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Imran Khan Niazi brings breakup of Pakistan on the agenda triggering a war of words among the elite, unsettling economy

Imran Khan brings breakup of Pakistan on the agenda triggering a war of words among the elite , unsettling economy

Ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan has raised the unthinkable—the breakup of Pakistan into three, mirroring a deepening divide in the elite that rules the country.

Within hours after Khan spoke during the course of an interview, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, on a tour of Turkey warned Khan against “crossing limits”.  

"While I am in Turkey inking agreements, Imran Niazi is making naked threats against the country," PM Shahbaz said in a string of high-pitched tweets.

“If at all any proof was needed that Niazi is unfit for public office, his latest interview suffices.”

He warned Imran Khan, “Do your politics but don't dare to cross limits [and] talk about division of Pakistan.”

So, what did Khan say that has riled the establishment so much?

First, in his kitchen-sink assault, the former Prime Minister did not even spare the hallowed military.

"The actual problem here is the establishment. If the establishment does not take the right decision, then I will give it to you in writing that they will be destroyed, and the armed forces will be the first ones to be destroyed and ultimately the country will break into three parts,” Imran Khan told Bol News in an interview. 

"Indian think tanks are mulling to separate Balochistan, they have plans, this is why I am putting pressure," the ousted premier said.

And what is the right decision? 

The former Prime Minister has been begging, coaxing and threatening the military establishment to intervene since the last two months to save him from being ousted from power. The same establishment who had brought him to power in 2018 after massive rigging the elections. Khan was confident that come what may, the establishment will never “betray” him. To his dismay, when the establishment headed by General Qamar Javed Bajwa decided to be “neutral” Khan was voted out of power and since then he has been openly targeting Bajwa. 

"Those same institutions weakened Pakistan which gave it its foundation and strengthened it,” Khan said. 

Belligerent Khan said he had informed the “neutrals” about the situation of the economy, which would have collapsed if this conspiracy had succeeded. “But we had been told that the establishment was neutral and there was no conspiracy.”

He went on saying that the country is on the brink of "suicide" if "right decisions" are not taken, as it might move towards default.

"If we go bankrupt, the Pakistan army will be hit. When the army is hit, the world will ask Pakistan to move towards denuclearisation — as Ukraine did in the 1990s.”

Khan’s allusion to the trifurcation of Pakistan is bound to be music to the ears of separatists ranging from the Balochis to the Sindhis, who are both yearning for an independent homeland.

Second, the acerbic assault by the former Prime Minister, which brings break-up of Pakistan on the radar, is bound to undermine investor confidence. This is hugely damaging at a time when Pakistan is on its knees for a financial bailout from China, Saudi Arabia and now Turkey, which is itself is in financial doldrums, and most importantly the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Unsurprisingly, Moody's Investor Service on Thursday downgraded Pakistan's outlook from stable to negative, citing "heightened external vulnerability" and uncertainty around securing external financing to meet the country's needs.

"The decision to change the outlook to negative is driven by Pakistan's heightened external vulnerability risk and uncertainty around the sovereign's ability to secure additional external financing to meet its needs. Moody's assesses that Pakistan's external vulnerability risk has been amplified by rising inflation, which puts downward pressure on the current account, the currency and — already thin — foreign exchange reserves, especially in the context of heightened political and social risk," the statement said.

Also Read: With holes in his armour, Imran Khan should be ready for a big embarrassment after his call for another Long March in Pakistan