PODCAST: Making Sense of Pakistan’s Turbulent Politics

With such an instable political landscape how does anyone make sense of Pakistan
8th November 202230 min

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Yusuf: Imran Khan launched his latest long march to force elections after being ousted through a vote of no confidence. He just survived a recent assassination attempt and was left wounded in his leg. Now people would think that this was an exception to country’s politics. It’s not the norm to have assassination attempts. If you back in 2009 Benazir Bhutto was similarly shot when she was carrying out rallies. Pakistan is this enigma in South Asia, which is always teetering on the verge of collapse, but it is a nation that is needed by the global powers in order to secure their interests. Today we want to talk about everything Pakistan and how to make sense of this country, which is so important in geopolitics. We’ve got Adan Khan the founder of Geopolity to unravel it all for us. How are you keeping Adnan?

[00:00:55] Adnan: , I’m good Yusuf, how are you?

[00:00:57] Yusuf: I’m not too bad. I’m not too bad.

Now, Pakistan, it’s something that I actually don’t know much about. It’s not my country of origin, so forgive me if I ask very basic questions. I think the first thing is why is Pakistan so unstable?

[00:01:13] Adnan: Pakistan is unstable for a couple of very simple reasons, and that is because the politicians, the, the rulers, the ruling elite, They are really in power to fulfill their own agendas and their own interests. They’re not really there to develop the nation, to take the nation forward. So as a result, you have a lot of competition between different clans, different dynasties, different factions, and that’s really what causes regular instability in the country. So you mentioned Imran Khan, there was an assassination attempt on his life. You’re right. That’s not the first time. We saw the same thing happen with Benazir Bhutto. We’ve had assassinated politicians and Presidents and Prime ministers in the past. We’ve had a Prime Minister who was hung in Pakistan’s history. You have had army ruled the country for half of its life. So this is really, this is Pakistan’s politics. It’s very unstable. There’s no longevity. As far as I can remember, I think only one government in Pakistan’s history has completed its term and then passed over to another elected government who took over. So in what, 75 years of Pakistan’s history, It’s only happened once. So all governments in Pakistan’s history never completed their term because they were either overthrown or the army did a coup. And this is what really, this is the fundamental reason why Pakistan’s politics is so unstable.

[00:02:42] Yusuf: So let me just hone in on that point. Why have so many civilian rulers failed to finish their terms.

[00:02:49] Adnan: For multiple reasons for this, half of cases are because the army intervened, they did a coup, and the army intervened for various reasons due to corruption, due to incompetence, due to foreign interference. On the other occasion, I mean, the 1990s is described as Pakistan;s era of democracy. You had just had a decade of military rule. You had the rise of Benazir Bhutto at the end of the eighties and throughout the nineties you saw Benazir Bhutto and Nawas Sharif were in power. Now, in this decade, none of them completed their term. Both of them were removed due to corruption,  charges. So what you tend to find is Pakistan’s politics, civilian politics is dominated by dynasties, is dominated by opportunists, is dominated by by clans. All of them really are competing with each other to make it to the top of Pakistan and loot and plunder the nation. So even if you look at everyone that supported Imran Khan into power, it was them who turned against him in the end. And that led to a vote of no confidence. How can you have a vote of no conscious in parliament when your party has the most MPs. So this unfortunately is the reality of Pakistan’s Politics.

[00:04:06] Yusuf: You mentioned Benazir Bhutto, and Nawas Sharif, they were removed because of corruption charges. Pakistan, it does regularly come up at the top in corruption indexes.  what makes it such a corrupt country?

[00:04:18] Adnan: So what makes It so corrupt is Pakistans politics is not based on ideology or a program. Its based on kinship and patronage. So what that means is to get to power, you rally supporters, you make promises to them. They help you get to power, and then once you’re in power, you have to pay them back. You have to take care of them. So how can the nation move forward when what you are doing is using state resources, government resources, public resources for your own ends? And that’s why,  it’s not surprising pakistan always comes top or second interchangeably with Nigeria funny enough in the corruption index. Unfortunately corruption is a way of in Pakistan. So Nawas Sharif been overflow three times and he’s still not giving up. He still wants to be,  in,  power. So unfortunately the the system is riddled with,  corruption and that’s why despite the change of many faces, corruption remains a consistent feature of Pakistan’s politics.

