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Pakistan Press ( 30 Dec 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On Pakistan Army, Relations with Israel and Pakistani Democracy: New Age Islam's Selection, 30 December 2020


By New Age Islam Edit Desk

 30 December 2020

• Pakistan and the Pakistan Army

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

• Diplomatic Relations with Israel

By Zafar Aziz Chaudhry

• Crisis Of Pakistani Democracy

By Zahid Hussain

• Introspection My Dear Countrymen, Introspection

By Dr Talat Shabbir

• Pakistan’s ‘Covid-21’

By Farhan Bokhari

• Remembering A Humble Giant, Qassim Soleimani

By Mohammed Khaku

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Pakistan and the Pakistan Army

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

DECEMBER 30, 2020



Lately, I’ve stopped writing my regular OPED, given the extreme partisan single minded views generally expressed by readers and the absence of a pluralistic approach to a sane dialogue.

Admittedly I do not subscribe to a ” on the one hand and on the other hand” type of journalist jugglerly to try and keep everyone happy, keep the money from my employers or media house flowing, but have very harsh, unvarnished and forthright views, untainted by any external vested interest, other than my own biases!

However earlier today a friend’s comments on an article on the Pakistan Army written by a certain Aqil Shah in the Foreign Affairs Weekly, a fairly reputable publication of the Council of Foreign Relations, supposedly a reputable and objective think tank by western standards, but completey blind, subjective and bankrupt, intellectually, morally, when it comes to commenting on China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel etc, prompted me to pen these words.

Many of us, either out of ignorance or deliberate malice and anger or our selfish interests driven by our political affiliations or our family’s political involvement with a certain party or our business interests and ties to a certain politician or affinity to the same baradari or ethnicity that a certain political leader belongs to or because we are financially rewarded to pursue a seditious agenda, will continue to lsmbast the Pakistan Army!

Mentally we are still slaves of our legacy, culture, family, castes, baradaris, vested interests and greed!

We couch our criticism in holier than thou protestations of democracy,  human rights, freedom of speech, anti militarismetc, complete with what appear to be highly researched pieces, such as Aqil Shah has done or what Hussain Haqqani, pens!

We will run down Pakistan, PM Imran, the Army at every opportunity.

We will highlight PM Imran’s weaknesses his errors, his decisions, his missteps, but nary a word from us about the loot and plunder and corruption and havoc and destruction wreaked on Pakistan by Nawaz Sharif, Bhuttos and Zardaris.

We will criticise the Army overtly and covertly.

But let me say this with no ambiguity, ifs and buts. Despite the past military coups, and with all its acts of omission and commission, thank God for the Pakistan Army!

Aqil Shah belongs to that insidious category of Pakistanis or former Pakistanis, self styled intellectuals, mostly living overseas who love to bash the Pakistan Army, a much fashionable thing to do to make themselves relevant and appear authoritative to their handlers.

Aqil has highlighted completely fabricated issues related to the so called Baluch insurgency fuelled and funded by India, deliberately quoting highly questionable statistics, highlighting the actions of a most subservise, seditious organization like the  PTM as a supposedly genuine voice of the exploited.

He and his fellow cohorts use Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto’s anti army and anti Imran tirades as evidence of a fascist Pakistani state run rampant! Misguiding people inside and outside Pakistan!

Pakistan has many “Aqil Shahs”

The SAATH Forum is full of them. People who deliberately and knowingly promoted India’s massive 15 year long disinformation campaign against Pakistan as unearthed by  EUDisinfoLab, which undertook the investigation and published an extensive report!

These people have sold their souls and intellect to the West or India or Israel or to vested political interests like the Sharifs or Bhuttos and in my opinion belong to the same category as the likes of HussainHaqqani, Gul Burkhari, Aqil Shah etc and their fellow conspirators in the Saath forum.

Sadly, they are actively supported in our own media by people who are or were mainstream TV Anchors and OPED writers.

