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Letter Gate conspiracy in Pakistan

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PM Imran Khan came into power in 2018 with full of slogan of fighting corruption, bringing reforms and changes in the country that never seen before in the history of Pakistan. But in three and half years of his rule reviving the economy, controlling the inflation and promise of bringing the reforms were not seen practically.  Imran Khan came into power with the dream of Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan).

Imran khan’s narrative of Naya Pakistan was died down on the day when he choose electables rather than its political workers. He always talked about Lota Crecy in Pakistan but for the sake of gov’t he prefers to choose Lota’s (taking people from different parties) and gave party ticket to them.

During his three year tenure opposition tried hard to oust him due to inflation and his bad governance but they can not succeed because of their on differences. On 3rd   March 2021 while addressing to the nation PM Imran Khan said he decided to take vote of confidence from the parliament if members of his party not voted in his favor he will respect them and will sit in opposition. He succeeded in confidence motion.

One year later in March 2022, when opposition decided to oust him through vote of no-confidence. Opposition attempt to oust him when the main partners of his coalition quit the govt and join the opposition against the gov’t. Imran Khan  says there is a foreign conspiracy to remove him adding he has a letter of proof.

Now he is talking about foreign conspiracy (letter gate conspiracy) to oust his gov’t but it can not be believed because he says his visit to Russia was not seen good by US and the west and they want to remove him or removal of his gov’t. While showing a letter in a public rally in Islamabad instead of firstly showing it into the national security committee of the country. If we look at the security point of view the security establishment in Pakistan have not found any evidence of external conspiracy, intimidation of interference in Pakistan internal affairs which Imran Khan is talking about. Opposition is also raising question that if he received letter on 7th of March than why he not shared with the security committee or Parliament within next day, why he delayed and showed this in front of public.

The full content of the letter have not been made public yet. But according to gov’t It contains a message purportedly received by “Asad Majeed from Donald Lu, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs”. 

There is no doubt that Imran Khan visit to Russia was not seen good by US and west and they tried to pressurize Pakistan and demanded to condemn Russian invasion to Ukraine but Pakistan did not do so because Pakistan take neutral stance on Russia-Ukraine conflict. But it does not mean foreign powers or US were ready to remove Imran Khan or his gov’t, they have other options to pressurize Pakistan like in FATF where Pakistan is in grey list, in IMF from where Pakistan is already taking loan and in EU who gave Pakistan GSP plus status.

Imran Khan came up with foreign conspiracy idea quite late after he found that he could not survive in no-confidence vote and he will out of power, then he decided to dissolved the National Assembly. While deputy speaker of his party  stopped the voting and declared opposition lawmaker as a traitor because according to him they conspired with the US.

Opposition is also blaming IK that When he saw united opposition have produced 197 members then they violated the constitution and ran away from vote of no-confidence. Although President has dissolved the parliament with the advice of PM but according to constitution he cannot do that when a  no-confidence motion has been moved  against PM.

IK always said he will not compromise on Pak foreign policy and will not take dictation from the world but if we look in the  past when he decides not to participate in Kula Lumpur summit in December 2019, because of pressure from Saudi Arabia. Another example is, in very recent past when IK gov’t took loan from Saudi Arabia and they gave us loan on 4% interest rate which is 3 time higher than the IMF interest rate. IMF gives loan on 1% interest rate and he took from Saudi Arabia on 4% and they put condition that they can get it back within 72 hours’ notice.

It is clear that  security establishment had given  IK go-ahead before visiting Russia because  without the consent of security establishment he can not complete his visit because there are certain security protocols you have to follow while visiting any country. Making good relations with Russia was a state policy  which was adopted in  new Pak national security policy which says Pakistan will make good relations with Russia and will not involve in any country’s conflict.

Everybody knows the reasons of fall of his gov’t is  that he was continuously being  black mailed by his coalition partners and his right man’s. Most of his party MNA’s were not happy with his governance and rising inflation and they joined hands with opposition against him.  In whole of election campaign he told people he will make reforms in police, judiciary and in all state institution but he failed to do that. opposition take the advantage of this and moved no-confidence motion against him.

There are number of factors that really led to fall of PTI gov’t in Pakistan including gov’t deliberate  making controversial of very respected institution of Pakistan army while in the extension of Army chief and later the appointment of DG ISI. The other factor is foreign Policy and also the governance of Punjab province and the appointment of CM Usman Buzdar in a province which considered the half of Pakistan.