[00:05:20] Yusuf: Let’s look at Pakistan’s history. So obviously we had the partition and it led to India and Pakistan, but the relationship was,  wasn’t very friendly. They actually hate each other a lot. What’s the reason for that?

[00:05:32] Adnan: So, Pakistan and India, the best way to view it is they were in a marriage for a thousand years and they had a very messy divorce in 1947. As a result, they’re now enemies. They hate each other, and India kept some of the settlement i.e. Kashmir and as a result they’ve always had a very difficult relationship after that. In the case of Pakistan, the Army has built a narrative that India is the enemy. India is much larger than Pakistan has more resources, so only the army can protect Pakistan against India. As a result, over the years, the Army came to play a central role in Pakistans national security in Pakistans politics, in Pakistan foreign policy. Whether it’s real or perceived, the threat from India is the justification for the Army to take anywhere between 25% to 45% of Pakistan’s budget, significant resources of Pakistan go to the Army. Because only they can defend against India. So yeah, in origin there was a messy divorce, and since then the Pakistani army has built a whole narrative that they are the only institution that can defend Pakistan against India. So as a result, you grow up in Pakistan, you go to school, the culture, the political medium is all very, very anti-Indian because of this.

[00:06:54] Yusuf: You brought up the army. I do want to talk about the Army in a little while, but first of all, what, from my reading, it seemed that Pakistan wanted to be separate to India because it wanted to establish Islam. Is Pakistan an Islamic state?

[00:07:09] Adnan: So Pakistan’s separation, I mean, that’s probably a whole podcast on its own because the creation of Pakistan is something that really came right at the end. In fact, from the British perspective. Partition was a decision made: um, Pakistan was created August, 1947. In May, the British plan was never partition. May 1947 the British plan was you have a confederation with India and Pakistan, one nation, Muslim and Hindis living together. Nevertheless, in the end, the British made the decision to partition due to the own geopolitical strategic interests. Now, as far as the Muslims were concerned , the narrative amongst them was is we can’t really live with Hindus. This was the argument at the end, Muhammed Ali Jinnah advocated We have different beliefs, we have different value systems, therefore we need our own nation where we as Muslims can practice our faith freely the way we want. So as far as the people were concerned, Pakistan was created in the name of Islam. It was created for us because we had our own,  values. As far as the people are concerned, Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, unfortunately, on Pakistan’s establishment what you find from then up until today, really lip service has largely been played to implementing Islam. So what you find, there are bits and bobs of Islam that are applied, but on the core policies, foreign policy,  on the legal system, on the financial system, what you find is Islam is not the basis in these areas. In fact, sometimes Islam is thrown in, but on the whole it’s national interests, it’s nationalism that drives a lot of these areas. So in Pakistan, because Friday the national holiday, Because Eid is a national holiday, because the call to pray the Azaan is done publicly. These are all Islamic things. So many people feel they are living in some element of an Islamic state because these things are there. But you find the politicians, they are not looking at Islam when it comes to their relationship with the world. They’re not looking at Islam when they’re looking at developing the country. In Pakistan, you have shari’ah courts. You have secular courts, side by side together. These are not really indicators of an Islamic state. So the, the, the people sacrificed a lot. They moved from mainland India to come to this nation called Pakistan, which was created the name of Islam. And this,  dream and this vision, it still hasn’t been achieved yet.

[00:09:27] Yusuf: Now I’m guessing from this partition Kashmir was basically the collateral.