Or supported by what were once reputable newspapers, one run by a family whose senior members were part and parcel of our military regimes and one of whom with publicly acknowledged ties to the CIA!

All above media persons and media houses pretending to be intellectually objective, patriotic, well meaning but highly subversive and cunningly poisonous!

While there is much that is wrong in our country now and in the past, and much remains to be done, here’s my assessment of how things will play out if people like PM Imran are in government and sensible cool heads like Gen. Bajwa head the Army.

Not necessarily these two but people with their kind of approach!

Lets put some facts on the table.

The military is still the most powerful and privileged institution in Pakistan. And yes it has acquired influence much beyond its mandate.

And, yes, in the past it has been responsible for most of our political mess.  Absolutely! Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Zardari are all consequences of military takeovers!

But today it is the most effective, most disciplined, most meritocratic and relatively least corrupt government institution, compared to other Pakistani public sector institutions.

Thankfully but strangely and paradoxically it has survived the rape of other Pakistani civilian state institutions by the likes of Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Zardari, because it took over the country! What a paradox!

Otherwise it would have gone the same way as did our police, our bureaucracy and our judiciary! Completely destroyed, ineffective and dysfunctional!

Picture the nightmarish scenario of the Pakistan Army being like our Police!

So It is important to see their influence on a spectrum, starting from Ayub, Yahya, Zia, Musharraf to recent times such Gen. Kayani, Raheel Sharif and now Gen. Bajwa.

Clearly the institution does not exercise the same overt clout it did in the past.

Covert? Of course, yes.

But significantly diminished as compared to Gen. Musharraf’s Martial Law followed by Gen. Kayani, Raheel, or even Gen. Bajwa’s first tenure!

The slope of both overt and covert control from 1958 to 2020 is considerably diminished.

However given the near destruction of all other public sector institutions and the Army’s relative effectiveness it has filled the power and governance vacuum!

This is the natural law of power. Wherever there is a vacuum the most powerful force will fill it and claim it.

Also any well meaning civilian government or PM, like Imran, by default will seek their help in non military areas because of the near non existence of civilian institutional capacity.

The BIG QUESTION?

Will the Army willingly and voluntarily relinquish its hold on areas not directly under its mandate?

*My assessment*.

Yes, only if the civilian institutions are strong and effective. Again a principle of power where a civilian institution starts to claim back its space as we are seeing in the battle between the Superior Judiciary and the Military!

But the Judiciary in my opinion, is a massive organization driven purely by the petty and finanvialself interests of its members and pretending to be a defenders of free speech and judicial independence!

In my opinion, our Superior Judiciary has much greater responsibility for our current mess than are our military coups as they spinelessly endorsed every military takeover from 1958 to 1999.

They also have the scar of carrying out Bhutto’s judicial murder.

Today it’s run like a personal fiefdom of a small clique of judges not answerable or accountable to any state institution, appointing people at whim to superior judicial appointments with no system of meritocracy or accountability in the lower or superior judicial system!

This is unacceptable!

In my opinion it’s an archaic, fossilized institution, preying on the innocent, especially the poor and the illiterate. It needs to be completely uprooted and established anew to deliver prompt and fair justice!

Will politicians be able to exercise independent decisions without the Army’s covert influence?

Yes, if the majority are honest, well meaning, patriotic and committed like PM Imran, not corrupt, servile and slavish like Nawaz Sharif, Zardari and their Rasputin like Machaivellian courtiers

All of them continuously attempting to bring the Army under their direct control not to “regain civilian supremacy” over the “military” as they hypocritically proclaim from the safe havens of London, but to remove the biggest hurdle to their loot and plunder!

Having said that, it is my considered view that our current governance model, disguised as democracy, is completely unsuitable to our culture and needs.

While we need representative and transparent governance this Westminster type of Democracy is not for us!

Ours is a system which is systematically hijacked and raped by the “garbage in garbage out” electoral process which recycles the same corrupt politicians back into power. Imran is a singular exception to make it to PM.

