ISSN 2330-717X

Good And Bad News From Pakistan – OpEd

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Once again, it’s a mixed bag of both good and bad news from Pakistan. The first good news is that with a 11.16 per cent increase that takes the defence budget for 2022-23 to a whopping Rs 1.523 trillion, the people of Pakistan can sleep peacefully without any fears of India pursuing its hegemonistic designs. The bad news is that only a paltry sum of Rs 727 billion has been allocated for development programmes due to which there’ll be no worthwhile progress as regards developmental work or improvement in public facilities in this year, and the existing assets will further deteriorate due to lack of funds for upkeep and maintenance.

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The next good news is that despite the unprecedented financial crisis, Pakistan’s Power Division has paid 86 percent of the outstanding dues due to which Chinese Independent Power Producers [IPPs] have withdrawn their threat of shutting down power projects due to non-payments.  But the bad news is that according to reliable estimates, the outstanding amount due to Chinese IPPs is more than Rs 350 billion, and no one knows where this monstrous amount of money will come from.

The good news is that despite the suicide attack on Chinese nationals in Karachi, Beijing’s ‘iron clad’ friendship with Pakistan still endures. However, the bad news is that the IMF has also confirmed the Mohammad Ali report’s finding that Chinese IPPs have short-changed “all weather friend” Pakistan to the tune of Rs 41 billion and were continuing to do so. While another related bad news is that Beijing is reluctant to any renegotiation of tariff rates as recommended by the IMF, the good news is that Islamabad won’t allow the loss of a few billion rupees due to overcharging by Chinese IPPs to adversely impact its “sweeter than honey” friendship with China.

Moving away from financial issues, another good news is that Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan [SCBAP] President Ahsan Bhoon has assured a delegation of parents of the Peshawar Army Public School martyrs that he would request Pakistan’s Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial to look into their grievances. However, the bad news is that not only is Pakistan army currently negotiating a peace deal with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan [TTP], the very terrorist group that perpetrated this carnage, but has even released 30 top leaders of this proscribed terrorist group who have blood of Pakistanis on their hands!

The good news is that by ordering the demolition of the Rawal Sailing Club illegally constructed by the Pakistan Navy, the judiciary has demonstrated the supremacy of law in the country. However, the bad news is that despite having passed this direction in January this year and ordering implementation of the same within three weeks, this edifice is still standing- a testimony of the harsh reality that Pakistan’s armed forces are above the law. On the political front, the good news is that the recent transition of power in Pakistan was peaceful. However, the bad news is ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s disclosure that during the no confidence motion crisis, the army had ordered him to resign and step down.

The good news is that Pakistan’s media wing Inter Services Public Relations has for the ‘nth time’ reiterated that the army has “nothing to do with politics.” The bad news however is that just the other day retired Lt General Ali Quli Khan has disclosed to the media that some retired officers had met Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa “When the government was changed through an external conspiracy,” and that maintained that “General Bajwa had promised us that elections would be held in 90 days.” So, it’s clear that the Pakistan army’s “nothing to do with politics” rant is nothing but a big fat lie!

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The good news is that since Pakistan army has promised to stay “neutral,” it won’t play politics or meddle in functioning of the civil administration. However, the bad news is that by getting Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] constitutionally nominated as “Special Vetting Agency (SVA) for verification and screening of all public office holders [officers’ category]” Rawalpindi through its spy agency will henceforth decide whether civil servants in Pakistan possess the requisite level of patriotism necessary for the posts they are being assigned.

Lastly, the good news is that Gen Bajwa will not seek yet another extension of his tenure as army chief. The bad news is that whether he goes or stays, Pakistan will continue being ‘an army with a country’

Nilesh Kunwar

Nilesh Kunwar is a retired Indian Army Officer who has served in Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. He is a ‘Kashmir-Watcher,’ and now after retirement is pursuing his favorite hobby of writing for newspapers, journals and think tanks.

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