Pakistan power tussle: Imran Khan's last roll of the dice flops
Shah Mahmood Qureshi was chosen so that Imran can protect his interest in a highly politically-sensitive country, says Major General Ashok Kumar (retd)
Shehbaz Sharif was on Monday unanimously elected as the new Prime Miniter of Pakistan in the country's national assembly. Imran Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had nominated its vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi against the joint opposition's nominee Shehbaz for the top post.
The joint Opposition -- a rainbow of liberal, socialist, and radically religious parties, has been very critical of the Imran Khan government ever since the beginning of his tenure. Khan, while unceremoniously bowing out of power, had alleged the involvement of a foreign hand in pulling down his government.
But why exactly did Imran push Shah Mahmood Qureshi to face the ignominy in the Pakistan National Assembly when he knew it well that he neither had the numbers nor the support.
According to Major General Ashok Kumar, a former Indian Army officer and an observer who tracks Pakistan's internal political system, Qureshi was chosen so that Imran can protect his interest in a highly politically-sensitive country.
"Imran Khan is making all efforts possible either to go for direct elections or put someone from his party to take care of his interest. He fears of arrest and other action if Shehbaz Sharif or anyone else comes to power except someone from his party," Maj Gen Ashok Kumar said.
Qureshi has a cordial equation with leaders across the parties in Pakistan and that would also be one of the reasons for his nomination from the PTI, the former Indian Army officer observed.
"He is now experimenting with Shah Mahmood Quereshi, who is not only the Vice President of the PTI but also a seasoned politician. He also has multiple linkages across the parties in the political spectrum."
He was of the view that the disgruntled PTI lawmakers could come back to the fold in Qureshi's name.
"Once he is the prime minister candidate from PTI, any personal animosity against Imran Khan will not affect and some of the people who have deserted Khan may come back, especially when the opposition has only a slender margin. It was PTI's gamble," he said.
When Khan had assumed the post of Pakistan prime ministership, he had promised to build 'Naya Pakistan' or 'New Pakistan'.
Maj Gen Ashok Kumar said that the Covid pandemic, Chinese debt trapping, disillusionment of the Arab world and distancing of the United States contributed to Pakistan's present dismal state of the economy but the inefficiency of Imran Khan government and its anti-India stance led to people's suffering in a never-before situation.
Since the ouster of Imran Khan, his supporters and party workers have thronged to the streets of Pakistan, expressing solidarity with him.
Who is Shah Mahmood Qureshi?
Qureshi was a two-term foreign minister of Pakistan, serving from 2008 to 2011 and from 2018 to 2022. He comes from an influential and wealthy family in Pakistan's Multan.
Born on June 22, 1956, the PTI's prime ministerial nominee graduated from Aitchison College, Lahore and further went on to pursue Law from Cambridge University and then a Masters Degree in History from Corpus Christi College.
He started his political career in 1985 when he was elected as a member of the Punjab Assembly from Multan.
He joined former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League in 1988 and was to the Punjab Assembly in 1988. He held the portfolio as the Minister of Planning & Development in Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet and in 1990 he served as the Finance Minister of Punjab.
In 1993, he left Nawaz Sharif's party to join Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and became the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs.
Bhutto appointed him as her party's spokesperson in 1996. He became President of PPP Punjab in 2006. In 2008, he was being considered as the prime ministerial candidate but had to settle for the foreign minister post. In 2011, he associated himself with Imran Khan and once again became the foreign minister in 2018.
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