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CPEC Spells Disaster for Pakistan’s Economy: Analysis


It will not be untrue to say that Pakistan is facing the worst meltdown since its existence. Security crisis, broken political system, flood tragedy and its domino effect on the environment, half-hearted projects like CPEC, and economic whirlpool, to name a few.

What makes the situation more problematic is the lack of concern of policymakers and higher echelons who are bent on saving PML-N’s political capital, which has taken precedence over the more necessary rescue of the country.

After giving up his obsession with keeping the rupee artificially raised and his pride high before the IMF, the country’s finance minister Ishaq Dar has finally come to terms with the situation at home.

Rumors in political circles of Islamabad suggest that the government has gone for debt restructuring, thereby declaring Pakistan as a defaulter.

Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahbaz Sharif’s recent meeting with an international financial firm suggests that this organization will be looking over debt restructuring operations. The process of setting up Pakistan’s budget and restructuring its loans will take two years. The lenders will be given special concessions by the nation for restructuring the repayments, increasing the gross debt of Pakistan. Down go the dreams of the “game-changing” CPEC project that was supposed to pave way for new industries, increase exports manifold, pay off debts, create new employment opportunities, and make Gwadar the Dubai 2.0.

Since 2013, $62 billion has been spent on CPEC. The Pak-China friendship is under strain. In difficult times, Chinese capitalism, as how capitalists are, has shown that they are about profit, not philanthropy. Quietly, the reports of Parliament and Senate committees on CPEC have been removed from government websites. Last year the public account committee held only two meetings on the subject.

If Pakistan goes for debt-structuring, China would either let this slip by or take up the matter at international tribunals. In any case, CPEC is under pressure due to two reasons: political chaos and security issues in Pakistan at the moment.

Though at the inaugural ceremony of nuclear power facility – K3 in Karachi, PM Shahbaz Sharif assured that CPEC projects from now onwards will be completed at pace, it hardly seems likely.

Political stability and a safe environment are necessary for the Chinese to operate. They are facing great resistance among the locals because Pakistan has given them free will to use and abuse local resources, putting in jeopardy the livelihood of the locals and degrading their environment, as they have in Balochistan, Gilit-Baltistan, and (so-called) Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-administered).

Last year a well-educated 30-year-old Baloch woman affiliated with the BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army) blew up herself along with three Chinese academicians and their Pakistani driver in Karachi.

Recently, in a protest held by Moulana Hidayatur Rehman at Gwadar outrightly threatened the Chinese to leave Gwadar. The Gwadar Rights Movement (GRM) under his leadership has been holding demonstrations against the Pakistan government because they are agitated that their concerns have been sidelined since the inception of the project. Even after being told they will be jailed, the protestors are maintaining their position. Some government officials have revealed China is on the brink of leaving Pakistan if this situation prolongs.

The GRM is fighting for a proper supply of water and electricity, safe drinking water, deep-sea fish trawling, healthcare, and education infrastructure, and jobs for local youth in CPEC – all of which were promised by China but never delivered. Environmental concerns due to mining and deforestation have added to the Baloch woes. Harassment of women at checkpoints and massive crackdowns on protestors which led to casualties, further added to the differences between the Chinese and the Balochis.

Given the situation, the Chinese will probably stop investing in future projects in Pakistan. And Phase 2 of CPEC will remain out of reach for a decade.

On the other hand, the IMF will not allow for decisions in favor of China as it has criticized the role of Chinese loans in third-world countries. And so the future of the relationship between the Chinese and Pakistan Army is skeptical. The government is trying hard to restore this trust. Though that will be a difficult job because no military exchanges are taking place between the two nations. The delay in delivery of the J-20 fighter jets to Pakistan from China is an indication of the souring camaraderie. If the upcoming general elections scheduled for the end of this year are in Imran Khan’s favor, the Chinese and their plans can further jeopardise. So for now, with the interference of the Pakistan Army in the country’s politics, widespread terrorism, and the common man’s resentment against the Chinese imperialistic projects, the sun is setting on CPEC.

​Not many bailout options for the embattled economy of Pakistan


The current situation of Pakistan is arguably the most difficult faced by the country in last two decades. Simultaneously confronting the trinity of economic crisis, political chaos and rising number of terror attacks along north western areas have drained the resources of the South Asian country. Among these, the economic deterioration has a direct bearing of public welfare and fate of the present government.

