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IMRAN’S ONE YEAR AS PM: Naya Mistakes Haunt Niazi  

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the rally

During the one year of PTI’s rule, Pakistan slid into isolation from both Muslim and non-Muslim world. Its economy is struggling and there is no action plan to address the issues of the public. Half of the population is still below the poverty line. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) produced a 112-page White Paper on one year of Imran’s rule. It is titled “One year of Tabahi (destruction). It says that the first year of the “selected” government, a taunt on the Army-manipulated victory of Imran’s party, witnessed destructive policies, U-turns (Imran has publicly taken pride in his U-turn polices) and broken promises. It says since the July 2018 elections “Pakistan is more unsafe, unstable, more economically vulnerable and internationally weak” than before …… writes Rifan Ahmed Khan

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. (File Photo: IANS) by .
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. (File Photo: IANS)

After completing one year as Prime Minister of Pakistan last month, Imran Khan Niazi must have realised that running the government was different from winning a cricket match. Till his nomination for the post of Prime Minister by his party, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), on August 6 last year, he seemed to see no difference between running a country and captaining a cricket team. Accepting the nomination, he reminded his party men his achievements including winning the World Cup for Pakistan.

In the one-year of his rule, his only achievement has been the removal of hurdles in his path – the opposition and the media. Top opposition leaders including two former Prime Ministers and one former President have been thrown into jail on corruption charges and the media is being subjected to undeclared censorship. In his youthful enthusiasm in 1996, when he floated the PTI, he ascribed all troubles of the country to politicians’ corruption. He took care to overlook corruption in the Army which runs parallel economy in the country.

Imran promised last year that he would make Pakistan a Naya Pakistan where there would be corruption-free governance and which would not go to International Monetary Fund (IMF) to borrow. He had the child-like belief that the country would not need to borrow from the IMF when politicians were forced enough to get their laundered money back to Pakistan. This didn’t work. Pakistan had to borrow from the IMF as a bailout package to escape sure bankruptcy accepting all its conditionalities that have brought down the government’s credibility in the eyes of the common man and the industry. These conditionalities put before the Imran government unprecedented, most challenging targets at a time when manufacturers are already crying about the rising cost of production and falling purchasing power of the people. Also, Imran’s accountability campaign has been showing negative impact on economy.

Not only in the economic field, but in domestic and foreign affairs, too, Imran Khan and his team of Ministers have not raised any hope for the future. It is widely believed in Pakistan that he represents the Army and not his people. At the July 25, 2018 polls, newspapers in Pakistan reported that after polling time ended, the Army men took control of selected polling booths, shooed away agents of political parties and changed results – in favour of Imran’s party. The Election Commission did not intervene. Political parties first decided to reject the election results, but later they changed their mind fearing that it would mean direct confrontation with the Army.  Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the US, told the Times of India (15-2-2019) that “Imran Khan is the product of the military’s aversion to a genuinely popular civilian politician in power, backed by an electoral mandate”.

Sindh-Chief-Minister-Syed-with Prime Minister Imran Khan

It is noteworthy that Imran seldom talks of democracy, human rights or the freedom of the Press. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) produced a 112-page White Paper on August 22 on one year of Imran’s rule. It is titled “One year of Tabahi (destruction). It says that the first year of the “selected” government, a taunt on the Army-manipulated victory of Imran’s party, witnessed destructive policies, U-turns (Imran has publicly taken pride in his U-turn polices) and broken promises. It says since the July 2018 elections “Pakistan is more unsafe, unstable, more economically vulnerable and internationally weak” than before.

The White Paper taunts that “Imran Khan’s one-year achievement is to gag the media; silence the judges; water-cannon citizens daring to protest and persecute the opposition by imprisonment of its leaders through witch-hunting in the name of accountability”. It says the country is sliding into misgovernance and chaos because of the PTI’s failures in domestic politics, Parliamentary performance, economy, social policy and Federal and local politics.

His one year in power shows that economy is not Imran’s cup of tea. The White Paper quotes a UN Commission report which predicts Pakistan GDP growth falling from the present 4.2 per cent in 2019 to 4 per cent in 2020. The GDP growth percentage of smaller neighbors, Bangladesh (7.3), Maldives (6.5) and Nepal (6.5) should put Pakistan to shame. His austerity campaign has cost the country additional Rs. 449 billion. Inflation rose as high as 10 percent and so rose the country’s public debt by Rs. 2.4 trillion in just five months and the value of the Pakistani rupee fell from 125 to 160 to a dollar.

