Pakistan is engulfed in a sea of multi-faceted problems. The sad part is there is complete apathy on part of those in power to do anything about it. Political instability and corruption in many forms is a major problem of today’s Pakistan. Those declared corrupt and many a time with proof, escape to greener pastures to return at better times, owing largely to foreign interferences to govern again leading to stunted political and institutional growth. Continuation of corrupt practices has ensured that Pakistan does not develop in spite of potential.
Lack of law and order situation, role of non-state actors, general failure of judicial system as led to insecurity, brain drain and disinterest of investors to invest in Pakistan. Killing of Amjad Sabri is the latest high profile killing. This is pre dated by ‘Islamist extremists attack Bacha Khan University in Charsadda in north-west Pakistan, killing 19 people and injuring 17 others before security forces killed the four suspected assailants, and Taliban offshoot Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which supports the Islamic State armed group, launches suicide attacks targeting Christian families marking Eastern at a park in Lahore, killing more than 70 people. Army launches counter-terror operation in Punjab Province,’ also this year. (BBC News March 25, 2016)
Impact of an unstable Afghanistan and pouring in of Afghan refugees through its porous border with Pakistan has created a heavy burden on Pakistan’s economy also leading to increased terrorism within her borders. Roughly, half of these are illegal entrants. The government had decided to send home the unregistered refugees back home after the incident of Army Public School killing that shook the nation. As usual the government had no mechanism whereby this worthy step may be taken. The easy decision to do nothing at all was taken. Initially registered refugees were allowed to be a guest in Pakistan until ending December 2015. However, with Proof of Registration, Afghan Refugees were awarded another year to be guests in Pakistan. The PoR alone are issued to 1.6 million Afghan refugees- illegal entrants not counting. These cards expire on December 31, 2016. However, extension may be made until 31st December 2017. If this happens, “instead of renewing the PoR cards, would issue a notification to the quarters concerned to consider the document valid till December 2017.” (Dawn November 25, 2016) The government however, has no policy designed to send them back even in 2017- for obvious reasons. The planning and strategy to implement any decision at any level is lacking institutionally. Polices are subject to whims of a few individuals who handle the county’s affairs if time permits on ad hoc basis. The negative fallout of such a huge number of immigrants in terms of economy and security may only be visualized with a shudder. The kind of goose bumps one gets while one sees Frankenstein.
“KP’s government’s allocation of Rs 300 million to Darul Uloom Haqqania, a privately-owned seminary in Akora Khattak known for its alleged links with Taliban militants, raised questions not only in the political circles but in politically aware echelons as well. “That it should have happened around the time when a group of the militant Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for the target-killing of Sabri Qawwal in Karachi makes it all the more poignant,” Asif Zardari said in the statement. He said that the head of the Darul Uloom Haqqania in Nowshera is an acknowledged sympathiser and undeclared spokesperson of the Taliban. (Quoting Wajid Shamsul Hasanformer High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK) Same sort of Imran logic has been the wisdom of Punjab government’s huge funding- from its annual budgets since Shahbaz took over as Chief Minister of Punjab in 2008—to the largest centre of militants Markaz-e-Taiba at Muridke. 200-acre is power base of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa whose chief Hafiz Saeed is internationally declared terrorist. Like Imran Khan Punjab government of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif too says that it funds Muridke’s Markaz-e-Taiba to aid its services to the educate/train its students and as well “continue its humanitarian work,” states Hasan.
“This is nothing but legitimization of militancy and militant Taliban that will undermine the nation’s resolve to fight militants to the finish,” the PPP co-chairman said in a statement released in Pakistan recently. His spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the former President was deeply concerned over the use of public funds for “legitimizing a private seminary known for promoting private jehad project”.
Other issues are low level of education, failure of government to determine needs in various sectors of labor/educated class and develop man power accordingly that leads either to unemployment or brain drain. Over population is another. High cost of living, poor health facilities-the list is long.
Pakistan’s foreign policy is akin to chasing of mirage. There is no foreign minister (If I recall correctly, there was none in the last two tenures of Nawaz Sharif either who prefers to keep it tucked safely under his belt under which much is tucked). Fire fighting tactics pass as foreign policy. For Pakistan led by Nawaz Sharif , diplomacy is a complete waste of time. As Rahul Bhonsle says, “For Pakistan which considers diplomacy as a zero sum game.” (Security. Risks. Com June 16, 2016) We are not interested in building bridges regionally or internationally. Our one neighbor with whom we enjoy cool relations with is the Arabian Sea. Egon Bahr a German politician rightly says, “International politics is never about democracy and human rights. It is about the interests of states. Remember that, no matter what you are told in history lessons.” I wonder if his published works are available at Harrods, PM Nawaz Sharif’s favored buying outlet- who knows, he may be compelled to buy it.
Foreign Policy is bogged down with directions from greener pastures. Says Wajid Shamsul Hasan, “I have never been pro-American. Neither have I been anti-American people. However, I have always questioned the sincerity or the intents of the successive Administrations in Washington towards Pakistan. This view of mine was candidly endorsed by the Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz when he said “Americans come to us when they need us and leave us when they don’t “. No doubt a fact but nothing to grumble about as the American Administrations and their leaders have thought it wiser and in the sublime national interests, to sacrifice principles at the altar of expediency.
I have often wondered why American officials- whether in DC or in Islamabad- never get tired of orchestrating “do more mantra”. It seems to be very strange and outrageous when we have been fodder for their guns from the time Soviets invaded Afghanistan and especially now when we have lost more than 5000 brave Pakistani defence personnel and over 50,000 civilians in the war against terrorists besides rendering our economy bankrupt.
We go to Washington DC on bended knees and largest beggars bowl to plead them to give us money to buy F-16s that we desperately need to target and bomb the terrorists holed up in our northern areas with rugged and impenetrable mountainous terrain. And why don’t the Americans oblige us- “their most trusted ally east of Suez since fifties?”
I can go on…. Word count time up.
Guess readers get the picture!