After Pakistani parliament members voted in favor of no-confidence in the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, observers are likely to choose opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif – brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – as his successor.
What are the repercussions of the overthrow of Imran Khan and how will the event affect Pakistan’s foreign policy and its relations with neighboring countries and its main allies?
A report published by the British Guardian newspaper (The Guardian) indicates that Khan’s speech has become anti-American since he came to power in 2018, and he also expressed his desire for rapprochement with China, and then recently held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24 last On the eve of the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In what appears to be a sign of US dissatisfaction with some of Khan’s positions and statements, the newspaper report notes that although Pakistan’s powerful military maintains a tight grip on foreign policy and defence, Khan’s sometimes harsh public rhetoric has negatively affected some of Pakistan’s key relations.
The American position
With regard to the US position on the political crisis in Pakistan, the newspaper attributes to South Asian experts residing in the United States saying that they rule out that the political crisis in Pakistan is among the priorities of US President Joe Biden, who is preoccupied with the war on Ukraine unless it leads to popular unrest in Pakistan or Result in escalating tension with India.
The report quoted a comment by the American politician Robin Ravel, the former assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, in which he said that the United States now has something to occupy itself with from the crisis in Pakistan.
He also quoted a former US National Security Council official under President Donald Trump as saying that “since it is the military that makes decisions about policies important to the United States, such as Afghanistan, India and nuclear weapons, internal Pakistani political developments have nothing to do with the United States.”
relationship with china
The newspaper report indicates that the ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan has long emphasized China’s positive role in Pakistan and in the world at large.
The report suggests that relations and commercial and development projects between Pakistan and China will continue as they were during the Khan era, including the $60 billion Sino-Pakistani economic bridge linking the two neighboring countries. In this regard, the report notes that Khan’s potential successor, Shahbaz Sharif, had previously concluded numerous trade deals directly with China when he was governor of the eastern province of Punjab, Pakistan.
Afghanistan and India
The newspaper notes that Imran Khan was one of the world’s least critical leaders of the Afghan Taliban’s rule on human rights.
Regarding Pakistan-India relations, the Guardian notes that tensions along the border in Kashmir are at their lowest level since 2021, thanks to the ceasefire.
But the two sides have not held formal diplomatic talks for many years due to a deep mistrust on a range of issues, including Khan’s criticism of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his handling of attacks on India’s Muslim minority.
Karan Thapar – an Indian political analyst specializing in Indo-Pakistan relations – expects the Pakistani army to pressure the new government in Islamabad to build on the successful ceasefire in Kashmir and reach an agreement on the region. Pakistan’s powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed, recently said that his country is ready to move forward with an agreement on Kashmir if India agrees to it.