This White Paper as reported by English language daily Dawn on August 22, cannot be taken as a complete report card of the Imran government’s one-year performance. For example, its total indifference to human rights conditions in the country, to health and to education of children are left out. The White Paper, as reported by Dawn, leaves out the Imran government’s failures in international relations which led to the country’s isolation in the world. It also leaves out, going by Dawn’s reporting, Pakistan’s failure so far, to satisfy the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) about the compliance of its assigned action against terrorism financing  and money laundering.

The Imran government’s indifference to human rights situation was exposed in the annual report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) released in Quetta. On August 22, HRCP veteran I. A. Rehman released the report at a Press conference in the Quetta Press Club titled “State of Human Rights in 2018”. The report made five points about Baluchistan.

The five points included rigging of the July 2018 elections and violence that took 180 lives notably in Mastung and Quetta and the continuance of killing of Hazara Shias in Quetta forcing them to say put in their areas. The HRCP cited the Baloch Human Rights Organization and Human Rights Council of Baluchistan to say that at least 541 partial reports of enforced disappearances surfaced in 2018. The HRCP avoided quoting Baluch organizations like the Organization for the Baluch missing persons which openly name security agencies for the disappearances and killings. A new trend in the crime of forcible disappearances this year is the kidnapping of women and children especially from Avaran which, according to the security agencies, is the hub of militancy in Baluchistan.

The HRCP report mentions malnutrition as a serious threat to children’s health in Baluchistan. Last year in November, the Baluchistan government had declared malnutrition emergency in the province.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. (File Photo: Xinhua/PID/IANS) by .
Nawaz Sharif  (File Photo: Xinhua/PID/IANS)

It was a drama. The federal and the provincial governments know very well that the malnutrition is only the tip of the iceberg. But they don’t do enough about it. Since 71 years of annexation of Baluchistan, Pakistanis have not considered it worthwhile to develop oneness with the Baluch. The Army considers concern for Baluch as Treason. Thus at least 50 per cent children have no schools to go. Because of no clean drinking water, 80 per cent humans and animals drink stagnated rainwater. You name any disease; it is there in Baluchistan.

During the one year of PTI’s rule, Pakistan slid into isolation from both Muslim and non-Muslim world. It received first big shock in March when the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) invited India’s then Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to be the Chief Guest at a special session called ironically by Pakistan to discuss Kashmir. But the OIC dropped Kashmir from the agenda. Humiliated Pakistan boycotted the OIC session.

About six months later, Pakistan received a bigger shock. Crown Prince of UAE Mohammad Bin Zayed honoured visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi with UAE’s highest civilian award “Order of Zayed” named after the founding father of the UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Pakistan considered this honor to Mr. Modi as a slap on its (Pakistan’s) face at a time when it was trying to create an anti-India frenzy after India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution which had given a special status to Kashmir.

Woman CRPF personal shaking hands with kid in Kashmir. by .
Woman CRPF personal shaking hands with kid in Kashmir.

India inserted this Article into its Constitution on its own free will. When India felt this Article was stunting the growth of Kashmir and its people were causing security-related problems, it abrogated it and split Kashmir in two Union Territories. It was purely India’s internal matter. Pakistan or any other country had no locus standi on this matter. Yet Pakistan made China raise it in the United Nations Security Council. The Council heard China in a closed door session on August 16 and dispersed without issuing any statement. It is not known how much heart China had put in raising Kashmir on behalf of Pakistan, but it is known that the Council has permanent members like Russia, who treat the abrogation of Article 370 as India’s internal matter. China has been embarrassed enough by pleading Pakistan cases in world forums.  China tried to protect Pakistan’s official terrorist Masood Azhar in the UNSC where 14 of its 15 members wanted to declare him a global terrorist. At last, on May 1 this year, he was declared a global terrorist while China looked on quietly.

China is not helping Pakistan in its trial by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to take action against terrorism funding and money laundering. Pakistan has, till the end of this month, to fully comply with the FATF’s orders or face the possibility of getting black-listed.

About one month of Kashmir related frenzy should make Pakistan realize that countries perennially with a begging bowl have no standing in the modern world their nuclear status notwithstanding.

 

 

 

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