The catastrophic floods of 2022 came a severe blow to the cash-strapped nation  already grappling with high debt. According to a report of the country’s planning commission, agriculture, food, livestock, and fisheries sectors lost $3.7 billion in the floods with long-term losses estimated to be around $9.24 billion. The recorded headline inflation in the country stood at 24.5% in December 2022, almost double of a figure of 12.3% one year ago. Most pinching for the common people is historically high price of flour due to worst-ever wheat crisis in the country. Many areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan provinces have even witnessed stampedes for the grain and flour. Analysts fear that the crisis may soon take petroleum products and basic essential items under its fold. Some experts also hint at possible rationing of petrol and diesel in the next two to three months, ultimately hitting the trade and industry and even the agricultural sector, which needs diesel during the harvesting season.

Traditionally, the twin deficits of the budget and balance-of-payments have been managed by Islamabad by reaching out to bilateral benefactors and multilateral institutions. About half of the $7 billion loan, extended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2019, has already been disbursed. While a delay in the release of next IMF tranche is exacerbating the problem for the country, the International agencies now contend that the country’s problems are outcomes of governments constantly living beyond their means without raising domestic resources.

In  absence of any inflows from the IMF or friendly countries, the forex reserves with country’s central bank dropped to $4.34 billion in the week ending Jan 6 which is the lowest since February 2014.

According to analysts, the reserves are not even enough to pay for one month of imports. Already plummeting growth rate of GDP had made it difficult for Pakistan to service debt of $274 billion, which was nearly 80% of GDP at the end of 2022. Over the past year, the Pakistani rupee has shed over 20% to trade at 229.85 per dollar (Jan. 20), making imports costlier.

The government felt some relief on January 9, 2023 when donors pledged over $9 billion to help with flood recovery efforts. However, further clarity is needed on the nature and schedule of this help. Similarly, on January 12, the United Arab Emirates agreed to roll over $2 billion owed by Pakistan and provide the country with an extra loan of $1 billion, helping it to avoid immediate default. However, these short term fixes cannot be a replacement of next IMF installment which the country needs badly. The US has confirmed its ‘concern’ about Pakistan’s economic instability with its State Department spokesperson Ned Price saying said stating that “This is a challenge that we are attuned to,”. There was no further indication from Washington of any possible help in expediting the release.

As Pakistan heads towards economic collapse, is it using #KashmirSolidarityDay as a distraction?


By South Asia Press Team

At a time when Pakistan nears bankruptcy, it was indeed astounding to observe the Pakistani Prime Minister chairing a special meeting in Islamabad to review preparations for “Kashmir Solidarity Day” being observed in Pakistan today. The Shehbaz Sharif government even issued a circular to urge schools to observe “Kashmir Solidarity Day”. Separately, Pakistani embassies and consulates across the world have been using their social media accounts to invite the Pakistani diaspora to attend the events organized to mark this event.

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And as the Pakistani government agencies obsess with photo exhibitions, documentaries and seminars on Kashmir, the country struggles to cope with mounting debt, inflated energy import costs, dwindling forex reserves, global inflation, political instability, and a sustained drop in GDP growth. Pakistan has now reached a stage of no return on the economic front. . There was a nationwide blackout for two days from January 23 even in densely populated cities like Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, and Peshawar.

While its leaders shed tears for the human rights violation in Indian Kashmir, hundreds of thousands of people living in Pakistan administered Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan have been facing a severe shortage of food, electricity, and government employees have gone without salaries for some months.

The massive power breakdowns, which engulfed Pakistan last week, has left the mountainous areas of Gilgit Baltistan in dire straits too. For months, a shortage of flour and pulses are now driving people to the streets, who are demanding a basic modicum of livelihood and food. Due to the regular power outages, shops and businesses are shut for most of the day. So are farms, poultry and cattle sheds. Jobs have disappeared. Schools are shut.

People are out on the streets, looking for help from the administration. Protests have become common in Shigar, Baraldu, Ghanche, Balghar and other cities of GB. But there are no assurances about either the supply of flour or power. Power shutdowns last almost 22 hours in major cities like Skardu, the capital of GB. In smaller towns and villages, electricity is restored once every three days, for only 30 minutes.

