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Will history forgive Gen. Bajwa for colluding with Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari? Bajwa's personal agenda and acts have brought Pakistan's economic to this point of collapse where now State Bank of Pakistan does not have sufficient reserves to cover imports of more than three weeks? Total FOREX reserves, on the face of it, are less than $ 11 billion but around $ 6 billion are from private banks, companies and expats and remaining less than $5 billion are funds deposited by Saudi Arabia, UAE and China. But is anyone asking who is responsible for this? Unless Pakistan defeats the politics of "Dynastic Families" like Sharifs, Zardaris and Bajwa's, the country will have no future. In the end Pakistan's Establishment has to decide if it will allow itself to become a tool in the hand of powerful Indian establishment against Pakistani intelligentsia or will stand with the people and middle classes of Pakistan?







Zafar Bangash
Jumada' al-Akhirah 08, 1444

It is extremely depressing to witness the unfolding events in Pakistan. This has raised serious concerns about its very survival. The Pakistani elite comprise a criminal syndicate of feudal lords, the bureaucracy, military and media. They are all certified criminals, gangsters, rapists and murderers whose only purpose in life is to plunder state resources.

Despite its enormous natural wealth and thus huge potential, Pakistan is being run into the ground because the parasitical ruling elite are busy stealing all state resources and whatever else they can lay their grubby hands on. Theft and plunder have been institutionalized into the system.

Pakistan functions not so much as a state but as a huge real estate racket. Land mafias usurp lands belonging to others but the victims have little or no recourse in law to retrieve what rightly belongs to them. This is because the judiciary is just as corrupt. People’s genuine grievances remain in limbo for decades because the judges are too corrupt and easily bribed by the powerful to dispense justice.

On important issues, judges take their orders from the military high command despite the latter claiming that they are “not interfering in politics” and are “neutral”. Such bald face lies would be hard to find elsewhere. The depressing fact is that there is no rule of law in Pakistan.
The constitution, for what it’s worth, is treated with disdain. Successive army chiefs have violated the constitution by overthrowing civilian governments and grabbed power. The judiciary has provided legal cover for such illegal acts.

When the constitution is violated with such impunity and there is no accountability for gross misdemeanor, it leaves little room for optimism for the survival of the state. The social contract between the state and the people has not only broken down, it simply does not exist because the state itself has withered away.

Flag raising ceremonies and military parades, however impressive, do not make a state. They are mere attempts to hide the ugly reality of total breakdown. The people have not only lost faith in state institutions but also respect for them.

The country’s economic condition has deteriorated so rapidly since last April when Imran Khan’s government was overthrown through a soft coup that it is on the verge of default. Traditional sources of foreign funding, mainly handouts from the IMF and friendly Arab countries have dried up. Pakistani exports and remittances from overseas Pakistanis have also declined, the latter because people have no faith in the criminals imposed as rulers by the military.
Imran Khan’s quest to force elections in the country, though admirable, is misplaced. Elections will not help bring about change even if he wins the desired two-third majority in parliament. The entire system is rotten and has to be demolished completely. This will not happen unless the powers-that-be are defanged. That is a tall order and will require huge sacrifices in life and blood.

There is no evidence to suggest that Imran Khan is prepared to take that route at present. Perhaps, he is not sure of his supporters’ commitment. Even within his own party and allied parties, there are people secretly in league with the army top brass and taking directions from them. Under these circumstances, how can fresh elections solve the country’s problems?

When there is a cancerous tumor in the body, it has to be excised to give the body a fighting chance to survive. If the tumor stays inside, it will spread and infect other organs of the body. This is what seems to be happening in Pakistan.

In order to bring about change in society, it is important to analyze the prevailing situation and determine what is wrong with it. Following that, a clear direction must be provided as to where the society needs to go. The ultimate goal and how to achieve it must also be clearly articulated. Then comes the stage of mobilization of the masses.

Looking at the situation in Pakistan, there appears to be much confusion in the minds of those promising to bring about change. It does not help to promise change yet insist on working with the very people and institutions that are impediments to change.

Physical revolution must be preceded by a revolution in thought. Without the intellectual revolution, all struggle ends up as futile pursuit. The chaos that engulfs Pakistan is the result of such muddled thinking.

What is the way forward? The Prophetic Seerah offers very important lessons. While all Pakistanis, and indeed Muslims everywhere, claim to love the Prophet (pbuh) and will even give their lives to defend his honour, they have not internalized the lessons of his life’s struggle.

He totally rejected the Jahili system in Makkah and refused to have anything to do with it. When he was offered a power-sharing arrangement, before he could respond, it was rejected from on high by Allah. He does not want His committed servants to mix Haqq with Batil. The struggle for justice will face many challenges but these will have to be faced and surmounted in order to reach the destiny ordained by Allah.


