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Tough challenges await new Pakistani prime minister: US media

Shahbaz new PM

WASHINGTON: The new Pakistan prime minister faces a barrage of challenges and perhaps the incoming leader would be divested of significant power that the government used to enjoy under ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, the US media said.

“The ousting of Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan’s prime minister by the court and the takeover of the position by his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif could hand more power to the country’s military establishment,” wrote the Wall Street Journal newspaper.

“Shahbaz Sharif has a history of being less confrontational with armed forces”, the paper said in its report based on interviews with Pakistani and US political analysts.

Nawaz Sharif

It said “Shahbaz Sharif will be focused on delivering economic projects ahead of elections next year” and thus ‘giving even greater leeway’ to the military establishment.”

A New York based Financial Times cites columnist Ahmed Rashid in its piece saying that “the judgement would allow the military to ‘take even firmer control of national security and foreign policy’ and would hurt a number of leading opposition politicians as well, such as Imran Khan and PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari , who also face corruption and money laundering charges.

According to an observation by Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president of the Asia Centre at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, in The New York Times, he said Mr Khan played a key role in highlighting the Panama Papers case, the verdict against Mr Sharif did not assure his victory in the 2018 elections.

Imran Khan protest

It did not bring Mr Khan “closer to a victory in the elections” than he had been before the ouster, he said. “Whether he gets closer or not depends on his own behaviour and whether Mr Sharif overplays his hand and what Accountability Court does,” he added.

A political commentator in the piece referred Imran Khan as a “grandmaster of political suicide,”. “This is not the only time he has said something so outrageous. He does it again and again.”

“Despite court orders of probe against Sharif family, there is scepticism that the courts will reach a decisive verdict against the ruling family and speculation that even if Mr Sharif cannot run again, his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party will continue to dominate parliament,” the NY Times report said. “Mr Sharif remains deeply entrenched through a vast network of political patronage.”

Renowned Indian journalist Barkha Dutt wrote in The Washington Post  Mr Sharif’s ouster was dangerous for Pakistan.

Citing his interview to her, she said: “he was attempting a renewed rapprochement between India and Pakistan”. “His India policy is certainly one reason why he was disliked by his army,” Dutt added.

Ms Dutt pointed out that Mr Sharif’s political opponents might be rejoicing at his ouster but they should know that “this verdict sets a dangerous precedent. Tomorrow it could be Mr Khan.”

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Tough challenges await new Pakistani prime minister: US media

by Web Desk