Now Imran Khan is fighting battle of its Narrative of foreign conspiracy or a (letter gate) and the whole of his narrative is based on it. He is trying to build such a narrative to become a political Martyr to save his party repo. Imran Khan has disappointed millions of his voters and supporters through  his governance in the country.  He plunged Pakistan into a major constitutional crisis. what Imran Khan did he is calling it surprise, but it is not a surprise, because he done all this just to protect is own ego, nothing else.

Imran always blamed opposition of being corrupt, thugs, and thieves throughout whole of his elections campaign and then during whole of his tenure. They were put behind the bars over corruption but they released on bail. He called the previous era of Pakistan Peoples party and Muslim league Nawaz the darkest era of decade.  They unite against him because of his bad governance, poor performance, mismanagement of economy, inflation, rising prices and not fulfilling promises which he made to the people of Pakistan. If PTI gov’t had fulfilled 10% of its promises to the people, what Khan had made during election campaign then the opposition never be unit against him. He himself paved the way for opposition to come and unite and bring no confidence motion against him.  The people of Pakistan were very optimistic from Imran khan that he has the ability to brought Pakistan out of problems but their hope broken, he left Pakistan into constitutional crisis.

The matter was in supreme court  and now SC of Pakistan  found that PM Imran Khan move to block the no-confidence vote on 3rd April  was “contrary to the constitution and the law and had no legal effect”. The court also ruled that PM decision to dissolve parliament was invalid  and  ordered the National Assembly to reconvene and hold a no-confidence vote on 9th April 2022. According to constitutional experts  “Khan’s actions do not have constitutional cover, given their basis in a tortured reading of the constitution that is difficult to justify legally”.

Opposition believes that Letter Gate is a gov’t made conspiracy to damage Pakistan’s image internationally.  On the last day of voting Imran khan was ready to do all unconstitutional steps. The governor of Punjab was sacked when he refused to take unconstitutional steps demanded by the federal gov’t. Imran Khan blames US for conspiracy against his gov’t will put negative impact on Pak-US relations. Experts say “Khan’s government should have handled the matter diplomatically, instead of dragging Washington into Pakistan’s internal politics”.

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South Asia

Politics of Pakistan: A Riot or an Opportunity

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On 14th August, 1947 Pakistan appeared on the world map as the largest independent Muslim state of that time. Sixty-five million people out of Ninety-five million population were Muslims. Despite of the shared religion of its majority, Pakistan is still struggling to build a national identity. Earlier, linguistic and cultural diversity were a hurdle but, in the Common Era political imbalance, rivalry and groupings left Pakistan with nothing but social, political and economic crisis with no future of stability.

Division of Sub-continent into India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan was a kick start to the largest demographic movement in history. Unfortunately, Muhammad Ali Jinnah died when Pakistan was less than a year old. The politics of Pakistan has not been less than a roller coaster ride. Till date the State has been ruled by 27 different Prime Ministers where some of them ruled twice and even thrice. Adding to that, the state has been under dictatorship four times since its independence. This political chaos has badly affected the economy of Pakistan. Not that Pakistan is a barren landlocked country with no reservoirs or no beneficial source to strengthen the economy, but, the political riot has played a vital role in paralyzing the social and economic bodies. Pakistan’s politicians have obediently followed the tradition of blame game since independence. Political representatives have always considered it necessary to blame the opponents for unstable environment in rather than being united against the state issues. The truth is that none of the political party could ever succeed in fulfilling the objectives of their five-year plan.

Due to sudden change of government, corruption, fragile institutions, the country’s economy suffered harsh weather. In 1980’s the economic growth was an impressive 6.3% which had a sharp decline during 1990’s and dropped to 4.9%. By the end of dictatorship the growth decelerated to 1.7% in 2008 and political instability accelerated to -2.4%. During the regime of PPP, the Nation succeeded in nothing but increase in economic instability, rise in corruption, inflation, and unemployment. PPP has set Karachi as a portrait of their inefficiency which the city witnesses every year during monsoon season. In 2013, the biggest political parties of Pakistan, PMLN and PTI fought the elections and undesirable results ended in a 126 days long dharna in the Capital of Pakistan with the inclusion of rallies, aggressive speeches and corruption cases against the opponents to hold them responsible and throw them out. The dramatic political unrest forced the country to lose hundreds of millions, foreign trust, foreign investment as well as paralyzing the Capital of the state. Nawaz Sharif was proven guilty and sent to jail, PMLN succeeded in making the institutions fool and Nawaz Sharif flew to the UK for medical treatment. In 2018, the ineligibility of Nawaz Sharif, Panama leaks and support of the number of people of the nation gave Imran Khan a chance to win the majority vote in National assembly. Forced to habit, the opposition instead of efficiently working with the government for the welfare of state, jointly formed PDM to demolish PTI’s government. Protests, long march, boycotts became the fate of Pakistan and which couldn’t affect the government much but, to lead to vote of no confidence in April, 2022 which resulted in Imran Khan’s removal. PTI blames PDM for joining hands with US in their regime change strategy. Even during PTI’s government, the instable economy was in the destiny of Pakistan. Currently, Shahbaz Sharif is the Prime Minister of the State and the economic conditions are nowhere near to a betterment; a total chaos.