Our model has failed. It is directly responsible for our military coups and for the rampant loot and plunder and systematic destruction of our institutions by the likes of Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Benazir and Asif Zardari.

We have to evolve a hybrid model closer to our culture and ethos, as China has evolved a system which works for them!

If somehow we could, I would love to see our entire youth undergo the same rigorous training that our recruits and cadets undergo in our military institutions to instil a sense of discipline, patriotism, pride and above all, collective social responsibility.

The last our biggest challenge in an ill disciplined, selfish, self-cantered society with near total absence of collective social responsibility!

Let our Pakistani Nation become a “Nation at Arms” physically, intellectually and emotionally, not just to defend ourselves militarily, but to raise ourselves up, economically, technologically, culturally, morally and with integrity and attain our rightful place as a great country and become a truly welfare state!

And if anyone thinks that the likes of Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari and what they represent or their biological offspring, with nothing to their credit, except their leeches like supporters who use them to remain relevant, and religious charlatans and blackmailers, like FazlurRehman, posing as political leaders, will help us get there, they live in Cuckooland!

Despite all our challenges and the imperfections, we see in governance, it is my considered opinion that we haven’t had a better opportunity than now under a civilian government, with Imran as PM and Bajwa as Army Chief to initiate and redress this imbalance of power between the Army and other state institutions, and begin the serious task of rebuilding our civilian state institutions and Pakistan!

https://dailytimes.com.pk/707425/pakistan-and-the-pakistan-army/

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Diplomatic Relations with Israel

By Zafar Aziz Chaudhry

DECEMBER 30, 2020



These days one important question which has left Pakistan in a state of quandary, is whether in the changed scenario of international politics, it would be feasible to recognize the state of Israel.It is essential to know the background of Pakistan-Israel relations in the past to answer this question. Pakistan and Israel almost simultaneously appeared on the map of the world on the basis of their religious identity. Pakistan, on the basis of two nation theory, and Israel for a separate Homeland for the Jewish people. Israel made a request for bilateral relations with Pakistan, but the Quaid e Azam ignored that request, more probably because the new state of Pakistan was beset by major problems of mass cross emigration of Hindus and Muslims from the countries of their origin, and their subsequent settlement in their new homeland.

The Palestinians had lived for centuries on the bank of the Mediterranean, surrounded by Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, when the United Nations at the behest of U.S approved a plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state in 1947, but the Arabs rejected it. From a small speck around the present Tel Aviv, the Jews fought internecine battles with the Muslim population with arms supplied by U.S and other allies and pushed back the unarmed Palestinianstowards Gaza and beyond, which in history is remembered as Zionism. Hence the creation of Israel took place by their unlawful occupation of Palestinian area and subsequent declaration of a sovereign state of Israel.

Since Israel’s establishment in May 1948, Pakistan, being a Muslim country, has refused to establish diplomatic relations with it. The agreements that Israel signed with Egypt in 1978, the PLO in 1993, and Jordan in 1994 brought no change in Pakistan’s policy. However, Israeli and Pakistani officials maintained clandestine contacts over the years. Pakistan’s non-recognition of Israel was mainly due to keeping religious solidarity with the Arab-Muslim countries and the fear of  reaction by radical Islamic groups. Pakistan’s political and military leaders always try hard  to get along well with its radical clergy, however reactionary or ill-advised they may be. Our efforts to frame our policies guided by our religious leaders has many a times beguiled us from seeking to follow policies which have the potential to uplift our economy or strengthening our defense needs.In today’s world better and prosperous economy is the only viable step which makes us known to the world community as a nation to be reckoned with. This gives us an enviable image of which we can be proud of as a nation.Rational and pragmatic approach to resolve the problems faced by humanity could earn us dignity and respect of other nations.None of our decisions should be based on vacuous emotional grounds.Standing clear of these considerations will work to the betterment of our country both in internal and external fronts. The reason why we are passing through a crisis of our image is that we are guided by falsely religious propaganda and have failed to see things as they are.We don’t follow the pristine teachings of Islam and are led away by the herd instincts of so-called religious groups.

