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Indian Foreign Policy During Covid-19 Pandemic

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ABSTRACT: This article focuses on the shift of India from the notion of “Aatma Nirbhar” (self-reliance) to “Vishwa Nirbhar” (reliant on the world). Proceeding with the historical aspects of India’s foreign policy, I have tried to track the series of events that led to India adopting a realistic policy and discarding its earlier idealistic policy. Subsequently, the article throws light upon the actions of India undertaken in pursuance of its foreign policy during the COVID-19 pandemic and is backed by their examination and analysis. From exporting vaccines to other nations under the “Vaccine Maitri” scheme to not being able to meet its domestic vaccine requirements, unnecessarily focusing on China time and again when it comes to India’s foreign policy, ambiguity towards India-US relation during COVID-19 pandemic to identifying the post-COVID foreign policy requirements of India, this article tracks the developments in India’s foreign policy due to COVID-19 pandemic and critiques the foreign policy measures undertaken from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic till now and provides with some suggestions for the betterment of the India as a global power, as a potential neighbour and as a nation that believes in “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” i.e. “the world is one family”.

A LOOK INTO INDIA’S FOREIGN POLICY AND ITS SUBSEQUENT SHIFT: FROM IDEALISM TO REALISM

Due to security challenges from the world and regional institutions, India’s foreign policy shifted from idealism to realism with the signing of the Wachtel Accord in 1954. India then showed its ‘sense’ of realism over and again while being confronted with various challenges in the political realm, leading to the adoption of a realist strategy which was now visible via military realism, multi-alignment, and India’s power imbalance with China. Therefore, border clashes and nuclear proliferation compelled the country to take a more realistic approach and focus on national security issues. As a result, the era of idealism in Indian foreign policy ended.

Military power is central to realist philosophy, whether as a defensive strategy for survival or an offensive strategy for power maximisation, as a means to a goal or as an end in itself. Power is vital, but hard power is the most important power of all, according to most realists. According to realists, India’s desire to be a great power must be matched by realistic military capability.

It is not only a matter of status but also of survival. India has a history of violent territorial wars with its neighbours, most notably China and Pakistan, with periodic clashes, the most recent being the Galwan Valley fiasco.

DEVELOPMENTS DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

COVID-19 pandemic started with initially a few fatalities but economic constraints forced a staggered lockdown exit strategy, resulting in a spike in COVID-19 cases. Now, India appears to be weakened as a result of the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic and protracted internal policy gridlock. The Indian public health infrastructure, oxygen shortage, and hundreds of abandoned dead bodies scattered over the Ganga’s banks have all made international headlines. The wave of Covid-19 has shattered the illusion that India is a rising global power.

The Indian immunization effort has also failed miserably. Before the second wave struck India, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was actively pitching India to the rest of the globe as a net vaccine provider. India exported 66 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to 95 nations as part of the well-publicized “Vaccine Maitri” campaign. China, on the other hand, has sold 80 million doses to 60 nations.

When the developed world was focused on internal vaccine management and had imposed a moratorium on vaccine exports, India was busy packaging vaccines in export containers. Ironically, the Prime Minister, who was fully aware of the need for coordinated regional and global action to combat COVID-19, entirely ignored the local need for an organised strategy to fighting the second wave of COVID-19 attack.

India’s foreign policy posture has altered substantially as the world grapples with the Covid-19 crisis. The second wave of COVID-19 pushed India to defy its 17-year-old foreign policy and accept foreign help, despite the fact that doing so might have far-reaching strategic consequences for the country. India, which previously supplied vaccinations to over 90 countries under its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme, has now received foreign help from over 25 countries as a result of the second wave. The reasoning for this is still unclear, given there is a scarcity of vaccinations in India, so why prioritise other countries?

Before moving further, it is pertinent to take a look at the origins of the policy of “not accepting foreign aid”.

The policy of not taking foreign aid was originally envisioned by India’s Ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh, but no particular justification or reasoning was offered for the same, and with what may be considered a “policy shift,” India was forced to suffer certain repercussions as a result of this policy. One of the repercussion is as follows, the United Kingdom opposed India’s request for financing from the International Development Association (IDA) for national initiatives aimed at promoting economic development, eliminating disparities, and improving living circumstances claiming that these funds are intended for the world’s poorest countries, and that because India obviously does not want foreign help, it should not require these grants as their actions imply.

