Pakistan / by Lewis McKinnon

July was a month of mixed fortunes for Pakistan. Initial local, regional and global responses to the Pakistani mediated peace talks between the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban were positive, but talks collapsed with the installation of Mullah Akhtar Mansour as the new Taliban leader. The deaths of Islamic State (ISIS) leader in the Afghanistan-Pakistan area, Hafiz Saeed, together with the killing of anti-Shi'ite sectarian militant Malik Ishaq raised hopes of greater future stability and fracturing of militant movements in the region. Pakistan's tumultuous politics continued to dominate local news headlines. Altaf Hussain, who heads Karachi's ruling Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was grilled by politicians across the board for calling on NATO and more importantly rival India to intervene in Pakistan. Imran Khan, the cricketer turned politician who leads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, accepted the rulings of a judicial inquiry into election rigging that had led Khan to lead a large sit-in outside Pakistan's parliament. The UN has estimated that Pakistan's population will rise to 300 million by 2050, creating many more headaches for a poor country dealing with overpopulation and chronic energy shortages. Economic news has been mixed, with a 10 per cent growth in the trade deficit and 58 per cent fall in foreign investment tempered somewhat by a 33 per cent rise in remittances by Pakistanis living abroad to a not unsubstantial $18.5 billion.