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Wrath of Khan
Imran Wins One, But At What Cost?

Imran Khan leading supporters on a march protesting US drone strikes. Photo courtesy Getty Images.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was in Islamabad today, consulting with Pakistan’s political and military leadership in the wake of the partial closure of crucial NATO supply routes to Afghanistan through Pakistan’s Torkham border crossing. The cause of the shut-down? Security concerns due to the marked increase in low-grade thuggery and sabotage by the supporters of Imran Khan.

Khan, thwarted in his broader objectives to have a nation-wide anti-drone protest, called the halt a ‘tactical success’. If his objective was to block NATO supplies, then yes, he can call it a success, but it has come at a serious cost to Pak-American relations. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has urged to Khan to end the protests which he described as ‘counterproductive’—the same word he previously used to decry the drone program itself.

More damaging to Khan, however, is how his policy is having local knock-on effects. The halt of NATO supplies will seriously hurt his province’s economy, as many workers are dependent on the money and trucks continuing to come in. Truckers unions have boycotted deliveries to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, where PTI is currently in office, withholding essential supplies like foods and natural gas. Tellingly, Khan’s own coalition partner, Jamaat-i-Islami, a far-right religious party, wants an end to the blockade. Even if one is generous enough to agree with Khan regarding his short-term ‘tactical success’, his ploy may very well be cutting his own political future short.

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  • Andrew Allison

    When, oh when, will the US realize the Pakistan is not an ally?

  • Fat_Man

    We have to withdraw all American soldiers, diplomats, contractors, etc. from Afghanistan stat. The Pakistanis will just use them as hostages.

    After we do that we should bomb all of the expensive toys we have given the Pakistanis over they years to limit their ability to do further mischief.

  • Anthony

    Didn’t someone at American Interest just write about mistaken sense of importance of some of Pakistan’s leaders?

    • Andrew Allison

      While busy lying to its own citizens, this Administration believes anything it’s told by Pakistani and other foreign leaders.

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