Economic debacle in Pakistan
Economic debacle in Pakistan
  • Are new geo-political equations in the offing?

By Jai Kumar Verma

New Delhi. 09 November 2021. A large segment of present generation of Pakistan has adopted terrorism as way of life and they consider killing of a non-Muslim or abducting and converting the minority girl as their religious duty. The army and civil administration also use fundamentalism and extremism to distract public attention. The public is frustrated because there are power cuts, large number of Pakistanis are not getting clean water and there are no medical facility for masses. The essential items of daily use are either not available or obtainable on exorbitant prices. Wheat and vegetables like onion and tomato have become very costly. Hence Imran Khan’s civilian government as well as army are using religion, Kashmir, and anti-India sentiments to distract the attention of masses from day-to-day problems and scarcity.

The two nations theory, under which Pakistan was created, failed in 1971 when residents of East Pakistan decided to leave Pakistan and created Bangladesh. Partition of Pakistan made it clear that different nationalities cannot stay together only on the name of religion. At present several nationalities in Pakistan are dissatisfied because of over dominance of Punjabis. The Punjabi ruled Pakistan is notorious for crushing other nationalities. Therefore, Balochis, Sindhis, Muhajirs and Pashtuns want to secede from Pakistan. Residents of Giligit, Baltistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir also want a separate nation. Even Saraikis who are residents of Punjab province feel that they are neglected and demand for more autonomy and development of the area.

In October 2020 Sindh Police revolted against the abduction of Mushtaq Mahar the Inspector General of Police who refused to issue an arrest warrant of Captain Safdar Awan (Retd) who is the son-in law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Large number of Sindh Police officers had submitted leave application. According to reports Pakistan Army took over the control of police stations in Sindh to suppress the revolt of Sindh police. Sindh politicians claim that the province is suffering from economic exploitation, extrajudicial killings by the army, and political suppression.

Balochis claim that Pakistan
Courtesy: dailytimes.com.pk

The Baloch dissidents claim and give facts about the killings and raping of their young girls by Pakistan Army. The dissident leaders are chased and assassinated not only in the country but outside Pakistan. Balochis claim that Pakistan is exploiting the mineral resources of Balochistan and there is no development of the area.   

The Muslim majority of the country annihilated the minorities. At the time of creation of Pakistan minorities were 13 percent of the population while Muslims were 76 million. Now minorities are reduced to 2.5 percent while Muslims became 220 million. Ahmadiyya were declared non-Muslims and became the part of minorities. Blasphemy laws, kidnapping of young minority girls, forced conversions, persecution with the help of army and administration have made the survival of minorities very difficult. The Mullahs who claim to be the custodians of Islam, adopt all dubious means to harass, exploit and convert the minorities.

Pakistan’s blatant support to terrorism has isolated it in international arena. In September 1969, Pakistan vetoed the entry of India in Plenary Sessions of the Summit Conference of Islamic Countries at Rabat. But in 2019 India was invited as ‘guest of honour’ in the inaugural plenary 46th meeting of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which was a major humiliation to Pakistan.

The isolation of Pakistan can be adjudged by the fact that India made two surgical strikes in Pakistan one was in Pak Occupied Kashmir while the second one was at Balakot which is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but there was not much criticism of India as the world at large understands that Pakistan is running terrorist camps in the country including Balakot.

India revoked Article 370 from J&K in August 2019 and most of the countries mentioned that it is the internal matter of India. Pakistan could not muster support, even the Islamic countries except Turkey and Malaysia had not supported Islamabad. The Line of Control is more or less recognised and it is accepted as the border in Kashmir.

Extremism and Jihad has not only ruined the economy of the country but even the existence of the country is at stake. After subjugating the minorities Sunnis are trying to annihilate Shias and Sufis. Both Sunnis and Shias created organisations which are attacking each other. There are reports that even different factions of Sunnis are fighting among themselves. According to an estimate there are 8,000 registered Madrassas while 28,000 to 40,000 Madrassas are unregistered. Most of the Madrassas are Sunni and they encourage fundamentalism, extremism, and terrorism. Parents also mention that these madrassas teach only Quran hence after Madrassa education the students do not get jobs. Unemployment is rampant in the country.

