Severe political crises in Pakistan and Afghanistan, both mired in wrangling over recent election results, have obscured the fact that these two neighbours’ finances are rotten. Both are on the verge of economic meltdown but the billions needed in international bailouts are unlikely to be forthcoming until their respective political elites stop fighting among themselves and start to act more responsibly.
In Pakistan, opposition politician Imran Khan’s blockade of Islamabad for more than two weeks, and his demands for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government, have backfired. His opponents have been able to mobilise many sectors to condemn him: business people, lawyers, journalists and aid workers. Meanwhile, groups from across the political spectrum have organised counter protests. After extensive talks between Mr Khan and the government, a minister announced on Thursday that the government had agreed to five of his six demands but drew the line at Mr Sharif’s resignation. The stand-off continues.