The hostilities perpetrated on Palestinians  were resented by the entire Muslims of the world. The U.S which had the main role to create Israelcould not prevent the exodus of Palestinians from their motherlandwhich made them shelter less. This was a gruesome tragedy wrought by the combined might of allied forces which now appears irreversible. Now recognizing or not recognizing Israel is unlikely to restore the rights and land of the Palestinians. There are about 13 countries which have not so far recognized Israel, Saudi Arab being one of them. If Pakistan being a nuclear power and a strategic partner of U.S in this region  leads the consortium of countries who have not so far recognized Israel and impress upon the U.S to guarantee better financial aid and housing facilities to the Palestinians in lieu of their recognition of Israel, I feel it will certainly achieve the desired results. The retrieval of the lost Palestinian territory to its rightful owners looks impossible.

Later Six days war in 1967 caused further fissures in the unity of Palestinians and they were forcibly occupied by Egypt. Under the reign of Hosni Mobarak they faced their economic blockade and further political repression. Today they have been rendered homeless and are subjected to extreme poverty. This detail was essential to know the truth of Israel’s expansion, at the cost of PalestiniansHomeland.Noam Chomski, the great American philosopher regarded it as “Mass murder of Palestinians” with western armament.

Thus in the background of these hostilities and their unauthorized occupation of Palestinian lands, it was not easy to recognize a state built on human genocide. But since new realities had emerged after 1967 war therefore gradual recognition of Israel became a reality.

Since 1980 onward, Pakistan engaged itself in covert diplomacy with Israel for which Embassy of Washington was used.In 2020, Israel signed agreements establishing diplomatic relations with four Arab League countries, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco.

As of December 2020, 164 of the other 192 UN member states recognize Israel,only 13 countries do not recognize Israel.

There is no likelihood that Pakistan and Israel will go to war. They do not share borders, and do not have a direct conflict. As nuclear powers, both Israel and Pakistan are aware of the need to manage any misunderstandings between them. Pakistan is in no way a less strong nation militarily. But for Pakistan to subjugate Israel is not possible because it is a satellite state of the western super powers which will not let Israel come to any harm. However the recent accord between Israel and the U.A.E is not a happy sign for Pakistan.

In a prepared speech, Imran Khan said that it is in Pakistan’s interest to neither condemnnor commend, but stay clear of creating troubles for itself with the Gulf state, while still recovering from the diplomatic fiasco with Saudi Arabia. Recently the Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that international relations are above religious sentiments. It was a bold statement.

And finally the question whether in the scenario discussed above, Pakistan should recognize Israel or not? Rationally speaking, we cannot possibly retrieve and restore the Palestinian territories to them on which Israel has made their large Jewish settlements. We have upheld their cause as our political stance, but have not been able to practically do anything about them. Mere emotional attachment with their cause will neither benefit them nor us. All our vital decisions have so far been made on religious considerations. Other Islamic countries have become wiser to take decisions on pure economic and defense considerations. The question is how long we will remain tied to the petard of our own self-destruction? No decision, as I have already said, should be based on vacuous emotional grounds. If our prime Minister who is already engaged in many sensitive administrative matters is afraid of the radical religious elements, then the matter may be entrusted to the Parliament. If we have diplomatic relations with countries like India and Bangladesh with whom we had open wars, then what prevents us from recognizing Israel from whom we can benefit more than losing anything?

https://dailytimes.com.pk/707433/diplomatic-relations-with-israel/

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Crisis Of Pakistani Democracy

By Zahid Hussain

30 Dec 2020

THE ongoing battle between the opposition and the PTI government has brought to the surface the worst of the prevailing political culture. It illustrates patterns of behaviour that should have little to do with the norms and values relevant to a democratic polity.

