Media Distortion of Civil-Military Relations: Imran Khan, New Pakistan or Corruption?
There is a famous Arabian saying which states “A man’s greatness can be measured by the enormity of his enemies.” The Urdu poet Nida Fazli simplifies it further by saying, “He, who has lot of enemies; consider the man as good.” Something similar is happening in case of Pakistan’s military and now with the newly elected government of Prime Minister Imran Khan led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), as both have gathered adversaries home and abroad. Though, interestingly such foes belong to a “specific class” and are not among general masses of the country, who gave huge acceptance and popularity to the newly elected government and the military due to their drive against corruption. The narrative of this “specific class” does not match the narrative of the state as well as the people of Pakistan. At home front, these elements are mostly those who are bogged in the swamps of corruption and want to remain in power at any cost, and on international front there are the powers who do not want to see a stable Pakistan-free of corruption. Like the trade unions, these internal entities want to obtain their interests even at the cost of the country. Hence, their narrative matches with external enemies and they work hands in gloves to achieve the nefarious objectives. Recently, their new target is the civil-military relations, as these elements are using media in this regard.
Imran Khan’s victory is not a usual victory in the elections of 2018. His success has emerged with the slogan of “Naya Pak” [New Pakistan] and building a “corruption free society”. He has emerged as the most popular leader in the history of the country, who has pledged to eliminate corruption from the country during his tenure and is on his way to achieve the same.
Pakistan is currently ranked 117 out of 180 countries on the Transparency International Index which is quite worrisome. The anti-corruption drive has brought the major opposing leaders like Sharif brothers-deposed Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif-former head of the Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), ex-chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and former Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-ex-President of Pakistan Asif Zardari and their cronies in the whirlpool which is creating rumbles that can be heard through their media associates on national and international fronts. What is fretting the anti-national and the anti-Pakistan international players, compelling them to initiate campaign on civil-military relations in Pakistan can be best explained in following lines:-
Under the leadership of Prime minister Imran Khan, anti-corruption drive by the institutions independently where the military is not interfering, though rendering all possible assistance in eliminating of corruption.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s simple living style—implementation of austerity drives and decisions regarding Prime Minister House, Governors’ Houses, luxury transport fleet etc., to compel the ministers and bureaucrats to adopt simple ways of living.
Successful visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan and country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Saudi Arabia, UAE, US and revamping of the foreign policy which was shelved for years.
Reassurance of China for an effective management of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which was also important during the recent visit of country’s Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa to Beijing.
Revival of effective working relationship between the government and the army, as army is enjoying the confidence of the Prime Minister Imran Khan and vice versa.
US disturbance over the CPEC, her failure in Afghanistan and an endless war in that country.
Indian political fiasco surfaced after Rafale Aircraft deal scandal that compelled the Indian Government to divert the pressure towards Pakistan Government and military.
Initiation of new dams’ campaign in Pakistan, which does not suit India.
The narrative adopted in the media is based on following arguments:-
Imran Khan is the establishment’s boy and is dancing to the tunes of the army.
The government does not have any initiative and all the major states decisions are taken in the General Head Quarters (GHQ-head quarters of army), including the foreign policy of Pakistan.
CPEC is being handled by the army alone and this is the reason that army chief visited China without government representation.
Military is the biggest hurdle in way of better relations with India, Afghanistan and the US.
The media onslaught is multi-directional; however, social media is spiting the most poisonous venom. Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp users know that few specific individuals (either unknown or low grade journalists) are engaged in such anti-state activities and are mostly living abroad.
As a matter of fact, few of the defeated/convicted politicians like Mian Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, Mehmood Khan Achakzai etc. have adopted the same theme of creating a rift between the new elected government and the army through their concealed and open statements.
In a very recent development, five members of the US Congressional Sindh Caucus have written a letter to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asking him to discuss the issues, highlighted in the letter with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s address during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 29, this year, and meeting with Pompeo in Washington, as Quereshi pointed out Indian atrocities in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, including political solution of the Kashmir issue and war-torn Afghanistan.
Notably, it is as to how these internal elements defame their motherland by following, intentionally or unintentionally, the conspiracy of the external entities against the government and the key institutions for nothing, but to fulfill their own vested interests.
However, the letter asks the US Secretary of State to discuss alleged human rights violations with focus on enforced disappearances in the Sindh province, including construction of dams without consulting stake holders from Sindh.
The letter allegedly involved the state officials in enforced disappearances cases, accusing that Sindh is not getting share of its water since long. Allegedly, it states that owing to previous dams, huge land in Sindh has been affected due to saltwater intrusion from Arabian Sea which has seriously affected economy of Sindhi people.
Nevertheless, some already mentioned points need elaboration.
In this respect, during the second visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the latter agreed on October 23, this year to provide $3 billion for a period of one year to address country’s balance-of-payments crisis.
In this connection, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Pakistan’s Federal Finance Minister Asad Umar and his Saudi counterpart Muhammad Abdullah Al-Jadaan. It was agreed that a one-year deferred payment facility for import of oil, up to $3 billion, will be provided by Riyadh. This arrangement will be for three years, after which it will be reviewed. So, it is total $6 billion which Saudi Arabia will give to Pakistan.
The agreements were signed, as Prime Minister Imran Khan was in Saudi Arabia to attend the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference, trip he undertook on the invitation of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud.
