Biden has not called a Pakistani prime minister in his more than two years in office. Biden neither mentioned Pakistan during the withdrawal from Afghanistan, nor showed any interest in engaging with the country at that point. The lack of a phone call drew considerable attention in Pakistan during Biden’s first year in office, and was ostensibly one of the reasons Khan declined the administration’s invitation to attend the first Summit for Democracy in December 2021. Even Pakistan’s catastrophic summer flooding in 2022, which elicited a robust U.S. government response, did not prompt a Biden call. Yet in October 2022, seemingly out of the blue, Biden mentioned Pakistan in strongly negative terms at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reception, describing it as “what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion.” This statement did not go over well in Pakistan, prompting a bit of a walk back from the administration, though Biden may have really meant what he said.


Initially, the complete lack of White House engagement with Pakistan was somewhat of a puzzle. Now though, it seems it’s White House policy — reflecting the fact that Pakistan is not a priority. For Biden, it might draw from a desire to put Afghanistan behind him — and with it, its neighbor. Throughout Biden’s many years of watching the Afghanistan war from the Senate and then as vice president, Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban had always been a source of tension.

PAKISTANI POLITICS
In the spring of 2022, America was drawn into Pakistan’s domestic politics in a sudden, unfavorable manner: Khan blamed his ouster via a vote of no confidence on a U.S. “regime change” conspiracy, without evidence — a narrative that stuck among his supporters. In recent months, Khan has stepped back from the U.S. conspiracy narrative and has more directly blamed the Pakistani military for the fall of his government — the actual story. Still, the narrative complicated the U.S. relationship with Pakistan for months in 2022, as Khan’s supporters considered any engagement between the United States and the new government in Islamabad to be confirmation of the conspiracy.

TIES WITH STATE, AND BROADENING THE RELATIONSHIP
Although the White House remained silent, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Khan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, spoke several times and met in New York in September 2021. Spring 2022 began a period of robust engagement from the State Department, a mini reset of sorts that has focused on expanding the relationship. In March 2022, the United States and Pakistan launched a year-long campaign marking 75 years of relations. In April, the new U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Donald Blome, was sworn in. In May, Pakistan’s new foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, met Blinken in New York. The U.S. special representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, Dilawar Syed, visited Pakistan in July to “strengthen the economic partnership and bilateral trade” between both countries. Also in July, the two governments launched a health dialogue. Soon after Pakistan’s flooding disaster hit in August, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power visited the country, documenting both the catastrophe as well as U.S. relief assistance; the United States has announced more than $200 million in flood assistance. Bhutto Zardari and Blinken met again in September when the 75th anniversary of U.S.-Pakistan relations was officially celebrated at the State Department. The relationship between the two counterparts appears constructive; it has focused on relief and recovery after Pakistan’s calamitous summer of flooding and increasing cooperation on economic matters.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 18, 2023 at 1:34pm

From #Karachi with love: exploring #Pakistan’s annual #flower show run by Pak #Horticulture Society at Karachi Boat Club: Big-headed yellow marigolds; purple & white stocks & annual carnations displayed with a distinctive style.
https://www.ft.com/content/862f41d1-1b47-4e17-91b8-54fbaaceb427



I have just been exploring links forged by flowers in dry south Pakistan. I was there on separate business, my life-long object of study, Alexander the Great. In 326-325BC he conquered his way down the Indus river valley, but he never planted a garden. He banned a curved fruit that was new to the Greeks and was thought to be upsetting his soldiers’ stomachs. It was probably a banana. Obedient to Alexander I never eat bananas.



Between lectures on his legend and localised study of his campaign, I have explored aspects of their setting, all new to me, and noticed how joined-up gardening links us to Pakistan. I was set on my path by a tree.

In the exclusive Karachi Boat Club, a fine old tree surveys the lawn, beautifully groomed for the members’ benefit. On its trunk a notice proclaims: “I have closely witnessed the evolutions of the upper middle classes of this metropolis for more than a century.”

If trees could talk, what would the plane trees in Berkeley Square be telling us about changes in London’s high society?



“Music and the playing of military bands,” the tree’s notice continues, “reminds me of the RAJ ERA when such parties were most prominent.” The tree is a bodhi tree, like the one under which the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.