The war of words is becoming more and more revolting. The entire effort is to make lies sound truthful and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. This picture raises questions about the future course of the already corrupted democratic political process in the country. The rot appears unstoppable with a worsening crisis of leadership all around. It certainly does not give much hope for change as we enter 2021.

While the country is ruled by a self-righteous and novice leadership perceived as being propped up by the security establishment, the motley opposition alliance seems hardly capable of bringing any change to the existing dynastic power structure that contradicts the very ethos of democracy.

What we are witnessing is a power struggle within the ruling elite — in which the faces are interchangeable. Surely some of the smaller groups may have democratic credentials but most parties in the alliance are largely family enterprises. This degenerative political culture has to be changed and replaced with an inclusive and institutional democracy in the country. It is certainly going to be a long struggle.

It may be true that the PDM charter calls for the restoration of fundamental democratic rights and the end of the security establishment’s role in national politics. But how sincere the opposition parties are to act on this solemn declaration remains to be seen. Many of them would readily cosy up to the security establishment when it serves their interests. Our political history is full of such examples.

A number of political parties that form the PDM have been in power in the past and some of them still have strong stakes in the current engineered system. Each one has played the establishment’s game in the past to protect its own interests and may be willing to do so again.

While refusing to talk to the PTI government, some of the alliance leaders appear ready to negotiate with the security agencies. Back-room contacts never cease. It is not surprising that the PDM is divided on the issue of resigning from parliament. One can also understand the PPP’s refusal to give up the Sindh government as such a move could sound the death knell for the party whose political clout is restricted to the province.

For over 70 years, the country has alternated between authoritarian military regimes and ineffective elected civilian rule. But there have been no fundamental changes to Pakistan’s political power structure. A small power elite has dominated the country’s political scene under civilian as well as military rule.

The extractive nature of the state’s institutions has prevented the country from embarking on a path of economic and political progress. Despite the economic and social changes that have occurred over the past seven decades, the stranglehold of family-oriented politics remains. A limited number of influential families continue to control Pakistani legislatures.

A sense of dynastic entitlement dominates the country’s political culture impeding the development of institutional democracy. With few exceptions, political parties are an extension of powerful families with hereditary leaders. There is no concept of intra-party democracy. The only change is the transfer of leadership from one generation to the next.

Over the years, families from urban, religious and military backgrounds have also emerged on the political scene, but this has not changed Pakistan’s personalised and dynastic political culture. Studies show that a few hundred families have monopolised the political scene in Pakistan. Interestingly, hereditary politics have been stren­gthened under successive military governments.

Dynastic control has dire implications for our political and economic institutions. It reduces the legitimacy of a government, impacts the quality of government policies, promotes patronage and corruption and has negative consequences through the selection effect.

Most of these dynastic political groups have actively collaborated with successive military regimes in order to protect their vested interests and receive state patronage. The control of a narrow oligarchic elite and the patriarchal political system have impeded critical structural reforms that are needed for sustainable economic development and to strengthen democratic and economic institutions.

A major factor contributing to Imran Khan’s political rise has been his slogan against dynastic politics. But after coming to power, not only did he co-opt politicians from dynastic political backgrounds he also established a highly personalised rule. His authoritarian ways have further weakened the state and democratic institutions.

The leadership’s politics of revenge and suppression of democratic rights have strengthened dynastic politics. The government’s so-called crusade against corruption has made the whole process of accountability questionable. The obvious reliance on the security establishment has seriously affec­ted democratic evolution and produced a state of hybrid rule that has further damaged institutions.

The ongoing political confrontation, which is far from over, has also sucked in the security establishment. It is a highly combustible political situation. Undoubtedly, military versus civilian supremacy remains a major issue that has to be resolved for democracy to be sustainable. But there is also a need to change the existing political culture that impedes inclusive democracy.

