[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]hey were yesterday’s worst enemies of the world. They now collaborate closely to form a new alliance along with China. They embarked their first ever historical joint military maneuvers: a series of tactical drills called “Friendship-2016” – a symbolic reference to end the decades old cold-war rivalry.
Russia – that patronized India in 1971 war against Pakistan that left Pakistan lose its eastern wing (now Bangladesh) & Pakistan – the main character responsible for Communist Russia’s humiliating fall in Afghanistan are now coming closer. Together with China, they are inches away to form an alliance that many analysts eye as “The new Axis of Evil” that may upset the Washington & its allies.
Upsetting the old alliances
What a reversal of decades old alliances! Pakistan has been a strongest Non-NATO ally of the United States since its independence, while Russia maintained close relations with Pakistan’s intimate enemy, India, throughout the Cold War. Russia stood by India during 1965 & 1971 Indo-Pak wars.
The Russia-Pakistan enmity reached its climax in the 1980s when Pakistan found Russia resting in its backyard – the Afghanistan. It was high time for Pakistan to settle score with the Soviet Empire & it didn’t let go this opportunity. With all its might & with that of Washington & allies, Islamabad supported, sheltered, funded & trained the Afghan Islamic Jihadists to bleed imperial “infidel” Communist Russia with a thousand cuts. Pakistan turned its tribal areas bordered with Afghanistan into a safe shelter & training centers for guerrillas of Afghan resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. With support from CIA & Muslim countries who saw the ever-expanding Communist Russia as a threat, Pakistan finally succeeded in shattering the Soviet Empire. Score was settled. Soviet Empire had fallen.
But the world has changed completely: the collapse of the communist bloc, the rise of China and the globalization of radical Islam have disrupted the old alliances.
Over the years, the two closed allies United States & Pakistan have strained their relations. US dubs Pakistan of playing the double-game & mainlining ambiguous links with the international Islamist movements that are hostile to the West. At the same time, they have moved closer to India in order to contain China in South Asia. Pakistan has tightened its ties with Beijing, which is investing over $66b in the development of a strategic transport route to the Arabian Sea. In 2014, Islamabad & Moscow signed a pact of military cooperation, signaling the shedding of cold-war tensions for the ‘’greater regional interests’’ of both the countries.
A multi polar world
Russia hopes to achieve a set of objectives in establishing an alliance with Pakistan. It intends to compensate to a certain extent for its loss of influence in India, to find a new ally in the region in the backdrop of ever changing dynamics of the world , to give a new outlet to its arms industry and, last but not least, to cultivate its relations with a country particularly influential on the Islamist movements especially in Afghanistan & beyond. Pakistan has great Influence over Afghanistan’s Taliban with whom both China & Russia are in talks with to work out a peaceful Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US & NATO troops from Afghanistan. Pakistan has close, strategic ties with former Soviet colonies of Central Asia that Moscow continues to regard as its backyard.
The common threat
The rise of ISIS in already war-torn Afghanistan has ringed the bells in the power-corridors of Pakistan, China & Russia. The troika considers the emergence of IS in Afghanistan as an eminent threat for the stability in the region & an attempt by US to further its interests in the region, especially to counter Russia & China. This has led China, Russia & Pakistan to sit together & find a political solution to the Afghan problem. Kremlin has already hosted crucial meetings involving Pakistan & Chinese officials to disuses the possibilities of a peace-deal between Afghan Taliban & Ashraf Ghani led US-backed Kabul regime. There are reports that suggest the Taliban representatives have also attended some of these meetings that were held in Pakistan.
India is Rattled
Even though India & Russia are still each others major partners in trade, India is rattled by Russia’s outreach to its arch rival Pakistan. India made its best efforts to urge Russia to cancel its military exercises with Pakistan but the diplomatic efforts didn’t bear fruits. Former Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army Nirmal Chander Vij told a Russian publication: “New Delhi was concerned about “the growing military cooperation between Moscow and Islamabad and Chinese expansion in Eurasia.”.
Indian is also concerned because China, Russia & Pakistan’s alliance to seek a solution to Afghanistan problem will endanger India’s interest in Afghanistan. Pakistan accuses India of using Afghanistan as a proxy to fund & train the separatists movements in Pakistan’s Balouchistan region. Former US defense secretory Chuck Hagel confirmed Pakistan’s concerns when he said by saying that:
“India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border”.
India strongly opposes any possibility of peace-talks with Afghan Taliban. Foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media:
“____as far as the Taliban are concerned, we believe they should follow all internationally accepted red lines, and give up all violence and terrorism.”
Russia changing its stance about Taliban & accepting Pakistan as central for long-lasting peace in Afghanistan has certainly strained the Moscow-New Delhi relations.