Seeking sociological enlightenment, I looked at the gardening round the club’s lawn. Postcolonial petunias; big-headed yellow marigolds; purple and white stocks and annual carnations were displayed with a distinctive style: single plants of each had been planted in a painted clay pot, and then the pots were massed by the dozen to make lines and curves.

In the paved courtyard of the Gymkhana club in Hyderabad, plants in individual pots are banked up into a circular centrepiece which is a blaze of colour. I watched while the club’s gardeners took each pot to a tap in order to water it. At home I sometimes plant a spare petunia in a single pot, but it never reaches such a diameter. I need to give it some Pakistani care.

Admiring these bright variations on mere flowerbeds, I widened my social survey. I went to a popular gathering, the Pakistan Annual Flower Show, run by the Horticulture Society of Pakistan. As it began in the first spring of Pakistan’s existence, this year is its 75th anniversary. For three days, visitors flocked to Seaview and the AK Khan park, which commemorates Abdul Karim Khan, a founding genius of the show in 1948.

What a delight to see plants in profusion, packing individual nurseries’ tents and spilling out on to the grass while a military band played favourite Pakistani tunes. The show occupies a space that measures up to the Royal Hospital site of London’s Chelsea Show and the crowds are as dense as on any of Chelsea’s days. So much is on sale throughout, from excellent foliage plants to roses, including a superb flat-petalled crimson and a prizewinning red with white streaks called Double Delight.

Nurseries have joyful banners on their tents: “we do rockeries and manures” or “we are the Blossoming Nursery for rented plants”. Orange awnings brighten the scene, lit with those mainstays of Pakistani staging, lines of bare lightbulbs.

----------

Much of the audience was middle class: how have flowers’ uses evolved elsewhere in society? Outside Karachi I was securely escorted to a great evening occasion, a Friday celebration at the famous shrine in the westerly town of Sehwan. It is the resting place of the 13th-century Sufi saint, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, and is a place of pilgrimage from far and wide.

Inside, red-robed dancers twirled to the beat of hand drums before thousands of packed spectators, entranced by the music and the rhythms, boys and men in the front, girls and women in the side chapels.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 24, 2023 at 7:44am

The federal government has decided to go ahead with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) amid the watchful eyes of international entities. The federal cabinet has approved the commencement of the second, and most important, phase of the CPEC project for industrial development of Pakistan.

https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/03/23/despite-internationa...

According to reports, the industrial cooperation agreement between the two neighboring countries will be effective till 2025, with the possibility of further expansion. They elaborated that under the agreement, there will be capacity building and skill development of Pakistan’s CPEC workforce. The Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Law jointly endorsed the draft agreement, sources claimed.

To clarify, BoI is the lead agency of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on industrial cooperation under CPEC from the Pakistani side. On the other hand, the Chinese counterpart of the BoI is the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC), China.

A framework agreement was also signed between both parties in 2022, which besides other matters of significance, also aims to foster skill development and capacity building of the local workforce. This shows the potential skilling and economic advancement that Pakistan anticipates would result from the current endeavor.

Here is what happened in the pursuance of the consensus reached in the Framework Agreement and the 10th JCC meeting of CPEC, held on 23rd September 2021, the NDRC– China has proposed that an MoC between BoI and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) is likely to be signed, in order to strengthen workers’ exchange under CPEC Industrial Cooperation.

Sources further hinted that the proposed MoC envisages to conduct exchange programmes of Government officers and workforce associated with CPEC projects, through capacity building and skill development, Chinese language courses, and any other mutually agreed mechanism to promote people to people ties.

According to sources, BoI and ACFTU have reached consensus on the text of the draft MoC, which has been duly vetted by the Law Division, as well as been concurred by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Based on the draft copy, available with Profit, of the MoC between the ACFTU of China and the BoI of Pakistan, there will be an agreement between the two entities to promote industrial cooperation, within the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Industrial Cooperation (CPEC IC).

In the foreseeable future (2023-2025), and keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic, both sides will, on the basis of mutual consent, hold online workers symposiums at regular intervals, as well as, carry out relevant exchanges and cooperation. The online symposium will be designated for the workforces of both countries that are actively engaged in and contributing to the construction of CPEC. This will provide a platform to augment people to people exchanges through experience sharing and suggestions for the future development of CPEC.