[00:09:32] Adnan: Yeah, so Kashmir, British when they’re ruled over combined India, as we know at the time, they directly ruled over half of India and the other half they indirectly ruled and they were ruled by nawabs, they were ruled by chiefs, they were ruled by clans, and they effectively were semi autonomous Kashmir was one of the areas it was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja. So the British areas that they directly ruled, at partition, whatever the majority population was, they would go in that direction. So the majority population was Muslim they would go to Pakistan. If it was Hindu, it’d go to India. You had a bit of a unique scenario in Kashmir because you had the Hindu ruler of a majority Muslim population. So in practice it should have really gone to Pakistan due to Kashmir’s strategic location, due to the fact that the waters of the north of India and Pakistan come through the Himalayas via Kashmir, India didn’t really wanna lose that territory. So they cut a deal with the Maharaja, who effectively moved to India and surrendered Kashmir to them. And that is what led to the first war in in Kashmir in 1948. And we’ve had subsequent wars after that. What you do find is successive Pakistani rulers in the army, they raise the issue of Kashmir when they need it, and on other occasions they leave the issue of Kashmir when they don’t really want to talk about it. Probably the most major change that happened is up until Musharraf in 1999, Pakistan’s policy was there’s no negotiation and we will maintain a low intensity struggle against India to bleed it to death in Kshmir. So that’s why Pakistan historically supported many Jihadi groups, many mujahadeen to go in Kashmir and make it very difficult for India to occupy it. Once Musharraf came to power 1999, once the the war on terror kicked off in 2001, the Musharraf regime turned their back on the Jihadi groups. They banned them, they chased the leaders out the country and imprisoned many others as. Since then, effectively Kashmir has been frozen. Pakistan talks about it, but it doesn’t actually do anything about it. Nothing obviously going on at the UN and a couple of years ago, the Indian side of Kashmir has now been fully integrated into,  India. So unfortunately, today the scenario is successive at Pakistani rulers. Talk about Kashmir they give a lot of rhetoric because Kashmir matters to the Pakistani public, but physically, they’ve effectively surrendered it. They’re not really engaging in any actions to,  take back Kashmir..

[00:12:07] Yusuf: Now, another big, another big event in Pakistan’s history was the independence of Bangladesh, which separated in 1971. What was the backdrop of that and what was the main reason why they did separate?

[00:12:20] Adnan: OK, so at partition the Muslim majority areas of India were the Bengal and,  what became Pakistan. So you had east and West Pakistan that were technically one country divided by what, a thousand miles of,  northern India. So that already potentially made it quite difficult to rule over. It wasn’t contiguous land, which were linked together. In Bengol obviously culturally, ethnically you had Bengali Muslims there. That’s who they were from the area. They, they had their language,  they had their own history and the Muslims in,  West Pakistan, they were broken down into various languages. And so, although Pakistan existed as one nation really Punjab Sind, Baluchistan they have their own languages and even within them they’ve got their own culture and languages. So really what happened was is the population in Bangladesh was actually slightly more than the total population in West Pakistan. As elections were going on, the Muslims in the East Pakistan realized if they support one party, they would become a majority in combined Pakistan, so they would be allowed to form the government. Problem is the politicians like Zulfiqar Ali Bhitto the Army General Ayub Khan they refused to allow the Muslim from East Pakistan to completely form the government for both territories.  and a lot of this comes down to will they look down upon the Muslims in,  East Pakistan. Khan In his own biography, he spoke about when he was, um,  put into position in Bangladesh before the creation of Pakistan of,  And he talks about what he thinks of the Muslims in that region. And you know, he’s probably not great to repeat here, but they, they look down upon them. They look down upon them culturally. And so the, these things really bred this mentality amongst the Muslims in Bengal, that how can we live with these people when they look down upon us? So after 1947, these issues really started to grow. It didn’t help when the official language for Pakistan was made into Urdu. It didn’t take into account the,  other languages. By the time the sixties, 1960 was coming to an end, really the Muslims in East Pakistan had really mobilized and organized and come to the conclusion that they need to really have their own state. They can’t live with these people in West Pakistan who really,  looked down upon them. Then I think it came to a head in 1958, if I’m correct. So 1968, there was an election where the Majib ur Rahman party won the majority. So they had the right to form the government for combined Pakistan. And that wasn’t allowed because Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Sind and in the Army in Punjab, they said, well, unless you win, unless you don’t win a province in West Pakistan, you can’t form a government. And that really began the final catalyst. The army was deployed in East Pakistan because there was rebellion on the street and then eventually this led to, you know, the in Indian intervention as well. They supported the rebel movement in East Pakistan. And then I think by 1971, end of 1970,  East Pakistan is separated and it became Bangladesh. Now the army in Pakistan, even today, they actually accept that they see the separation of East Pakistan as a big loss. A lot of them accept actually accept we treated the Muslim there really, really badly. They see it as a big loss that they lost their own territory and especially they lost it to India. That made it even far worse. So there is an acceptance within the Army that it was wrong what they did, and in fact it was their actions, which actually led to the seperation of East Pakistan in the end of Bangladesh.

