Pakistan sailing in choppywaters
Asif Haroon Raja
The ship of Pakistan is sailing through choppy waters forover a decade and so far the safe shore is nowhere in sight because the captainof the ship and his crew members neither have the capability or the will tosteer the ship to safety. Almost all parts of the ship have got damaged andwater has started to gush in from several gaping holes but the steward isunconcerned. Equipped with safety jackets and safety boats, he and his team aredeeply involved in fun and frolic and have turned deaf ears to the screams of175 million people aboard the sinking ship. They are confident that if the shipsinks they would be able to sail to a nearby safe island.
Balochistan is in turmoil where handful of Baloch separatiststutored by their foreign pay masters are determined to go their wayirrespective of the economic package for development and grant of provincialautonomy. Their trained target killers are continuing to murder non-locals andHazaras, but surprisingly the motivated segment of media on the payroll offoreign powers, NGOs and the judiciary seems more sympathetic towards theseparatists and nationalists and insensitive toward the plight of thenon-locals and Hazaras. Issue of mutilated bodies of Baloch nationalists andseparatist is being blown up out of all proportions, while the separatistagenda and barbaric methods adopted by foreign paid BLA, BRA and BLF is ignored.The Army, Frontier Corps (FC) and intelligence agencies engaged in saving theprovince are being pressured and their jobs made more difficult. FC has beenplaced directly under Chief Minister Raisani who is least concerned about theaffairs of his province and spends most of his time in Islamabad.
Peaceful FATA became turbulent after the induction of PakArmy in 2002 and extensive interference of foreign agencies. Although the Armyhas succeeded in establishing its writ, but it had to pay a very heavy price.Tehrik-Taliban-Pakistan led by Hakimullah and TNSM by Maulana Fazlullah havebeen disarrayed from South Waziristan and Swat but the two outfits have notbeen defeated since they are still receiving funds and weapons from foreignagencies and have been given safe havens in Kunar and Nuristan by the Afghanregime. CIA, RAW and RAAM are actively involved in facilitating their crossborder terrorism.
Karachi is being bled daily by unknown target killers and thefigure of dead persons in the last three years has crossed 5000.Notwithstanding the perverse role of the three coalition political partiesruling Sindh, each having militant wings, RAW and CIA are continuously fuellingunrest to drain out Pakistan’s economic hub centre. Act of sectarian terrorismin peaceful Gilgit-Baltistan followed by another terrorist act perpetrated by ashady group in rural Sindh calling itself Sindhudesh Liberation Army is part ofa calculated game to undermine Pakistan.
Economy is in dire crisis with little hope of recovery due tomismanagement, incompetence, corruption and extravagance of ruling elite.Inflation and price spiral have scaled new heights which have crushed the lowerand lower middle classes. War on terror is bleeding the socio-economic fabricof the nation. Energy crisis resulting in prolonged power outages is closingdown industries and factories and forcing many industrialists to shift toMalaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Externally, Pak-US relations are at lowest ebb and patienceof angered US leaders is fast wearing thin. All sorts of charges have beenpasted on Pakistan and loud calls are heard in Washington demanding total aidcut and severing relations. Afghanistan is going through most difficult timesand its fallout is being borne by Pakistan since October 2001. Drawdown offoreign forces from Afghanistan has commenced but the US is still unclear as tohow it will be able to safely pullout all the troops of ISAF numbering 130,000and also retain its influence over Afghanistan. It holds Pakistan responsiblefor its failures and hawkish elements are keen to punish Pakistan. Our leaders arecompletely blank how adversely the instability in Afghanistan will impactPakistan in the aftermath of 2014.
As regards India, although it has embarked upon trade peaceventure with Pakistan, its hidden motives are well known. It is not prepared tomake any compromise on core disputes of Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and waterdams. While its businessmen are wearing masks of peace and friendship, itspolicy makers are relentlessly pursuing covert war against Pakistan from thewest using Afghan soil, cultural onslaught from the east and silent water warfrom the northeast. India will complete 40 dams on River Jhelum and Chenab.Four large dams and 16 small dams have become operational. India is buildingworld’s largest dam Kargil on River Sindh. A water tunnel is now functionalwhich sucks 45% water of River Sindh. India has completed disputed Baghliar Damon River Chenab and is feverishly working on Kishanganga project on RiverNeelum/Jhelium. India has decided to make Pakistan a desert by 2015 so that itcan bring down nuclear Pakistan on its knees without firing a single bullet.
Least concerned about the turbulent external and internalconditions, our highly unpopular and discredited leaders keep trying to win theaffections of leaders of foreign powers by undertaking purposeless andunproductive sojourns at the expense of impoverished national kitty. Purpose ofvisits is not to gain anything for the country, but to have rest andrecreation. Frequent trips abroad by top leaders are at the cost of neglectinghome front which is in a terrible mess. They befool the people that theirforeign junkets will help in bringing relief to the domestic problems. Wholeattention is focused on collecting alms to enable the elites to maintain theirhigh lifestyles. Instead of putting heads together and working out ways andmeans how to tackle multiple challenges, and how to make the country stand onits own economic legs, the entire effort is on how to get additional loanssanctioned. Beg, borrow and steal has become their motto. They hunger forforeign assistance well knowing that it doesn’t come without extracting itspound of flesh.
Excessive borrowing from IMF, World Bank and otherinstitutions has made Pakistan heavily debt ridden and completely dependent uponthem for Pakistan’s economic survival. This heavy dependency has been at thecost of erosion of sovereignty. The process of loss of honor, dignity andsovereignty had crept in during the decade of democratic era in 1990s andduring 9-year authoritarian rule of Gen Musharraf. It gained momentum duringthe period of current regime. Over four years rule of PPP led government hasemasculated and corrupted the state institutions and in turn weakened homegrowth potential. Corruption has acquired new proportions and anybody who issomebody in politics has managed to make a fortune sufficient for his futuregenerations.
As a result, GNP has slumped to lowly 2.7% and budget deficithas widened alarmingly. Debt burden has shot up to over $68 billion and dailyexpenditures are met by the State Bank, which prints rupees two billioncurrency notes daily. So far, rupees 442 billion has been borrowed from State Bankin current fiscal year. Borrowing is main cause of inflation in double digits. Reformswhich demand sacrifices by the elites are postponed or shelved on one pretextor the other. This unholy inaction is exacting a very heavy price in terms ofnational health, which is fast deteriorating and getting more and more dependentupon oxygen provided by USA and IMF. Correspondingly, the status of Pakistanhas got reduced to a US satellite. The ship is fast sinking in choppy waters;someone will have to act fast to steer it to safety.
The writer is a retired Brig and a defence analyst. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org