The past several months have been a testing period for Pakistan in the domestic as well as regional politics. When the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) government came to power, six months ago, Pakistan was facing immense internal as well as external challenges.

Our economy, we were told, was in shambles. We barely had the money to service our international debts. Another IMF package was looming on the horizon, and was likely to entail crippling conditions for our domestic economic infrastructure. There was an institutional crisis at hand – with the judiciary, the army and the polity being at loggerheads with each other. In the aftermath of Panama, the Pakistan Muslim league-Nawaz (PML-N) had launched an all-out war on the honourable Supreme Court, the army and other institutions of our State (e.g. NAB). Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was not far behind in its rhetoric and posturing, especially once the JIT unearthed damning evidence against the party leadership in the fake accounts investigation. There was constant ruckus and ‘walk-outs’ on the floor of the Parliament. And many had started to number the days that this government will survive in power.

On the international front, India was dominating the narrative warfare. Helped by statements from a select few in our polity and the media, India had constructed a case for international isolation of Pakistan. And, owing to the political impotence (or complicity?) of the previous government, Pakistan had chosen not to counter the Indian narrative at the international stage. The previous government’s (lack of) seriousness about this issue was evidenced in its inability to appoint a regular Foreign Minister, for almost four years (with MNS holding the portfolio himself). Owing to this cavalier attitude, Pakistan failed to nominate a judge (in time) for Kulbhushan’s hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Not just that, the previous Prime Minister never even mentioned Kulbhushan at any international forum. As if this was not enough, the few times that MNS chose to spoken on India-related issues, it was to undermine Pakistan’s stance on cross-border terrorism, and to strengthen India’s hand.

Simultaneously, lack of any diplomacy on our part had resulted in the Americans squarely siding with India – their President all but declared Pakistan an enemy of the United States. The Saudis were miffed with us post Yemen. And the Ashraf Ghani government of Afghanistan was speaking the Modi dialect, while simultaneously supporting groups such as PTM.

Looking through the prism of this factual matrix, Pakistan’s social media as well as opposition political parties were painting PTI’s government black and blue. Khan seemed to have been check-mate; domestically as well as internationally.

Against impossible odds, however, the cornered-tiger Kaptaan seems to have turned the situation on its head – especially in the past few weeks.

To be truthful, the process of recovery started a few months back, when a serious-minded Foreign Minister, helped by the military leadership, arranged for the Prime Minister to visit (and bargain with) our friends in the region. Two trips to Saudi Arabia, a few visits to the UAE, one to Malaysia – coupled with economic stimulus from each such visits – provided Pakistan with the necessary space to bolster the domestic financial woes, and engage with IMF in a constructive manner. But the Pulwama Attack, and the resulting narrative of India (to ‘completely isolate’ Pakistan) threatened to unravel our diplomatic project. However, amidst mounting pressure from India, Khan’s government (helped by military diplomacy behind the curtains) not only hosted MBS’s “first trip to the East”, but also ensured that KSA and other regional forces (e.g. China) reject Indian efforts of war-mongering and isolation of Pakistan. In fact, even the U.S. did not side entirely with India, as President Trump claimed that the Pakistan-U.S. relations had improved over the “last short period of time”. And that story of our improved performance in the Kulbhushan case, and the use of MNS statement by the Indian counsel, is a story for another time.

These events and the improvement in Pakistan’s domestic as well as regional standing have resulted in the breaking of a few important myths. Firstly, the long-held belief that Pakistan’s relationship with KSA is somehow an ancillary of Sharif family’s personal relationship with the Saudis, has been debunked. MBS did not ask for MNS. He did not care about where MNS or the opposition was. And KSA’s relationship with Pakistan seems to have improved, without MNS in the picture. Secondly Pakistan’s stance and narrative finds resonance in the international community, if only our government is willing to make a serious effort to present our case. If Khan and his PTI government can do it, over the past few weeks, why could PML-N and PPP not achieve anything of the sort in their tenure of power? Thirdly, India, with all its war-mongering and economic muscle, cannot isolate Pakistan in the international community… so long as we counter them with our diplomatic efforts (which were missing hitherto before). And lastly, the issues of our domestic polity (conviction of MNS, release of Shahbaz Sharif, upheaval in Sindh Assembly, and arrest of Aleem Khan), is of no significance to any of the participants of the new Great Game in South Asia.

It has been interesting to watch opposition political parties, along with their respective Twitterati brigades, hide their anger at the recent success/gains of Khan’s government. For the most part, they have resorted to silence of issues of national importance, with none of the major opposition leaders commenting on Pakistan’s stance on Pulwama Attack, the MBS visit, or even the Kulbhushan case. They cannot defend their own (past) record on such issues, and also cannot muster the strength to appreciate PM Khan’s performance. And the resulting silence (exhibited in Maryam Nawaz’s refusal to respond to questions on India), is the deafening announcement of PM Khan’s victory, at least momentarily.

It is also worth mentioning that these consequential events have been punctuated with moments of comic relief by a select group of hate-mongers on Twitter. One cannot help but feel sad for the likes of Reham Khan and Hussain Haqqani, who are consistently featured on Indian TV bashing Pakistan. Their hatred for Imran Khan (and the establishment) has blinded them to the larger issues at play. Funnier still are the journalists (if you can call them that) who resorted to making satirical videos about the President being asked/told to stand for his speech with MBS. If this is the only sort of criticism you can level against the Khan and his government, you must really be desperate.

After a long while, Pakistan seems to be moving in the right direction at the international stage. We are countering the Indian/Afghan narrative against our State, while making responsible statements about peace in the region. And in this moment, no one – yes, no one at all – cares about the petty antics of the opposition parties on the floor of the Parliament or on select social media accounts.

This is now the new Pakistan. #HatersGonnaHate