Imran Khan survives, but with a taint
Pakistan’s Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has secured his position for the foreseeable future by securing a vote of confidence in Parliament after the shock defeat of his finance minister in recent elections to the Senate. Mr Khan bagged 178 votes, just six more than the majority, signalling the success of his efforts to keep his flock together. This was crucial since a dozen lawmakers had broken ranks during the Senate elections. But the victory was marred by the shenanigans of the supporters of Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party outside Parliament, as they assaulted and roughed up opposition lawmakers. This, more than anything else, reflected the deep divisions in Pakistan’s political arena, a phenomenon that some attribute to the heated rhetoric by Mr Khan and his aides. Even in his victory, Mr Khan was anything but gracious, railing against the opposition and the Election Commission about corruption and imagined electoral malpractices.
If anything, Mr Khan needs greater political stability, which would include the support of a resurgent opposition, to focus on the massive problems currently confronting Pakistan. These challenges include the devastating social and economic impact of Covid-19, a tanking economy and rising inflation, national security issues and continued pressure from the international community to crack down on terror groups based on Pakistani soil. The voting in the Senate elections also indicated everything wasn’t well within Mr Khan’s house — there are whispers in Islamabad about disaffection among his party’s MPs on issues such as governance and the outsized influence of a small coterie around the PM. Only a more balanced approach will help Mr Khan stay afloat.