Written by By Sonia Srivastava, CNN
Pakistan’s economy is sinking fast, with inflation officially accelerating and devaluation of the Pakistani rupee just days away. The government’s budget for the next fiscal year will be reviewed, as would the new coalition government’s term.
That’s why as Pakistani prime minister-designate Imran Khan awaits endorsements from other politicians and starts his first press conference, it’s worth taking a look at where things stand.
Khan, the former cricketer is already under fire from a mix of his own supporters and critics. At a campaign rally on July 28, in Islamabad, Khan was booed by several thousand attendees who drowned out his address with jeers.
After the jeers subsided, he patted them on the back and explained, “Those who shout ‘boo,’ we’re with you,” while vowing “to do what’s right for the people.”
CNN producer Khaliq Awan, who was at the rally, said the jeers were due to Khan’s lack of name recognition and charisma.
Pakistani PM-designate Imran Khan greets supporters in Islamabad, July 28, 2018. Credit: Mohammad Sajjad/AP
In a tweet Khan on Monday said he was a “straightforward leader. I am in Pakistan not to focus on ‘showcasing’ my charisma or reforming Pakistan for my own promotion. However, I am convinced that, first and foremost, I have to establish supremacy and control in the country.”
Finance Minister Asad Umar, who has a reputation for bold and prudent economic policy, told Pakistani broadcaster Geo News, “He should not be hard-pressed to show more clear, visible and more tangible signs of fiscal discipline. I think that’s what will be most welcomed by the market.”
He added, “Now with a new government has come on board, there will be a sense of confidence that should our fiscal discipline be clearly demonstrated, that would be a welcome sign for the foreign investors.”
Javaid Anwar, director of the Center for International Security Studies at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, told CNN: “Khan needs to be careful that Pakistan’s image does not become an issue in the way that it’s become an issue elsewhere in South Asia. On the other hand, it’s also important that he doesn’t do anything that is detrimental to long-term macro economic stability or the economy itself.”
Umar also hinted that Khan may have to deal with US President Donald Trump’s twitter account on more than one occasion.
“As far as foreign relations are concerned, I think the message which has to come from him is that there will be no confrontation between Pakistan and the US. They will have differences but at this particular stage we will have to work together.”
He said that he would focus on reconciliation rather than confrontation with the US.
But the question, Anwar says, is “how high can they take the Pakistan-US relationship because they are in a situation of belt tightening, especially now as our economy has been damaged. It cannot move forward as they would like it to, so we have to start looking at how to develop relations with other international players.”