Goodbye 2022 and welcome 2023 | By Tariq Aqil

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Goodbye 2022 and welcome 2023

THE sun has finally set on the year 2022 and we now see the dawn of the year 2023. The year that has just passed was one full of trials and tribulations and it appeared more like a soap opera touching new heights of suspense crisis and dangers for the country.

Human rights were violated with impunity, efforts were made to trample the constitution under foot, democracy was under threat and the economy continued its nose dive bringing misery and pain for the common man.

One can only hope and pray that the all-powerful political elite of Pakistan can look back, learn something from the disastrous actions of the past and enter the New Year with a firm resolve that these political summersaults and dangerous gimmicks will not be repeated in the future.

During the year the political arena was a scene of gory incidents, hitting below the belt, attacks on democracy, denial of fundamental rights and complete disregard of basic decency and political etiquette.

During the tenure of the PTI in the beginning of the year 2022 the country was slapped with the draconian PECA Ordinance thus giving powers of prosecution to state authorities to prosecute all who dared to criticize state policies and thus giving legal protection to some sacred cows of the nation.

Surprisingly and to the good fortune of the country the Islamabad High Court struck down the Ordinance and went ahead to amend section 20 of the Electronic Crimes Act 2016, to eliminate the criminal defamation part that criminalized “harm to reputation” online a clause that was exploited to silence both dissent and harassment allegations by women.

The nation also witnessed the false drama of the PTI government of Imran Khan and the military establishment being on the same page and then the dangerous constitutional crisis at the time of the appointment of the new DG ISI.

The question of civil supremacy was tested again and again. Neutrality of the establishment was invoked and questioned again and again.

The PTI head urged the establishment to come to their aid and defeat the vote of no confidence in the month of April.

As a last resort the Kaaptan of the PTI used the speaker of National Assembly to prevent his ouster from power but then the Supreme Court had to be convened midnight to thwart the unconstitutional onslaught of Imran Khan.

Punjab was also the scene of political in-fights and some ugly scenes. Democracy was trampled underfoot. The PTI was continually targeted for criticizing the military’s interference in politics.

Ironically Imran Khan continued to harp on the tune of civil supremacy and in the same breath urging or rather pleading with the military establishment to help him secure his grip on power.

The head of the PTI continued to spit fire and brim stone not only on his political rivals but also on the army high command going to the extent of calling them traitors in league with the enemies of the state.

The PTI did everything in their power to bring in laws to empower the state to silence dissent and crush all voices raised against the policies of the PTI.

During this year the elected MNA from Waziristan Ali Wazir continued to languish in jail in spite of many bail orders because of fresh cases filed against him and Baloch students and activists continued to disappear without any regard for the law of the land showing the miserable state of the country’s tolerance for political dissent and protest.

In spite of grave warnings from the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement the state agencies failed to check the growing menace of the increasing threat of the Taliban terror attacks all over the country including the Federal capital.

The valley of Swat is once again a hot-bed of TTP activities. History repeated itself the Taliban activities increased manifold and they continued their nefarious activities by targeting the security forces, schools and government agencies with impunity.

The Taliban have banned education and employment for women in Afghanistan and they are now planning to impose the same draconian writ in Pakistan and the billions of rupees spent on military operations to root out terrorism seem to have gone totally waste.

The sad and shameful murder of Arshad Sharif was another tragic and ugly incident of the year and there was a spate of release of audio leaks and invasion of privacy reached new heights.

While all this went on the rising cost of living made life miserable for the people especially the rising oil prices, electricity and gas prices made it difficult to exist with dignity and respect for most of the people of Pakistan.

The year that has passed was nothing to be proud of so its about time that the political elite of the country now commits itself to do better in the New Year as this will be an election year by October and our leaders should now think of the country and the nation and rise above petty political gains.

It is now imperative that the Constitution must be followed in letter and in spirit and should not be manipulated for the political benefit of some party or individual.

The interference of the military and the intelligence services in politics must stop forever and the military officers should never violate their oath of allegiance to the state.

—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.