Maleeha Lodhi

January 2, 2023

2022 was a tumultuous year in Pakistan even by the standards of its turbulent political history. It confronted a polycrisis — several crises that converged to reinforce each other and create an overall challenge tougher to deal with than any single crisis. A political crisis, often with constitutional implications raged through the year, the economic crisis aggravated, the worst climate-induced floods in the country’s history tested national resilience and a resurgence of terrorist violence revived threats to Pakistan’s security.

The ouster of prime minister Imran Khan’s government by a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in April set in train a series of events that drove the country into a state of perpetual crisis. Several aspects of the crisis distinguished it from those in the country’s chequered past. Never before was a prime minister removed by a no-trust vote. The crisis came to encompass all the country’s institutions — Supreme Court, parliament, Presidency, Punjab Assembly, ECP as well as the military, despite its claim to stay away from the political fray. Also there were few parallels in the country’s history of disruptions that delayed the transfer of power.

Unwilling to accept the loss of power, Khan launched a series of actions to first circumvent and then respond to the no-confidence move. He crafted the narrative of a foreign conspiracy to explain his ouster, openly accusing the army leadership of being part of this conspiracy. Although he never produced any evidence to back his charge — and later backtracked on this — it found ready believers among his loyal political base. The aim to delegitimise his opponents backfired especially as military spokesmen flatly rejected this narrative as false. As did a meeting of the National Security Committee.

Khan’s exit from power opened a new, uncertain and volatile phase in Pakistan’s politics. Led by PML-N, the 13-party PDM coalition that assumed power, got off to a slow and unsure start as it had to initially overcome impediments in the way of a smooth transition. Cobbling together a coalition cabinet — the largest in the country’s history — also took time and underlined the difficulties of forging agreement among disparate parties. Nevertheless, Khan’s fierce opposition kept this coalition united even if some constituent parties needed high maintenance from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who was also obliged to constantly consult Mian Nawaz Sharif in London.

Pakistan has to meet multiple challenges in 2023 in a deeply fractured and polarised state.

Confrontational politics remained the overarching reality of 2022. Imran Khan sought through the year to mount pressure on the government to hold immediate general elections. But PDM insisted on continuing in office until parliament completed its full term in August 2023. The country’s largest province and political heartland, Punjab, becoming the arena of nonstop power struggles. PTI and its ally, PML-Q led by Parvez Elahi, was able to seize control of the government after Hamza Sharif’s brief tenure. But the province remained unsettled with governance all but paralysed due to the stand-off between Lahore and Islamabad. At year end, both sides were locked in a fierce fight — PTI to secure dissolution of the provincial assembly and the PDM coalition to avert that by political manoeuvres.

Ceaseless political confrontation signalled the breakdown of politics in 2022. Amid heightening tensions, political disputes were no longer amenable to resolution by political means. Political rivals either resorted to the courts or turned to the army to further their political aims. An opposition-less National Assembly was marginalised and the political system came under increasing stress. State institutions faced growing pressure. The superior courts were expected by both sides to not just adjudicate legal and constitutional issues but also decide political matters. This turned the courts into arbiters of politics, rather than arbiters of law. The army became the target of repeated criticism by Khan and the subject of unprecedented public and media debate. It was variously accused of not intervening or intervening too much.

The economy was the make-or-break issue for the ruling coalition and country in the outgoing year. Deepening polarisation and political turmoil exacerbated the economic challenge with uncertainty casting a long shadow over a worsening public finance crisis. The dire situation urged Sharif to secure resumption of the IMF programme and seek funds from friendly countries to finance the record current account deficit, meet debt repayments and try to stabilise the precarious macroeconomic situation. Soaring inflation emerged as an even bigger political threat than Khan for the government, fuelling widespread public discontent.

The country saw the worst floods in its history which impacted over 33 million people and caused extensive displacement and destruction. The death toll exceeded 1,200, with massive damage to crops, homes and infrastructure. Relief and rehabilitation efforts by the authorities were augmented by financial assistance from overseas but it was clear that recovery would need more time and money. At the end of the year, flood victims in many areas faced food shortages and the risk of disease. The disaster imposed a heavy financial burden on an already struggling economy.

The government’s change of finance ministers five months into its tenure injected more uncertainty into a tenuous economic situation. As foreign exchange reserves depleted, the rupee weakened, exports declined, remittances contracted and debt payments piled up, speculation about a sovereign default began to intensify in the face of heavy external obligations ahead. Government ministers, however, rejected this as alarmist. The situation entered a critical phase when reserves plunged to $5.8 billion. By year end, it was unclear how Pakistan would navigate the economic crisis, especially in view of delay in the release of an IMF tranche in the bailout programme.

