Pakistan Collapsing

9 April by Farooq Tariq

Pakistan is facing one of the worst economic and political crises at present. The political crisis is best manifested by the fact that almost half the members of the National Assembly (the lower house of the parliament) have resigned, while two of the four provincial parliaments were dissolved a year before the elections otherwise due in October this year.

The two provincial parliaments, in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, were dissolved by the former prime minister Imran Khan. His party, the Pakistan Justice Party (PTI), held the majority in these two houses. He had hoped that the dissolution of two provincial parliaments would force the federal government to announce an early general election.

The caretaker governments in these two provinces have refused to call the elections, which are otherwise due within 90 days of an assembly’s dissolution. This delay is in violation of the constitution of Pakistan. The pretext for the delay in elections is a lack of funds. But a popular perception is that the delay is a manipulation by the army. The army fears a PTI victory in the elections. Ironically, in 2018, the army was accused of rigging elections to secure victory for Imran Khan.

There is a great deal of political manoeuvring going on at the judicial level. The chief justices of the Supreme Court and Lahore High Court are Imran Khan supporters. This has been manifested by the verdicts issued by the judges in several political cases.

Every time the PTI moves the case forward, everyone knows the verdict in advance. For instance, a Supreme Court bench consisting of three judges, known for supporting Imran Khan, ordered on April 4 to hold elections in the Punjab province on May 14 this year. However, this three-member bench initially included nine judges. Those not supportive of Imran Khan were removed through manoeuvring. The Supreme Court judges are issuing contradictory statements.

The judiciary is as divided as any other institution in the country.

The federal government and Punjab caretaker government have rejected the Supreme Court’s decision regarding elections on May 14. A public conflict between the Supreme Court and the federal government is aggravating the political crisis.

The state institutions are stuffed with pro-PTI as well as pro-Muslim League elements. The Muslim League, controlled by the Sharif dynasty, is presently ruling in coalition with the Pakistan People’s Party (the party of the Bhutto dynasty).

The Supreme Court has the power to remove the present government on the charge of contempt of court. However, the question is: who would take over a collapsing Pakistan?

The spectre of a military takeover is often raised in discussions. Pakistan’s turbulent political history is marked by 32 years of direct military rule ever since independence in 1947. When not in power, the military takes control from behind. At present, the military establishment is posing as “neutrals”.

In fact, as stated above, the 2018 general elections that brought Imran Khan to power were rigged by the military establishment in his favour. When the military establishment withdrew its support from Imran Khan in early 2022, his government collapsed.

Imran Khan tried to find scapegoats for his downfall by blaming, firstly, the USA, then the military establishment, and many others in his ever-changing narratives. He is ridiculed as a man of “U turns”. His latest speeches contradict the previous ones.

Imran Khan was replaced by a coalition government led by Shahbaz Sharif, who heads the Muslim League (after his elder brother and three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif was banned from politics in 2018). When Mr. Sharif tried to implement the conditionalities of the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
, Imran Khan regained popularity by gaining negative support.

The IMF has become very unpopular in Pakistan among the masses. Whenever there was an unprecedented price hike announced by the government, the IMF was cited as the reason. The only pretext used by the PML-led coalition government to justify the IMF conditionalities is that if we do not meet the IMF conditionalities, Pakistan will go bankrupt. Masses have already gone bankrupt, so that is the state in real terms, but a formal announcement has been delayed in this regard.

Coupled with severe political crises, a new upsurge of religious fundamentalism is visible. For example, terrorist attacks by the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have increased manifold. The TTP is an offshoot of the Afghan Taliban. They are attacking the police and military forces. They have safe havens in Afghanistan under a very helpful Taliban government.

Imran Khan, in his last days of power, apparently released hundreds of arrested Pakistani Taliban in his bid to hold a peace dialogue. In fact, known as Taliban Khan, he and some of his military backers sympathise with the Taliban. Now the security forces are paying the price of this strategy.

The economic crisis is far more severe than the political crisis. The coalition government is implementing the anti-people conditions of the IMF by raising the prices of oil, gas, electricity, general sales tax, and every other consumer item.

The Pakistani rupee is losing value almost daily against the US dollar and other foreign currencies. On April 7, a dollar fetched over 290 rupees, up from 150 a year ago.

There are hundreds of containers full of imported goods lying at the Karachi port waiting to be cleared. The government has refused to clear the dues to be paid in dollars for these imported items.

There has been a series of indirect taxes on almost all edible goods and daily consumer items during the last six months. There have been several mini-budgets imposed on people, sometimes announced without any prior notice.

People are collapsing, and so is Pakistan under the huge economic burden without raising wages or providing any compensations.

Pakistan is trying its best to fulfil the conditionalities of the IMF to fetch the last instalment of 2 billion dollars of a 6 billion dollar loan negotiated by the previous Imran Khan government in 2019. This is the 23rd time Pakistan has taken a loan from the IMF.

Pakistan’s external debt servicing rose by 70 percent in the first two quarters of 2022–23. Pakistan paid USD 10.21 billion in external debt servicing during this period. This is at a time when Pakistan will witness its worst climate disaster during the year 2022. Instead of suspending the debts because of the climate catastrophe, the IMF increased its pressure to pay more than it did last year.

The foreign reserves are at a historic low. Pakistan’s central bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.

’s foreign exchange reserves have dropped to $4.2 billion due to recent external debt repayment.

To please the IMF and meet the conditionalities, Pakistan has increased the interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. rate to a record 21 percent. The wholesale inflation Inflation The cumulated rise of prices as a whole (e.g. a rise in the price of petroleum, eventually leading to a rise in salaries, then to the rise of other prices, etc.). Inflation implies a fall in the value of money since, as time goes by, larger sums are required to purchase particular items. This is the reason why corporate-driven policies seek to keep inflation down. rate is at an unprecedented 37.5 percent, the highest since 1973. The result is a real disaster for working-class and middle-class Pakistanis.

The inequalities are at an historic high in Pakistan. Deregulation, privatisation, liberalisation, and lower progressive taxation all contributed to this extreme inequality. According to one survey, the average income for the richest is more than 16 times the average for the poorest.

According to a report by OXFAM, the country’s top 1 percent holds more wealth than the bottom 70 percent of the population.

Pakistan’s economy is expected to grow only 0.4 percent in the current fiscal year ending June 2023. By all measures, Pakistan performs poorly compared to other South Asian countries.

There is no hope among the people that things will improve. The ruling elite of Pakistan has miserably failed in solving the basic problems of the masses like free education, health care Care Le concept de « care work » (travail de soin) fait référence à un ensemble de pratiques matérielles et psychologiques destinées à apporter une réponse concrète aux besoins des autres et d’une communauté (dont des écosystèmes). On préfère le concept de care à celui de travail « domestique » ou de « reproduction » car il intègre les dimensions émotionnelles et psychologiques (charge mentale, affection, soutien), et il ne se limite pas aux aspects « privés » et gratuit en englobant également les activités rémunérées nécessaires à la reproduction de la vie humaine. , and employment. An alternative pro-people political and economic agenda is needed. The progressive forces are weak but trying to fill the gap in some working-class areas.

Farooq Tariq

is the General Secretary of the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, a network of 26 peasant organizations and a coalition member of the international platform La Via Campesina.




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