In the past, there have been clashes between the army and locals over control of land in the area, which is being grabbed by the Pakistani state. The federal government’s thrust on CPEC and relentless usurping of public land for the Chinese cause has created a rift with the local population. People have little trust either in the local administration or in Islamabad to help them tide over the current food and power crisis, leaving them no choice but to lead protests across the region in the coming days.

The question is while the country struggles to stay afloat, is there not a need for it to express solidarity with its owns citizens who are grappling to make ends meet? However, the Pakistan government instead prefers to be preoccupied with “Kashmir Solidarity Days” with the objective to hit out at its arch rival and neighbour, India.  

For the Pakistani state, it is now a race against time to prevent the nation from a complete economic collapse, which could severely impact millions of its citizens. Such is the extent of the crisis that the government auctioned a Pakistani embassy property in the US a few days ago. Speaking at an event in Islamabad last September, PM Shabaz Sharif stated that when any of his cabinet ministers travel or make phone calls to leadership of friendly countries, they assume that the overtures from the Pakistani side are being made because “Pakistan has come to beg for money…”

It remains to be seen that after being stuck in an economic vortex, whether Pakistan, the economically unstable nuclear-powered nation, will continue to hide behind the veil of ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day.’

Secret Chinese Police Stations in Paris and other parts of the world a threat to democracy. Activists call for action.


By the DISSIDENT club team

Masquerading as a residence between two restaurants in the 13th arrondissement of Paris is one of the three alleged Chinese “overseas police stations” in the city. Established secretly, these are apparently offices of Chinese regional police organizations that are used to surveil and intimidate not just Chinese exiles and dissidents, but also people of other nationalities who criticize the Chinese regime.

“Our survey shows that there are over a 100 clandestine police stations in over 50 countries around the world”, said Laura Harth, Campaigns Director at the Safeguard Defenders at the DISSIDENT club.

A roundtable hosted by the DISSIDENT club last week focusing on “Chinese police stations in France and the West” brought together representatives from Safeguard Defenders, a Madrid-based human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) that recently released an in-depth investigation about the issue, along with journalists from several French media outlets including – the well known newspaper Libération.The event was attended by a number of Chinese dissidents in exile from Hong Kong, Tibet, and East Turkestan (commonly known as the Uyghurs), who spoke of their experiences.

“The goal [of these police stations] is not to put people in prison, but to send the message that even in France, China has the power”, said Tenam, an activist for free Tibet living in exile in Paris.

Last December, the Libération reported that these police stations have facilitated at least one coercive operation on a Chinese citizen on French soil. Laurence Defranoux, the journalist from Libération, told the audience at the DISSIDENT Club how the Chinese embassy tried to discredit its investigations into a secret police station in Aubervillier, a Parisian suburb. “It is a question of sovereignty,” she said. “It is really democracy under attack.”

Dr. Dilnur Reyhan, the President of the Uyghur Institute in France reported that the Chinese police were harassing her sister, with whom she has had no contact since 2019, for details about her French citizenship. “Now the Chinese monitoring service is not only targeting dissidents and the diaspora, but also citizens of these so-called democracies who dare to speak out and criticize”.

Others exiled speakers included Lok Kan and Kenneth Yeung of the Hong Kong freedom movement and Can Polat from the Turkish exiled community.

“The existence of these police stations is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Chinese government’s efforts to intimidate and persecute its critics,” explained Lok Kan of the African Hong Kong France (AHKF) movement.

But even more alarming is the fact that the Chinese regime is trying to legitimize these stations by inserting them into the mechanisms of international and bilateral cooperation, which is a clear attack against civil liberties.

An example of such cooperation between China and Europe is Italy. Between 2015 and 2018, the Italian government signed a series of bilateral security deals with China that included joint patrols with the Chinese police forces in Rome, Milan, and Naples, according to Safeguard Defenders, which also found evidence of video surveillance systems being added to the Chinese residential areas in Italy under the guise of “deterring crime”.

“The most serious problem about this is not just the actions of the Chinese state, but the fact that the countries that claim to be democratic are accepting this,” said Dr. Reyhan.

Since the Safeguard Defenders report was released in late 2022, governments of the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Canada have launched police investigations into the matter. However, without a strong and effective action to stop such violations of sovereignty and rights, political dissidents, especially those from regions under control by China continue to face threats to their freedom and life, despite living in exile, where they are supposed to be safe.

