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Imran Khan: “The Poster Boy for Populism"
Imran Khan: “The Poster Boy for Populism" | Global Stage

Imran Khan: “The Poster Boy for Populism"

Weeks after a chaotic general election, Pakistan’s political parties still struggle to form a coalition to move the country forward. GZERO’s Tony Maciulis sat down with Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister Hina Khar at the Munich Security Conference for her take on how the nation’s imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan maintains a hold over supporters and remains a powerful political force.

Independent candidates mostly aligned with Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), won the most votes on February 8, though they fell short of a majority, setting off a power struggle between Khan and his political rival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Comparing Khan to former US President Donald Trump and India’s leader Narendra Modi, Khar said, “He really represents what populist leaders are all about. He’s able to get everybody to rally around what all is wrong and the great injustices. However, when he comes to power, he doesn’t have any to plan to sort it out.”

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A man views a computer screen displaying an AI-crafted speech of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Imran Khan’s AI prison address

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan needed a tech solution to get his message out during the Pakistani parliamentary elections.

Khan, himself disqualified from running due to his prison sentence on corruption charges, has spent months urging voters to help elect his political allies, independent candidates affiliated with his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party. Khan, unable to record an address from prison, used an AI-generated version of his voice to read it.

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Trump's Jan. 6 trial could now hurt his re-election bid
Trump's charges: Latest prosecution could sabotage re-election | Ian Bremmer | World In: 60

Trump's Jan. 6 trial could now hurt his re-election bid

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

Will the US-proposed cease-fire plan for Israel and Hamas come to fruition amidst reports of hostage deaths?

It's not done until it's done. There are a lot of ways that it can blow up. And, you know, Netanyahu probably wants to take it to the Knesset and get, you know, support for it. And nonetheless, Hamas can always say no. But I would bet on it. I think we are going to see more hostages released. There's a lot of pressure on Israel to give away more to get that done in terms of a cease-fire. And there's a lot of pressure on Hamas to accept a longer cease-fire and see if they can keep it going. So I think we'll get at least four weeks in return for a significant number of hostages that are released. That doesn't mean that we get a peace plan. It doesn't mean we see a two-state solution. It certainly doesn't mean that the cease-fire is going to hold for longer than that period of time or even the entire period of time submitted to. There are plenty of actors that still want to see war continue on the ground.

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Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan.


Khan’s murky political future in Pakistan

Pakistan’s dysfunctional politics took another turn on Tuesday when an appeals court suspended former PM Imran Khan’s sentence and three-year jail term for allegedly selling state gifts during his tenure. However, that same court has not overturned that conviction and will decide on whether to set it aside at a later, unspecified date.

Quick background. Khan, the former cricket sensation turned populist politician, was imprisoned earlier this month on graft charges that he says are politically motivated. He was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April 2022, which set the streets on fire. Indeed, polls show that he remains the most popular leader in the country.

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A supporter of Pakistan's former PM Imran Khan throws stones towards police during a protest against Khan's arrest in Peshawar.

REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

Imran Khan released from prison

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that former Prime Minister Imran Khan be released from jail. He was set free on Friday and cannot be arrested again for at least two weeks.

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Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan, gestures as he speaks with Reuters during an interview in Lahore.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

What We're Watching: Punjab election back on, China-India war of names, Brazil wants peace in Ukraine

Constitutional & political crises in Pakistan

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered that Punjab, the country’s most populous state, can hold elections on May 14, deeming a recent government decision to postpone polls in two states as “unconstitutional.”

Quick recap: This comes after Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, led by former PM Imran Khan, filed a petition challenging the government’s decision to delay the polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from April to October.

The government had attributed the delay to a shortfall in funds due to economic constraints, but the top court ordered the government to release 20 billion rupees ($70 million) to fund the elections.

You’ll likely remember that Khan – who was ousted last April in a no-confidence vote and now faces corruption and terrorism charges that he says are politically motivated – is at loggerheads with the central government that’s trying to sideline him.

What’s more, this comes just days after the government introduced a bill in parliament trying to limit the power of the Supreme Court, which Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has long accused of “judicial activism.”

While the tussle between the government and the judiciary continues, there is at least one winner here: Khan, whose primary demand since being ousted has been fresh elections, particularly in his home state of Punjab. The last time Punjab held by-polls, PTI won in a landslide.

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President Volodymyr Zelensky is greeted by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he arrives Britain.

Ukraine Presidential Press Office handout via EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Zelensky and the jets, Pakistan targets TTP militants

Zelensky to British lawmakers: “Give us wings”

President Volodymyr Zelensky embarked on a whirlwind tour on Wednesday, leaving Ukraine for just the second time since Russia’s war began almost a year ago. Making a surprise stop in the UK, Zelensky met with PM Rishi Sunak and King Charles III and charmed British lawmakers at an address in the House of Commons. While the build-up to the trip was shrouded in secrecy, Zelensky was upfront about why he was there, imploring parliament to send Ukraine fighter jets: “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it,” he said. Some analysts have suggested that Zelensky is moving too fast and isn’t reading the room properly: After all, it was just a few weeks ago that western countries finally agreed to send him battle tanks, and that came only after months of handwringing and negotiations. Sunak, for his part, said he is still considering the request but confirmed that the UK will help train Ukrainian pilots to use NATO-standard jets. Zelensky then headed to Paris, where he made a similar plea to President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, followed by a stop in Brussels where he addressed the European Parliament. Crucially, the US has not committed to sending fighter jets, and given that Washington and Brussels have been in lockstep on supporting Ukraine, this might determine how the Europeans respond for now. Indeed, Poland, one of Ukraine's strongest allies, said it would only move on the request "within the entire formation of NATO."

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Tributes are left at the site where an apartment block was heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Dnipro, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

What We're Watching: Russia lashes out, Khan ups election ante, China's population shrinks

Russia strikes civilians, braces for long war in Ukraine

At least 40 people died in Saturday's Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro, Ukraine's fourth-largest city, authorities said Monday. It was one of Russia's deadliest attacks against Ukrainian civilians since the invasion began, as Moscow doubles down on the strategy of targeting civilians to turn the tide of the war in its favor. Meanwhile, the Washington, DC-based Institute for the Study of War on Sunday claimed that the Kremlin is preparing for a drawn-out conflict and a fresh mobilization to push back against Ukraine's military gains in recent months. What does that mean for Kyiv? That the US and its NATO allies will need to stay the course on providing weapons to keep the Russians at bay. Clearly on message, the UK on Friday announced that it would for the first time send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. This might open up a can of worms within NATO: Poland wants to supply the Ukrainians with German-made Leopard tanks but has yet to get the green light from Berlin, while the US, Germany, and France have so far only agreed to give Ukraine light armored vehicles. If they all go a step further and send in the heavy equipment, Vladimir Putin will know that Ukraine's friends remain committed to its defense and are less worried about Russia escalating.

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