Subsequently, India was removed from the list of IDA borrowing countries in 2014. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s administration then decided not to accept any foreign help worth less than $100 million. Interestingly, in contrast, during the COVID-19 pandemic, India appears to have welcomed foreign assistance regardless of its magnitude; for example, Canada provided India with $10 million in financial financing, which can undoubtedly be seen as a blot on the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ canvas.

With the world’s fourth biggest foreign exchange reserves, one wonders why those assets aren’t being used by India to purchase vital goods, instead of accepting funds from other countries. India must keep in mind that these benefits come with some opportunity cost, while there is no wrong in accepting aid that is not supplied for the sake of gaining points but is given generously.

The tremendous help and support that India has obtained from all corners of the globe is due to broad media coverage of its tragedy, since the globalized world cannot allow a rapidly evolving virus to survive in India or anywhere else on the planet.

DIGGING DEEPER INTO THE IMPACTS OF THE PANDEMIC ON NEW DELHI’S FOREIGN POLICY:

 India’s Foreign Policy during COVID-19 can be analysed and examined on the contours of: –

Primacy in the Indian Ocean region/ Indo-Pacific region: The acceptance of foreign aid after a 17-year hiatus has been described as an exception by India’s foreign secretary, Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, and will not be seen as a shift in India’s foreign policy. Material help, political influence, and historical links are the foundations of India’s longstanding supremacy in the area and historical links alone are insufficient to sustain its regional predominance.

India’s political influence is diminishing, and its capacity to assist neighboring countries is shrinking. The epidemic has harmed India’s capacity and ambition to contribute to the Indo-Pacific and Quadrilateral. Any ambitious military expenditure or upgrading plans are thwarted, resulting in Beijing’s growing influence in the area. The Second Wave has accelerated China’s invasion of India’s strategic space, and it appears that India will be unable to stand up to China in terms of political will as well as balance of power concerns. Undoubtedly, during the COVID-19 epidemic, China has arisen as a stronger state in general. Last year, India battled with China at Galwan; with regards to any future incident with China of the same type, I do not believe that we can expect India to respond in the same way, and that the response would be more conciliatory. In recent years, India has been compelled to cede before Beijing, and it is probable that South Asian governments will also be more oriented towards China, therefore, South Asia’s power balance may shift toward China.

India’s Association with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) and its Defense Expenditure: Military has aided in India’s rise to the role of regional hegemon in South Asia, and it now serves as a key unit in today’s multipolar globe. Because of the volatility and transitory nature of India’s border with China and Pakistan, the country has made significant investments in border security and infrastructure.

Prima facie, the COVID-19 epidemic will prevent any aggressive military expenditure or modernization plans from being implemented, as it would be prudent for the emphasis to be on global diplomacy and regional geopolitics. Therefore, now, it is unreasonable to expect India contributing enthusiastically or at all towards the expansion of the QUAD.

The Impact of Economics on Geopolitics: COVID-19 has caused widespread economic misery, a fall in foreign direct investment and industrial output, and a spur in unemployment, all of which would restrict India’s strategic aspirations. therefore, acknowledging the economic turmoil, a lockdown, declining Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), slow industrial production, and rising poverty and unemployment, for a few years, we should prioritise internal growth, and for domestic welfare international arena may be disregarded. As a result, it would be prudent to pause India’s post-covid foreign strategy for the time being. At the very least, the COVID-19 epidemic would have an indirect influence on India’s objective of retaining strategic autonomy.

Add to it the impending UP assembly elections in 2022 and general elections in 2024. Domestic political concerns will dampen the political establishment’s enthusiasm for foreign policy innovation or initiatives. As a result, post-covid-19, Indian foreign policy is likely to be gloomy.

India-China Relations:

The problem with Indian foreign policy is the country’s continuous fixation with competing with China. Since America began focused on China in the mid-1950s, the ruling Indian elite has believed that India’s primary role in global affairs is to control China. The partnership with the United States adds to New Delhi’s obsession with Beijing. Unfortunately, many members of India’s security and strategic affairs elite regard U.S. pressure as a privilege. Pressure is being viewed as a chance to increase the emphasis of foreign policy, leaving economic diplomacy in the dust.

Contrary to India’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad’s statement in December 2019, India has not allowed Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE to conduct 5G trials in India. Second, as already apprised of, for realists, military power has always taken centre stage, and for the majority of them, “hard power” is the true power not only for status but also for survival. The recent territorial conflict between India and China at Galwan Valley, and attempts of China to prevent the WHO from investigating the origins of the COVID-19 virus, which is said to have originated in Wuhan, China, indicate towards the two nations’ non-cordial bilateral and multilateral relations.