Taha Siddiqui, the founder of the DISSIDENT Club, and a Pakistani journalist in exile concluded the roundtable by calling for the West to do more.“Dissidents like us are repeatedly highlighting such transnational repression by China and other oppressive regimes. Journalists are writing about it, and NGOs are publishing reports. It is high time that the western governments also acted against this illegal acts of China to protect the values of democracy and freedom of speech.”


This article orginally appeared on the DISSIDENT club.

Arshad Sharif’s killing: a well-planned elimination?


By South Asia Press Team

There is increasing evidence that the brutal killing of Pakistani investigative journalist, Arshad Sharif, in Kenya was carried out by an international cabal controlled by Pakistani intelligence agencies. He was close to the Pakistan Army officials but when he turned against the army after  the Imran Khan government fell, orders went out to eliminate him. There is already evidence of assassin squads run by the ISI tasked with taking out journalists, bloggers and social media activists critical of the army.

Sharif first went to UAE and was living in Dubai when he was forced to leave the emirate under pressure from the army. He then went to Kenya where he was cornered and shot in October.

A 592-page investigative report presented recently to the Supreme Court of Pakistan categorically stated that Sharif’s killing was premeditated and was carried out by a group of persons who had planned and executed the killing. The assassins had been chasing Sharif for some time. The murder, the report said, was triggered by Sharif’s work as a journalist. The report was prepared by a team of senior police officers set up by the apex court.

Arshad Sharif’s killing closely resembles the killing of another famous journalist, Saleem Shahzad in 2011. Shahzad was known to be close to the army but when he began unravelling the connection between ISI officers, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and al Qaeda, he became the army’s target. He was abducted from outside his house in Islamabad, tortured and killed and his body dumped outside his house. Shahzad, considered a pro-Army journalist, found the mysterious  killing of retired chief of the Special Services Group, Major General Ameer Faisal Alvi in October 2008 fishy and discovered that the senior army officer had threatened to expose two Generals who were striking deals with TTP chief, Baitullah Mehsud. He had warned of the nexus between ISI officials, Sipah-e-Sahaba and TTP.

Arshad Sharif, according to his lawyers, was close to Brigadier Muhammad Shafiq in ISPR. The lawyer said ISPR was like a second home to Sharif. But when Sharif turned against the army after the no-confidence motion, Shafiq tried to persuade him to stop in vain. Several cases of treason were filed by Shafiq against Sharif. Shafiq refused to answer seven questions sent in writing by the investigation team set up by the Supreme Court.

Arshad Sharif’s mother, Riffat Ara Alvi,  reinforces the fact-finding commission’s report by accusing not only Brigadier Shafiq but also the former army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, ISI chief Lt. General Nadeem Anjum, Major General Faisal Naseer, Brigadier Faheem Raza, Colonel Rizwan, Colonel Nouman Waqar Khurram.

In a letter sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, she said her son turned against the army in April 2022, for its “involvement in politics and political engineering”.  For the past 15 years, Ms Alvi wrote, “Sharif was close to the army, covering many of their operations against militants. He became critical of certain individuals in the army for their involvement in politics and forced disappearances.This is when he started receiving threats, first from Brigadier Muhammad Shafiq Malik of ISPR…and then from Brigadier Fahim Raza of ISI who called him to ISI Sector HQ Islamabad to convey message of Major General Faisal Naseer, DG -C, ISI.” When Sharif declined to heed these threats, other officers began issuing similar threats. In fact, one of them, Colonel Nouman came to his home one day and warned him of dire consequences if he did not stop from reporting on the army.

Thereafter, cases of sedition and treason were filed against him in various cities. In all, 16 FIRs were filed and only two complainants appeared before the fact finding committee. The committee found that one of the FIRs was filed by SHO Mamon Gath on the directions of SSP Malir Irfan Bahadur. The complaint was written in front of three ISI officers at ISI Karachi office. The committee got copies of only six FIRs despite several reminders, all that adds to the suspicion of involvement of state agencies.

Arshad fled Pakistan on August 10 and went to UAE where he could not stay longer due to pressure from the authorities. He then went to Nairobi to stay with two acquaintances, Khurram and Waqar Ahmad. The fact-finding team found Ahmad to be working for Kenyan intelligence agency and other international agencies. Arshad Sharif’s mother, in her letter, alleged that Waqar Ahmed worked for the ISI. He was reportedly in touch with ISI sector commander, Brigadier Faheem Raza.

