On May 9, 2022, former Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan was arrested while appearing in the High Court in the capital city of Islamabad on corruption charges. He was accused of accepting land as a bribe and exchanging political interests during his tenure. His arrest sparked large-scale protests within Pakistan, and his supporters clashed fiercely with Pakistani security forces, resulting in a large number of casualties.
Many countries have called on all forces in Pakistan to exercise restraint and avoid further conflicts. Imran Khan denied the charges, stating that the land was donated for charitable purposes. He also accused the military and intelligence agencies of attempting to assassinate him. At present, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has ruled that the arrest of Imran Khan is invalid. Although Imran Khan has been granted bail, his supporters claim that he is innocent and threaten to launch more protests in Pakistan.
Three detrimental outcomes have resulted from this fight. First and foremost, this catastrophe has worsened Pakistan’s political unrest and social divisions, which have had an impact on the stability and security of the nation. Following Imran Khan’s imprisonment, there were strikes, street blockades, and other protests that were violent and cost many lives across the nation. In addition to endangering Pakistan’s social order and public safety, this undermines the nation’s political stability and democratic process while also undermining the legitimacy and credibility of the administration.
Second, the improvement of people’s living conditions and Pakistan’s economic growth have both been impacted by this tragedy. Imran Khan adopted a number of economic reform initiatives during his leadership to deal with the massive fiscal deficit and pressure from foreign debt, including spending cuts and exchange rate adjustments. To increase investment, employment, and development prospects for Pakistan, he also vigorously pushed economic and commercial cooperation with friendly nations like China, particularly the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. This tragedy has increased Pakistan’s economic risks and uncertainties, which could cause market volatility, a drop in investor confidence, and capital outflow. The political turmoil has also taken up a significant amount of the Pakistani government’s resources, which has had an impact on its attention to and investment in the area of people’s livelihood.
Finally, this episode may have a detrimental effect on the economic cooperation between Pakistan and China, in addition to escalating the political unrest and social split in Pakistan. As all-weather strategic cooperative partners, China and Pakistan have worked together to advance important initiatives like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which has directly benefited both the Chinese and Pakistani peoples. In many areas of Pakistan, the public security environment has gotten worse as a result of the turmoil brought on by this tragedy. A terrorist attempt to forcibly enter a Chinese shipyard took place on May 11 in Karachi. The dangers and uncertainties associated with China-Pakistan economic cooperation have escalated as a result of these episodes.
China has maintained high-level interactions and cooperation with Pakistan as a dependable strategic partner in a variety of areas. The security of the South Asian subcontinent and even the entire world depends on Pakistan’s societal stability as a nuclear-armed nation with a 200 million-person population. Violence will only increase the barriers to Pakistan’s internal conflicts being resolved and the dangers to China and Pakistan’s economic partnership.
A prosperous and strong Pakistan can help promote regional peace and development. As Pakistan’s largest neighbor, as well as a good brother and partner, China has always hoped to see a peaceful and stable Pakistan. We call on all political factions in Pakistan to exercise restraint, engage in dialogue, seek consensus, and resolve internal differences through peaceful means rather than violent means. China also hopes that all forces in Pakistan can achieve reconciliation and cooperation and address their respective interests and concerns on the track of peace and negotiation. China hopes that Pakistan can peacefully resolve internal conflicts while ensuring its own sovereignty and that China-Pakistan’s cooperative relations will remain unbreakable.
Haiyang He and Andi Luo, scholars at the Baize Institute of Strategic Studies, Southwest University of Political Science and Law, P. R. China; Fang Luo, Kunming Frontier Information Research Center, P. R. China.
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