Moreover, online seminars based on the Chinese’s successful experience in development for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) shall also be organized for the concerned stakeholders in Pakistan. Following the same timeline, in the next three years, both sides shall initiate an exchange programme by arranging activities in their respective countries to foster practical people to people and cultural exchanges on ground.

To provide first hand experience of the successful industrial models in China, the Chinese stakeholders shall facilitate the field visits of the concerned teams from Pakistan, including the Chinese SEZs, sources told Profit. Likewise, in order to mitigate the language barrier between the two countries’ workforces associated with CPEC, while promoting brotherly relations and cultural ties, both sides shall arrange exchange programmes by holding language learning courses in their respective countries.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 17, 2023 at 5:01pm

Google BARD's answer to "Will Pakistan survive?"

Whether or not Pakistan will survive is a complex question with no easy answer. The country faces a number of challenges, including political instability, economic problems, and security threats. However, it also has a number of strengths, including a strong military, a young and growing population, and a rich culture.

Ultimately, the future of Pakistan will depend on the choices that its people make. If they can overcome their challenges and build a strong and prosperous country, then Pakistan will have a bright future. However, if they cannot, then the country could face a number of problems, including economic collapse, political instability, and even civil war.

Only time will tell what the future holds for Pakistan. However, it is clear that the country is at a crossroads. The choices that its people make in the next few years will have a profound impact on its future.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 16, 2023 at 8:30pm

Obama Pointedly Questioned by Students in India

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/08/world/asia/08prexy.html?smid=nyt...


“Pakistan is an enormous country; it is a strategically important country,” Mr. Obama began, meandering around to a defense of his administration.

-------------

MUMBAI, India — When Michelle Obama, the first lady, introduced her husband to a group of college students here on Sunday, she urged them to ask him “tough questions.”

They did.

“What is your take or opinion about jihad?” came the first question for President Obama at a town-hall-style meeting at St. Xavier’s College. Next up were queries about spirituality, Gandhi, the American midterm elections and his government’s negotiations with the Taliban.

Finally, there was the question Mr. Obama confessed he had been waiting for: Why hasn’t the United States labeled Pakistan “a terrorist state”?

“Pakistan is an enormous country; it is a strategically important country,” Mr. Obama began, meandering around to a defense of his administration. He said its policy was to “work with the Pakistani government in order to eradicate this extremism that we consider a cancer within the country that can potentially engulf the country.”


The diplomatic response about the neighbor that India views with suspicion was indicative of the fine line Mr. Obama has walked on the topic of terrorism while here. On Saturday, his first day here, he faced criticism in the local press when he paid homage to victims and survivors of the 2008 terrorist siege in Mumbai without mentioning that the gunmen were Pakistani or suggesting, that some groups in Pakistan pose a terrorist threat.

While the students at St. Xavier’s, a 141-year-old Jesuit institution in this pretty seaside city, were exceedingly polite to Mr. Obama — in interviews many said they admired him — they seemed unafraid to get straight to the point, even if Mr. Obama did not always get straight to his.

“Well,” he said, tackling the question about jihad, “the phrase jihad has a lot of meanings within Islam and is subject to a lot of different interpretations.”

He carefully avoided saying that he was opposed to jihad — which has several meanings, including both holy war and a personal quest for self-improvement — and instead said: “I think all of us recognize that this great religion in the hands of a few extremists has been distorted to justify violence towards innocent people that is never justified. And so, I think, one of the challenges that we face is, how do we isolate those who have these distorted notions of religious war.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 2, 2023 at 7:28am

Mohammed Sohail (Securities analyst)
@sohailkarachi
New IMF Loan for Pakistan

Below our initial response on this

Pakistan has entered into a new US$3bn IMF short-term program, Standby Arrangement (SBA), which will be for 9 months.

Pakistan has entered into such IMF SBA in the past also in 2008 and 2000.

This new program is far better than our expectations.

There were a lot of uncertainties on what will happen after June 2023 as there will be a caretaker government and then a new government coming to power.

Now, this funding of US$3bn for 9 months will definitely help restore some investor confidence.