In the early hours of October 24, Sharif was shot in Nairobi which the Kenyan police said was caused by `mistaken identity`. The fact-finding committee thought otherwise and reported that the murder was pre-meditated. The committee officers found that Arshad was killed at close range from a stationary vehicle, an assertion which counters the Kenyan theory. The Kenyan assertion that Sharif was shot twice only fell through when Sharif’s postmortem was conducted in Pakistan. The doctors found that the journalist was shot 12 times. What raised the investigating team’s suspicion that Sharif was shot in the back from relatively close range but there was no corresponding penetration mark of a bullet in the seat on which he was sitting, a “ballistic impossibility”. The only possibility is that he was shot either before he got into the car or shot from a very close range, from inside the vehicle.

Although the Supreme Court has shown interest in pursuing the case, most likely the killing of Arshad Sharif, like Saleem Shahzad, would remain inconclusive as key actors in this sordid drama are `untouchables` in Pakistan.

51 years after Pakistan has learnt no lesson from the separation and liberation of Bangladesh known as Fall of Dhaka


Pakistan lost what was called East Pakistan in 1971 after a bloody conflict, which involved its military against the separatist fighters from the former East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh. Thousands of Bengalis lost their lives, hundreds of women were raped, and many locals went missing, as the Pakistan Army unleashed a campaign of terror at the beginning of 1971, in Operation Searchlight – which was the codename for a planned military operation carried out by the Pakistan Army in an effort to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in former East Pakistan.

Today, Pakistan is running multiple similar secret military operations against different ethnic groups, especially the Baloch, who are being oppressed by the country’s powerful military.

The Baloch demand an independent nation, and consider Pakistan as an occupying force. The indigenous population also claims that Pakistan has been exploiting their natural resources’ rich region which is known to have large gas and other mineral resources reserves without reinvesting the huge profits they earn. In response to the political demands of the Baloch people, Pakistani military has abducted thousands of locals and the mutilated bodies of missing persons are found daily.

Secondly, the Pashtun region in the North-west part of the country, are also facing state persecution, triggering an ethnic movement in the region called the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) which has repeatedly accused the Pakistani military of oppressing the locals using different tactics including militant groups to target kill those who ask for their rights.

The third group under that Pakistani state targets including ethnic Sindhis and Mohajir (which means migrants in the local Urdu language) groups who live in the south of the country. The ethnic Sindhi movements for separation are targeted in the same way as the Baloch, with the people going missing without any trials and no one knows their whereabouts, where as the Mohajirs are targeted by police and paramilitary security forces known as the Rangers who control the Sindh province.

Owing to these fault lines and Pakistan’s inability to learn from its mistakes in former East Pakistan, there is a growing perception among Pakistani intellectuals that the other regions of the country may also head towards a civil war and the country may end up being divided further. Given that Pakistan is now a nuclear armed country with the fifth largest population in the world, any destability in the country can have dire consequences for the region and the world at large.




Pakistan in desperate need of international aid as it fails to weather the storm of climate crisis


By South Asia Press Team

Following the COP27 held in Egypt in the month of November, member nations of the Climate Change Conference reached an agreement to create a fund for “loss and damage”, where developed nations will pool money to help their developing counterparts who are struggling with the effects of climate change.

This fund comes at a time where Islamabad is struggling to barely stay afloat following the ruinous floods and torrential rains in the country which lasted from June through August. Brought on by climate change, the environmental disaster has brought Pakistan to its knees, as millions continue to suffer in a country entirely unequipped to manage a calamity of this magnitude, owing largely to its political instability and inadequate economic resources.

While the details of the agreement still remain to be hashed out (including the amount to be sanctioned or the course over which payments will be made), the United Nation Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), in October, 2022, had reached the conclusion that an amount of $816 million would be required to cover the cost of tending to an affected population of 20.6 million in the country.

116 districts across the nation stand impacted, out of which 84 have been declared to be “calamity hit” by the Pakistani government, with Balochistan and Sindh provinces having had to bear the worst of it. Estimates show that collectively, the disaster has left 33 million people affected in the country, with over 1600 killed and nearly 13,000 injured. The flooding and rains in the worst affected areas have washed away nearly all infrastructure, including residential houses as well as public service buildings such as hospitals. Currently, around 7.9 million citizens have been displaced from their homes, having to resort to living in relief camps and temporary housing just to get a makeshift roof over their heads.