Unfortunately, political forces are divided on this critical issue. Of course, the development of democratic culture is not straightforward. It means providing and nurturing conditions that allow plurality and diversity in society. Sustainable development is closely linked to the development of a democratic culture.

The extractive nature of the state institutions has stunted the growth of an inclusive democratic process. Democracy is not about power but about fundamental structural political reform.

The dynastic control of politics and long periods of military rule have blurred this critical distinction. The crisis of Pakistani democracy is rooted deep in the political fault lines perpetuated by an oligarchic elite. A representative democracy offers the only way forward for the country.

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Zahid Hussain is an author and journalist.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1598642/crisis-of-pakistani-democracy

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Introspection My Dear Countrymen, Introspection

By Dr Talat Shabbir

December 29, 2020

Quaid-e-Azam’s 144th birth anniversary came and passed. This important day that falls in December fills us with prideful emotions. We remember with veneration and adore the great statesman of his time who led us to win a dream homeland. Alongside commemorations, the day also reflects on how poorly we carried on with the ideals of our Quaid and failed to build on what was a pathway to sure success. So December 25 becomes a day mix of celebrations and anxieties. All living nations celebrate anniversaries of their founding fathers and remember their ideals and reiterate to live up to them, so do we, at least on the face of it.

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was the most celebrated statesman not only for his contemporaries but for the people who did not live in his times but could appreciate his unwavering political struggle for the rights of his people. He was the personification of selflessness, dedication, charisma, competence, honesty and professionalism and a man of impeccable integrity and character. Many of his great contemporary statesmen and writers acknowledged the Quaid’s traits and paid tribute to the iconic leader.

What a tribute was paid to him by US historian Professor Stanley Wolpert in his book, Jinnah of Pakistan, when he writes: “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.” John Biggs Davison, a UK MP, had this to say: “Although without Gandhi, Hindustan would still have gained independence and without Lenin and Mao, Russia and China would still have endured Communist revolution, without Jinnah there would have been no Pakistan.” Patrick Spens, the last chief justice of undivided India, paid tribute to Jinnah by saying: “The tallness of the man, the immaculate manner in which he turned out, the beauty of his features and the extreme courtesy with which he treated all, no one could have made a more favourable impression than he did. He was the most outright person that I know.”

During the very short period he lived after August 14, 1947, till he left for his final abode on September 11, 1948, Quaid would persistently speak on occasions and give out his vision of building a modern and democratic Pakistan with ideals of peace, equal citizenship, tolerance, rule of law and human rights. A reflection of this could be seen when on August 11, 1947, he made his first speech at the first Constituent Assembly reiterating that he would always be guided by the principles of justice and fair-play without any prejudice or ill-will. That was where Quaid’s trajectory of idealistic vision for Pakistan rested.

Deplorably, soon after his demise, his ideals were abandoned and his vision was lost. While falling quite short of what he wanted us to stand for, we came to the chaotic crossroads of history overawed and shaken. Long after him, we still grapple with issues like power struggle, self-serving elite, weak political institutions, opportunism, corruption, ineptitude, intolerance, fanaticism and disharmony. Misplaced priorities, above all, have turned Pakistan into a hotbed of all kinds of divisive issues.

Quaid-e-Azam, in his August 11 speech, wanted Pakistan to be one of the greatest nations of the world. Perhaps December 25 also reminds us of Quaid’s ideals and his vision for Pakistan. That requires us to dig deep and find out what we lost by abandoning his ideals. This day of commemoration should turn into a day of introspection, which should assume at single institution, by every individual who misses a beat when an incident of falling from grace occurs anywhere in Pakistan. In the light of Quaid’s vision, becoming one of the greatest nations in the world is the only option and for that, introspection my dear fellow countrymen, introspection.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2277894/introspection-my-dear-countrymen-introspection

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Pakistan’s ‘Covid-21’

By Farhan Bokhari

December 30, 2020

The new year arrives in Pakistan on Friday, promising to bring more than just the usual set of challenges coupled with fewer than expected opportunities for the time being.

