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Imran Khan supporters chant slogans as they condemn the assassination attempt on the former PM in Wazirabad, Pakistan.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

After Imran Khan attack, Pakistan’s fatal political threesome escalates

Pakistan is still reeling after the assassination attempt on ex-PM Imran Khan, the born-again Muslim populist who has been campaigning for snap elections and a return to power since being ousted from office last April. After he survived gunshot wounds on his legs Thursday, a three-way political battle between Khan, the civilian government, and its military backers is now spilling onto the streets.

The flurry of accusations, questions, and investigations in the wake of the shooting doesn’t bode well for political and social stability in the world’s fifth most populous country and the only nuclear-armed Islamic republic.

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A family with their belongings wade through rain waters following floods in Jamshoro, Pakistan.

REUTERS/Yasir Rajput

What We’re Watching: Pakistan floods, Arctic diplomacy, Iran’s nuclear deal response

Pakistan’s floods get political

After an ongoing economic crisis, political tumult, and increased terror attacks, Pakistan is now facing its worst floods in a decade. Thirty million people —about 15% of the population — have been displaced, most of them in Pakistan’s poorest provinces. As of Sunday, the death toll had crossed 1,000. As inflation continues to soar, hitting 45% on essential items last week, and the government appeals for international support, ousted PM Imran Khan pinned the blame for mismanaging the calamity on Shehbaz Shafir, the current prime minister. Khan keeps pushing for immediate snap elections, but it’s unclear if Pakistan’s worst natural disaster in years will keep the government or displace it. So far, the country is on economic life support, with a $1.2 billion loan expected to be approved Monday by the IMF. But will it be enough to keep Sharif in play?

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Pakistan's prime minister-elect Shehbaz Sharif.

Reuters

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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