WASHINGTON: The United States said on Monday that it values its ‘long-standing’ cooperation with Pakistan but will not like to comment on the regime change in Islamabad.

“We are closely following developments in Pakistan,” a spokesperson for the US State Department told Dawn when asked for comment on Shehbaz Sharif’s election as the country’s new prime minister.

“The United States has no position on and does not comment on Pakistan’s internal process,” the US official add­ed when reminded how during the wee­kend the Pakistani parliament voted out Imran Khan and elected an opposition leader as the new prime minister.

“The United States values our long-standing cooperation with Pakistan and has always viewed a prosperous and democratic Pakistan as critical to US interests,” said the spokesperson. “And this remains unchanged.”

A prestigious US publication, Fore­ign Policy, however, noted that while former prime minister “Imran Khan is out, it’s not his last innings”. The report noted that the ousted Pakistani leader “vowed to fight on”, as Mr Sharif replaced him on Monday morning.

Atif Mian, an internationally acclaimed Pakistani American economist, however, pointed out that Mr Khan’s government, inheriting a weak economy in 2018, “went for the usual shortcuts” in its economic policy ins­tead of focusing on sustainable growth. “This basic sense was missing.”

The former prime minister had included Mr Mian in his team of economic advisers after his election but excluded him later. Mr Mian heads the Center for Public Policy and Finance at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

In a Twitter thread, Mr Mian highlighted key reasons for the failure of the Khan government.

“There’s been zero increase in average income, and Pakistan never got out of the balance of payment crisis,” he wrote.

“Covid gave temporary respite to this crisis as oil imports and domestic demand contracted due to pandemic, but with pandemic receding, Pakistan is back in serious trouble.”

According to him, the larger failure was incapacity to understand Pakis­tan’s macro challenges. He noted the PTI government inherited a currency cri­sis that was already months in mot­ion. “Yet the new government had done no planning. Precious time and reserves were wasted with silly schemes.”

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2022

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