Pakistan’s parliament elected Shahbaz Sharif just days after Imran Khan was ousted in a no – confidence vote.
Amir Qureshi | AFP | Getty Images
Pakistan has a new Prime Minister – and it will be good for the South Asian country to return to a healthy economy and its relations with its traditional supporter, the United States, and its rival, India.
On Monday, Pakistan’s parliament elected Shebaz Sharif as the country’s new prime minister, just days after his predecessor Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote.
As one observer called the “consolidation of democracy,” the move was not inevitable in a country where no prime minister has been in office full time.
It is surprising that the all-powerful Pakistani army, which has ruled the country for decades, is staying in military camps.
The decisive intervention of the judiciary is the next surprise. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ruled that the Imran Khan government should face a no-confidence vote that it has tried to block. Khan was eventually ousted after failing in a rescheduled confidence vote early Sunday morning.
What will the sheriff do?
In his first speech, the 70-year-old Sharif said he wanted to reshape Pakistan as a “haven” for investment, while also announcing a minimum wage increase.
The path ahead for the sheriff is not an easy one, Iqbal Singh Xavier, director of the South Asian Studies Institute at the National University of Singapore, told CNBC.
“He has inherited an economy that is reeling from the current account deficit and inflation. He needs to increase the state’s ability to generate revenue through taxation and investment, especially in the export sector,” the associate professor said.
Pakistan is on its 23rd bailout from the International Monetary Fund. The country’s economy is under pressure from more than 10% inflation this year as prices of crude oil and other commodities revolve around the war in Ukraine.
“Under his watch, Pakistan is likely to negotiate another loan with the IMF and commit to structural reforms and generate more tax revenue,” Xavier said. “The task is very difficult because he has to do this without seeming to reduce subsidies and go against welfare policies.”
According to James Swemlein, senior director of the Washington-based Albright Stonebridge Group, the sheriff is internationally known.
“Shehbaz Sharif ruled Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province. He made a very positive impact on trade. He was responsible for significant infrastructure investment. All international interlocutors – whether they are American or Chinese,” he said. .
India: Advanced Relations?
India in particular will focus on the new administration.
Former Indian Foreign Secretary Shashank told CNBC that the events in Pakistan could provide an opening for New Delhi to improve relations with its neighbors.
Affirms Pakistan’s’ democracy” He said it would provide “an opening for bilateral relations to move forward”.
“But this test will be a signal to the Sharif government and its all-powerful military,” Shashank added. “The Pakistani military is keen to build ties with the United States,” he said.
USA: Relationship Reconciliation
Analysts say the new government’s top priority will be to repair relations with Washington.
Khan used his frequent accusation of an American conspiracy to oust him to prevent a no-confidence vote against his government. He said the United States was upset that Pakistan under him was considered close to Russia and China.
Schweimlin told CNBC’s Asia Squawk Box that Khan had moved away from the traditional pro – American stance and adopted China’s Belt and Road plans to pursue a significantly different foreign policy.
Calling his hostility to the US “dangerous” for Pakistan, he told CNBC on Monday: “Pakistan’s dream is that they can export to China. The reality of Pakistan is that they export to the US and Europe.”
Pakistan’s economic fortunes are largely tied to maintaining positive relations with the West, but Khan acted against it.“ Schwemmlein said.
The new sheriff’s government will be much closer to the United States
China: Strategic relations
According to Shibani Mehta, a research analyst at Carnegie India, Pakistan has developed relations with both the US and China as a way to overcome its security dilemma and maintain its balance of power with India.
“Because of its history with the US and China, Pakistan needs them more than they need them,” Mehta said. “The United States has shown little interest in entangling itself in regional conflicts. China’s motives have been compiled primarily in the context of the history of the war with India and the shared warning towards trade interests in Pakistan,” he said.
“Change in Pakistan’s relationship or both depends on the strategic objectives of Washington and Beijing,” he added.
But Xavier pointed out that no matter who comes to power, the military will continue to play a key role in Pakistan’s foreign policy.
“Due to Imran Khan’s criticism of Pakistan’s relations with the United States and the military commander’s emphasis on the importance of the relationship with the United States, the Sharif will try to balance the two,” he said. Said.