The most immediate and pressing concern, apart from the distress of millions having lost their homes, is the rapidly emerging health risks and the resultant impending health emergency from the flood waters. Now that the water has started receding, having taken down 10% of the nation’s health facilities, Pakistan has been left grossly unprepared to deal with the aftermath. International aid and assistance is the need of the hour in the country, and if the global attention to the tragedy begins to wane, Pakistan will be struggling to deal with the long-term effects of the situation for a long time to come, while facing largescale loss of life.

The people having been displaced and living in temporary housing have the predominant requirement of clean water and sanitation facilities, as the stagnant water is giving rise to a host of medical issues within this broken community. A UNICEF officer stationed in Pakistan admitted that lack of access to medical supplies stands to be one of the primary difficulties in the crisis-response effort, post disaster. The medical needs of the affected areas continue to rise— water-borne diseases have taken centre stage for the suffering communities, malaria outbreaks have officially been reported in 32 districts, along with sharp spikes in cases of dengue, acute diarrhoea and skin conditions. The breakdown of roads and transport system in the floods also suggests that the reported numbers are merely a fraction of the full picture.

Over 8 million people remain in need of medical assistance, while WHO and UNOCHA in September 2022, jointly assessed less than 50% of the population to be receiving the health aid that they require. The disaster has not only created a new onslaught of medical emergencies, but also rendered the routinely available medical aid and assistance to the citizens, useless. Immunization campaigns within the country for polio (as Pakistan remainsone of the two countries still battling polio), as well as treatment for severe chronic diseases has been brought to a grinding halt.

What the country requires, to battle this crippling emergency- as more long-term effects come to the forefront- is international solidarity and aid to help battle this humanitarian crisis. While individual bodies of international organizations are attempting to tackle the situation to the best of their ability, the funding gaps for these agencies have seriously limited their efforts (UNICEF reported a gap of 85%, while the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) claimed one of 94%).

One of the most vulnerable populations has emerged to be young children. Riddled with diseases and infections, thousands of children suffer through the added issue of malnutrition, as food shortage has proven to be another acute consequence. With 9.4 million acres of agricultural land submerged in flood water, and over a million livestock dead- the country’s food insecurity levels are rising rapidly. The FAO has reported that over 500,000 people are on the verge of catastrophic food insecurity, while nearly 2 million people require assistance in this sphere.

Medical personnel tending to these compromised communities are at their wits end as they admit to the futility of their limited assistance in the context of the big picture. The previously impoverished areas of Balochistan and Sindh, after being hit by the floods have been driven up the wall. With 1.6 million children likely to suffer from severe malnutrition in the impacted areas, any substantial change is unlikely to come about without sizeable assistance from the global community, as the country seems to be “fighting a war which has no end to it”.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif claimed that the Post Disaster Needs Assessment placed the estimate of damages from this year’s floods at $32 billion, which approximates 10% of the nation’s GDP. The process of reconstructing and rehabilitating the disaster struck regions is a Gargantuan task, especially if undertaken with sustainable growth in mind.

Pakistan’s crisis brought on by climate change is an unfortunate affair, since the country contributes a miniscule 0.8% to the global carbon footprint as compared to its developed counterparts, which account for the majority. The country’s fate of facing disaster hit where it hurts, while the country was already in the midst of an expansive economic crises, with a slowed down GDP, dwindling foreign reserves and increasing inflation. To top it all off, the environmental catastrophe has pushed close to 9 million people into poverty, with an additional 8 million falling 20% below the poverty line.

At this time, when Pakistan struggles to dredge through flood waters, it is important for the world to notice the situation for what it is— a humanitarian crisis above all else. The time calls for the global community to come together to pledge help to one of the most vulnerable countries. It is necessary to have a commitment to protecting people’s social and economic rights by providing the financial and technical support to facilitate the country’s recovery.

Maximum focus needs to be on providing a strengthened WASH (Water, sanitation and health) response, and to collaborate on providing the resources necessary to adequately address the calamity. Bilateral lenders need to consider debt relief for Pakistan, as nothing short of debt cancellation will help, given that the country stands next to no chance of honouring any repayments. The foreign direct investment in the country has fallen by 52%, pushing the country further into the clutches of financial ruin.

