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  Opinion   Edit  05 Mar 2024  AA Edit | Shehbaz faces tough challenge

AA Edit | Shehbaz faces tough challenge

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Mar 5, 2024, 12:04 am IST
Updated : Mar 5, 2024, 12:15 am IST

Shehbaz may have many more pressing priorities than Kashmir for a country that is on the edge of an economic precipice

Shehbaz Sharif. (AFP)
 Shehbaz Sharif. (AFP)

The maxim, about the more things change the more they remain the same, could not be more apt than when applied to Pakistan. The people had tried to change the norm when they defied the Army brass, and the politicians currently their seasonal flavour, to vote mostly for Imran Khan’s party. And yet nothing changed as Shehbaz Sharif again took office as Prime Minister.

The first thing the Pakistan PM did was to rake up the Kashmir issue, which may have been settled long ago but still festers thanks only to Pakistan politicians using it as validation to placate its people. The comment may straightway mean that no one will hurry on the Indian side of the border to set right a frosty relationship, which too will probably remain the same regardless of how things have changed.

As leader of a shaky coalition in which the second ranked partner PPP is not willing to be in the ministry and others who have much smaller numbers of legislators but big in demanding their pound of flesh, Shehbaz may have many more pressing priorities than Kashmir for a country that is on the edge of an economic precipice and urgently needs to obtain a fresh IMF loan to stay afloat.

The people, already restive since a long period of post-poll machinations in which Imran Khan party PTI’s winning candidates sidelined in most provinces as well as in Islamabad, are bound to react to Pakistan putting in harsher measures like higher taxes and fuel prices to fulfil IMF conditions. And then there is inflation and impossibly high interest rates to contend with for an economy of very low growth. The younger Sharif, himself exiled for years by the Pakistan Army, needs the alacrity of a juggler to keep the various power players in play while also playing up to the Generals, on whose pleasure he stays as PM, as well as shuttle to his elder brother for advice, which he did even when Nawaz was in London during his term as PM before the controversial polls of 2024.

Shehbaz’s position is unenviable as he must attempt everything to keep everyone together lest there be another coup, or he simply becomes just another Pakistan PM to not complete a full term in office.

 

Tags: shehbaz sharif, pakistan politics, imran khan