Polarised politics are tearing Pakistan apart

The stakes have never been higher in Pakistan.Its economy is on the brink, society is politically polarised, millions are still recovering from last year’s devastating floods, terror attacks are increasing and, as inflation soars ever higher, many are…

The stakes have never been higher in Pakistan.

Its economy is on the brink, society is politically polarised, millions are still recovering from last year's devastating floods, terror attacks are increasing and, as inflation soars ever higher, many are struggling to feed themselves and their children.

While the country suffers, politicians and institutions have been pulled into a power struggle over who should run Pakistan.

Despite the hours of air time, ferociously delivered ultimatums and street stand-offs, Pakistan seems no closer to answering that question than it was a year ago.

"What makes this current situation unprecedented is the backdrop of other serious crisis," says Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center.

"Pakistan doesn't have the luxury of saying this political crisis is a distraction, eventually we'll get back to where things need to be."

Pakistan's economy is struggling. Its foreign reserves, which pay for imports including fuel, have plummeted to one of the lowest levels in decades. Meetings with the International Monetary Fund earlier this year are yet to result in a deal to unlock $1.1bn in crucial funds.

Meanwhile militants continue to launch attacks, often targeting security forces. Pakistan's armed forces recently said there had been 436 terror attacks so far in 2023. And militant groups regularly release infographics showing the number they claim to have killed or injured, and the arms they've seized around the country.

Add to this the ever-climbing food inflation, plus the fact that Pakistan is still recovering from the damage done by last year's floods before this year's rains begin again - and there is no shortage of big questions politicians need to answer.

"Political uncertainty is making things even more difficult for the entire system," says Mehmal Sarfraz, a political analyst. "The system is collapsing in Pakistan. If that happens, it won't benefit anyone - neither the political parties or the people of Pakistan."

Why is politics deadlocked?

Analysts say the current situation was sparked when Imran Khan was ousted from his position as prime minister in April 2022 in a vote of no confidence.

"Khan refused to accept it," Mr Kugelman says. "And it was quite clear that the government was not going to ignore Khan's activism and agitation either."

Mr Khan responded with a series of rallies around the country, and a long march to the capital, Islamabad.

The number of court cases against him has been rising - his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party says there are over 100 - and charges include terrorism, corruption and contempt of court. But the former prime minister has made this a part of his campaign, accusing the government of living by the "law of the jungle".

Government ministers, in turn, have accused Mr Khan of acting out of ego and narcissism.

Police from Islamabad have twice arrived at his home in Lahore to arrest him after he failed to appear in court on multiple occasions.

Mr Khan, too, has pulled the government into court. His party dissolved two of the country's provincial assemblies to try to force a national election. When that failed, it appealed; the case is still in the Supreme Court.

These ongoing court battles have split the judiciary. The government has accused some judges of bias in Imran Khan's favour, and the division and furious disagreement has led to some fears of a constitutional crisis.

"Khan would not let the government sit and take rest," says Ahmad Bilal, a political analyst and founder president at Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency. "The entire focus [for this government] has been on maintaining their existence."

Mr Bilal also thinks the stand-off is related to Mr Khan's personality.

"He isn't ready to make a genuine compromise," Mr Bilal says. He argues that Mr Khan's inability to do so is counterproductive and may even hurt him in the long run.

Some think that the deadlock is also a sign that Pakistan's institutions are failing. "There is no group that can mediate. The establishment doesn't have credibility," Ms Sarfraz says.

The establishment is the shorthand often used to refer to Pakistan's military and intelligence services. The army has played a prominent role in politics, sometimes seizing power in military coups, and, on other occasions, pulling levers behind the scenes.

Many analysts believe Mr Khan's election win in 2018 happened with the help of the military. Now in opposition, he is one of its most vocal critics, and analysts say the army's popularity has fallen.

"There are clear indications that there is a lack of agreement within the army on the proper way forward," Mr Kugelman says.

"My sense is that the senior-most army leadership would be happy not to see him involved in politics any more, whereas many elements in the lower and middle ranks of the army are big supporters of Khan. Khan has polarised politics, he's polarised the public and he's polarised the army as well, which is a difficult feat to pull off."

What next?

General elections are due to take place this year, but the fear is that it could be delayed using the same reasons used to delay the provincial assembly polls - insufficient funds and the security situation. That would be very damaging, Mr Bilal says.

"I think it would be very unfortunate and will probably damage the democratic process in Pakistan, maybe in an unrepairable manner. We've never seen elections postponed."

The government and Mr Khan's PTI party have already held talks about the elections. While there is common agreement that the national and provincial elections should be held at the same time, there is still no agreement about when that might happen.

But even agreeing on dates might not be enough, according to Ms Sarfraz.

