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Terrorism & Security

Pakistan's political crisis could complicate fight against Taliban

The Pakistan political crisis worries the US government, which considers a strong Pakistan government key to winning its war in neighboring Afghanistan.

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The government of nuclear-armed Pakistan has no control over large parts of the country, where militant groups like the Taliban are strong. Government offensives against the group have failed to dislodge it, despite repeated claims of success, the Monitor reported. Such groups are still able to launch attacks, such as a suicide bombing by a female in the northwest tribal areas last month that killed at least 45.

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Gilani also talked Monday with the younger brother of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, reports the New York Times.

Pakistani daily Dawn reports that Gilani asserted that the “government will remain intact” even without its coalition partners. The MQM and other opposition parties have said they will not call a no-confidence vote, which could oust Gilani and lead to early elections. But Bloomberg notes that the government’s unpopularity will make it difficult for Gilani to find new partners. High inflation, lack of services, and the fight against insurgencies have all contributed to popular criticism of the government. MQM said it left the coalition over “bad governance” and a hefty hike on gasoline prices the previous day.

Pakistan’s political crisis may also harm its ability to implement reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for an $11 billion loan. The IMF had asked Pakistan to broaden its tax base. But “The government can forget pushing its bill for tax reforms after yesterday,” said Rasul Bakhsh Rais, a professor at the University of Management Sciences in Lahore, reports Bloomberg.

Reuters reports that the possibility of an early election “would make it even harder for the government to tighten fiscal discipline to meet the requirements of the loan programme, which is increasingly critical for Pakistan as it grapples with a widening fiscal deficit and summer flood devastation.”

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