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