Stories by Sameer Lalwani

Expert Voices

After elections, debt crisis looms in Pakistan

A Pakistani stockbroker looks at an index board during a trading session at the Pakistan Stock Exchange
A Pakistani stockbroker looks at an index board during a trading session at the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi on July 4, 2018. Photo: Rizwan Tabassum/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan’s national election campaign has ended, and voters are headed to the polls today. With the incumbent PML-N party hobbled by numerous criminal cases, electoral disqualifications, and arrests, and with its leader in prison, most analysts expect that Imran Khan’s PTI party will win the vote.

The big picture: Whatever coalition government forms will have to confront a brewing balance-of-payments emergency, not unlike those in 1999, 2008 and 2013. Pakistan lacks sufficient currency reserves to cover its imports for more than 2 months (the IMF recommends having enough for at least 3). If Pakistan can’t cover those costs or the service on its debts, its economy could sink into a crisis.