The fake promises of every government has left the nation with nothing but empty bank accounts, economic collapse, inflation, extreme foreign debt, intolerance and extremism among its own people. The prime reason to every government’s failure is more or less their self- priorities. It was and is never about the betterment of state and its people but the authority, rivalry and seat. Every government without any discrimination focused on plans which would temporarily benefit the Nation during their tenure but, later due to huge foreign debt and IMF instructions, the country suffers inflation and hurdles in development of the country. Moreover, every new government finds the work of the former useless and terminate the projects, plans and policies initiated by them. This restricts the foreign investors from huge investments as more political instability leads to more economic deceleration.

Another huge drawback is that every government demands the state’s institutions to work their way, for example; the security departments’ ultimate duty is to protect the state from internal and external threats but what they do nowadays is to arrest the opponent leaders, raid their houses, protect red zone and blindly work under government’s thumb.

The biggest threat to Pakistan is its own poisonous politics. The political parties do not find their victory in providing the Nation with excellence and betterment but, the lust of power and hatred has forced the public to witness a psychotic political behavior. Election campaigns, days of protests in Islamabad, societal unrest and cyber-attacks have become a trend which has divided the Nation into groups.

Pakistan is on the verge of losing everything. IMF and other states have either denied or are delaying in providing aid to the country and the major reason is the political unrest but, a bitter reality is that politics cannot be ignored as it plays a prime role in connecting Pakistan on national and international levels. Political stability shall be the ultimate goal as it would help in formation of beneficial policies and would allow the institutions to work in a normal way which would only make Pakistan a healthy developed state. This 75th year and the years coming ahead can be good for Pakistan if elections are truly conducted on their time and the losing parties instead of creating a chaos, aids the ruling party in running the affairs of Pakistan smoothly.

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Seventy-Five Years of India’s Independence

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If anyone had asked Jawaharlal Nehru as he made his midnight speech on August 15 and freedom dawned, how he visualized India 75 years hence, he would have described a Fabian paradise of equality and plenty.  Would he be disappointed?

The neo-liberal agenda, far removed from socialism, introduced by Manmohan Singh a few decades later was designed to invigorate the economy.  He lowered taxes, privatized state-run industries and encouraged foreign investment.  It did spark an economic boom but the withdrawal of the state from healthcare, education, banking and credit made it a country obsessed with profit.

If cities boomed, rural areas were left to stagnate.  GDP grew but the growth favored the upper 50 percent — the lower half did not enjoy a similar access to education or healthcare or have the same mobility.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), a quarter of the world’s undernourished people now live in India and a fifth survive on less than $1.90 per day.  WFP has been working in India since 1963, and it reports that in the last two decades per capita income tripled yet the minimum dietary intake fell, and the gap between rich and poor actually increased despite this high economic growth.

Nehru’s ideal was a country of different faiths and different ethnicities, speaking many languages but living harmoniously and sharing a common Mother India.  Instead, unbalanced growth at the cost of the lower half of the population has led to scapegoating and the major target is the sizable Muslim minority.

The blame game now includes historical revisionism blaming Mughal emperors from India’s glory days when the exquisite Taj Mahal was constructed, the arts flourished and India generated almost a quarter of the World GDP.

This game also chides the Hindu Rajput princesses that Mughals married or the respected Hindu advisers that served the Emperors.  The much decried last great Mughal emperor in this blame game is Aurangzeb who extended the empire to almost India’s southern tip, ruling a vast area stretching into Afghanistan and its borderlands in Central Asia. 

