Asked recently to compare his present stint as Pakistan’s prime minster with his previous two terms, Nawaz Sharif replied that this tenure was the most difficult. Despite his landslide electoral victory, his first 100 days in office has already shown him to be boxed in by domestic challenges.
The first challenge is law and order. More than 1,000 people have already died at the hands of Islamicist militants since he took office. His attempts to hold talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are under a cloud. Despite his offer, terror attacks have continued and the military has come out strongly against the talks. The army insists only a military solution is possible.
Terror incidents in Karachi and other parts of the country have spiralled. The Baluchistan insurgency refuses to die down.
Second is the economy. All this violence has meant foreign investment is low, the economy is in a slump. Attempts to jumpstart the economy have had a mixed reaction. The Paksiatni rupee has slid against the dollar. The country’s major industries have been hit by an acute power shortage. Many factories in Faisalabad and the industrial belt in Punjab have closed, affecting exports.
The third challenge is political. Sharif has had limited success in trying to assert control over the military and its intelligence agencies. His desire to choose a pliant new army chief has led to delays in the selection process. Fearing their authority will be trimmed, the corp commanders have ganged up against the elected government. One way the army is striking back is sabotaging his peace overtures to India.
Granting India MFN status were thwarted again, this time by the commerce ministry which did not meet the deadline for formalities.
Sharif’s other confidence building measures have been shot down by a military nervous with Sharif’s policies towards India, Afghanistan and the US. Notably, control of the Foreign Office remains with the ISI leaving de-facto Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz trying to outsmart the men in khaki with new initiatives inside his own ministry.
Khurshid’s remark angers Pakistan
Islamabad: The interior minister of Pakistan, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, on Monday rejected the allegations made by Indian external affairs minister, Salman Khurshid, against the Pakistan Army that it was hindering the peace process between the two countries.
In a strongly-worded statement issued through the Press Information Department, he said that the remarks made by Khurshid were “unnecessary and against diplomatic norms.”