Apolitical Army | By Rizwan Ghani


Apolitical Army

AFTER Imran’s single point agenda of long march for getting election date, the ball is in the government’s court to avoid any foul-play or bloodshed.

Imran has prolonged his march to accommodate the PM’s foreign visit. If the PTI is dragging apolitical army to get election dates, the government is also keeping constitutional deployment of defence forces on the table.

The PM should give the election date after the visit as there will be enough accomplishments for the ruling alliance to go to next election.

The date will allow PTI to return to Parliament in a dignified way. A positive atmosphere can help the country to progress on charter of economy.

The yes-no behaviour of government and tweets are not only futile but a waste of time. The army may have decided to become apolitical, but a lot depends on the public opinion.

If politicians fail to show tangible progress on accountability, corruption, NAB, economy and cost of living, it is hard to envisage a carte blanche.

Army may have its own logic for becoming apolitical. Military is part of nation building in America (presidential system), UK (parliamentary system) and the rest of the world (single party, EU and ME.

After extension, US Army Chief built Europe under Marshall Plan. Political violence is on the rise in the UK (MP stabbed to death) and US (6 Jan). Military was deployed for 2nd impeachment of Trump.

Our politicians need to respect the Constitution to keep state and military apolitical.On economic front, the PDM government needs new policies instead of scapegoating others.

The trickle-down capitalist economic model of Pakistan has failed in UK. Truss implemented the model in her mini-budget costing £50bn to UK economy and 15% fall in value of BP (31 Oct 2022, the Guardian). Biden had warned her.

Thatcher adopted these failed market-based policies in 1979 including privatization and tax cuts. Brexit incurs 4% annual GDP loss to the UK economy which will rise to 8% by 2030 (OECD).

Reportedly 71 countries have reviewed their Forex reserves in US dollars. There are many reasons for it including controlling inflation, trade sanctions and increasing the purchasing power of the public to boost domestic economies.

After Crimea, Putin built a $600bn gold reserve for this day. Japan has released 12% of its total reserves. China has linked (digital) Yuan to gold to deal with its$1tn forex reserve. The Reserve Bank of India has also launched digital rupee after releasing 14% forex reserves.

The economic planners of Pakistan will have to review their policies to bring down prices, cut inflation and cut cost of living while boosting local economy, salaries and earnings.

The IMF has already warned emerging economies to preserve foreign exchange reserves to deal with worse outflows and turmoil in future.

Pakistan will have to overcome the challenge of developing critical infrastructure while securing the economy.

The economic failure of UK has exposed failure of privatization, outsourcing and FDI. All these policies have left the country with more foreign debt, rising unemployment and anger against foreign workers.

Immigration was major force behind Brexit while businesses profited from global supply chains and suppressed wages.

The politicians blame immigrants for rise in cost of living in America and EU which is mostly due to printing of money for mega stimulus packages and tax cuts. Pak PM’s Rs1.8T farmer package needs changes to save money and better results.

The idea of loans, old tractors and recycled machinery has failed many times. It will not bring results and increase corruption. By using IT, PTI can revolutionize this package under the slogan of “In it, to win it”.

The party can use satellite technology to help government implement following pro-public policies which are pending or abandoned due to corruption. To cut the import bill, the party can recover government land from mafias.

Four hectares of land be allotted to families for farming as long as they stay there and harvest it (US Homestead Law). Sugar mills should be removed from cotton and wheat belts to cut $6bn imports.

Restart Pak Steel to save $9-to $14bn imports. Return energy (Rs1.1T) and fertilizer (Rs34bn) under public control to end annual subsidies. Pakistan should become self-sufficient in seed, water and fertilizer for food and water security.

Villages can be turned into economic castles to cut cost of living with the help of IT, SME, value addition and cutting transport cost.

Relocation of population for economy and poverty has failed. The economic zones are costly due to travelling and living costs versus jobs where people live.

Similarly, government city development authorities should develop plots and HBFC give low interest loans to the public for building houses so that government earns revenue from its schools, hospitals and markets.

It will cut the cost of houses, education, healthcare and create millions of pension able jobs. On exports, India is importing $15bn pharmaceutical chemicals from China to manufacture $65bn cheap generic medicine.

Modi has made the Gati Shakti Master Plan to streamline national logistics for helping India challenge global economic giants.

This is how our government, judiciary (addresses of justices), military and opposition including Imran and his social media team can help Pakistan get real independence to compete in the region.

—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.


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