The support needed by the country needs to involve grants issued for the purpose of climate adaptation, separate from the aid coming in for the humanitarian cause. The government of the country also remains in need of guidance and support to better manoeuvre the establishment of an effective health and social security system to protect the citizens from the repercussions of this disaster, which must also serve as a protective measure for any unfortunate incidences in the future with regard to climate change.

The current scenario in Pakistan, given the political tumultuousness as well as financial ruin, does not serve as conducive to the well-being of the citizens, which requires to be one of the priorities for the state.

The dirty legacy of General Bajwa – one of Pakistan’s most controversial army chief who ended up dividing the military


When General Qamar Javed Bajwa became Pakistan’s most powerful man on November 29, 2016, he was taking over the army amidst a religious campaign against him and in favor of his predecessor General Raheel Sharif, to stay as the army chief.

The 62-year-old official, in charge of the country’s most powerful post for six years will step down on November 29. Last Thursday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appointed Lieutenant General Asim Munir, a former spy chief, as Bajwa’s successor.

General Bajwa is credited to be the man who institutionalized the current model of governance in Pakistan – called the “hybrid regime” where the military remains in control of the country behind shadows but helps install their person of choice as the Prime Minister.

The first experiment that Bajwa orchestrated in this regard failed miserably with Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician, who turned against the military after his ouster as the Pakistani Prime Minister earlier this year.

The second experiment in this regard continues today but is yet to bear any results, given Pakistan’s economy is in trouble and the political instability in the country is at an all time high.

Khan and Bajwa had a fall out because of their disagreement last year over a key position in the military – the head of the powerful intelligence service – the ISI. Khan wanted his recommendation to continue as the ISI chief, but Bajwa eventually prevailed, and subsequently Khan was sent packing home earlier this year in a no-confidence motion by the Pakistani parliamentarians. But the dispute between Khan and Bajwa and Khan’s removal from office has led to one of the most vocal campaigns against the Pakistani military to date, leading to a dramatic decline in the army’s reputation across the country.

In his farewell speech last week, Bajwa acknowledged that the military has meddled in political matters for which it has been severely criticised.

“In my opinion, the reason for this is the constant meddling by the army in politics for the last 70 years, which is unconstitutional,” he said. “That is why, since February last year, the military has decided they will not interfere in any political matter.”

According to international media – Bajwa’s abiding legacy will be the “internal rifts” within the army, which has been viewed as the most disciplined institution in the country.

“General Bajwa miscalculated and underestimated the cracks within his own establishment. He acted too late and also perhaps does not seem to have the stomach to ‘quash’ the rebellion within,” said Maria Rashid, the author of a book on Pakistan’s military, Dying to Serve: Militarism, Affect, and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army, in an interview to Al Jazeera English website.

“For the first time perhaps, the cracks within the military, even though they existed before, are being filtered through the concerns of a mainstream political party, the PTI,” Rashid told Al Jazeera, refering to Khan’s party.

Bajwa’s 6 year tenure also saw the worst crackdown against media freedoms, with Pakistani journalism dying a slow death. Today, the country’s media is effectively micro-managed and controlled by the ISPR – the military’s media wing, and as per RSF: “Pakistan is one of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists, with three to four murders each year that are often linked to cases of corruption or illegal trafficking and which go completely unpunished. Any journalist who crosses the red lines dictated by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) – an intelligence agency offshoot – is liable to be the target of in-depth surveillance that could lead to abduction and detention for varying lengths of time in the state’s prisons or less official jails. Furthermore, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s leading military intelligence agency, is prepared to silence any critic once and for all.”

Another legacy of Bajwa’s tenure is the resurgence of the Pakistani Islamist and militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban who were offered a peace deal recently, and the rise of the Tehreek e Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) – an Islamist group that uses blasphemy as a tool to further its own extremist agenda. TLP has been involved in radicalizing Pakistanis beyond the country’s borders with blasphemy related attacks by Pakistanis in Europe and in neighboring India in recent years.

However, perhaps the most damning legacy of Bajwa is an investigative report that came out just a few days before his retirement by an exiled Pakistani journalist Ahmad Noorani, who in  a publication called FactFocus has revealed how the outgoing army chief’s family made billions of dollars in property and wealth during his 6 year tenure. The journalist published the tax records of his close family members and how the assets grew manifold since Bajwa’s appointment as chief. The report has led to the current Pakistani government initiating an inquiry into the leak but not denying the contents of the investigation.