[00:15:58] Yusuf: We see the,  army,  very prominent in their, so you mentioned Ayub Khan and you find the army is very prominent throughout the whole history of Pakistan. How did the Army manage to get into such a key position within the country where it’s actually, um, making decisions in politics?

[00:16:17] Adnan: Well, quite simply Yusuf, the founders of Pakistan, the first generation of leaders of Pakistan were. In between some way of incompetent and mediocre. So you’ve got a new country that’s being created. There’s no plan, there’s no strategy on how they’re gonna deal with mass migration from India. There was no plans on how they’re gonna develop the economy. So as a result, the troubles in the creation of Pakistan started very, very quickly. This was different to Neru and Gandhi who established the congress party, and they had planned, they had five year plans. They wanted to establish a country on Soviet lines, and they had access to a lot more raw materials as well. In the case of Pakistan, you find Muhameed Ali Jinnah was fighting for so long for independent nation. The day he got the independent nation. There was no plan or strategy. Millions of people died in the partition, shifting from India to Pakistan, there was no plan. There was no humanitarian effort, there was nothing in place. So as a result, the Army really was the only institution that was organised, it had been org it was obviously organised by the the British military. It had access to resources. So by I think 1958, the army did a coup because by that point, the politicians had run the country into the ground.   anyway. And then since then, most civilian politicians have usually been from dynastic families and that braught it own problems into the country aswell also the army has regularly intervened. Now the army rule, the, the period they have been in power it hasn’t really been too different to the civilian era. So whilst civilian rule in Pakistan usually consists of corruption, army rule usually starts off really, really good because the situation is really, really bad. And then it usually descends into the Army general becoming effectively a dictator and clamping down on,  rebellion or any criticism of the,  regime. So although the Army’s been in power for half for half of Pakistan’s history, it’s not really faired any better in terms of developing the nation or improving the nation.

[00:18:18] Yusuf: Now if we look at Pakistan’s economy, it’s,  Pakistan is in a lot of debt. It seems like every single government that comes in, all they do is,  put the, put the country in more debts. How is Pakistan ever going to actually come out of this economic problem that they’re in?

