• With an Eye on IMF Loan, Pakistan Proposes Tax Reforms

    A new set of tax reforms announced by Pakistani Finance Minister Asad Umar on January 23 follows pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from which Islamabad is looking to secure another loan. The bill, which seeks to boost foreign and domestic investment, comes as Pakistan faces a balance-of-payments crisis on its foreign loans intensified by currency devaluations and rising energy imports.

    The tax measures would be Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s second set of fiscal reforms since taking power in July 2018. 

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  • Chinese Infrastructure Project Drives Pakistan Further into Debt

    Islamabad seeks yet another IMF bailout

    Pakistan, faced with a mounting debt in part due to a multibillion-dollar infrastructure project with China, has turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for yet another bailout. The IMF, however, has made clear that a loan would be contingent on Pakistan being completely transparent about its debts to China; the United States—one of the largest stakeholders in the IMF—has said that Pakistan must not use the loan to repay China.

    The $60-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a series of extravagant infrastructure projects intended to increase regional connectivity. CPEC is part of China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

    Previous Pakistani administrations overestimated the role of largescale infrastructure projects as drivers of economic growth and underestimated the costs. While CPEC has the potential to bring much-needed economic development to Pakistan, its price tag threatens to plunge the country further toward fiscal instability.

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  • Regional Rivalries Threaten Iran-Pakistan Relations

    A recent abduction of border security forces along the Iran-Pakistan border in southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province is testing Iran-Pakistan relations.

    Iran has suggested that Saudi Arabia was behind the abduction, which it believes was aimed at sabotaging its relationship with Islamabad. Pakistan needs Saudi money more than ever as it struggles economically. So just how resilient are Iran-Pakistan ties?

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  • Deciphering the Afghan Riddle

    US troops have now been present in Afghanistan for the past seventeen years. Initially, the US-led offensive that came in response to al Qaeda’s attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, was mainly an air campaign, supported by indigenous anti-Taliban forces on the ground. This approach proved highly effective. Al Qaeda and Taliban command-and-control centers across Afghanistan were dismantled within days. Most of their commanders were forced to flee to safe havens in Pakistan.

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  • Can Peace Be Won in Afghanistan?

    At a time when the Taliban are gaining ground in Afghanistan, Afghan government losses are mounting, and regional partners’ views on the conflict are shifting, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has not given in to pessimism. On a September 7 visit to Kabul, Mattis expressed optimism about the existence of “a framework” and “open lines of communications” between US diplomats and Qatar-based Taliban representatives that he believes might lead to an intra-Afghan reconciliation process that would end nearly two decades of war. He also reassured Kabul’s leadership that the United States will stand by the Afghans until there is lasting peace and stability.

    What remains uncertain at this point, however, are the answers to two overarching questions: How will key regional stakeholders—Pakistan, Russia, Iran, China, and India—manage shifting interests and threat perceptions at a time when the United States is pushing for a peace deal, and is there a contingency plan if talks fail?

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  • Trump Picks Zalmay Khalilzad, Atlantic Council Board Director, as Special Representative on Afghanistan

    Appointment signals administration’s intent to wind down war, get tough with Pakistan

    The appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as US President Donald J. Trump’s special representative on Afghanistan sends a clear signal that the US administration is serious about winding down its involvement in the war in Afghanistan. By putting a longtime critic of Pakistan in charge of the peace process, the Trump administration has also put Islamabad on notice that it has little patience for its support for terrorists in Afghanistan.

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  • US-Pakistan Dialogue of the Deaf

    US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford arrive in Islamabad on September 5 for a fresh episode of Mission Impossible: to bend Pakistani leaders into submitting to their wishes in the losing war in Afghanistan. They hope to persuade Pakistan’s newly minted prime minister, Imran Khan, and army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, to move against militants inside Pakistan, especially those who use Pakistani soil to fight the United States, NATO, and the Afghan troops in Afghanistan. A sense of déjà vu hangs over these talks.

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  • In Pakistan, It’s Imran Khan’s Turn to Bat

    The apparent victory of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in the July 25 parliamentary election marks a new inflection point in Pakistan’s politics and external policies.  This election, though marred by allegations of tampering and violence, marks Pakistan’s second consecutive transition from one civilian-led government to another through an election.  Additionally, PTI’s ascent is a break from the dominance of Pakistan’s two, dynastically controlled, political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).  As negotiations to form a government under PTI leadership take place over the coming weeks, observers should watch a few factors for signs of what is to come.

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  • Pakistan’s Election May Further Fracture its Polity

    Pakistanis will elect a new parliament and prime minister on July 25 marking only the second transfer of power from one civilian government to another in the nation’s seventy-year history. Though this should be cause for celebration in a country where governments have been abruptly changed by military coups or presidential fiats, there are genuine fears that the election will magnify and unleash the centrifugal forces that divide Pakistan’s fractured polity. 

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  • Nawaz Quoted in Real Clear Life on a U.S. Attaché’s Diplomatic Immunity Following a Deadly Crash in Pakistan

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