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How Do Pakistan’s Political Woes Affect Its Alliance with the United States?

Photo courtesy of The Nation.

Summary: Infighting amongst political leaders in Pakistan is hindering the country’s ability to fight terror. 

Pakistan is facing a slew of problems that may affect its relationship with its ally–the United States. According to NBC News, “Pakistan is gridlocked with an array of senior officials and other elites in the Islamic republic facing criminal charges, including allegations of corruption and murder.”


Zahid Hussain, a Pakistani writer, said that Pakistan is a fractured country where no one is in control. This has led to tensions between civilians and military leaders, deteriorating relations with India, and financial problems.

In July, the Pakistani Supreme Court ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office after he failed to report his income. Last week, Nawaz Sharif reportedly tried to return to power with a bill that would allow him to control the Pakistan Muslim League, and this is despite the fact that he has numerous corruption charges still pending against him.

Nawaz Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, is also a powerful figure in the country and is being accused of corruption. Shahbaz Sharif is the chief minister of Punjab, a province with almost 110 million people, and he is being investigated for money laundering, murder, and terrorism.

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Other high-profile officials such as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and politician Imran Khan are also being investigated for corruption.

This political chaos is happening at a time where the threat of violence is looming from ISIS and rival India. The lack of order has caused the standard of living to drop, and food and oil prices have skyrocketed.

In late September, ISIS flags appeared in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad; and last week, there was a suicide bombing at a shrine in Balochistan that killed 20 people.

Besides fighting off ISIS, Pakistan is also warring with India. Last Wednesday, troops exchanged fire at the border, and NBC News said that this is worrisome because Pakistan’s stability matters to South Asia.

Mosharraf Zaidi, a former foreign policy adviser to the government, told NBC that the political drama is hindering the country’s ability to fight terror.

“At a time when Pakistan needs to consolidate its police, military, and intelligence efforts to counter the potency of [ISIS], those efforts are at risk of being undermined by the customary tensions between Pakistan’s generals and the political class. This has the potential to cause real damage to Pakistan’s hard-won victories against terrorists,” said Zaidi.

In August, President Donald Trump warned Pakistan that it had “much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.” Pakistan’s alliance with the U.S. hinges on its cooperation in fighting terrorism, but its relationship with the U.S. has strained because of Pakistan’s alleged support for anti-American militant groups like the Haqqani network.

Source: NBC News

What do you think of the US relationship with Pakistan? Let us know in the comments below.





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