Sat, 08 Aug 2020

New Delhi [India] July 06 (ANI): Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been "indecisive" and tentative" and his ardent supporters are now questioning his ability to tackle the challenges the country is facing, says National Security Advisory Board Member Tilak Devasher.

In an opinion piece in The Diplomat, Devasher writes: "Several events in the past few months have eroded the hope that Prime Minister Imran Khan had evoked a few years ago-- of transforming Pakistan. Questions are now being asked about his ability and leadership to tackle the multiple challenges the country is facing".

"The government's handling of the pandemic has been indecisive and tentative. The confused messaging of Imran Khan-led people to initially believe that the pandemic was just like the flu and not serious and later on the country was given the impression that it was past the pandemic," he further writes.

Devashar says that the most critical issue is the COVID-19 pandemic that does not show signs of abating in Pakistan. "There are worrying signals. For instance, of those tested 20 percent were positive, the third-highest ratio in the world," he says.

"In addition, the government rejected the advice of the World Health Organization to adopt a two-weeks-off and two-weeks-on lockdown strategy to bring down the infection curve. Moreover, the lower numbers of cases being reported since the last week of June seem to have a direct correlation with reduction in testing during this same period," he adds.

Devasar says that Prime Minister Imran Khan referring terrorists Osama bin Laden as a martyr only reinforced his admiration for Islamists and his image as "Taliban Khan.""Compounding matters, in one of the rare occasions that he attended the National Assembly, Imran Khan referred to notorious al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as a martyr. While many were shocked and wondered if this was a slip of the tongue, in reality, this was very much in line with similar statements he had made or implied in the past. It only reinforced his admiration for Islamists and his image as 'Taliban Khan'," he writes.

He pointed out that "all is not well" with Imran Khan's government.

"One minister revealed in an interview that rifts within the ruling party's top leadership had damaged its reforms agenda and created a vacuum that was filled by non-elected members who were unaware of Imran Khan's vision. The public airing of serious differences underlined that Imran Khan was an ineffective leader heading a divided house," he says.

Devasar says that so So far the army has been content to throw its weight behind Imran Khan since he has allowed them to further consolidate their power. But the army will not be unmindful of his inability to govern, whether it is in tackling the pandemic or the economy.

Clearly, therefore, all is not well with Imran Khan. His carefully crafted image is crumbling due to non-performance. His focus on accountability, which at one time was his strength, has now become a millstone because it is perceived to be vindictive and hinders working with the opposition during a national health crisis. (ANI)

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