Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Imran Khan Fails To Woo At Davos

[audioplayer file =”http://airworldservice.org/programs/english-audio/commentary-review/27-01–2020-COMMENTARY.mp3″]

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan made a much publicised visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum 2020 meet. At the Swiss Ski-resort, he also met with US President Donald Trump. As is his wont, Mr. Khan once again raised the issue of Kashmir and his by now familiar anti-India rhetoric. He also used the very same platform to say that, “whenever we will have better relations with India, the world will see how strong we are strategically”.  He said, there is “no terrorism in Pakistan”

Nothing can be far from the truth. In reality, terrorist groups are enjoying official patronage of the Pakistani establishment. Terrorist networks are flourishing in that country. As the next meet of the Financial Action task Force (FATF), the Paris based global anti-terror financing watchdog is to take a call on Pakistan’s “listing”; the Pakistan government, it appears, has asked the terror organisations active in its territory to lie low for the moment.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said, the remarks on India and India-Pakistan relations made by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at Davos ‘are hardly surprising’. The content and tone of his remarks are not only factually inaccurate and contradictory, but also demonstrate a growing sense of frustration. Pakistan has to realise that the global community has seen through this double-standard of playing the victim card in their fight against terror on the one hand, and supporting terror groups targeting India and other countries on the other. If Pakistan is indeed serious for a peaceful and normal relationship with India as he claims, the onus is on Pakistan to create a conducive atmosphere. They have to take credible, irreversible and verifiable action against terror groups operating from its soil rather than making misleading and alarmist statements to divert the attention of international community.

In a reply to a question at the Davos meet, Imran Khan also said that “if there is some terrorism then it is coming from Afghanistan to Pakistan, there is no terrorism inside Pakistan”.

Pakistani analysts opine that while Mr. Khan was right in saying that the war in Afghanistan has created more monsters than it has slain, including militant insurgency; but, he failed to answer the top-most question on everybody’s mind: what will happen to Afghanistan after US forces leave? 

The Pakistan Prime Minister was in Davos because of the WEF conclave, however, he was completely shaky on matters of his country’s economy. In pitching Pakistan as an investment destination, he was not able to draw on the developed world’s approval of the harsh austerity measures his government has enacted since signing up for an International Monetary Fund bailout package in July 2019. Mr. Khan was unable to capitalise on any goodwill because he did not present a viable economic vision to the billionaires in attendance at Davos.

Instead, some of the key points made by Mr. Khan exposed Pakistan’s shortcomings and did not highlight opportunities that Pakistan has to offer to investors.

Repeatedly, Prime Minister Khan said that foreign investment had doubled over the last year. However, nearly all of this is ‘hot money’ attracted by the double-digit rate of return or short-term treasury bills. These bills are a symptom of Pakistan’s macro-economic instability and reflect Islamabad’s inability to attract capacity-building inflows.

Another interesting aspect of Imran Khan’s trip to Davos, which, he himself admitted, was that the trip was sponsored by two of his entrepreneur friends, Ikram Sehgal and Imran Chaudhry. This is sure to raise the political temperatures in Pakistan, as the country is well known for ‘crony capitalism’. In fact, this was one of the reasons why Imran Khan’s one-time mentor turned foe, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was jailed by the current regime.

It would have served the Pakistani Prime Minister better if he had focused on the economic prospects of his country. However, as per Pakistani analysts, Mr. Khan’s obsession with his eastern “humsaaya” (neighbour) is supposedly the panacea for all his troubles.

Script: Kaushik Roy, AIR: News Analyst

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