[00:18:36] Adnan: Well, Pakistan’s debt, if you actually look at it,  their first IMF loan I think was 1958 and since then they’ve had 24 different programs of the IMF and the country’s not improved one bit. So taking more loans is not gonna change anything. In fact, all the loans that have been taken have not improved Pakistan. In fact, I would question where has the lonely even gone, from the looks of it it’s going to the pockets of the rulers and IMF still give even more money. So the, the debt hasn’t benefited the country,  at all. It’s easy for the rulers of Pakistan to take international debt because they won’t be the ones repaying it back. They’ll be long gone. Future generations will have to pay it back. And this probably brings us to a broader issue of Pakistan. Pakistan’s economy is not fit for purpose. There’s no long term plan, long term strategy. All the rulers have not even attempted to develop the economy. They’re too busy trying to loot the country or plunder the nation for their own objective. The army, effectively is a corporation in itself, it is a big drain on Pakistan’s resources and it hides behind India to justify this. So for most people, the economy doesn’t even really,  work for them. So that’s why, because Pakistan relies on foreign imports of oil, because it relies on certain raw materials from abroad, it doesn’t even have sufficient dollars ready to pay for these, and this is where these loans come in. So unfortunately, it’s become like a spiraling circle where rather than thinking outside the box and trying something new, successive Pakistani rulers has just try the same policy again and again again. Imran Khan lambasted the previous regime for years of going to the IMF. He used how embarrassing is this that we keep going to the IMF to beg them for money. It took Imran Khan only four months when he came into power to go with the same begging Bolt to the IMF. So despite all this talk about tsunami of change, despite all this talk of ending corruption and establishing a new way in the country, really the free years, seven months, Imran Khan was in power. It was really a continuation of the same unfortunately, this is why all you hear from Pakistan is inflation’s going through the roof, GDP shrinking, corruption, international debt deficits. These are common because the economy’s been running to the ground by successive rulers.

[00:20:46] Yusuf: Now, even with that in mind, alongside all the corruption in Pakistan, it’s still a very key nation in the world. I mean, if we look back at the war and terror, it was a key US ally. How would you describe Pakistan in the context of geopolitics today? Is it still very much a US ally as it was in the war and terror, or do you find that it’s actually moving, or do you find it’s actually growing closer to China.

[00:21:12] Adnan: So Pakistan was reaching out to America even before the creation. Even before partition. What Pakistan’s rulers is realised is all the main industry in India, all the military equipment is in mainland India and in the end pakistan got very little of India’s assets. It got very little of the military equipment. So as a result, Pakistan emerged from a very weak position. So already Muhammed Ali and Jinnah the people around him, they were already reaching out to America. They could see America the next power. They could see that their view was that aligning with America, joining America’s Cold War. That is the shortest and quickest way for us to develop economically and militarily. That’s what they did. The only problem was, America wanted for its Cold War in the South Asia it wanted India as its ally. India was the bigger country. India was much more bigger and it could basically be a counterweight to China and the Soviet Union.

[00:22:11] Yusuf: I guess at that time, that would be the most sensible decision. As in what other option would Pakistan have had.

