Pakistan Political Upheaval Puts Strategic Alliance With U.S. at Risk

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Imran Khan, a fierce critic of American policy, has gained political clout after the ouster of Nawaz Sharif.

President Donald Trump’s efforts to reboot U.S.-Pakistan relations as part of his new Afghanistan strategy face a potential challenge thanks to the rising fortunes of a popular politician who’s a fierce critic of American policy.

Pakistan’s political path took a twist in recent months with the ascendancy of charismatic sports-star-turned-politician Imran Khan. The fervent opponent of America’s war on terror used the courts to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in July and is looking to use the momentum from that legal victory to propel him to power.

Mr. Khan has been on the political scene for two decades leading a small but vocal party opposed to what he sees as the crooked political dynasties of Mr. Sharif and the other established party.

Mr. Sharif’s removal has weakened the ruling party and thrust Mr. Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party into real contention in elections due within the next year.

Mr. Khan’s surge is already shaping the political terrain by, among other things, pushing opinion in Pakistan more sharply against the country’s close security ties to the U.S. He advocates a sharp break with the U.S. antiterror alliance, spurning aid that comes with conditions that he says have proved too costly for Pakistan.

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