Anti-government demonstrations led by Pakistan’s far right Jamaat-e-Islami party are today expected outside of a legislative building in Karachi, in opposition to management of the Sindh province’s economy.
Pakistan’s economy at large has suffered from pandemic-induced inflation. Since May the rupee has dropped 17% against the US dollar, contributing to an almost 20% increase in the price of food and fuel. Leaders in Islamabad have struggled to secure local approval of austerity measures designed to secure the next $1 billion instalment of a stalled $6 billion IMF loan agreed to in 2019.
Jamaat has almost no representation in any of Pakistan’s provincial legislative bodies—including in Sindh, where it has only one representative among 168 delegates—so today’s protests are unlikely to be politically significant. Turnout, however, may provide insight into the extent to which economic desperation is driving Pakistanis toward extremist factions.
A continued rise in the price of essentials, austerity measures and pandemic-induced recession are all factors likely to worsen the country’s economic crisis. Expect this to fuel religious extremism and increase the popularity of Islamist factions like Jamaat, potentially leading it to pick up more seats in the provinces or national legislature in the medium-term.
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Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.