For the foreseeable future, Pakistan’s outlook will remain closely tied to the world’s worst pandemic in decades. The continuing attack by Covid-19 from country to country and the discovery of a new and deadlier strain in a growing number of countries, presents a major challenge with unpredictable consequences.

Even if Pakistan avoids falling directly in the line of fire of the new strain, the country’s future will be surrounded by the fallout from the dark clouds gathered over the horizon. At the very least, a further deterioration in an already strained global economic outlook will unleash the fallout that is certain to engulf countries like Pakistan.

Moreover, a succession of policy failures along with a failure to focus on the most pressing challenges under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government together have already raised doubts over Pakistan’s economic outlook getting anywhere close to a robust recovery. Notwithstanding the self proclaimed kudos by the present government proclaiming Pakistan’s economy emerging out of the woods, the contrary remains true.

Besides, Pakistan’s continuing political polarization unleashed by the activism of the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement or PDM, is set to deepen what appears to be increasing uncertainty. This is set to continue weakening Pakistan’s economy, politics and other key elements necessary for the country’s overall stabilization.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan remains in the unenvious position of serving as prime minister of Pakistan at a time when his government faces more challenges than any of its predecessors. Settling the country’s increasingly acrimonious politics, reviving the economy and tackling the fallout from Covid-19 on a daily basis together presents a formidable crisis for any ruler.

And while some relatively positive trends have emerged on Pakistan’s ability to tackle Covid-19, its much too early to predict an all-encompassing success. Given the unpredictable nature of this beast, it would be far from wise to claim success let alone victory. As before, the prime minister’s victory claim repeated from time to time may not necessarily be the right course in the face of this deadly pandemic which haunts the world as no other ailment has done before.

As Pakistan remains locked in the recurring eye of the storm, the government’s ability to manage the country’s politics and its economy leaves room for doubt. An unending confrontation with the opposition through an open-ended pursuit of corruption has badly exposed prevailing double standards. Individuals around Prime Minister Khan liable for corruption related investigations appear to have been treated less harshly than his opponents.

The track record of NAB – the main anti graft watchdog – has also had a pernicious effect on Pakistan’s business environment, with individuals targeted having shared accounts of investigations that will likely fall flat in any truly democratic society. NAB’s work has already harmed Pakistan’s investment climate at a crucial time in the country’s history, dogged by a variety of economic weaknesses. Many Pakistanis proudly remember the 1960s when Pakistan’s economy was heading in a transitional phase for the better. But it is equally true that the existence of a body similar to NAB in the 1960s would have easily killed that short-lived period of economic transformation.

At the same time, ministers in the Khan government eagerly claim one economic success after another. In doing so, they grasp on selective trends such as an improvement in Pakistan’s current account deficit or some improvement in prices of one essential commodity or another. But the prime minister and his economic team have failed to appreciate that a sustainable recovery cannot be claimed unless its fruits are shared by Pakistan’s average households. Irrespective of how far the opposition can dent the ruling structure, the gap between official claims and the reality across Pakistan’s grassroots presents the biggest challenge confronting the country.

As Pakistan enters 2021, the country’s ability to tackle these mighty challenges along with the unpredictability surrounding the pandemic must raise a compelling question: has Pakistan entered ‘Covid-21’ in view of the multiple challenges surrounding the country with few resolutions in close sight?

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Farhan Bokhari is an Islamabad-based journalist who writes on political and economic affairs.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/766329-pakistan-s-covid-21

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Remembering A Humble Giant, Qassim Soleimani

By Mohammed Khaku

DECEMBER 29, 2020

The year 2020 has been completely disastrous. The year started with a horrific crime committed by Donald Trump with the assassination of General Qassim Soleimani. The crime can never be forgotten. Iran has every right to pursue justice to bring these criminals and their accomplice to justice.

Why commemorate the death anniversary of Qassim Soleimani?

