Washington, Aug 29 (IANS) Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of a ‘Naya Pakistan’, which had appealed to many of the younger, middle class Pakistani voters, has foundered due to the country’s acute financial crisis, even as the powerful military establishment continues to retain dominant influence over foreign and security issues, a US Congressional report has said.
The report — Pakistan’s Domestic Political Setting — has been prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
The report prepared for US lawmakers by the bipartisan Congressional Research Service says Khan, who had been a cricket superstar, “jet-setting playboy”, and philanthropist, has been a “vehement critic of the US in the past and is viewed by some as sympathetic towards Islamist militants”.
On the 2018 elections that catapulted Khan to victory and ended the reign of the two dynastic parties – Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the report said: “Many analysts contend that Pakistan’s security services covertly manipulated the country’s domestic politics before and during the election with a central motive of (again) removing Nawaz Sharif from power and otherwise weakening his incumbent party.”
“A purported ‘military-judiciary nexus’ allegedly came to favour Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). Election observers and human rights groups issued statements pointing to sometimes ‘severe’ abuses of democratic norms, and the unprecedented participation of small parties with links to banned Islamist terrorist groups was seen to embolden militants (Islamist parties won a combined 10 per cent of the national vote in 2018),” it said.
On Nawaz Sharif’s victory in 2013, it said that the PML-N party’s “historic mandate was a Punjabi one” as more than 90 per cent of the party’s NA seats were from that province, where his brother Shehbaz was Chief Minister”.
The report also termed Sharif’s removal from power in 2017 and his being barred from holding office by the Supreme Court for alleged corruption as a “soft coup” orchestrated by the military.
On Pakistan Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, it said that he was a “key judge in the 2017 disqualification of then-Prime Minister Sharif, and has led the Supreme Court since January 2019”.