Saudi, UAE, and other bilateral and mulitareal funding will now come in after this new deal helping depleting FX reseves.

In fact, there will be some discipline until Dec 2023, which could not be there due to upcoming elections (where the gov takes popular measures) if Pakistan had successfully or unsuccessfully completed this EFF. It's a blessing in disguise.

Now, the caretaker government will have a road map on what to do for economic stabilization.

Interest rates may remain high as IMF says SBP to remain proactive in line with inflationary pressure.

PKR may gain in short run both in intebank and open market. But we dont expext a major and sustainable recovery.

No more interference in the currency market now, according to IMF, as it says SBP is committed to full market determination of exchange rate.

Power sector reforms may be introduced, including further increase in tariffs.

The newly elected government, likely by Nov/Dec, will have some time to evaluate the economic situation and decide on the way forward (bigger IMF loan with or without debt restructuring/Reprofiling).

IMF has not mentioned in the press release about the sustainability or non sustainability of Pakistan debt and risk of external debt repayment.

Pakistan Eurobonds rally will continue especially in short duration bond. Pakistan 2024 Bond is already up from a low of 38 cents to around 62 cents yesterday.

Local stocks that trade at unbelievevable low PE of less than 3x may rally on this new deal. Benchmark index that is hovering in band of 40k to 42k may break this level and go near 44k.


https://twitter.com/sohailkarachi/status/1674660770120974336?s=20

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 3, 2023 at 7:17am

#Pakistan #Stocks Surge Most in 15 Years After #IMF Loan Deal. Attractive valuations are helping Pakistan’s market as well. Benchmark KSE-100 saw one-hour halt in early trading. It rose 6.2% at close, the biggest gain since 2008. #economy #investors https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-07-03/pakistan-stocks-...

“This IMF arrangement provides some comfort to investors over Pakistan’s ability to overcome short term external repayments,” said Ruchir Desai, fund manager at Asia Frontier Capital Ltd. based in Hong Kong. The “market should do pretty well” in the next few weeks, he said.

Financial support from multilateral lenders has boosted investor confidence — and returns — across troubled emerging and frontier markets in recent months, as funds were approved or disbursed for countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Ukraine, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Other sovereigns in Africa, including Egypt and Mozambique, are expected to have their loans approved soon.

Inexpensive valuations are helping Pakistan’s market as well. Concerns related to the slew of negative headlines recently ranging from political turmoil to the risk of a debt default and sinking rupee had sent investors fleeing, with the KSE-100 Index becoming the world’s cheapest equity benchmark.

“Overall, the valuations are dirt-cheap with significant room for rebound,” said Ali Raza, head of international equities trading at BMA Capital, in Karachi.

Pakistan dollar bonds advanced, with the paper due in 2024 gaining 17 cents in the past week. The 8.25% 2024 bond was indicated 3.1 cents higher to trade at 73.6 cents on the dollar on Monday, a level last seen about a year ago in August. The gains come after dollar bonds notched their best-ever week. Pakistan’s currency market opens Tuesday.

Read More: Pakistan’s Politics Seen Key to Deliver on New IMF Aid Program

Economic indicators are helping as well. Pakistan’s inflation eased in June for the first time in seven months as record borrowing costs dampened demand and lower commodity prices slowed price gains. Consumer prices rose 29.40% in June from a year earlier, according to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics Monday. That compares with a median estimate for a 30.8% gain in a Bloomberg survey and a record 37.97% increase in May.

Still, the picture isn’t entirely rosy. Pakistan faces some $23 billion of external debt obligations coming due in the fiscal year starting July — more than six times the nation’s foreign-exchange reserves. Reserves dropped to $3.5 billion, to cover less than a month of imports — and below the global standard benchmark of three months. That restricted its ability to fund imports including raw materials, and forcing many factories to suspend operations.

The IMF bailout does change the game for Pakistan, to some market watchers. Barclays upgraded Pakistan debt to market weight on the development. Moody’s Investor Service expects the deal to open up support from bilateral and multilateral partners and help the nation with its high external debt repayments, analyst Grace Lim said in an emailed reply.