The remembrance of his death anniversary is important event to look back, reflect, and reaffirm the struggle of oppressed people. Personally, what comes to mind of his legacy is courage, integrity and siding with the oppressed people. Soleimani was a person of great humility, self-confidence and eschewed egotism. In times of hardship and challenges he saw opportunities and never backdown. Soleimani’s place in history is still unfolding and his work of liberating Jerusalem still remain unfinish. A global icon whose faith and strategy define him a general of Al Quds force.

On January 3rd, Iran and Oppressed people around the world will observe the first anniversary of the assassination Soleimani.

A handsome face with dreamy eyes was a revered figure among not only for the Al Quds (Jerusalem) force, but around Middle East. The martyrdom of the top general of Iran was a conspiracy to further destabilize the Middle East and start a war with Iran.

He is more alive in his legacy and martyrdom today than he ever was. No words are sufficient to express the legacy of Soleimani. His martyrdom has created numerous Soleimani’s from Kashmir to Palestine.

The memory of General Soleimani’s death will remain immortal in the history of all mankind. The martyrdom and the tears that roll down our cheeks are for the oppressed people, be it in Palestine, Kashmir, Yemen, Myanmar or China. These tears are the tears of revolt and challenge to the tyrants of the world. This assassination has branded the mark of disgrace upon the forehead of all oppressors and oppressed governments.

His background Soleimani grew in a village in Kerman Province bordering Afghanistan. His father was a small-time farmer indebted due to “modernization” of Shah’s policies. With the family facing debt, young Soleimani dropped out of school at the age of twelve to labor in the construction industry. He joined IRGC at a very young age and was sent to northwest to suppress a Kurdish separatist uprising.

Soleimani served throughout the eight years of war with Saddam Hussein in 1980 specially in retaking Bostan. in December 1981 to the invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan in 1987, where his unit encountered Saddam using chemical weapons sourced from the US and Europe.

Following the closure of Iraq war in 1988, Soleimani was sent back home to Kerman to wage war on the drug gangs from Afghanistan and Taliban threatening order in the region. After years of insurgent warfare his forces pacified the province, earning him the lasting gratitude of its residents. By March 1998, he had risen to commander of the Quds Force, the lethal special forces unit of the IRGC.

Soleimani is one of the heroes and a righteous son in the history of Islamic republic who stood in defiance against USA and Zionist Israel. He a was most revered, respected, and charismatic military General. He was loved, and admired by all oppressed people around the globe specially Palestinians, Yemenis and Kashmiris. His role in Middle East was to re-shape the new order of resistance. He is a hero who was seen to be a beacon of strength for Muslim countries like Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria and as a liberator from the clutches of the western powers.

Qassim Soleimani was principal architect and played a significant role in fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He was described as the key player in bringing together Kurdish and Shia forces to fight ISIS in Mosul. Soleimani and his forces played a major role in the victory of Fallujah, Mosul, Kirkuk and Aleppo which US force could not liberate. He was so revered for his talent and wisdom on the battlefield and so feared by ISIS and US.  He earned mythical status among his enemies and idolizes by Muslims from Palestine to Yemen.

Soleimani has been responsible for the formation of an arc of unity and resistance from Beirut to Damascus through  Iraq, and to Yemen. Soleimani out maneuvered USA in Syria and Iraq hastened the decline of US presence in Middle East. He has restored the long-lost Muslim pride, self-confidence and unity among the Muslim World.

The most courageous General of Al Quds force avoids publicity or media, and when meeting with freedom fighters to Ayatollahs to the dignitaries of the world he prefers to remain quiet, but when he speaks, he is so soft spoken, polite, and rarely raising his voice. He was so modest that he would not allow his admirers to kiss is hand or forehead as customarily in Iran and Middle East.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/707345/remembering-a-humble-giant-qassim-soleimani/

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URL:   https://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/pakistan-press-pakistan-army,-relations/d/123919

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