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Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

What We're Watching: Imran Khan's threat, a looming global recession, Bolsonaro-Biden meeting

Imran Khan issues dangerous ultimatum

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan – booted from the top job last month by a parliamentary no-confidence vote – has called on the country’s nascent government to hold new elections within six days or risk full-blown social upheaval. For weeks, Khan has been whipping supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party into a frenzy, saying his ouster was perniciously orchestrated by Washington in conjunction with the newly minted PM Shehbaz Sharif. (Khan, of course, fails to acknowledge that his removal was in large part a reflection of dissatisfaction with the country’s imploding economy and dwindling foreign reserves.) Things got really bad this week when Khan led his supporters in a march from his home turf of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province toward Islamabad. As throngs of angry PTI supporters tried to reach the capital, violent clashes with police ensued in multiple cities. The Supreme Court ordered police to remove barriers on highways that were preventing pro-Khan protesters from reaching Islamabad but said that protests in the capital needed to be confined to a specific area. That didn’t happen, and police responded to the violence and disorder with tear gas. This turmoil comes as Sharif is trying to convince the International Monetary Fund that Pakistan has gotten its act together to get funding back on track. Khan isn’t backing down, and the next week could be deadly.

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Pakistan's prime minister-elect Shehbaz Sharif.


Can Sharif succeed despite Khan’s fiery exit?

As Pakistani PM Imran Khan saw his tenure draw to a close in recent weeks, the former cricket star began pointing fingers at the West, blaming the push for regime change in Pakistan on a US conspiracy. While it didn’t help him stay in the red zone, it did mean Khan was already plotting his return.

Claiming it was “an establishment stitch-up,” says Peter Mumford, head of Eurasia Group's South and Southeast Asia desk, “was not so much about trying to cling to power … as it was sowing the seeds for the election campaign to come.”

Following Khan’s ouster on Saturday, the parliament elected Shehbaz Sharif on Monday. This prompted the resignation of much of Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf Party from the National Assembly, setting the stage for by-elections to fill those seats.

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Pro-Russian troops inspect streets in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

What We’re Watching: Mariupol on the brink, Pakistan’s new leader, Finland’s NATO bid

Is Mariupol on the brink?

The fight for the strategic southeastern Ukrainian port of Mariupol continues to rage. Unconfirmed reports late Monday pointed to the possible use of chemical weapons dropped by a Russian drone. US and British officials said they were monitoring reports of the possible chemical attack. The fate of Mariupol is critical for the next phase of the war. If Russia is able to take the city, it would be able to do two things: establish a land bridge to Crimea and punch northward as part of a broader effort to encircle Ukrainian forces fighting in the Donbas. As Russia now points its army towards a full-fledged assault on eastern Ukraine, Kyiv has warned of the bloodiest land battles in Europe since World War II and pleaded for more military assistance from the West.

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Russia-Ukraine War Update: Will Oil & Coal Be Cut Off From Russia? | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Russian war crimes push West to escalate sanctions and Ukraine support

With evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine mounting, how will the West respond? Is Imran Khan done in Pakistan? Is Elon Musk joining the Twitter board good or bad news for free speech? Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

With evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine mounting, how will the West respond?

With further escalation. We're a month and a half into this war and every week, the most consistent thing we're seeing is further economic sanctions from the West, further diplomatic isolation from the West with all these Russian diplomats being thrown out of countries, and of course, further military support for Ukraine. I think that continues to accelerate and step up from the Europeans. We are moving towards oil and coal being cut off from Russia, though not gas, which is still the critical issue and the big money spinner but that's where we're heading right now. And of course, that also means that negotiations are very far from what we're talking about.

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A shopkeeper tunes a television screen to watch the speech of Pakistani PM Imran Khan in Islamabad.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Captain vs. America: Pakistan’s Khan drags US into regime change

Pakistan’s flamboyant cricketer-turned-PM Imran Khan is known by his followers as “Kaptaan” (Captain) for his against-all-odds brand of leadership. On Sunday, he pulled the pin from the only political grenade he had left in his arsenal of populism by dissolving parliament and pushing for a snap election to avoid being ousted in a no-confidence vote he was set to lose.

Using a cricket term to explain his defense of the political challenge he faces, Khan had vowed last week to defend his government till the “last ball” against so-called foreign conspirators and their local assets. Who was he referring to? Right-wing Pakistan’s go-to foe: the United States.

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Biden speaks in Warsaw.

Slawomir Kaminski /Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Biden "gaffe" fallout, Russia changes war plan, Pakistani political turmoil

Does Biden have a red line?

In a fiery speech in Warsaw on Saturday, US President Joe Biden framed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a battle between authoritarian brutality and the free world. “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said at the very end, reportedly going off-script — a comment the White House would later walk back as Biden simply meaning that Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot continue to strong-arm Russia’s neighbors. But the confrontational phrase speaks for itself, and it’s hard to imagine Biden didn’t mean it at some level. He also notably called the Russian president a war criminal. For Putin, Biden’s words likely spell out what he’s been warning about for years: that America seeks regime change in Moscow. US allies, meanwhile, were quick to distance themselves from the remark, which some may fear could escalate tensions or trigger direct confrontation with Russia.

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Imran Khan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad.

REUTERS/Saiyna Bashir

Palace intrigue plagues Pakistan

Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan is no stranger to controversy.

He has called Osama bin Laden a martyr of Islam. He’s praised the Taliban for breaking the shackles of slavery. Khan hasn’t defended rape, but he has lectured women on how to dress modestly to avoid it – something detractors call a tad rich, considering his past as a West End playboy.

Yet, Khan, now a self-declared, born-again Muslim, has been brazen and unapologetic about his brand of politicized Islam. In office, he’s been decidedly anti-West and pro-China. And in a new foreign policy pivot, Khan stood by Vladimir Putin’s side on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, defending his trip to Moscow by saying it was “an exciting time” to be at the Kremlin.

But the 68-year-old Kaptaan — Captain, as he’s known for his cricketing accolades and carefully cultivated against-all-odds brand of leadership — is officially in trouble. Later this week, he’ll face a vote of no-confidence in Pakistan’s notoriously corrupt and raucous parliament.

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Ian Explains: Pakistan's Pivot Towards Russia | GZERO World

Pakistan's pivot towards Russia

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has left Moscow isolated through US-led sanctions and economic boycotts. Still, the Kremlin does have friends.

One of them is China. Another is Belarus. And now Vladimir Putin has a new country in his camp: Pakistan.

As Russian forces pummeled Ukraine, Pakistan's PM Imran Khan visited Moscow to discuss a new gas pipeline. Khan says he wants peace, but his trip did not go down well in Washington, Ian Bremmer explains on GZERO World.

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