Premier Imran Khan believes that his celebrity status and popularity in the subcontinent and beyond will ensure that any other leaders (and countries) are simply waiting with baited breaths for any policy decision he makes and will automatically accept his offers.
During his electoral campaign, Khan repeatedly denigrated Nawaz Sharif’s attempts to build ties with India, referring to Sharif as ‘Modi ka yaar.’ Now that he is in power, Khan realizes what every Premier does that you need better ties with your neighbors.
Three weeks after his electoral victory and a few weeks after the congratulatory letter that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent Khan, Imran Khan sent a letter on September 14 requesting a restart of a dialogue between the two countries through an initial meeting of the two foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) meetings in NYC next week.
In response, Delhi accepted what it referred to as “talks not dialogue” with a meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
The killing of three special police officers in Srinagar in Indian-controlled Kashmir by the terror group Hizbul Mujahideen following the brutal torture and killing of an Indian border (BSF) guard and the issuing of stamps celebrating the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani led to political backlash within India and resulted in the Indian government cancelling the meeting and issuing a statement.
Imran Khan at once took to twitter to tweet his anger at the Indian response and the Pakistani Foreign Office registered their protest as well.
This tit for tat will continue till Pakistan understands that if it wants to improve ties with its neighbors – India and Afghanistan – and with other countries it will need to stop supporting jihadis which currently seems improbable.
The ways of a celebrity are different from the ways of someone in high office. The first thirty days in office of Prime Minister Imran Khan are however proving that he has not understood that he is no longer the captain of the cricket team but the prime minister of a 200 million strong country. His government’s policies both domestic – crowdfunding for building a dam or selling cars to build government resources – and foreign have only brought ridicule to our nation.
In a scathing piece The Guardian recently referred to Mr Khan’s first thirty days in power as “Climbdowns, cheese and crowdfunding.” The article referred to the “promise” by Mr Khan to “grant citizenship to the Pakistani-born children of the country’s roughly 2.5 million Afghan refugees” and then “after strong push-back by nationalists, the military and his own coalition partners, the prime minister U-turned. “No decision had been made” on citizenship, Khan said in a speech to parliament.”
On the economic front, Pakistan has a £13.5bn current account deficit and yet instead of hard policies “Initial brain-storming sessions however have done little more than to produce a much-mocked proposal to ban imports of cheese, alongside mobile phones and cars.”
Further, both Mr Khan and the Chief Justice of Pakistan are involved in “an almost certainly futile effort to crowdfund the construction of an £11bn dam in the north-east. The project has led to an atmosphere of near-hysteria: Pakistanis overseas have been asked to each donate $1,000, children in tribal areas have been told to donate their lunch money, while the chief justice has threatened doubters with trial for treason. Yet, even at the current rate of feverish donation, it would take more than 100 years to raise the capital. Misleading the population to believe it was possible to crowd-fund such an infrastructure project was “willfully squandering a massive asset in Pakistan … a groundswell of love for country”, says political commentator Fasi Zaka.”
While a “drastic improvement in relations with the military is the party’s clearest impact on Pakistan’s politics so far” yet the Guardian piece warns “Military support may afford the PTI plenty of leeway, analysts say. But the defenders of the nation cannot shield the party forever from the sky-high expectations of the public.”
Continuing an old tradition going back to the 1970s, Prime Minister Imran Khan, went to Saudi Arabia for his first foreign trip. During his two-day trip Khan called on King Salman, Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman and also attended a state banquet.
With Pakistan’s economy in the doldrums, the country once again is turning to its two faithful allies – Saudi Arabia and China – seeking aid in order to avoid having to go to the IMF for the 13th time.
Soon after Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear tests when Pakistan faced crippling sanctions, Saudi Arabia offered Pakistan oil on deferred payments but there was a tacit understanding that Pakistan would be there for the Saudis when required.
In earlier decades, Saudi Arabia has deposited money in Pakistan’s exchequers to help the government tide over shortage of foreign exchange reserves. The Saudis did this in 2014 when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took over power. But at that time Pakistan had promised to send its troops whenever Riyadh requested. However, when the time came, we backed off and did not send our troops. The Saudi displeasure has been evident, clearly visible in their deepening ties with India.
If the current government would like Saudi Arabia to either offer deferred oil payments or deposit money in our exchequers, then what are we willing to do in exchange? Are we willing to send troops to Yemen?
And even if we say we will send troops, why would Saudi Arabia trust us this time round and give us money before Pakistani troops show up? We should understand their frustration too. Why promise what we cannot deliver?
Two months into his 10-year long jail sentence on charges of corruption, three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, were released from prison. The release came soon after the Islamabad High Court suspended their sentences in response to their appeals. According to Justice Athar Minallah: “The prosecution has failed to show the properties belong to Nawaz Sharif. It also failed to prove how was Maryam Nawaz sentenced under the same charge sheet which convicted Nawaz Sharif.”
In July 2018 Mr Sharif was sentenced “after being found guilty of corrupt practices related to the ownership of four luxury properties in central London linked to his family. His daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, received seven years for abetting a crime and one year for not co-operating – sentences which were due to run concurrently – while son-in-law Safdar Awan was given a one-year sentence for not co-operating. The convictions also barred them from seeking public office for up to 10 years after release.”
The National Accountability Bureau, can still appeal this ruling before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Pakistan is facing an internal financial crisis, the economy needs more investment and we need a positive image of Pakistan to end our increasing international isolation. For that to happen one of the many things we need is to get off the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Grey list.
However, the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to permit the globally designated terrorist organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its humanitarian arm Falahi Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) to continue relief and charity work in Pakistan. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has placed both these organizations on its list of sanctioned terrorist organizations.
In January of this year the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), prohibited companies from “donating cash to the entities and individuals listed under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions committee’s consolidated list”. This sanctions list “includes the names of al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, JuD, FiF, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other organizations and individuals.”
That Pakistan has allowed a globally designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, someone who has put on the UNSC sanctions list as a terrorist in 2008, to run charity operations inside the country sends just the wrong message to the global community.
According to a news story: “The two-member SC bench including Justice Manzoor Ahmed Mulk and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood rejected the federal government’s appeal against Lahore High Court’s verdict. JuD’s network includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services. The JuD and FIF alone have about 50,000 volunteers and hundreds of other paid workers, according to two counter-terrorism officials.”