Imran Khan’s announcement in December to dissolve the Punjab and KP assemblies added to political and economic uncertainty and served to further darken the outlook for an economy teetering on the brink of insolvency. As if this wasn’t enough, the country witnessed a fresh wave of terrorist violence, with TTP militants striking across KP and beyond, including the capital. Clashes on the Pak-Afghan border and terror attacks on security personnel in Balochistan underlined growing security problems on the western frontier. But this confluence of political, economic and security challenges did little to unite the country’s political leaders. Instead, it left Pakistan having to negotiate multiple crises in 2023 in an unprecedentedly fractured state.


Dr Niaz Murtaza

We face many paths to doom today — both economic and security-related — but only a few paths to avoid it. But the state doesn’t adopt these paths as they undermine the interests of strong civilian and military elites who control policy.

While egalitarian ideas drove Indian, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan freedom aims, ours mainly reflected the fears of Muslim elites about their interests under Hindu rule and had few pro-poor ideas. Since ’47, the Pakistani state has lived up very well to the objectives of its creation by ably guarding elite interests and ignoring those of the masses, so much so that it now faces doom. In fact, the Pakistani state may be in South Asia the one least focused on the people.

The limits of this elitism are vividly illustrated by the current perma-polycrisis. A crisis is bad enough, a polycrisis (one encompassing multiple domains such as economic, political, natural, social, etc) worse and a perma-polycrisis (a polycrisis that shows no signs of ending) more so. This crisis started as an economic one under the PTI and was exacerbated by the political standoff between Pindi, PDM and PTI; the global economic crisis; and finally the floods. No end is in sight to most of its immediate causes or the elitism in which it is rooted.

The history of successful states shows that social movements play a critical role in improving the quality of governance and making it more people-centred. Thus, it is critical for Pakistani society to organise itself better and form an alliance or coalition for change to force elites to adopt egalitarian policies that help avoid disaster. A coalition is a group of persons and/or entities that have common aims and who agree to work together towards achieving them. Coalition work includes three ingredients: agenda, partners, and strategies.

Our society needs coalitions to stand up to elites.

It is easy to list an agenda to avert doom. Economically, we must increase taxes and export revenues to reduce our fiscal and external deficits that often lead to crises; reform state enterprise (including milbus), power and water sectors; and increase investment and productivity to achieve sustainable growth. It means adopting poor-led progress strategies that make increasing the incomes of the poor as the main engine of national progress, by providing them with organisations, market power, protection, assets, skills and social services. Politically, it means civilian sway over Pindi and its spy agencies staying totally out of politics; devolution; police, judicial and bureaucratic reforms; peace with Baloch rebels and end of TTP terrorism. Externally, it means peace with India and good, balanced ties with all key allies like the West, Gulf states and China. Socially, it means ending extremism and full rights for women, minorities and other weak groups.

Progressive, grassroots, pro-poor groups are obvious partners for leading the coalition for this pro-poor agenda. But Pakistan’s situation is so precarious, especially economically even in the short term, that most components of this agenda would appeal to a much broader alliance, which is also necessary given the enormity of the task involved in swaying strong elite interests.

Thus, a broader coalition is needed, that includes pro-poor advocacy groups, farmer and labour entities as leaders, but also professional bodies of lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers and others, including media groups, business groups, academia and expatriate groups. This practically means all organised society willing to support such an agenda outside the narrow range of elite interests that currently control state policy or extremist and criminal groups. The starting step could be for progressive grassroots groups to come together and then gradually expand the coalition by inviting other societal groups to join it.

Finally, coalitions need effective strategies. Coalitions may be loose, when members work together for a limited time until they achieve or abandon a specific aim. They may also become permanent, with governing bodies, funding, and organisational structures. It will be naïve to expect such a diverse coalition to achieve any permanence. However, even so, a three- to five-year period may still be needed to influence state policy sustainably. The main strategy would be two-fold. First, it would involve influencing policymakers through direct meetings with them, media work, public meetings and protests. Second, it would involve educating the larger public about the issues and remedies to garner greater support for the cause.

The only feasible path forward for us now is for society to stand up to elites through coalitions. Even this doesn’t guarantee success, given the low odds of, first, putting such an alliance together and, second, it actually succeeding. But the chances of any other path succeeding are even lower. This sadly reflects our poor odds going forward.

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RE: PAKISTAN'S VISION 2025 - by globalvision2000administrator - 12-25-2022, 10:50 PM

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