“This is the first-ever market halt on a positive rally,” BMA’s Raza said. “This is a huge day for Pakistan equities.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 3, 2023 at 9:47am

Pakistan sovereign dollar bonds extend rally following IMF deal

https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/pakistan-sovereign-dollar-bonds-ext...


Pakistan sovereign dollar bonds extended their recent rally on Monday with the shorter-dated maturities rising as much as 1 cent on the dollar, Tradeweb data showed.

The bonds notched sharp gains after the government said on Friday it had secured a $3 billion short-term financial package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), giving the cash-strapped South Asian economy a long-awaited respite as it teeters on the brink of default.

The 2024 US695847AK91=TE and 2025 bonds US695847AR45=TE saw the biggest gains, both adding just over 1 cent to trade at 72 cents and 55 cents on the dollar respectively, Tradeweb data showed. The 2024 issue is at its highest since August 2022.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 3, 2023 at 10:08am

USD to PKR: Rupee gains massive recovery against dollar after IMF deal


https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/03-Jul-2023/usd-to-pkr-rupee-gains-...

KARACHI – Pakistani rupee gains momentum against the dollar on the first working day of the week, as trading resumed after Eid ul Adha holidays.

During the trading, Rupee moved up Rs5 against the greenback and was being quoted at Rs285 in the open market.

Rupee claws back as the stock market showed a bullish trend in light of the staff-level agreement finally being signed with the International Monetary Fund.

Signs of recovery in economic indicators started to appear as the country clinched much-needed funds from multilateral lender.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 5, 2023 at 4:25pm

T C A Raghavan, India’s former High Commissioner to Pakistan, on the cult of Imran Khan, the role of the Pakistan Army and strategic implications for India.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/crime/t-c-a-raghavan-pakist...


T C A Raghavan, India’s former High Commissioner to Pakistan, on the cult of Imran Khan, the role of the Pakistan Army and strategic implications for India. The session was moderated by Strategic Affairs Editor Nirupama Subramanian

On political engineering by the Pakistan Army versus the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan

There is a change from the past but former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif also had a very strong following at different points in time but were removed. While Imran Khan’s popularity appears to have a different quality of asserting greater civilian control over political affairs, it’s useful to recall that this is really an older script. What’s different is that unlike the past, when political figures chose to compromise themselves — they would go into exile or agree to a lower profile or simply follow what the military wanted to do — Khan has been defiant. Whether it is good or bad for Pakistan is a different question. He has certainly gotten under their (the military’s) skin and they have got under his.

But this is the surprising feature about Pakistan. Every major political figure who has been built up by the Pakistan military has, at some point in time, turned against it and wanted to act independently. This is as strong an evidence as we will get to show that the civil-military tension or the civil-military dynamic is the real dynamic. There is a political constituency which is constantly seeking to enlarge its space and comes up on this collision course almost once a decade.

On Khan’s future

Khan had a personal charisma, being an iconic cricketer and helming social work, that had been flowering from 2010-2011 onwards. But that flowering had to do with the military’s effort to boost him up. So they put together different components of the party which he led and surrounded him with people who were always close to the military. Many of those now leaving Khan are those who never saw themselves taking on the military as part of the menu when they joined his party. The military is having difficulty dealing with his personal popularity and the kind of iconic status which he has built up as someone who’s trying to create a new kind of politics.

Whether that is so in fact or not is a different matter but most of his followers see him as representing something new, a new political force and that element, while it will become subterranean because of the military pressure, will remain. That really will hold the key to Khan’s future.

But then he also changes his position quite radically. Perhaps when he took on the military establishment, there was an element of wishful thinking on his part, or he had started believing his own propaganda. But now, at least for the short and medium term, his future looks much more difficult.

On whether Khan will be disqualified

Some people in the military establishment feel that they weighed the scales too much in favour of Khan and the playing field has to be levelled again. That can be done in a number of ways, through his disqualification or some grand kind of reconciliation in the future where those who had been disqualified earlier, such as Nawaz Sharif and others, are also allowed to come back into politics. That’s the broad direction as many in the Army feel that they can’t empower one party or one politician so much that they then become a problem, so there must always be countervailing political forces. That’s the way they can manage the system much better – by playing off one against the other. There is shallowness in Imran’s democratic credentials but he has expanded the political space. Now it’s a scrap between different forces trying to maximise their position.

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