During the epidemic, the whole globe faced severe supply shortages, owing largely to intentional Chinese actions (Simon J. Evenett, 2020). According to the campaign initiated by India, Japan, and Australia, i.e., the Supply China Resilience Initiative, nations are now looking for alternatives to supply chains that are unstable owing to China. Also, because discussions on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the European Union have been restarted, although after an 8-year hiatus, India may continue to seek new market opportunities and diversify in order to minimize reliance on China on a variety of issues.

The MEA is guilty of portraying an inflated picture of India’s prowess as the world’s vaccine production powerhouse. With the exception of India, Bhutan, and the Maldives, this foreign policy blunder has allowed China to increase its vaccine-related diplomatic operations in South Asia. India pledged to supply 30 million AstraZeneca doses to Bangladesh by June, but has barely supplied 7 million. Due to an unexpected halt in vaccine supply from New Delhi, Dhaka has been obliged to accept a gift of 5,00,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China. Nepal has received 8,00,000 doses from China in response to an increase in illnesses.

One can only hope that the current health crisis, which, according to the Lancet journal, will result in one million deaths by 1 August, will force the MEA to pause and chart a new course that will help India achieve economic prosperity rather than wasting its meagre resources on pyrrhic victories in border battles.

India-US Relations: In April, 2021, the United States had delayed clearance for exporting raw materials for production of vaccines in India, a reason was offered later by the States albeit a dent originated in India-US ties. The ramifications of the same may be observed in the near future. Following COVID-19, India may find it more difficult to oppose US requests for a stronger military partnership; in the long run, the US may be unsure if India can compete with China and subsequently, what may be expected from the United States is that it will not gamble entirely on India, but rather on Beijing or somewhere in the centre.

As the world transitions to a post-COVID system, India must not only seek to solve fundamental infrastructural shortages in the health sector and elsewhere, but also increase its position in the liberal international order. India, in particular, must establish itself as an effective Asian force that can provide a counterbalance to China. This is where the United States will come in handy. It is critical for the United States and India to collaborate in order to strengthen international governance and the institutions that serve as the foundation of the global order. Another significant step for India may be to gain a permanent membership on the Security Council. The most serious flaw in India and the United States’ Indo-Pacific alliance is their policies toward China; these policies must be aligned with China.

The covid-19 pandemic has brought the world to a halt and highlighted many countries’ weaknesses in the healthcare sector, and a stronger US-India relationship partnership can make an important contribution toward improving global institutions such as the United Nations Security Council and the World Health Organization’s leadership.

CONCLUSION

For human survival in a post-pandemic world, a slew of domestic measures, particularly in health, food processing, manufacturing, and job creation, are urgently needed. Much of this, however, will be determined by the government’s available resources and the degree of fiscal flexibility it can afford without jeopardizing fiscal prudence and macroeconomic balance. This, in turn, will heavily influence the direction, scope, and pace of our renewed realism reconfiguration of our foreign policy calculation in the next years and decades. Because the diplomatic capacity for ambitious foreign policy goals will be restricted, Indian foreign policy in the post-Covid-19 era is unlikely to be business as usual. However, Covid-19 may have provided the world’s least interconnected area with just such a chance. Covid-19 will also offer up new regional prospects for collaboration, particularly under the auspices of SAARC, an endeavour that had some preliminary success during the first wave of the epidemic. India might benefit from focusing the region’s collective attention on “regional health multilateralism” to encourage mutual aid and cooperative action in health emergencies like this. Classical geopolitics in South Asia should be elevated to the level of health diplomacy, environmental concerns, and regional connectivity.

Ritik Tyagi is a student at National Law University, Jodhpur pursuing his bachelors in law with a keen interest in Public Law, International Relations and the economy, having worked with Professors and Lawyers for publications.

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South Asia

Afghanistan between an Inclusive Government and Instability

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Source: Twitter

The political processes around Afghanistan persist in active development. Although the attention of the world media has fairly reduced, diplomatic activity regarding the Afghan issue does not decrease. Obviously, despite considerable pressure from the world powers, the leadership of the radical Taliban movement ruling Afghanistan still refused to create an inclusive government and continues its policy of tightening the regime. 

