Performance not politics | By Rizwan Ghani


Performance not politics

ON foreign policy front, Imran synchronized his message with US Afghan troop withdrawal and bicentennial celebrations of Communist Party of China telling the world that Pakistan wants balanced relationship with the US and China.

Biden has confirmed over-the-horizon arrangements as value added but Afghans will have to do it themselves with the Air Force they have.

The real question is, will America and China uphold their pledges of democratic values and non-interference to let a developing country prosper as western democracy come face to face with China model in the region for money? China is following a model which is a blend of state directed social capitalism and political authoritarianism.

Its four key elements are economy, national pride, party discipline and government control.

Economically, country was opened to private businesses and foreign investments following Carter-Xiaoping meeting in 1979, which put China on the global stage.

The foreign firms had to set up businesses with local partners encouraging transfer of technology. State owned banks turned savings into financing to build roads, railways and ports. As a result, the economy grew 90 folds in four decades.

Reforms were introduced in local communities first to see if they would work. The experimentation started out on four Special Economic Zones on east coast belt which later expanded to the whole of China. It was copy of US economic growth from East Coast to mid west.

Research was used to help industry fulfil local and global needs including reverse engineering. Railway, massive infrastructure development and renewable energy are its shining examples.

Ten-year renewable green card is offered to attract foreign talent. To help economy, China has revamped judiciary and introduced ‘Internet’ courts and capital punishment.

It has signed bilateral agreements with 37 countries to extradite fugitives wanted for bribes, corruption and economic crimes.

China hailed one extradition from America during Trump regime as success for fighting cross border crime.

President Xi heads anti-corruption drive to repatriate overseas fugitives suspected of corruption and economic crimes through widely publicized operations dubbed “Fox Hunt” and “Sky Net”.

A Chinese court in January 2021 sentenced a former banker from “Big Four” Asset Management Company and party official to death for being “lawless and greedy” for $267m in a high-profile bribery, embezzlement and bigamy case.

The US and China have impressive economies but the challenge lies in their political models. Biden used his Europe Visit to remind the world about great western democratic values as their media criticized Beijing and Moscow.

But he failed democracy by 10bn times when he promised only one bn Covid vaccines when 11bn were needed, did not approve People’s vaccine, stood with NATO, failed millions suffering in open prisons in Kashmir, Palestine, Myanmar or Australian offshore detentions.

It is equally true for victims of police abuses, rapes, gangs and drugs in France, the UK and the US.

Also, West’s message on Xinjiang cotton is failing because the West is notorious for exploiting immigrants.

More than 10 million undocumented immigrants earned $92bn in 2019 and contributed $9.2bn in tax to the US economy.

They are not ready to do immigration reforms since Regan, 35 years ago, because it is cheap labour. They are paid one third of minimum wage and have no legal rights.

West’s allies use these draconian policies worldwide. There is wide-scale politicization of judiciary, lack of political accountability, war crimes, human rights, media and corruption.

It was lack of accountability in 2008 Financial Crisis and Trump’s failure to act on coronavirus pandemic, which has forced rest of the world to take notice of China model, which Bloomberg has tried to explain from western perspective it in its documentary “How Western failures fuelling China’s rise”.

For a neutral observer, money is at the heart of both models. Governments consolidate powers by sharing wealth with public in exchange for individual freedoms, human rights and freedom of speech.

In the West, government tenures are mostly limited to four-year term with a maximum of two terms while it is not the case with China to have uninterrupted political stability and economic progress which is disturbed by elections.

The rich and poor gap, accumulation of wealth by top one percent, forever wars and maintenance of military bases expose hypocrisy of western democratic values.

The Chinese promise of non-interference is already being questioned by the experts who point out Beijing’s geo-strategic gains in South China Sea, Hong Kong and Tibet, India and numerous military bases across the world.

Xi’s announcement of “No more dictation” shows China’s exemplary struggle to end Century of Humiliation including gross injustices suffered at the hands of the western colonial powers including two Opium Wars. But Beijing will have to prove its promise with its actions.

On domestic front, the grandstanding to the US is being used for power grab. A free and fair election cannot be held with the controversial Electoral Reforms Bill, use of EVMs and NADRA.

All this merits to be scrapped. As an independent constitutional setup, the ECP is not bound to uphold the Bill.

The government needs to improve its performance to win next elections instead of playing politics with democracy, foreign policy and bluffing public.

—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.

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