Transfer of political rivalry from Pakistan to Greece

On April 17, Pakistanis from PTI Greece will gather in Kotzia Square and then head to Omonia to protest the overthrow of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to one social media user quoted by Directus, “only if the American flags are burned will there be a state response.”

“Pakistanis are transferring their country’s political rivalry to Greece with the blessing of politicians,” the tweet added.

Pakistan’s new leader Shehbaz Sharif called for “unity” and pledged to fix the country’s damaged economy after being sworn in as prime minister on Monday following Imran Khan’s ousting.

Former opposition leader Sharif, 70, is expected to serve as prime minister until the next general election, due in 2023.

He was elected by Pakistan’s parliament after former cricket star Khan was removed as prime minister in a no-confidence vote that threatened to trigger a constitutional crisis. For weeks, Sharif has led a campaign to impeach Khan over allegations of poor governance and economic mismanagement.

Sharif’s rise has been mired in political dispute, and critics say he now faces the daunting task of reviving a struggling economy and maintaining important relations with key countries amid widespread protests for of Khan.

“It has been historic (a few weeks), with our young and fragile democracy tested to its limits,” said Hassan Kamal Wattoo, a lawyer and columnist based in the capital, Islamabad. “What we can only hope is that at the end of this constitutional crisis, our democracy remains shaken but standing.”

Sharif’s family was embroiled in a scandal in 2018 when his older brother was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $10.5 million for corruption.

Nawaz Sharif denied the charges, but was banned by Pakistan’s highest court from holding political office. Shehbaz Sharif succeeded his older brother as leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN) party, but faces unresolved corruption charges, which he denies.

For much of Khan’s tenure, Sharif campaigned to remove him as prime minister. In recent months, the situation has escalated, with Sharif and the opposition accusing Khan of economic mismanagement and urging him to step down.

In a series of dramatic events, the deputy speaker of parliament blocked the no-confidence vote against Khan, who then dissolved parliament and called for a snap election. The opposition challenged Khan’s decisions in Pakistan’s highest court, with Sharif calling them “nothing short of high treason”.

The court ruled last week that blocking the no-confidence vote against Khan was unconstitutional, clearing the way for a new ballot and allowing Sharif to become prime minister.

Sharif now inherits a struggling economy, with double-digit inflation. The cost of basic necessities such as food and fuel is skyrocketing, and the government’s foreign exchange reserves are rapidly depleting.

A poll published in January by Gallup Pakistan found that 64% of respondents believed inflation was the country’s biggest problem.

Meleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, Britain and the United Nations, said reviving the economy will be Sharif’s “biggest challenge and top priority”.

“There is pressure on the rupee which has fallen rapidly against the dollar and business confidence has plunged,” she said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed in 2019 to provide Pakistan with a $6 billion bailout, but since then the program has faced setbacks.

Lodhi said resuming the IMF program should be Sharif’s “main objective”.

“Pakistan urgently needs funds,” she said.

Shortly after being sworn in, Sharif pledged to fix the economy.

“The economic challenges are enormous and we must find a way out of these problems. We will have to shed sweat and blood to revive the economy,” he said.

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