On the eve,  the former US special representative of Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, drew attention to the probable worth of the situation in the country. The diplomat did not rule out the possibility of a civil war in this country. In a recent interview, he called on the Taliban to respect the view of a significant part of society to prevent a new war. Apparently, the American diplomat is rather overstating the situation since the opposition to the Taliban, at least for now, does not have sufficient resource base and support for a full-scale confrontation with the radicals. However, Khalilzad’s statement indicates an increasing irritation towards the Taliban from the great powers.

An Indian diplomat and counsellor of the Permanent Representative of India to the UN, Madhu Sudan, also spoke on this matter earlier. He stated that to ensure Afghanistan’s economic stability and development, it is vital to create an inclusive government. The Indian representative called peace and security in Afghanistan the most important aspect of the global community and called on all countries to join efforts to achieve it. According to the diplomat, despite the changes in the political system of Afghanistan, India’s attitude towards its people has not changed. That is why New Delhi previously sent 50,000 tons of wheat, coronavirus vaccines, other medicines and convenience goods to Afghanistan as humanitarian aid. At the same time, the Indian side stresses the need to create an inclusive government in Afghanistan.

The significance of the presence of representatives of all ethnic and political groups in the government of Afghanistan is also stated in the Russian government. Thus, speaking at the CSTO summit in Armenia, the Russian president called for creating an inclusive government in Afghanistan. “The priority at this stage is to ensure the formation of a truly inclusive Afghan government, which will include representatives of all ethnic groups at the necessary level,” Vladimir Putin said. It should be noted that the CSTO summit was a failure and actually launched the processes for the final disintegration of this inefficient organization. In turn, Russia’s position in the post-Soviet space has weakened so much that we can discuss the impending loss of regional power status. Moscow is no longer a hegemon in the South Caucasus, Central Asia and the former USSR as a whole.

However, the Taliban’s policy is increasingly annoying in world capitals, especially in the Global West, India and Iran. Thus, these cases were previously discussed in a conversation between the Presidents of Tajikistan and France. Emomali Rahmon and Emmanuel Macron highlighted the need to develop joint approaches to preserve Afghanistan’s peace and stability. Both leaders also stressed the necessity for an inclusive government.

Meanwhile, all political messages addressed to Afghanistan were denied by the Taliban leadership. Thus, it was stated that “the arguments about the creation of an inclusive government by foreign states are interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.” “The creation of the government and state institutions is a matter of domestic policy,” said deputy Taliban spokesman Billal Karimi. He called on the international community to abstain from interfering in his country’s internal affairs.

A particular setback is also kept in the struggle against the drug trade. Mohammad Masoud Zahidian, Deputy head of the Iranian Counter-Narcotics Headquarters, says drug trafficking from Afghanistan has risen. According to him, the cause for the growth in drug trafficking was the activation of the southern route (Pakistani) from Afghanistan. According to the official, in 2022, more than 220,000 hectares of agricultural land in Afghanistan were allocated for poppy, with 76% of these crops in the provinces bordering Iran. It should be mentioned that the southern route is one of the main logistics routes under the control of the Taliban and Pakistani security forces. This route passes through the southern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan and then the territory of Pakistan. It is known that Islamabad provides comprehensive assistance, sponsors and counsels the Taliban movement.

The tightening of the domestic policy of the Taliban is indicated by some strange and illogical laws that the Taliban have recently introduced. Thus, the Ministry of Prohibition of Evil and Coercion to the good of the Taliban banned listening to music, explaining that music damages the morality of young people and leads them astray. In a video published by the Ministry, a person introduced as a psychotherapist says that some words that cause inebriation are used in music. Taliban officials also say that listening to music causes heart disorders.

Thus, the situation in Afghanistan is staining. The support for the Taliban, provided by Pakistan, China and partly Russia, has failed. The policy of the leading Western countries is also not entirely clear, which actually left Afghanistan in a power vacuum, which led to an increase in the influence of the Taliban, Pakistan and China. Seemingly, the insight of this is slowly coming to the world capitals.

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The Taliban Finally Granted Permission to the Former President Karzai to leave Afghanistan

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Former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai. (Express photo by Nirupama Subramanian)

Based on the information, the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was permitted to leave the country. At a time, when online meetings between Sohail Shaheen and American representatives are going on in connection with the start of intra-Afghan talks in Doha, The former president of the country, Hamid Karzai, was allowed to exit the country for the first time after August 15, 2021, when the Taliban took over. Nevertheless, it is not yet known when he will start his overseas trip, but his only purpose is to get preparation for the start of Intra-Afghan talks in Doha and to meet with American officials and foreign Afghan politicians. Since the end of October and the beginning of November, there are reports narrating that telephone calls are being made between President Hamid Karzai, and the US special representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West.