"Even if elections do take place now, there will not be a conflict resolution unless and until the political parties decide what their red lines are." She argues that if both sides don't set out exactly what they expect to keep elections fair, both will dispute the result and continue to divide the country.

That leaves it up to the politicians to come to an agreement, a difficult task in a fraught, politically divided country.

"You're political rivals, you're not personal enemies," Ms Sarfraz says.

"It's time that we take things forward and talk to each other before there's a collapse of the entire system."

Source: BBC

Babar Azam Continues to Rewrite History With Another Remarkable Ton

Babar Azam has set new ODI records by becoming the fastest player to score 18 ODI centuries and the fastest player to reach 5,000 ODI runs.In the fourth ODI against New Zealand in Karachi, Babar Azam joined the list of legends, breaking records and ma…

Babar Azam has set new ODI records by becoming the fastest player to score 18 ODI centuries and the fastest player to reach 5,000 ODI runs.

In the fourth ODI against New Zealand in Karachi, Babar Azam joined the list of legends, breaking records and making new ones. Continuing his consistent run, the Pakistani skipper became the fastest player to score 18 ODI centuries and the only player to reach the milestone in less than 100 innings. Accomplishing the feat in just 97 innings, he surpassed Hashim Amla of South Africa, who took 102 innings to score 18 ODI hundreds.

David Warner, Virat Kohli, and AB de Villiers are third, fourth, and fifth on the list, respectively.

In this innings, Babar Azam also became the fastest player to reach 5,000 ODI runs, breaking another record previously held by Hashim Amla. He achieved this milestone in just 97 innings, again beating the South African’s record of 101 innings. Legendary batters including Viv Richards, Virat Kohli, and David Warner hold their positions following Babar Azam and Hashim Amla on the list.

While he turned some pages in the record book and many heads in Karachi, Babar’s impressive performance in the fourth ODI against New Zealand played an instrumental role in Pakistan’s total of 334 runs in 50 overs. The 28-year-old played an anchor role, scoring 1o7 runs off 117 balls, weaving Pakistan’s batting outfit together.

It has also been noted that Babar Azam reached the mighty milestones on the same day, nine years after he was selected for Pakistan’s national camp in 2014. Ranked as the world’s top batter today, Babar Azam’s achievements are a testament to his exceptional talent and hard work and are sure to inspire young cricketers around the world.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Pakistan Summits ICC ODI Rankings Under Babar Azam’s Captaincy

Pakistan cricket team has climbed up to the top of the ICC ODI rankings after winning the fourth ODI against New Zealand at the National Bank Cricket Arena in Karachi.Pakistan’s 4-0 lead against New Zealand has taken them to the summit of the ICC ODI …

Pakistan cricket team has climbed up to the top of the ICC ODI rankings after winning the fourth ODI against New Zealand at the National Bank Cricket Arena in Karachi.

Pakistan’s 4-0 lead against New Zealand has taken them to the summit of the ICC ODI rankings. Pakistan set a formidable target of 335, which New Zealand failed to chase and bundled out for 232.

Pakistan has now claimed the top position in the ICC ODI rankings after surpassing India and Australia.

This is a promising sign for Pakistan before the ODI World Cup 2023 as they will carry along the confidence of being the top-ranked team into the mega event. Cricket fans will be eagerly watching to see if Pakistan can maintain their winning streak and achieve this major milestone.

Pakistan will have to win the last match as well to stay the top-ranked team, otherwise, the Men in Green will slide back to the second spot.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Thar-Matiari transmission line project completed in record duration: Khurram

Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir has said that the 220 km long Thar-Matiari Transmission Line project has been completed in record duration at a cost of 15 billion rupees.Addressing a news conference in Lahore on Friday, he said this project will m…

Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir has said that the 220 km long Thar-Matiari Transmission Line project has been completed in record duration at a cost of 15 billion rupees.

Addressing a news conference in Lahore on Friday, he said this project will make possible transmission of power, generated though Thar coal.

He said that local coal is being utilized for the generation of electricity.

He thanked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for taking special interest in the timely completion of this project.

Source: Radio Pakistan

FTO Directs FBR to Strictly Follow Auction Rules

Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to strictly follow the auction rules to avoid misuse of auctions being carried out by the Customs field formations.The FTO’s order said that the complainant was against the Di…

Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to strictly follow the auction rules to avoid misuse of auctions being carried out by the Customs field formations.

The FTO’s order said that the complainant was against the Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation (IandI)-Customs, Quetta for not providing sufficient time to the prospective buyers to inspect the auctionable items.

The complainant stated that the Directorate of landl-Customs, Quetta uploads the auction list in haste on the FBR website just one day before the auction. The complainant added that the details of the auction should be issued at least one week before the auction as per legal requirements so that the bidders have enough time to participate in the auction and to satisfactorily check the auctionable goods including vehicles.