[00:22:19] Adnan: It it could be, unfortunately what you find with people like Muhammad Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan, the people around him, there wasn’t really any long term thinking. I mean, there’s probably a podcast in itself, but the emergence of Pakistan, there’s a lot still that’s been left to, there’s still a lot of issues in terms of partition the negotiations that happened. The main problem was there was actually no plan the day after partition. There was actually no strategy, and that’s why Pakistan fell into so many significant issues. In India they were already talking about what their plan actually,  was. So the easiest thing for them was that America is probably the quickest and shortest route. Now, America actually didn’t see Pakistan like that. America actually saw India as a country and wanted to ally with, but India wanted to remain neutral. India didn’t wanna be on the Russian side or the American side. So as a result, America had to settle with Pakistan in the end. And then you see throughout the 50s many military agreements were made with Pakistan. Pakistan,  gave America air bases in the country, and a lot of economic and military did flow in Pakistan. But what America realised is a lot of this military equipment America’s given to Pakistan, Pakistan was eyeing this military equipment to use against India. So they obviously went to war in 1965, and this is not what America saw as its main relationship with Pakistan. It didn’t want Pakistan to be fighting in India with its equipment. It wanted Pakistan to use the equipment in the Cold War against Soviet Union and the Communist bloc. But Pakistan saw that the best way to stand up against India was to work with America, achieve their interest, and then use that economic aid and aid and that is what caused the original tension in relationship between the two. So since then, what you find is whenever America goes to war in Eurasia, it needs Pakistan. It needs Pakistans influence in Afghanistan and it gets the support from Pakistan because Pakistan thinks they get a lot of military equipment. And then very quickly Pakistan drags its feet, it starts using equipment for other purposes. And then you see the criticism come from  America to the point where Pakistan has now become the battered wife. In this relationship. There is a debate what has actually Pakistan got out its relationship with,  America. America used Pakistan during the Cold War. America used Pakistan during the Soviet invasion of African Afghanistan. America used Pakistan for its war on terror invasion of Afghanistan. And all it does to today, it criticizes Pakistan. It criticizes the Army, it says, you know, you, you, you are terrorist. You your, you are double playing us. And all that time, Pakistans got into more debt, it hasn’t really developed and the situation of your average person has got far worse. So yeah, Pakistan is the the battered,  partner in this relationship and in, you know, these sort of relationships where you are abused, you can’t see any way out. And that’s why again and again, Pakistan’s rulers be they civilian elites or the army they see working with America as the only way to move forward. They, they literally don’t think outside of that context. And this is probably where China becomes quite interesting because what you find china is offering economics. It’s offering finance. It’s building the Pakistan China economic corridor, and the country’s rulers are very happy with this, because it’s bringing the money into the country. However, a strategically Pakistan has done nothing with China. China and Pakistan relationship it goes back to one thing, which is India. That is the whole basis of the relationship. Up until the 1960s, Pakistan viewed China as part of the communist bloc. Pakistan was with America in the Cold War. The moment India and China went to war in 1961, and because they both had a common enemy, India and Pakistan, India and China, sorry, opened up relations. Now, Pakistan has never gone to war with India. When China is at war with India, when Pakistan moves, when China, that war of India, then you could say China and Pakistan are aligned now, but that has never happened. For the last few in the Northern Himalayan areas, China and India have affectivley being at war. Not once has Pakistan moved on Kashmir during this period. But what all this shows you is there’s a commercial economic relationship with China, but it doesn’t go beyond that, the strategic relationship that’s with  America. And in that relationship. Pakistan is the abused partner.

[00:26:33] Yusuf: Now that doesn’t make a lot of sense going back the point that you made about America and the criticisms that come from America. I guess one of the criticisms, whether it is true or not, maybe you can shed some light. Pakistan is being accused constantly of supporting terrorism. Is that really the case?

[00:26:51] Adnan: So as the saying goes, um, one man’s terrorism is another man’s freedom fighter. What Pakistan has done over the years,  I mean in origin, this whole term terrorism, it come from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Mujahadeen that were trained and armed and funded, and these people then went on to go on and fight in Kashmir other conflicts. And over time in the 90s they came to be termed as terrorists. So in origin America had no problem. In fact, America supported the arming and training of the mujahideen against the Soviet Union. So what you find is, today its convenient to use this as a stick against Pakistan. So they do it. But 30, 40 years ago, these were freedom fighters. The, these were the Taliban when they were sitting in the White House in the 1990. They were rmed by,  they were termed by the president at the time as,  similar to American founding fathers. They were fighting a liberation struggle. So this is a really a,  propaganda. At the end of the day, America supported,  groups who were fighting in Syria. America has a the long history of supporting groups who fight around the world. They’re not called terrorists. They’re called American supported groups. They’re called a faction.  they’re not called terrorists, but how is that any different to what Pakistan does? So yeah, Pakistan has its interests. It’s been supporting mujahideen in the past. It’s been supporting non-state actors like every other nation does in the world. But when Pakistan does, it is terrorism. But when America does it, it’s not terrorism. It’s completely cool. Something else.

[00:28:14] Yusuf: Which which is a good point that you make. I guess the question is why did Pakistan support the Majahideen and ultimately then the Taliban. What’s the history of this relationship and what where does Pakistan benefit in this?