Besides, the persons are preparing for future negotiations, the re-established relationship between the former president Karzai and the CIA took place, when a CIA undercover intelligence officer met Karzai sometimes back, when he represented himself as an International media reporter. Sources suspect that the undercover agent interviewed the president under the auspices of a well-known German based Der Spiegel Magazine.

According to the information, former President Hamid Karzai will fly to Germany, while meeting with the CIA officials at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Meantime, the former President Hamid Karzai will meet with some high-ranking officials of Germany and then have separate meetings with Western politicians and intelligence officers. Furthermore, after that, President Hamid Karzai will meet with the American ambassador to lay out the strategy for the potential negotiations.

 Currently, there is a lot of confusion in the Mandigak palace in Kandahar province, where Taliban Spiritual leader and the decision making hub located and it is said that there have been serious discrepancies  regarding allowing him to go abroad. However, Sheikh Haibatullah’s position is still neutral about his exit, while negotiating with his advisors to make a final decision in the upcoming days.

Nonetheless, there are no other specific differences regarding the permission. It is only the low-ranking Taliban fighters, who demand the precise judgement of the Taliban’s leader in this concern; In addition, some Taliban leaders are also unhappy about the whole process, especially the former members of the Quita Council of Taliban.

Now the ball is in the Taliban’s ground, whether they are ready to comply with the demands of the international community, by transferring the power to a transitional government or not, and to get along with the United States and get onboard the international community support. Definitely, it causes further splintering among Taliban groups and ISKP will use it as an opportunity to recruit Taliban fighters, while paving the way for regrouping in Khorasan Province the IS so-called territory.

The ISKP long before blamed Taliban for being ‘’ Rafeda’’, while simultaneously cooperating with the US, Russia, China and Iran for their political ambitions.  To conclude, the Afghan people will not accomplish a lasting peace and sustainable economic developments, since the country will turn into a new battle filed among countries, which have stake in Afghanistan.

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The Charisma and Chaos of Imran Khan

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PTI Chairman Imran Khan gestures at the march participants as his convoy arrives in Gujranwala on November 1, 2022. — Instagram

The chances of Imran Khan winning the elections of 2018 were quite murky. Despite his unparalleled fan base and populist rhetoric appeals to the young, and labor class of Pakistan, the legitimacy of his government is marred with allegations of fraud, rigging, and exploitation.

Some argue that his candidacy was a marketing tactic used by the ‘Establishment’ in Pakistan to form a government that is rather weak and dependent so that the ‘Establishment’ can continue its control over domestic security issues including the Nuclear escalation and relations with India.

But by and large, Khan won the elections.

Maybe it was the stardom attached to the name ‘Imran Khan’ and Pakistanis not wanting to confide in the same faces ruling them for centuries.

Maybe it was the mismanagement and violence that marred election day with unfathomable delays in result declaration in metropolis cities, coupled with post-poll manipulation.

Maybe it was the judicial-military nexus, that placed all the votes in the right places by not allowing voters to use their will during elections.

Maybe it was the 7 years-old narcotics case hearing moving forward against the stalwart of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Hanif Abbasi, giving him a life sentence in a rare late-night session of court, four days ahead of the elections that effectively knocked PML-N out of the race.

But the deal was done and can’t be undone and Imran Khan became the Prime Minister of Pakistan, for better or worse.

Khan the Celebrity

Pakistani nationals were victims of the financial crisis, unemployed people, those who lost their homes, and who were in debt; these people felt like the two parties ruling Pakistan for centuries had destroyed their country’s economy.

Imran Khan, with his humongous stardom as an athlete and philanthropist, seemed like the only ‘Messiah’ that could save them from all the atrocities they were facing.

Though, a significant number of votes were cast in favor of PML-N but not in the places that would have locked the win. So Imran Khan, persuaded the angry Pakistanis, the youth, and the labor class who were fed up with being handed over in trade deals with other nations.

Khan, a socialite that he was, knew how to connect with these agitated masses. Their grievances were clear as a day and so he gave them pretty promises wrapped up in his vibrant rallies filled with catchy songs. His huge social media presence along with the ‘Naya Pakistan’ slogan further amplified his staunch.