These developments, however spectacular they may be, do not indicate reversals of alliances. Russia continues to have good relations with India and the United States maintains a close relationship with Pakistan. In the multi polar world that has succeeded the Cold War, this is the new normal in the relations between states.
“Haqeeqi Azaadi” or “Political Invasion”?
You call it a “Long March” or an “Azaadi March” or a “Haqeeqi Azaadi March” and lastly according to some people “Political invasion of the capital”; whatever attempt it may be, the impact of this “Long March” will not be “Short” at all. Seems like history is repeating. Yesterday, it was PTI, later it was TLP, then JUIF, PDM & now again PTI. This reminds us about a Supreme Court’s historic judgment on Faizabad Sit in by Supreme Court, which is quite relevant again in these crucial times. The historic judgment of Supreme Court on Suo moto quotes that “The leaders of the dharna intimidated, hurled threats, abused, provoked and promoted hatred. The media provided unabated coverage. Inflammatory speeches were delivered by irresponsible politicians. Some unscrupulous talk-show hosts incited and provoked citizens.” Isn’t the situation once again similar? Doesn’t it seem like history is repeating? Few analysts consider it to be a worst kind of situation.
Supreme Court writes in its judgment that “the freedom of speech and expression and of the press are fundamental right. However, these rights cannot be used to denigrate or undermine the glory of Islam, security or defence of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, or commission of or incitement to an offence. He categorically mentions that “PEMRA Ordinance mirrors the restrictions as set out in Article 19 of the Constitution and further prohibits broadcasts which are, “likely to create hatred among the people or is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order or is likely to disturb public peace and tranquility.” So, Supreme Court has already given clear instructions that if some event is likely to disrupt peace and tranquility, media broadcasts can be prohibited.
Insiders say that we are in a dead end and this is the most crucial time of history for Pakistan, especially when the economic fate has to be decided by IMF on 25th May when Imran khan marches on Islamabad. So let’s playout the possible upcoming scenarios which political stakeholders may have to consider;
- Marching towards Islamabad with huge crowds is one thing but forcing a government to dissolve assemblies with this crowd is another thing. Imran Khan very well knows this is a do or die situation for his political career as well. He knows his March will only succeed if he can force an early election.
- Bringing larger mobs to Islamabad will only be fruitful if there is some kind of disruption by the present government or by the PTI itself. IK knows that a prolonged sit in without happenings in the red zone won’t be impactful.
- PTI leaders have been repeatedly convincing people including government employees, Army officers and police to bring their families in their Haqeeqi Azaadi March. The question which arises is that “Why IK doesn’t bring own family members to join the “Jihad” or “Haqeeqi Azaadi”?
- IMF has to take crucial decision on Pakistan’s economic fate. Without an IMF Package, a Srilanka type scenario may arise. The decision will come on the same date as of long march, on 25th May. This is a do or die situation for Pakistan’s economy. So the leaders of this March should definitely come with a futuristic economic plan and tell the masses how will they get rid of this dire economic situation.
- While Srinagar Highway will be full of Marchers led by the so-called Ambassador of Kashmir, a big decision is expected to come from Srinagar about Yasin Malik. Unfortunately, it is expected that his sentencing maybe announced on 25th May as well.
The government also has limited options. They are arresting leaders of PTI. They are raiding houses in their own panic mode which will further incite the situation. The removal of fuel subsidiary has become inevitable and when it happens it will be the most unpopular decision. Rising, Inflation will cut purchasing power. Finalization of IMF program has brought them to a dead end.
The dread is in the air. 25th May is around the corner. It is Crucial. It is Do or Die for Pakistan. We must fear!!
When Politics turns Personal; The Toxic Allegations & Accusations become a Norm
There is something happening beneath this political turmoil which is NOT looking good!!
Whenever Political landscape turns into a Personal battleground, defeats become unacceptable. These past few days are a perfect case study to see that how Political elite in Pakistan has done whatever it took it to stay in power. In this power grab scenario, there could be numerous losses including the integrity of institutions. We have unfortunately entered into a very dangerous phase, where some political stakeholders have put all stakes at risk, where they have stretched their limits beyond a constitutional limit, all to gather mass support, all to stay in power and avoid defeat. Is it a threat of losing power? Is it a double game? Is it a practical hybrid war we are fighting? Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be good. All is at stake, all is at risk and all is toxic.
As if the political temperature was not noxious enough, Shireen Mazari Saga took place. Once again, accusations, allegations and assumptions started pouring in against the state institutions. Soon after her arrest, her daughter, a lawyer herself Imaan Zainab Mazari alleged that her mother was beaten by male police officers during the arrest. But few minutes later, a video clip surfaced that showed clearly that her mother was arrested by Female Police officers in broad daylight and as per the law. Lie number 1 of the daughter stood exposed. Within moments, without any cogent evidence the lady, known for many controversies in the past targeted state institution for such an act, although the anti-corruption already had taken responsibility of her arrest.