[00:28:26] Adnan: So, Pakistan, obviously, Pakistan has a border of Afghanistan.  it’s a border in the mountains, so in practice it doesn’t really exist. So Pakistan has always been involved in some form of shape in  Afghanistan. India has always tried to get a foot into Afghanistan, so that added to Pakistan viewing India from a strategic perspective. So when the Silver Union invaded this was the Soviet union expanding into South Asia. So Pakistan as a result it organised the defense of South Asia through funding the mujahideen, organizing the mujahideen and with Pakistan Army soldiers fighting alongside the mijahideen against the Soviet Union. So when the Soviet Union was defeated,  effectively, so,  1987 onwards a civil war really raged in Afghanistan from about the end of the eighties up until 1990. So in 1994, obviously there’s lots of instability in the country. Different warlored and different factions who fought alongside each other against Soviet Union. They’re now fighting each other. So the Pakistan to bring stability, it reached out to the Talibs, students who came known as the Taliban, and it supported and funded them, and they, by 1996, they formed the government by defeating most of the other groups in the country. Once Taliban took power. They actually ran the country quite separately to Pakistan. Pakistan was just happy. It’s got a friendly government in Afghanistan, they’re gonna work with stability. There’s no instability anymore because there’s now one government, and that’s the relationship Pakistan has had. So even during the war in terror, despite Pakistan official policy being we are with America, many army officials and many other people, they supported the Taliban in their war against the American invasion. Many tribes and tribal leaders in the northern areas of Pakistan, they supported the Taliban in Afghanistan against America’s invasion. So what this comes down to Yusuf is it was In Pakistan’s interests coupled with these are Muslims, these are,  brothers, and that’s how the people of Pakistan have always viewed their relationship with Afghanistan and Taliban.

[00:30:23] Yusuf: Now we’ve discussed a number of different points, a whole host of problems with Pakistan. Now, many people believe Imran Khan was the guy that was going to take them out of this mess. He was the savior of the nation, but obviously he didn’t fare very well. Could you kind of give us some more information about his time in power, What went and wrong?

[00:30:43] Adnan: Okay. Yeah. So you’re absolutely right. Um, Imran Khan, um, rose to, I mean, he is been around in politics since the 1990s. But really from 2013 onwards, he really rose to prominence. He led a struggle against the government at the time,  and really in the 2010, 2013, many people had lost hope in Pakistan. You’d had Army rule for about 10 years, then you had as Zardari takeover, then you had Nawas Sharif takeover, and they just run the country into the ground. Imran Khan led a whole movement of tsunami as he likes to call it, he’s the change candidate. He cares about Pakistan, and if people get behind him, he would bring the change that people want. Now, this firstly, this isn’t new. Every leader of Pakistan uses the same rhetoric. The difference between Imran Khan was is, is from a completely different background to the usual political class and the rulers of Pakistan. So he is not from a dynestic family. He’s not from a corrupt business background. He was a cricketer that won the World Cup for Pakistan in 1992. So he had that credibility and since then, he got involved in politics and he set up a cancer hospital. So because of that, he got wide support because he’s from a clean background. Unfortunately, what you find is once he came to power and he was in power for three years, seven months, so he completed over 70% of his term. What you find is the usual problems and the usual issue rose again. What you find again is if you come to power, you don’t have total control. The army runs the key parts of Pakistan. So Imran Khan despite making grand promises. He found that was the case as well. The main problem was, is in actual ruling, Imran Khan turned out to be quite incompetent, very similar to the previous rulers. So you find the economy was growing about 5% prior to Imran Khan coming into power. Then under him it halved. Inflation was about 5%, and it very quickly rose to double digits under Imran Khan, all of this was before Covid. Covid just made this already bad situation even worse. And even with Covid Imran Khan flipped and floped. So when he originally said there may be a lockdown, the Ulema came out and said Don’t you dare do a lockdown its Ramadan we wanna pray the mosque. Then he said, There won’t be a lockdown. Then he said there would be a lockdown. Then he changed his mind. Then he said there’d be a smart lockdown. And then on one particular day he said there’s gonna be no lockdown. And by the evening the army has started the lockdown anyway. So really he and, and then if I am correct, in total under his three years, seven months, He borrowed the most in any government in Pakistan history r, he borrowed $39 billion. So literally, Imran Khan actually created world record in all the wrong ways in Pakistan. However, once Imran Khan was ousted and it was easy to oust him because the economy had been run to the ground. Once he’d been,  ousted, he then launched a whole movement and his key argument was is I’ve been overthrown by foreign powers, namely America.  so he used the anti-American rhetoric, which will always get you support in Pakistan. And then secondly, that these corrupt people, they’re back in power. So because he was overthrown he’s gained a lot of sympathy from the people. In fact, if the person who benefited the most from his ouster is Imran Khan himself, he’s more popular today. He is more sympathy of the people today. In fact, the Army actually doesn’t know how to deal with his popularity. In the past, the Army’s very good at controlling the rise and full of individuals. Imran Khan has its own supporter base. The head of the Army has had a big problem in actually dealing with this, and in fact, Imran Khan fall aside from all the economic issues. It actually began when he fell out with the head of the Army General Bajwa and this was over the appointment of a number of Army officials and the head of the ISI because Imran Khan dragged his feet on this. That was a step too far for the army. At that point, the Army General reached out to the Sharif family in the UK and that’s when the whole chain started. The chain of events that eventually led to his,  ouster. So what you find, the Army actually already started to feel a bit embarrassed with imran Khan, the economy was doing so bad, and then him getting in the way of Army appointments was the final straw. So that’s really the background to what’s going on, and in some ways, it’s not that different to the history of Pakistan. The only different here is is Imran Khan is in a relatively strong position. Nawas Sharif being overflown in the past, he wasn’t in strong position. Imran Khan got the sympathy of the people, and people have forgotten what happened for three years, seven months when he was in power. They just see we don’t want corrupt people. And Imran Khan’s ouster was a foreign conspiracy. And you know, we don’t want any foreign interference in the country.