Weeks after Pakistan’s exit from FATF grey list, terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad acquires land near its HQ in Bahawalpur: Report

Source: The Print

Pakistan continues to shelter terrorist groups, with renewed fervour after exiting the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list earlier this year.

A report by the well known newspaper The Print says that soon after Pakistan exited the ‘grey list’ of the FATF – terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) began a large-scale construction work near its headquarter in Bahawalpur.

The Print, citing maps, videos and photographs, said the area was acquired by the terrorist group in 2022 itself and it houses a seminary that teaches several hundred children. The process of acquisition of the land began in 2008.

The purchaser of the land is Abdul Rauf Asghar aka Abdul Rauf Azhar aka Rauf Ashgar. Abdul Rauf Azhar, is currently the deputy chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), but escaped the global terrorist tag after China placed a technical hold on the proposal in August against a India and the US joint bid.

Pakistani authorities have consistently claimed that the seminary has no link with the terrorist group that plotted and carried out the Pulwama blast in 2019 and the attacks on the Indian Parliament in 2001 and was also the main orchestrator of the attacks on Pathankot Air Base in 2016. The JeM also claimed responsibility for killing three police personnel near Srinagar’s Pantha Chowk in December 2021.

Pakistan has arrested 26/11 perpetrator Sajid Mir, urged the Taliban to locate Masood Azhar and also arrested several members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba on terrorism-related charges. These were measures undertaken to exit the FATF list and were taken ahead of the FATF team’s visit to Pakistan in August.

However, a separate report by local media said that Mir is in custody of the Pakistani deep state in a guest house.

The report in Print further said that JeM maintains eight training camps in Nangarhar of which eight remain in control of the Taliban.

Source: The Print, News18

Pakistan’s balancing act between China and the West exposes its duplicity once again – ANALYSIS


Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif landed in China on Tuesday for a two-day official visit at the country’s Premier Li Keqiang’s invitation. This is his first trip to the neighboring country since assuming office in April this year. The country’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, among other Pakistani officials are part of the delegation accompanying the PM.

Ahead of his departure, Sharif posted on the social media site Twitter saying: “Honored to be among the first few leaders to have been invited after the historic 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. At a time when the world is grappling with multiple challenges, Pakistan and China stand together as friends and partners.”

The prime minister further said in his tweet that discussions with the Chinese leadership would focus on the “revitalisation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) among many other things”.

At a time of drastic global geopolitical realignments, Sharif’s visit to China is being closely watched by the West, due to Islamabad’s commitment to different international economic institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, from whom Pakistan is seeking financial assistance and which view China as an exploitative power.

It is well-known that the Chinese economic ambitions are expansionist. As records show, strategic infrastructure projects are taken up globally in an attempt to set up major debt traps for countries. Chinese financial assistance in the form of “easy loans” have already destabilized countries like Sri Lanka, Laos and Mongolia. But Pakistan appears to push ahead making financial and economic deals with China that are neither transparent, nor do they seem to benefit the country. 

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), launched in April 2015 was supposed to turn around Pakistan’s economy. Despite all such rhetoric in public from the leadership in both countries that it will lift ordinary Pakistanis from poverty, the CPEC is yet to deliver on its promises. Experts say that Chinese projects are benefiting only a handful of the elite of the country, and this perception further took root when Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician came to power. Khan had already questioned the transparency of the CPEC, and once in power, he created a CPEC Authority, which added a bureaucratic layer, slowing down the CPEC projects further.

On the other hand, in recent years, Islamabad’s relationship with the West, and primarily with Washington has also been under pressure, especially since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year. This relationship worsened even further since the downfall of Imran Khan’s government this year, as he accused the US of orchestrating his ouster from power. 

Since then, an attempt has been made to improve the ties between the two countries by PM Sharif and Pakistan’s military chief General Qamar Bajwa, who dominates the country’s foreign policy. They made official visits to the US recently, following which there were speculations about improvement in ties between the two countries.

However, it appears that Islamabad is also continuing to strengthen its relationship with China – a rival of the US, which could create complications for Pakistan going forward as it may need to choose a side. In fact, Pakistan’s balancing act between the West and China has been quite dubious, with the country giving assurance to both sides of commitment to their respective interests in the region. But for how long will Pakistan continue to fool the West and China – it is a question that policy makers in Washington and Beijing must ask themselves.