But there lies a challenge as to why Khan became the top highlight of this era. To many who were tired of politicians filling their own pockets, and amid the corruption charges on Nawaz Sharif, Khan’s celebrity status, his colorful personality, his promise of a corruption-free Pakistan, and his unconventional ‘Don’t Panic’ attitude – all of this made Khan seem like the only option who would deliver a better life and nation and, if not that, then at least would be the eradicator of what Pakistan had become.

Khan the Totalitarian

The other side of the coin sees Imran Khan as a narcissist, self-centered, and power-hungry mogul. After achieving his eternal craving of becoming the Prime Minister, he hardly showed any respect for the institutions of the country. More often than not he refused to attend the sessions of Parliament, with his excuse being the presence of members of the opposition party whom he referred to as ‘Crooks’ and ‘Chors’ (thieves).

This resulted in laws, instead of passing through an ordinary law-making process, being passed through presidential ordinances, with very limited power. We can clearly say that these laws were passed without debate, consensus, and thorough examination, negating the very foundation of constitutional requirements.

Additionally, Khan likes to fabricate stories in his speeches, a lot. In this vein, he brings down any democratic provision that proves him wrong, including targeting political parties on concocted charges of corruption; sustained attacks on the media; undermining law authorities, even the Supreme Court is not exempted from his allegations.

Through the abrogation of rule of law, irresponsible remarks about institutions, and disdain toward democracy, Khan himself created a fragile parliamentary system, which then collapsed on him. Not only this, but he has fractured the already dwindling democracy of Pakistan into a whole new level.

Khan the Leader

Khan came onto the political scene when Pakistan was facing a volatile situation both at home and abroad, coupled with the tensions going on with the Americas, and the rampant inflation, he was still able to take some impressive measures. His work related to health, relief programs, house loans, the environment, entrepreneurship, and the COVID response is admirable.

In addition, his billion tree tsunami and the building of several small dams initiated an environment-friendly drive in the climate change-affected country. But was he able to deliver on the ‘Promises’ made to the nation? Absolutely Not.

Perhaps he should have paid more attention to the cabinet as the abrupt changes in the system dwindled the confidence of investors in Pakistan’s economic machinery. His careless handling of some important economic programs including the CPEC decelerated the capital influx that caused the GDP to drop considerably.

To top it all off, Pakistan, in 2021 dropped from 124th place to 140th place according to Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), leaving an ugly mark on Khan’s corruption eradication promises on which he has led the foundation of his political career. Maybe he should have abided by the agenda of progression in order to gear up his performance instead of getting involved in blame and shame politics.

Khan the funambulist

The important reason why Khan has a cult following in Pakistan is his unfiltered and raw opinions about topics like the Americas, and Afghanistan which he keeps casting in his speeches. And, the audience, mostly the social media-induced young generation eats it all up like a sweet concoction, without paying heed to the implications it will bring to the foreign policy of Pakistan.

Khan’s decision to appoint Usman Buzdar, an underqualified and inexperienced newcomer to a vital position in the key city of Punjab pretty much sums up his political foresight. Perhaps, the most interesting yet debatable contrivance of his regime is his relentless attitude toward the United States, no previous Prime Minister of Pakistan was able to say ‘Absolutely No’ to the US as it had many allies in the domestic political platform of Pakistan. This stance of Khan was admired a lot in the country, with the phrase being trending in Pakistan. But the remarks came with ramifications for Pakistan on the international forum. This whole scenario further makes people question his political sanity.

Imran Khan possesses all the characteristics of a populist leader and in Populism: A Very Short Introduction, Cas Mudde says: “Populists are dividers, not uniters” they split society into “two homogenous and antagonistic groups: the pure people on the one end and the corrupt elite on the other.” True to this narration, Khan has divided the nation into two groups of ‘Evil and Good’ people, and the consequences are detrimental to the stability of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Conclusion

To sum it all up, Imran Khan, despite his misgivings, his warts, his narcissism, and his unhinged political views, is still able to reach a class of people that have seen Pakistan erode for centuries and consider him the last hope for the country. But he certainly is not the best choice for democracy as his political understanding is ruined by his self-righteous approach. In this manner, he is no better than former US President Trump who incited his supporters to pass on the U.S. Capitol to forestall the peaceful transition of power after his electoral defeat. It is precise to say that Pakistan has fallen into a deep cauldron and only a Magic Wand can heal it at this point. Though Khan has not singularly created this cauldron, he most definitely is exploiting and feeding on it.

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