Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

This week’s highlights include Pakistan’s upcoming elections, India’s engagement with the Taliban, and the resignation of a Sri Lankan cabinet minister amid a healthcare scandal. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) faced harsh repression before the 2018 elections, but is now contesting the Feb. 8 elections with no problems. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, on the other hand, is facing crackdowns, with its supporters being arrested and their candidates being denied the use of their party symbol. This behavior by the military is not new, but the country is currently facing a convergence of crises, including economic stress, terrorism, border tensions, and political polarization. The public’s pessimism about the economy, safety, and elections is at its highest levels in years. The confrontations between the PTI and the military have been aggressive and sometimes violent, fueling an increasing crisis of confidence in the military. There is a possibility that the next government will be a weak and fractious coalition, leading to bitterness and confrontation among supporters of the losing party. In India, a spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs affirmed India’s engagement with the Taliban, acknowledging that the Indian government interacts with the group in various formats. Last year, the Indian Embassy in Kabul was partially reopened, indicating deeper engagement with the Taliban. In Bangladesh, U.S. President Joe Biden wrote a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressing his desire to work together on various issues, though the letter did not mention democracy. This comes after the U.S. State Department characterized Bangladesh’s recent general elections as not free or fair. In Sri Lanka, Environment Minister Keheliya Rambukwella resigned after being arrested for alleged involvement in obtaining counterfeit drugs during the country’s economic crisis in 2022. The Health Ministry is investigating cases of patients suffering due to poor-quality drugs. Lastly, Pakistan’s military rescued a ship with nine stranded Indian sailors in the Arabian Sea, indicating a rare act of cooperation between the two countries.

By admin