Pakistan’s Khan Poses U.S., China Challenges
The likelihood that former playboy cricketer Imran Khan, known for courting Islamist fringe groups, will lead the nuclear-armed nation of Pakistan is sure to raise eyebrows in Washington and Beijing.
Khan’s elevation – in an election marred by violence and allegations of military interference and vote rigging – would clear the way for Pakistan to open negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over another, much-needed bailout. Investors are already expressing relief at the prospect of an outright win after expectations of a hung parliament.
But he's also earned the moniker “Taliban Khan” from critics for cozying up to Pakistan’s Islamists. He’s funded a radical madrassa and said in the past that he will shoot down U.S. drones. The candidate maintains it's not Pakistan’s support of proxy groups preventing peace in Afghanistan, but America’s presence, which puts him in direct conflict with U.S. President Donald Trump.
China might not be pleased either. Beijing is flooding Pakistan with more than $60 billion in infrastructure loans and investments. Khan, who won power as an anti-corruption crusader, has said these projects need more transparency.
For now, he may choose to focus on Pakistan’s economy rather than battle the country’s powerful generals over foreign policy and national security issues.
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