The Aurangzeb narrative excludes a simple fact:  the majority of Aurangzeb’s advisers were Hindu.  A Hindu chronicler, Bhimsen Saxena, penned a memoir titled Tarikh-i-Dilkusha or a history that warms the heart, describes life as a soldier in service to the Emperor for more than a quarter century.  He may rail at Aurangzeb’s tactical or strategic errors but is forever loyal.  Hindu generals, nobles and advisers … they were not on the outside looking in, they were an integral part. 

For centuries, religion was not a divider.  Adherents of the two principal faiths worked together, lived together, married each other, and fought together including in 1857, during what the British called the Indian Mutiny and Indians refer to as the First War of Independence.

Thereafter, the British instituted systems and processes to develop rivalry and resentment, including quotas for intake into the prestigious Indian Civil Service as well as the lower level jobs.  The rivalry progressed into mistrust, then riots and killings, eventually into two countries fighting wars, and then to a nuclear stand-off and a divided Kashmir.

North versus South, East versus West, a continent is difficult to govern.  Have we heard this story before?

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South Asia

The two Punjabs

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Even in the midst of tensions between India and Pakistan, people to people linkages between both countries – with both Punjabs (Indian and Pakistani) as key stakeholders – have given reason for cautious optimism.

While cultural commonalities and the emotional attachment on both sides has been the driving force for Punjab-Punjab initiatives, the potential economic benefits of improved relations have been repeatedly reiterated not just by the business communities, but political leaders (especially from Indian Panjab)

In recent years, ties between both countries have steadily deteriorated. After the Pulwama terror attack in 2019, economic linkages between both countries have got severely impacted, and this has taken its toll on the economy of Panjab (India). India imposed tariffs on Pakistani imports, and revoked Most Favoured Nation MFN status to Pakistan in February 2019, while in August 2019, trade links via the Wagah (Pakistan) -Attari (India) land crossing were snapped after the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. The suspension of trade ties between both countries has had a serious impact on the economy of the border belt of Punjab (India) with over 9,000 families being impacted as a result of job losses in the tertiary sector.

Developments of the past few months

The one glimmer of hope has been the Kartarpur Religious Corridor which was inaugurated in 2019 (in 2020 this was closed due to the covid 19 pandemic but re-opened in November 2021). The Corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak (Panjab, India) with Darbar Sahib (Kartarpur, Narowal, Pakistan) which is the final resting place of Guru Nanak (the founder of the Sikh faith). Devotees from Panjab (India) can pay obeisance at Darbar Sahib (Kartarpur) without a visa, though they do need to carry their passports. While the number of people crossing over, via the corridor, is way below the initial target of 5000, it has helped in promoting people to people ties as well as re-uniting a number of separated families. There has been a growing demand for easing out visa procedures for individuals over the age of 75 years and those from separated families (some of the individuals reunited at Kartarpur have been issued visas) which has been backed strongly by civil society organisations – as in the past.

 The phase from 2019-2022 has been witness to people to people linkages, especially with regard to religious tourism, but interactions between state governments of both the Punjabs, or what is referred to as ‘paradiplomacy’ unlike earlier years has been restricted. After the re-opening of the corridor in  November 2021, then Chief Minister of Panjab (India) Charanjit Singh Channi, and other political leaders from the state, paid obeisance at Darbar Sahib (Kartarpur), while also flagging the need for resumption of trade via the Wagah-Attari land crossing — though to no avail. 

There have however been calls for resumption of trade from sections of Punjab’s political class, business community as well as farmers from Indian Punjab. Pakistan which has been buying essential commodities including wheat at exorbitant prices could purchase the same from Panjab (India) and the Punjabi farmer could benefit by getting much higher prices for his produce.

Conclusion

In conclusion, even in the midst of strained ties between both countries, the Punjab has played an important role in trying to reduce tensions and build bridges between both countries, and the role of civil society, business community on both sides and the diaspora needs to be acknowledged. In the 75th year of independence while ties between New Delhi and Islamabad remain strained developments of the past few months, in the realm of people to people contact have given reason for hope as a result of the tireless efforts of civil society and some individuals committed to peace. The next stage of this should be easing out of visa regimes especially for certain categories of individuals – specifically those over the age of 75 who want to visit their ancestral homes. Resumption of trade via the Wagah-Attari land crossing will benefit not just Panjab (India) but other parts of North India and the Pakistani consumer. If both countries can focus on giving a greater fillip to people to people linkages and economic ties — with the Punjabs taking the lead – ties  between India and Pakistan could be less frosty.

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