The future of US-Pakistan relations
Pakistan’s internal dynamics and changing role in the world
The Biden presidency and the future of America’s ‘forever wars’
[The economic and political turmoil in Pakistan has shifted attention away from the heavy rainfall and delayed the government’s response to the floods.] People weren’t focusing on [the rainfall] so things that should happen in a disaster, like getting the word out for people to evacuate from areas where there was going to be flooding, didn’t happen. [The economic problems are also likely to affect the government’s ability to shelter the displaced and rebuild what was destroyed.]
Pakistan has faced a series of crises this year: economic, political, now, a natural disaster. Running underneath all of this has been the political crisis. As Balochistan was being flooded — scenes and videos were rolling in from Balochistan — the government was basically concerned entirely with politics, and Khan was concerned entirely with politics. The blame in many ways falls on the state for not taking charge of, for instance, its National Disaster Management Authority, not jumping into action right away.
[Pakistan has seen showdowns between civilian leaders and the military before, but nothing like this.] I think we're in an unprecedented moment in terms of the kind of confrontation, the kind of potential turmoil it could generate. That is what we're watching for in the next few weeks.
[The crackdown between the government and Mr. Khan appears to have heightened Mr. Khan’s popularity, bolstering his claims that the military establishment conspired to topple his government in April.] What differentiates this moment from previous moments is the amount of sheer street power Khan has. And street power makes a difference in Pakistan even when it does not translate into electoral votes.
[Khan's support from the masses across the country gives him an edge.] What Khan has at the moment that some of his predecessors did not have when they faced a crackdown is the ability to turn out street power. The increasing crackdown and now censoring of Khan's speeches is likely to backfire for the government — and plays directly into Khan's narrative of victimhood by the state. [Furthermore,] Khan's party has said his potential arrest will be a 'red line.' If it happens, the immediate consequences are likely to be a potentially dangerous confrontation between Khan's supporters and the state. I think the party will rally behind Khan, not find a different leader.
[Mr. Khan...ascended the political ranks with the support of the country’s powerful military so] his anti-establishment stance, in particular, is notable. It represents a departure for Khan, and also for his voter base. The P.T.I [Mr. Khan’s political party], has demonstrated that it has mobilized real support in the wake of the vote of no-confidence against Khan, while the ruling coalition has hemorrhaged support. The ruling coalition will have to fundamentally rethink its strategy and approach and perform well on economic indicators to have a shot at the next general election.