You have little choice | By Zaheer Bhatti

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You have little choice

WITH the global proliferation of electronic media offering limitless possibilities of hacking vital information and engaging in covert operations against adversaries, the so-called developed world and its lackeys are engaged in what is styled as the fifth generation warfare.

But Instead of putting heads together at home in combating these modern warfare tools being deployed against Pakistan by its adversaries, the Pakistani leadership is engaged in a disgusting match of demeaning each other; trampling major institutions of the country to the point of no return.

‘Disgusting’! This scribe said was a very mild expression to summarize the behaviour; predominantly of the political divide in the country which has lost all sense of propriety, civility, accommodation and grace in dealing with each other, and commenting on the conduct of other principal institutions of the country.

Is it not irony of fate that with the country brought to the precipice of insolvency, its leadership is engaged in the so-called power shows to prove their public following!

It is recent history that despite efforts, Pakistan has been unable to cultivate mutually respectable and productive relations with key world powers.

Agreed that Pakistan has a history of being treated indifferently; principally by the United States on the core issue of Kashmir with India over which the US should be as committed to the Security Council Resolutions of a plebiscite to determine its future, as are majority of the world nations, but it made sure to keep the issue potent enough to precipitate the divide by suggesting bilateral Resolution, which has been an eye wash.

Agreed also that Pakistan burnt its boats in favour of the Imperial West in preference to neighbouring USSR, and suffered discrimination at its hands at critical moments; attracting a long list of injudicious economic sanctions.

But it is very imprudent for Imran Khan to publicly lock horns with the Unites States over what he styles as a Conspiracy to oust him due to his refusal to comply with its diktats against national interests, or with the Military Establishment of the country with whom he always claimed complete understanding, but now complains it ditched him at the critical moment of his planned ouster.

Granted that even though the President is nominally the Supreme Commander of the country’s defence forces, the Prime Minister as head of the Federal Cabinet is the functional Chief of the Defence Forces whose loyalty and allegiance he is supposed to command as a matter of constitutional right.

It is frivolous to engage in the debate of whether the PM was at the same page with its Army Chief at any given time during the course of their tenure in office; leave alone any difference over retaining or changing the ISI Chief directly functioning under PM’s command and supposed to be an Officer of his choice, barring, of course, any institutional requirement for the incumbent to Command a Corps if he has not commanded one before, in order to qualify for consideration to higher command in the future.

But it is naive for any political leader worth his salt to expect his Army Chief to engage in political engineering for the Prime Minister to save his office, who himself should pre-empt and frustrate such developments both at home and abroad with the power and influence he is supposed to command over his party and following, as did the Iranian and Turkish leadership; not just on the strength of their public support but also timely diplomatic and political measures.

It is fallacious to stare at the US when forced to comply with anti-people terms of its donor agencies, without making a genuine effort at achieving economic self-sufficiency in which direction the first thing any government would do is to reduce its balance of payments.

Where you spend three times more on imports than you earn over exports in Foreign Exchange, you have obviously failed to tighten your belt by slashing Imports of items which this nation must live without, and reduce non-development expenditure on fat-salaried political appointments, unwieldy size of cabinets, parliamentary offices and public institutions stuffed with political appointments.

Mr.Khan! Knowing that any donor agency including the IMF and the World Bank would legitimately want to ensure return of their principal amount along with mark up, you and your predecessors ought to have been in a position to do so by radically expanding the miserably low Pakistani tax-net.

The PTI Government claimed to have tracked down 10 million non-filers with taxable Income, but had it just got down onto this job alone in earnest and brought them into the tax-net by lowering and easing Income Tax slabs instead of scaring those already paying, it would have practically broken the begging bowl and said adieu to the IMF for good.

In the absence of such single-minded approach, both you and now your successors who have ignored raising national productivity, have no choice but to succumb to anti-people IMF conditions of raising fuel, energy and gasoline prices which impact prices of all consumable items of daily common use, over which any Donor in principle should have no business to dictate terms.

Had the political leadership managed to arrest the nose-diving value of the Pakistani currency by prudent economic measures instead of wasting its breath mud-slinging at each other, it would have legitimate claim to meaningful and lasting public support and been in a position to refuse raising fuel, energy and gasoline prices.

Party leaders in this Godforsaken country have often been found making precipitating statements on various issues, such as Fawad Choudhry over losing support of the khakis and the Khan questioning their neutrality in refusing to indulge in any political engineering, and Shirin Mazari writing to the UN on internal matters inviting undue international intrusion which runs contrary to PTI’s rejection of outside interference in Pakistan’s affairs.

Whereas the PTI having failed to have them convicted despite all the resources at its command during its tenure must stop singing the chorus of thieves and decoits against its adversaries, the coalition having wrested untimely power, now has no option but to deliver and not keep cribbing about what PTI left them with, or else go to the polls without further loss of time.

—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.

 

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