NEW DELHI: Pakistan PM Imran Khan is faced with a Catch-22 situation as he completes two years in power. While on one hand his Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who dreams to run the country one day has landed the Pakistan state and its all-powerful Army in a soup by criticising the Saudi leadership, the UAE-Israel peace deal that may alter geo-politics of West Asia could have major ramifications for Islamabad’s traditional links in the Gulf. With his popularity on wane among the general citizens of Pakistan as well as PTI cadres, Imran finds himself in a trap.

Qureshi has rushed to China on what he described as a “very important trip” close on the heels of Pakistan Army Chief’s visit to Riyadh which yielded little. The trip to China is significant as it comes before proposed SCO meetings and Summit in September and October. China continues to play hardball along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with no signs of an early end to stalemate and Pakistan is game to sabotage any Indian initiative at SCO at the behest of Beijing.

While Imran Khan has sought to expand traditional close ties with Turkey riding on its President's ambitions to emerge as a leader of the Islamic World, Saudi Arabia continues to matter for Pakistan’s most powerful institution – Army. Saudi Arabia and USA are counted by Pak Army as their biggest pillars of external support even as the men in uniform maintained strong ties with Turkey and its military. The current Pak Army chief rushed to Riyadh to pacify leadership which has been upset with Foreign Minister’s comments on OIC. However, Saudi-Pak ties have been strained as Riyadh continues to take a pragmatic view of geopolitics. It is unimaginable that the Foreign Minister’s outburst against Saudi Arabia did not have backing of his PM. However, the entire episode did not go down well with the Pak Army.

Pakistan’s neighbour to the West Iran may have criticised the UAE-Israel peace deal but there are little chances that Iran will join ranks with Pakistan on the issue given historical differences including sectarian differences between Tehran and Islamabad. Bilateral ties continue to be lukewarm and any possible return of Taliban to Kabul with Pak backing can cast a shadow over Tehran-Islamabad ties as Iran is far from being comfortable with a government led by radicals in Kabul.

Imran Khan’s balance sheet on the completion of its second year in power has not been encouraging. Governance remains the major problem area. The prime minister had promised to build a ‘Naya’ Pakistan, but a huge cabinet is completely opposite to the promise of delivering a smart government.

It is an open secret in Pakistan that the security establishment also runs the foreign policy. This role is more pronounced under the Khan-led PTI government. It was probably for the first time in Pakistan’s history that an Army Chief accompanied the PM to a meeting with the US president at the White House when they travelled to meet Donald Trump. Khan’s overall performance has been lacklustre to say the least. On several occasions, the Pak military leadership has been involved in sorting out differences with other countries arising from some impulsive decisions taken by the prime minister or statements made by his cabinet ministers.