Washington: The current political unrest in Pakistan could impact its relations with India as the Pakistan Army is having more control over the country's foreign policy than ever, a latest US Congressional report has said.
"The Pakistan Army's more openly direct control of the country's foreign and security policies may, over time, shift Pakistan's approach toward Afghanistan further into a policy framework that seeks to counter Indian influence there," the independent Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report 'Pakistan Political Unrest' this month.
"It could also present new challenges to the goal of improving India-Pakistan relations, and put a damper on hopes for effective regional cooperation and commerce in South Asia," said the Congressional report authored by Alan Kronstadt, CRS Specialist in South Asian Affairs.
Even though the protest led by cricketer-turned- politician Imran Khan has subsided this would definitely have an adverse impact on India-Pakistan relationship, with the Pakistan Army having more control over it than ever, it said.
The current political unrest has weakened Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and any overt military ouster of the democratically-elected government could trigger sanctions on Pakistan.
"Whether Prime Minister Sharif sought out or merely acceded to the Army's late August intervention as a facilitator between the government and the protesters, most analysts contend that, because he has not demonstrated civilian control over domestic security, he will be left in a weakened state," the report said.
"This could have negative implications for US efforts to strengthen Pakistan?s democratic governance institutions.
Any overt military ouster of Sharif could trigger another round of democracy-related US sanctions on foreign assistance to Pakistan, potentially putting an indefinite halt to what has been one of the highest-priority American aid programs since 9/11," it said.
"While few assess that Sharif's government now faces an imminent threat of ouster from office, many observers see the current unrest weakening Sharif and representing a setback to democratisation in a country that has suffered three outright military coups in its 67 years of independence," the report said.
"To many analysts, it appears unlikely that Pakistan in the near future will alter any of its foreign or security policies of interest to the United States. However, the US government has sought to help in fostering Pakistan's democratic system, and that effort has been disrupted by the current unrest," the CRS said.
According to the report, circumstantial evidence suggests some links between Khan, fiery cleric Tahirul Qadri, Pakistan's military establishment, and numerous analysts identify a more-or-less coordinated effort between the military and the unfolding of the latest crisis.