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Pakistan Underwater: Blame Climate Change | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Pakistan underwater: Blame climate change

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here, and we're closing down the summer, so this will be your last Quick Take before I head back to New York City. And I thought I would talk a little bit about these disastrous, calamitous floods that are happening in Pakistan right now.

Pakistan can't catch a break, their economy is in free fall, given huge mismanagement internally, a lot of corruption, and getting hit by, of course, the inflation and the supply chain challenges that countries all over the world are facing. On top of that, massive political instability, given the ouster of the former prime minister. Big demonstrations across the country, especially now that he is facing potential incarceration from the court, that has claimed that he has made statements that amount to a promotion of terrorism, and so a massively divided country. And now you have over 1000 dead and over 10 million Pakistanis displaced from unprecedented levels of flooding.

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Families torn apart by Partition.

Murtaza Ali/DPA via Reuters

The endless anguish of Partition: India and Pakistan at 75

Seventy-five years ago this week, two of the most powerful countries in Asia were born in a bloodbath. At the stroke of midnight that separated Aug. 14 from Aug. 15, 1947, British India was divided — along an inexpertly drawn line — into a sprawling, Hindu-majority India, and a smaller, Muslim-majority Pakistan.

The event, known as “Partition,” tore apart families, villages, and whole regions, sparking violence that left millions dead and displaced. It also laid the groundwork for sectarian conflicts and enmity between India and Pakistan that have lasted to this day.

To learn more about why Partition happened, and how it continues to shape the troubled relationship between these two countries, we sat down with Akhil Bery, a former analyst at Eurasia Group who is now Director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute.

Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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Jess Frampton

What We’re Watching: Biden-Xi call, Khan’s momentum

Biden and Xi to talk ... Taiwan

US President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping are scheduled to speak via video call on Thursday for the fifth time. And the timing is, to put it mildly, not good. The two will likely talk about whether Biden will lift some of Trump's tariffs against China, or if Xi will dust off his passport to attend the November G20 summit in Indonesia, and the war in Ukraine. But the elephant in the room is, once again, Taiwan. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's still-unconfirmed visit to the self-governing island has caused shockwaves in Beijing, which threatens “consequences” for America if Pelosi sets foot in Taipei. The US military — which according to the president opposes the trip — fears China could even try to shoot down her plane. Biden is expected to tell Xi that he doesn't support Pelosi's plans, but also can't force her to cancel, which will do little to assuage the Chinese leader. Pelosi, second in line for the presidency, would be the first US speaker to visit Taiwan since 1997, a year after the last big standoff over Taiwan ended with China backing down after the US flexed its military muscle.

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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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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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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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What We're Watching: Viktor Orbán's rival, Pakistan's Taliban making moves, abducted Americans in Haiti

Can this guy defeat Viktor Orban? Hungary's opposition movement of odd bedfellows has finally settled on the person they think has the best chance of defeating PM Viktor Orbán at the ballot box: Péter Márki-Zay, a politically conservative small-town mayor from southeastern Hungary, who beat out left-leaning European Parliament member Klara Dobrev in a weekend poll. Márki-Zay has a lot going for him: as a devout Catholic and father of seven it will be hard for the ultraconservative Orbán to paint him as a progressive threat, even as Márki-Zay reaches out to reassure left-leaning groups that he will protect LGBTQ rights. What's more, Márki-Zay has little political baggage: until recently he was a marketing executive. But can the relatively inexperienced Márki-Zay keep the various opposition factions happy? The stakes couldn't be higher: since taking power more than a decade ago, Orbán has deliberately made Hungary into an "illiberal" state, cracking down on the press, undermining the rule of law, and clashing with the EU. Bonus: if Márki-Zay stays in the news, you get to say "Hódmezővásárhely" the name of the city he currently runs.

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