Pakistan's newly-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan has completed his first week in office. He has named his cabinet and key advisors to run his government. What key challenges does he face going forward?
Pakistan graduated from low-income (level 1) to lower-middle-income (level 2) status at the end of Musharraf years in 2008, according to the United Nations. Can Prime Minister Imran Khan lead his nation to upper-middle-income (level 3) ranks by the end of his first term in office? What are his chances of accomplishing this ambitious goal?
Successive Pakistani governments have failed to manage the nation's external accounts and foreign exchange reserves, forcing incoming governments to seek IMF bailouts. IMF bailouts come with strings attached, strings that impact Pakistan's sovereignty. One of the key reasons is that Pakistan's exports have halved from about 16% of GDP in 2003 to 8% of GDP in 2017. India's exports have increased from 15% to 19% of GDP in the same period, according to the World Bank.
US-Pakistan relations have been deteriorating for the last decade with new geopolitical realities and new alignments. This fact came into sharp focus and US and Pakistan disagreed on the readout of US Secretary of State Pompeo's first call to Prime Minister Imran Khan. The US continues to forge close alliance with Pakistan's archenemy India. Given US control of international financial system and Pakistan's dependence on IMF, Pakistan faces the challenge of managing the crucial US-Pakistan relationship. What must Pakistan do to avoid a complete rupture of this relationship.
A recent Pew Research report confirms that the level of hostility against religious minorities in India is "very high", giving India a score of 9.5 on a scale from 0 to 10. Though the trend is in the direct direction for Pakistan, the country continues to see significant religious hostility toward minorities, particularly toward the small Ahmadi minority. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh's is 7.5. What must Imran Khan do to further improve the situation?