Although Imran Khan became Prime Minister with the help of the all-powerful Army and both claimed that they have cordial relations, nonetheless the differences were exposed when Army Chief Bajwa appointed Karachi Corps Commander Lt. General Nadeem Ahmed Anjum as Chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in place of Lt. General Faiz Hameed who was transferred to Peshawar as a corps commander. Imran Khan who wanted to retain Lt. General Faiz Ahmed as ISI Chief, did not sign his transfer order for few days but ultimately, he bowed down and signed the transfer orders. However, it further downgraded not only the position of Imran Khan but also exposed the weaknesses of the civilian government.

TLP which has its own channel is a challenge to Pakistan government
TLP which has its own channel is a challenge to Pakistan government

The supporters of the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) are demonstrating in several cities of Pakistan to fulfil their demands including the release of their Amir Saad Rizvi, expulsion of French Ambassador, ban on import of French goods and severing of diplomatic ties with France. There were several clashes between TLP supporters and security forces in which 18 persons including seven policemen were killed. National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf issued a stern warning to TLP supporters in which it mentioned that the TLP has crossed the red line and the security agencies would be forced to take action against them. However, TLP supporters are not scared and are moving towards Islamabad. Pakistan government is in difficult situation as TLP has wide support in the masses hence it is difficult to take action against them while severing of relations with France would be disastrous for country’s economy.  

The economic condition of Pakistan is pitiable. In December 2020 the total public debt and liabilities were about US$ 161 billion which is 98.7 percent of gross domestic product. In December 2020 the external debt was around US$ 115.7 billion which is likely to rise as the country has become dependent on foreign loans. Now Pakistan is facing problems in getting loans from IMF, World Bank etc hence it may go for costly commercial loans which would further damage its economy.

Pakistan first denied airbase to United States but later succumbed to the pressure and recently U.S. administration disclosed that Pakistan has agreed to permit U.S. to use its airspace so that it can launch military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan. The fundamentalists in Pakistan opposed this move and Afghan Taliban considered it as an act against them which may result into trying to assist and instigate the anti-Pakistan terrorist elements. Hence the possibility of more terrorist attacks in Pakistan cannot be ruled out. Recently Mufti Noor Wali Emir of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) visited and met the divisional and district chiefs of TTP. The TTP proclaims that it wants to overthrow the present government by waging a war against military and civilian government.

Imran Khan plays Arab Card
Imran Khan plays Arab Card
Courtesy: arabnews’pk

Arab countries especially UAE is reluctant to bail out Pakistan from its current economic problems. Although Pakistani leadership claims best of relations with China but now Beijing is also unwilling to help Islamabad and wants the return of its massive investments.

The deep state of Pakistan alleges that India was responsible for its dismemberment hence it wants to disintegrate India. In fact, in the desire to divide India it is on self-destructive mode. It has taken loan from so many places that it is not in a position to repay the loan. Now it is taking loan to pay back the loan. China which is an expansionist country has given loan to Pakistan on stringent terms and analysts claim that Pakistan would not only lose Gwadar Port but China would occupy the arable land of Gilgit and Baltistan and would exploit the mineral resources of Balochistan.

At present Pakistan is passing through a precarious situation. It is on the verge of financial bankruptcy; few nationalities want to secede from Pakistan while few other want more autonomy and honest treatment from Punjabi dominated government. Shia Sunni feud is at its zenith and various terrorist outfits including Islamic State want to overthrow the present government. Few top generals in Pakistan Army are unhappy over the extension of present army chief General Bajwa and they are assisting the TLP movement. The relations between General Bajwa and Imran Khan has also became tense.

Pakistan is an ideological state which was created on the name of religion and with passage of time fundamentalism and extremism have grown so much that now the country is on self-destruction mode. India should continue isolating Pakistan in world arena and should make no effort to safeguard it from self-destruction.

(Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based strategic analyst and member of United Services Institute of India and Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The views in the article are solely the author’s. He can be contacted at [email protected])