The complainant prayed that the Directorate may be instructed to ensure adequate display of the goods, vehicles, and foodstuff prior to the auction, so as to save the bidders from any possible loss. The complaint was referred for comments to the Secretary Revenue Division.

FTO’s findings transpired that the auction schedule for 14.02.2023 was conveyed to the Chief (FATE) FBR, Islamabad vide Director Iandl, Quetta’s letter No.1(1) DCI/Auction/QAI 2021/265 dated 13.02.2023. This was done one day before the auction. This lends credence to the grievance of the complainant and is tantamount to maladministration in terms of Section 2(3) of the Federal Tax Ombudsman Ordinance, 2000.

Accordingly, FTO has recommended FBR to direct the Director General, Intelligence and Investigation Customs, Islamabad to issue written instructions to his subordinate directorates including the Directorate of Iandl Customs Quetta to strictly adhere to the auction rules provided in Chapter-V of the Customs Rules, 2001, issued vide SRO450(1)12001 dated 18.06.2001 especially Rule 58(4), Rule 61(b), (c) and (d) and Rule 65(a), FTO order concluded.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Govt steering country’s economy towards stability, growth: Dar

A delegation comprising representatives of world renowned investment companies led by Imran Zaidi, JP Morgan Dubai, held a meeting with Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar in Islamabad today.The delegation discussed the economic situation and o…

A delegation comprising representatives of world renowned investment companies led by Imran Zaidi, JP Morgan Dubai, held a meeting with Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar in Islamabad today.

The delegation discussed the economic situation and outlook of the country. The delegation held a comprehensive discussion with the Finance Minister regarding IMF program, market perception and outlook, as well as external account situations.

The Finance Minister greeted the delegation and shared the economic outlook of the country and said that despite the challenging economic situation, the government is steering the economy of the country towards stability and growth.

He also shared that Pakistan is slowly but surely moving toward economic stability and it is high time to invest in Pakistan. He informed that as Finance Minister he has successfully completed the IMF programme in the past and that the present government is committed to complete the present programme and fulfill all international obligations.

Imran Zaidi briefed the Finance Minister on Company's profile and its financial services provided to various countries across the world.

The delegation appreciated the policy steps taken by the government for sustaining and boosting the fiscal and monetary stability and expressed confidence in achieving sustainable economic development.

Source: Radio Pakistan

CDWP Clears Six Development Projects Worth Rs. 227 Billion

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) cleared six development projects worth Rs. 227 billion on Friday under the chairmanship of Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal.The forum considered six projects rel…

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) cleared six development projects worth Rs. 227 billion on Friday under the chairmanship of Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal.

The forum considered six projects related to the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Information Technology, Ministry of Health, and provincial projects.

The projects include the National Oilseed Enchantment Program at the cost of Rs. 10.9 billion, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rural Investment and Institutional Support project worth Rs. 110.7 billion, and the raising of Mangla Dam project worth Rs. 96 billion.

The forum also cleared the establishment of a Danish School at Jia Khan Sohbatpur worth Rs 1.61 billion, the establishment of a National Language Procession Laboratory worth Rs. 0.078 billion, and the construction of three Sewage treatment plants and related sewage system to treat wastewater falling into Korang River worth Rs. 6.076 billion.

National Oilseed Enchantment Program

The forum cleared National Oilseed Enchantment Program while adding the Sindh Component the project was already approved by the ECNEC. The National Food Security and Research Division is the sponsoring agency of the project.

The key objectives of the project include increasing the phase-wise yield of three potential crops viz Canola, Sunflower, and Sesame, enhancing the export potential of Sesame seed and encouraging oilseed growers through subsidy on seed, inputs and machinery and appreciation awards and encouraging solvent industry to procure farmers produces at a competitive price and establish procurement center in major growing areas.

The project will be implemented by federal and provincial governments and organizations, therefore, the management, administrative and financial structure prevailing in respective governments and executing organizations will be followed. The Finance Division will transfer the federal share directly to the assignment accounts of the project executing provincial agricultural department.

The meeting was attended by the Additional Secretary Planning Ministry, Chief Economist, Members Planning Commission, and representatives from the various ministries and divisions.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Imran Khan to be indicted in Toshakhana case on May 10

Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan will be indicted on Wednesday in Toshakhana Reference case.Announcing the reserved verdict in this case on Friday, the Session Court of Islamabad dismissed Imran Khan’s two applications regarding maintainab…

Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan will be indicted on Wednesday in Toshakhana Reference case.

Announcing the reserved verdict in this case on Friday, the Session Court of Islamabad dismissed Imran Khan's two applications regarding maintainability of the reference and summoned him in person for indictment.

Source: Radio Pakistan