Abuse of power can never be tolerated, regardless of who it targets or from where it emanates. This mantra is true and everyone has an equal belief on it but let’s take a deep dive to see that how politics turned dirty in this case, how blame game took place and how this entire episode was used as a tool to churn propaganda against Army leadership and Armed Forces.
1. The anti-corruption police had arrested Shireen Mazari and she herself accepted that Prime Minister and Interior minister were responsible for my arrest. But the mother daughter nexus brazenly started blaming institutions without any solid evidence. Shouldn’t there be an inquiry on this too?
2. PTI was always of the opinion that why courts were opened mid night to send IK packing while he wasn’t listening to anyone however when same court gave a verdict in favor of PTI ex minister, late night, it was celebrated and much appreciated by Shireen Mazari & IK who have been spearheading anti judicial tirade until recently. Isn’t it blatant hypocrisy? Judicial inquiry has been ordered by the Court which is a positive sign, but the serious allegations which Mazari nexus have raised must also be inquired during this newly formed judicial inquiry. Should the Judiciary not question them on hurling these baseless allegations?
3. The present government, whose Police itself arrested Shireen Mazari disowned this attempt. Attorney General displayed his ignorance about the matter in front of the court. So, somehow the government created this impression in the public eye that they are not to be blamed for the arrest of Shireen Mazari. Was it a double game? Or a deliberate effort to discredit institutions?
Pakistan is already facing serious economic downfall, political uncertainty and civil strife. PTI has also announced Long March to Islamabad on 25th May which is likely to further exacerbate already fragile political and economic instability. It has become quite evident now for achieving petty political ends, our political elite has no serious resolve to address the crisis confronting the country. Country is being deliberately pushed to limits of economic and political dead end. The political immaturity and lack of vision to handle the crisis situation is also hurting the repute of institutions amidst internal political wrangling. If political leadership doesn’t come to grips of the critical situation prevailing which is likely to aggravate further in coming days, people of Pakistan in particular and the country in general are likely to suffer unprecedented damage. Political elite must put its acts together and steer the country out of prevalent political and economic crisis by showing sagacity and political wisdom until it’s too late.
Accusations to Acknowledgement: The Battle of Article 63 A
The weather is heating up. As the May is ending, Political temperatures are soaring. The fate regarding the country’s political and economic stability will be measured in the upcoming days. Earlier, PDM built momentum by taking on institutions. Maryam Nawaz raised the temperature by targeting key personalities and institutions. Allegations were bursting against the institutions in all dimensions. Today, we witness reversal of roles. Accusations have been outflowing in every Jalsa by PTI. But now suddenly, the “accusations” turned into “acknowledgment”. “Complaints” started transforming into “Compliments”. Is it the change of narrative? Is it another U-turn? Or is it the restoration of confidence in the institutions? Where will this chaos end?
The Supreme Court’s “decision” or as they say “opinion” or “binding” on Article 63 A has raised some pertinent questions on the status of CM Punjab election? In the interpretation of Article 63 A of the constitution, the Supreme court categorically condemns the practice of horse trading by calling it “a cancer afflicting the body politic”. Supreme Court in its decision of 3-2 rejected the vote count of these dissident members against the party directives. So the future of the Chief Executive of Punjab is now under threat because it is contrary to what happened in National Assembly. The political instability continues and the situation is messy.
In light of this verdict, Hamza has a support of 172 MPAs in Punjab assembly but at the same time, he also has 4 dissenting members which draws the figure to 168. Now further moving ahead, PTI and alliance also has a collective figure of 168 votes minus 21 dissenting members. The situation here in Punjab is way too complex now. A support of 186 members is required for a clear majority in Punjab assembly to formulate a government. This current Punjab government can either fall through a governor led vote of no confidence or a Supreme court order. The governor even has a right to dissolve the assembly with his discretionary powers according to Article 112 (2) of the constitution. Supreme Court has already made its decision on cross voting against Party fiat. Now legal experts are interpreting the decision in their own dictionaries. What will happen in Punjab? What will happen on the federal level? Will there be an election call? If so, what will be the care taker setup? Will there be a fresh mandate? Who will make the hard economic decisions? Lot needs to be answered in these crucial times.
From “My judges disappointed me” to “Thankyou Supreme Court”, a lot has happened and a lot is ready to take place. Islamabad is full of gossips, interpretations, whispers and predictions these days. There is something seething under this political turmoil. The Red zone is under a lot of pressure whether politically or economically. Pre – Elections, Elections and then Post elections, we have a lot of consequences of a lot of hard decisions. But hard decisions need to be taken. Question is who is ready to make the hard choices? Be Afraid!!
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