Overview - July 2018

Pakistan: The drama associated with the election contested acquired a fresh intensity with the conviction of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter by an accountability court. It received an added cutting edge when Nawaz Sharif returned from the UK leaving behind his critically ill wife and was immediately arrested and jailed. Certainly, this has injected a fresh narrative into the theatrical politics of this election that has otherwise been dominated by a series of moves whose intent has been to load the dice against the former Prime Minister’s party. Whether the sympathy generated by this narrative will constitute the ‘x factor’ in the coming elections remains to be seen.

This election drama coincided with another factor that had otherwise receded a little from Pakistan- targeted terrorist attacks on public figures.

Finally, the general consensus appeared to be that no matter which party emerged triumphant in the election the first priority of the new government may well be to address the rapidly deteriorated economic situation - in particular on the external front. A mounting current account deficit and very low foreign exchange reserves imply that yet another application for a loan and stabilization package to the IMF may now be inevitable.

The elections are scheduled for the 25th of July.

Afghanistan: The end of last month’s Eid ceasefire has been followed by a series of terrorist attacks across the country underlining yet again the lack of direction in Afghanistan’s internal evolution.

News reports emanating from the United States and attributed to high levels of government suggest that a green light had been given to direct talks with the Taliban - a longstanding demand of the latter and one with obvious consequences for the Afghan government and the political architecture in place in that country post 9/11 and the toppling of the Taliban regime by US military intervention.

 

July 24, 2018

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About the Author

Ambassador Sharat Sabharwal

Former Indian Ambassador to Pakistan and Uzbekistan and Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre

Mr Sharat Sabharwal joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1975. After serving in various positions in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN in Geneva and the Indian Missions in Madagascar, France and Mauritius, he was Director/Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi from 1990 to 1995. The positions held by him subsequently have been Deputy High Commissioner of India in Pakistan (1995-99), Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN in Geneva (1999-2002), Ambassador of India to Uzbekistan (2002-2005) and Additional Secretary/Special Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (September 2005-March 2009).

Mr. Sabharwal was High Commissioner of India to Pakistan from April 2009 to June 2013.

He was appointed Central Information Commissioner in November, 2013 and served in this position till September, 2017.
Mr. Sabharwal has been Deputy leader/member of the Indian delegations to the UN General Assembly, the erstwhile UN Commission on Human Rights, International Labour Conference and World Health Assembly. He was also the Deputy Leader of the Indian delegation to the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent held in Geneva in October 1999 and member of the Indian delegation to the World Conference against Racism, held in Durban in September 2001.

Mr. Sabharwal holds a post graduate degree in Political Science. He speaks English and French besides Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.

Mr. Sabharwal has been an author at the Indian Express, The Hindu, India Today, The Tribune and The Wire.