It is mentionable that Riyadh also confirmed its interest in investing in a petroleum refinery in Pakistan.
The Kingdom also expressed interest in the development of mineral resources in Pakistan. In this regard, the federal government will hold consultations with the Balochistan government, following which a Saudi delegation will be invited to Pakistan to finalise matters.
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman agreed to the premier’s suggestion for reduction of Saudi visa fee for Pakistani workers.
Regarding the first trip of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia, Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry had told in a news conference on September 20, 2018 that Riyadh has agreed to join and invest heavily in its ongoing China-funded bilateral infrastructure and industrial development projects—CPEC which is part of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. He added, “Saudi Arabia is the first country that we have invited to become a third partner in CPEC.”
Besides, during his recent address at the investment conference in Riyadh, Prime Minister Khan had also confirmed that Pakistan was also in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a bailout.
While, Khan has in recent days sought to avoid going to the IMF and still wants to at least reduce the size of any bailout by appealing to friendly countries for bilateral financial support.
The Saudi pledge came days after the State Bank warned inflation could double in the coming year—hitting 7.5 percent—while the country’s growth target rate of 6.2 percent would likely be missed. Federal Finance Minister Umar had warned on October 13, this year that the country was fast heading towards bankruptcy. However, he promised to end the country’s reliance on IMF bailouts to shore up the shaky economy, as officials were prepared to negotiate a new loan.
An IMF team is set to arrive in Pakistan in early November to begin negotiations, offering tough ‘conditionalities’ on the new government, as Pakistan’s economic analysts have opined in the recent past. So at this crucial hour, Saudi package to Islamabad has provided a great relief, reducing its dependence on the IMF which is controlled by the US-led Jews who are against Pakistan because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World.
Meanwhile, in his address to the nation, Prime Minister Imran Khan pointed out on October 24, this year, the steps taken by his government to tackle the economic hardships faced by the country. He said: “We were trying for many days to get rid of this burden placed on us of the debt. We had to pay back our debts otherwise we would have been faced with default…We have got an amazing package from Saudi Arabia… which has taken off the burden.”
He explained, “Had the government approached the IMF for a bailout directly, it would have to borrow more money that would result in an increased impact on the poor segments of society.” He stated, “So our efforts were geared towards getting loans from friendly countries”, adding that “now even if the government goes to the IMF, it won’t need as big a package from the lender.”
Khan said: “His government is in talks with two more countries…we expect a similar package from them”.
Prime Minister also announced that Pakistan is trying “to play the role of a mediator in the Yemen war involving Saudi Arabia…Pakistan will try to play to its role in ending conflicts in the region and bring all Muslim countries together.”
The prime minister criticised the previous governments for raising Pakistan’s debt from Rs. 6 trillion to Rs. 30 trillion in the last 10 years alone.
In a reference to the PPP and PML-N, P.M. Khan remarked: “The opposition parties that are accusing his government of incompetence are doing so because they fear that their corruption will be unearthed when we do an audit of the Rs. 30 trillion…the PTI government hasn’t even begun implementing its policies as yet, but is busy cleaning up the economic mess of the last 10 years…They just want an NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance] from us…I want to give them a message: you can come out on the streets. We will give you containers and give you food. You can do whatever you want in the assemblies… [But] no one will get an NRO…No corrupt person will be let go…country has no future until and unless corruption is rooted out. His government is cracking down against corruption and money laundering.”
He stated in the address, “The entire burden of loans taken by corrupt officials falls on the nation. Taxes are imposed and prices are raised in order for the country to be able to pay back the loans. This is the cycle that is functioning in Pakistan…a small class is growing wealthier, while the masses are becoming poorer.”
It is noteworthy that since the Supreme Court of Pakistan and National Accountability of Pakistan (NAB) have accelerated the cases of corruption which have become urgent issue for every patriot citizens of Pakistan, some leaders of the PML-N, PPP and their cronies are targeting the apex court and NAB in order to misguide the public.
In fact, experience of past governments of PML-N and PPP has proved that in case of Pakistan’s version of democracy, the country has the same system of representatives like the Western democracies according to our constitution, but the elected representatives grossly violated the public mandate for obtaining their selfish and materialistic gains. These representatives, virtually, shattered all hopes of voters by neglecting their social problems, financial difficulties and psychological distress. Promises made during election campaigns had been quickly forgotten, while perks of public offices were fully enjoyed. Irony of the fate was that same elite group got elected over and over again and election campaigns were held as rituals. Unfortunately, voters had become trading pawns in the hands of politicians who regard elections as windows of business opening to plunder national wealth through all possible means of corruption whose result was poor governance.
Now, these political parties are contacting each other to start a protest-campaign against the PTI government so as to hide the corruption of their leaders. Under the cover of democracy, this corrupt mafia can give call to the general masses to come in the streets in order to create unrest in the country.
Nonetheless, it is time for the people of Pakistan who come across such material on electronic, print and social media to comprehend the dirty game of the enemies of the country. They should not be entrapped in catch of the hostile elements of the country. It is after a long time that Pakistan has got a real democratic government which came in power with the overwhelming popularity among the masses and Pakistan’s military is working in a very congenial manner with the government, assisting it to achieve its goals to put the country on the path of progress. Let us not facilitate the enemies of this country to succeed in their wicked mission.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations