Since the time Imran Khan government assumed power, Pakistan has been changing for the worse. Atrocities on minorities have been on the rise, the army is taking over all institutions and global leaders have begun bypassing photo-ops in Islamabad, heading straight for Rawalpindi, where decisions are made. The pressure from the FATF has been rising steadily, while Pakistan is losing support from traditional allies, Saudi Arabia and UAE, as it moves closer to their rival Turkey. Simultaneously work on the CPEC has almost come to a grinding halt.
Internally, the tussle between the judiciary and the deep state has just commenced, economically Pakistan is doldrums forcing it to beg for relief from international agencies while unemployment is rising rapidly. The growing cases of the Coronavirus and failing healthcare systems has pushed Pak to the brink. Internal security is collapsing as attacks on Pak security forces in Baluchistan are on the rise, while Pashtuns are up in anger against extrajudicial killings and disappearances.
Along the LoC, India has begun responding with vigour at every attempt of infiltration. The recent elimination of ten Pak militants in their launchpads and three while infiltrating was stated in Pak newspapers as the killing of thirteen innocent Kashmiri’s. With no response to their fake claims within the valley, silence remained within the Pak establishment. The failure to infiltrate has led to low morale within terrorist groups on Pak side, compelling the DG ISI to visit terrorist camps in POK.
Since the Imran Khan government came to power, 31 minority members were killed, 58 injured, 25 blasphemy cases registered, and hundreds of homes destroyed. Being born a minority in Pakistan is a crime as recent incidents bear out. Distribution of food and relief funds to the public is based on religion. Minorities were denied any unless they converted. A study by ‘Movement for Solidarity and Peace’ states that yearly over a thousand Hindu and Christian, girls and women, are kidnapped, raped and forcibly converted. Pakistani Christian activists have claimed that in the last two years over 630 girls and women were sold to the Chinese and taken across the border.
The armed forces have taken over almost all institutions in the country. The European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) stated, ‘Key portfolios such as Finance, Interior, Commerce, Defence Production, Railways and Institutional Reforms are held by individuals with established links to the Military.’With the appointment of Lt Gen Bajwa, the current Chairman of the CPEC as the information advisor, the EFSAS stated, ‘signifies the thirst of the military to control the government’s public narrative and information management in the prevailing uncertain times due to the coronavirus crisis.’
Pakistan is amongst few nations whose armed forces have huge business ventures. These include their Fauji Foundation which runs projects which include sugar mills, cereal and corn, natural gas, plastics, fertilizers, cement, power, education and healthcare. Their business worth is around USD 20 billion. The 22nd May signing of the Daimer Bhasha Dam project involved China Power and Pak army owned Frontier Works Organization. Its hold on the CPEC will ensure that true details of the project are never released to the Pak public. In contrast, in Aug 2018, Xi Jinping advised the Chinese military to put an end to paid service activities and focus on combat readiness.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan has visited Pak on multiple occasions. All his previous visits included discussions and interactions with the Pakistani Foreign Minister SM Qureshi and on occasions with PM Imran Khan. His last few visits, including when accompanied by the US commander for Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, are now direct to Rawalpindi, ignoring Islamabad. To push Afghanistan peace talks forward, the Pak army chief accompanied by the DG ISI, visited Afghanistan last week. The Pak political leadership seems to be out of all aspects concerning Afghanistan.
Even Bill Gates wanting to complement Pak for its polio drive, telephones Bajwa, rather than anyone in the government. The world has learnt, why waste time calling leaders in Naya Pakistan who cannot and will dare not take any decision. Speak to Bajwa and get the right answer. The only institution which has currently shown some inclination to challenge the institution of the army is the judiciary. The case against Justice Isa proceeds in the Pak supreme court. It was his verdict against the army which led to him being dragged into court for undeclared assets. The bar association stands by Justice Isa. The decision by the supreme court would determine if there is any agency in the country which can challenge the power of the deep state.
Diplomatically, the nation is fast losing allies. Its moving closer to Turkey has led to distancing from Saudi Arabia and UAE. Qatar, which was to invest in Pakistan’s airports have backed out. Malaysia, which was traditionally close to Pakistan has moved closer to India.
Internally militancy is rising within the country. In May alone, Pakistan lost 18 security personnel to militant attacks. While in Baluchistan attacks have increased, in Waziristan, Pashtuns are displaying anger against the state.
The IMF had warned Pak to stall defence expenditure and salaries in its forthcoming budget. This was not adhered to under pressure from the army. Combining all armed forces and central police forces (under the army) allocations, salaries and pensions totals to almost 50% of planned expenditure. When repayment of loans and interest is included, there would be almost nothing left for development and medical infrastructure, only adding to miseries of the local population.
The only role which appears to have been given to the political leadership is to tweet on anti-India issues and interact with the world community for relief on loans and additional debt. Imran has no power for any decision-making. His announcement of no lockdown was reversed the next day when the DGISPR announced a national lockdown. Democracy remains just in name in Pak.
Imran Khan has slowly and silently changed Pakistan for eternity. His handing over all institutions to the army and displaying to the world that decision making is the prerogative of Rawalpindi would make Islamabad only suitable for photo-ops in the future. The only advantage of his actions is that there is no requirement of any coup.