[00:35:18] Yusuf: Yeah I was just gonna say, it seems like it’s a repetitive cycle with Pakistan. Just one last question for you Adnan. Where do you see Pakistan going into the future? Do you think that they’ll be able to get out of the mess that they’re currently in?

[00:35:30] Adnan: So there’s actually some interesting trends,  evolving in Pakistan. Firstly, Pakistan’s population at the moment is just over 200 million, and the expectation is it’s only going to grow. And the majority of Pakistan’s population is very young. So with a dysfunctioning economy. With an economy that doesn’t meet the needs of the people, you’ve got a massive problem building. This problem already exists in much of the Arab world where you’ve got about a million plus people entering the workforce every year looking for jobs that don’t exist. As your population increases you need to house them. You’ve gotta build infrastructure, you’ve gotta educate them. You need healthcare. There is no plans whatsoever for the long term on how the army or how successive regimes plan to actually deal with this. So really this is a ticking time bomb and what you find really is the Army leadership is the only institution upholding the system of Pakistan, this corrupt system that’s dysfunctional, that really doesn’t serve the people. Actually, I think things will come to a head. I think we’re coming to a point now where people are realizing that we’ve had so many different faces, but the situation of the average person has got far worse. You need more systemic and more fundamental change in the country.

Beyond Pakistan, you’ve got obviously some interesting in developments. You’ve got the rise of China. You’ve got America who last year left very embarrassingly from Afghanistan. You’ve got Russia as well. This region, once again, is becoming the geopolitical pivot, the important region in the world. And that means Pakistan will have to probably take a side or take an independent course. But the important thing is Pakistan will be right in the middle of the future of global competition, its being in the During the Soviet Union, it was there, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan was central and with China and America. Pakistan will also play a critical role aswell. The decision Pakistan has to make, will you take a side and once again, be an American lackey or become a Chinese lackey, or will you actually forge an independent course and actually take advantage of these developments. And that’s probably a question Pakistans elite and Pakistan as a people really need to answer.

[00:37:35] Yusuf: Thank you for your time today, Adnan it was a very interesting discussion. If you want to learn more about the issues we’ve raised today, please check out the website www.thegeopolity.com. You can also learn more on other issues by accessing our website where you’ll find comprehensive insights. Thank you for listening.

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