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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Asif_Haroon_Raja
Full Name: Asif Haroon Raja
User since: 11/May/2009
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Performance of PTI regime in its infancy

Part 1

Asif Haroon Raja

Midway in his second tenure, Nawaz Sharif (NS) was toppled by Gen Musharraf (Mush) in a military coup on October 12, 1999. His team of eleven charted the six-point development agenda and produced excellent results in first three years of military rule, but then the reform and growth agenda and accountability went for a six with the coming in of King’s Party in 2002.

After getting his foe NS sentenced to life term jail by the Supreme Court, Mush sent NS, Shahbaz Sharif and their familiesinto exile for ten years under Saudi mediated agreement in 2001.Although Mush failed to quash the lawyer movement which had sprung up in support of the sacked Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar in March 2007, but before abdicating power in August 2008, he had deflated the popularity balloon of CJ Iftikhar and the steam of the movement. High expectations attached to the CJ fizzled out during the five-year inglorious rule of PPP.

Once NS returned to power in June 2013 with a heavy mandate, he was faced with worst energy crisis, slumped economy, destroyed state-run enterprisesand high intensity terrorism. While dealing with these challenges,he also decided to put former president and army chief Mush on trial in a treason case on account of declaring emergency on November 3, 2007 and interning 60 judges includingCJ Iftikhar and subverting the constitution for the second time.NS had not pardoned Mush for the prolonged trauma he and his family suffered at his hands.

Mush who had returned to Pakistan in May 2013 to take part in 2013 elections was arrested, and debarred from contesting elections. His ChakShehzad farmhouse was converted into a sub jail andmultiple courts opened proceedings against him. To avoid indictment, he stayed in fortified AFIC for months guarded by troops of 111 Brigade. He was indicted in a treason case by a trial court and his name put on ECL. Hehowever, managed to escape to Dubai in 2015 under the plea of backache and since then he is an absconder and wanted in several high-profile cases. It is said that the army under Gen Raheel Sharif (RS) had helped him in making good his escape.

It is whispered that Mush while sitting in Dubai decided to teach NS a lesson of his life and for that purpose married up with Imran Khan (IK), TahirulQadri (TuQ), Sheikh Rashid (SR), PML-Q and MQM. He also made use of his beneficiaries in the army, who in their bid to protect their rewards are still spewing venom against NS and his family through social media. But for the support of PPP,JUI-F,PkMAP and NP, and RS’s unwillingness to support the offenders, NS regime would have tumbled in August 2014 after the attacks by the workers of PTI-PAT on the Parliament, PM House and PTV building in Islamabad.

The efforts to oust NS from power however continued relentlessly and his detractors ultimately succeeded in their mission of unseating NS on July 28, 2017 and entangling him in three corruption cases, and getting him convicted and jailed for ten years in Avenfield apartments case just before general elections due on July 25, 2018. NS and Maryam left behind ailing Kulsoom Nawaz gasping for life and returned from London, well knowing that they will be straight taken to Adiala jail from Lahore airport.

For five years, IK has been promising moon to the people and lambasting the rulers, dubbing them as looters, characterless and a security risk. He kept the public amused and in a trance, cloned their minds, and they blindly believed that he is a magic man who will get rid of the rotten rulers, doctor all the ailments of Pakistan and transform it into a shining Pakistan in a flash. The more he heaped curses on his opponents, the more he received applauses and accolades.

PTI won the race in the July 2018 elections, but the losers cried out that unprecedented rigging had been carried out on the polling day during the counting of votes. So far parliamentary committee has not been formed to probe the allegations of all opposition parties.

PTI has formed governments in the Centre, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab, and a coalition government in Baluchistan. It is the leading opposition party in Sindh Ministry. It has also easily captured the seat of President, thanks to disgraceful role of PPP. Despite spectacular gains, PTI has achieved simple majority in the Centre and in Punjab where PML-N has a strong presence. In the absence of two-third majority, PTI faced difficulties in achieving the magical figures in National Assembly as well as in Punjab Assembly.

But for a sting operation in South Punjab and other parts of Punjab, PTI couldn’t have formed a government in Punjab. Jahangir Tareen(JT) played a key role in steering the flock of independents towards his party, ignoring what Imran Khan (IK) had been stating against this soul selling lot. Similar kind of efforts were made at the federal level to reach the figure of 172. For this, IK had to make compromises by inducting PML Q, whom he had termed as party of Dakoos, andMQM-P against whom he had been spitting scorn. MQM-P’s 7-point demand-list andBNP-M6-point agenda were accepted to take them on board. Both agendas are anti-military/intelligence agencies.

Although Gen Mush didn’t take part in the elections and his party APML didn’t secure a single seat, but majority of IK’s federal cabinet are the teammates of Mush. All the coalition partners of PTI are from Old Pakistan and as expected are seeking their pound of flesh and creating obstacles in the way of shaping Naya Pakistan.

Out of 21-member federal cabinet selected by IK, which has now expanded to 28 on Sept 11, 12 ministers are those who were part of Mush regime. Sheikh Rashid (SR) had all along been part of PML-N, and was in very good books of NS. He became a key player in the King’s Party formed by Gen Mush in 2002, and held key Ministries of Information and Railways. He later formed his own party Awami Muslim League (AML) and got aligned with PTI andbecame the right hand man of IK. After resignation of NS on July 28, 2017, IK fielded SRto contest the vacant PM seat. He has now been awarded his old portfolio of Railways Minister.

MQM-P has only 7 seats in the National Assembly, but it has been awarded two ministries in the federal cabinet. FaroghNasim had served as a Law Minister in Mush regime and later on Mush had appointed him as his defence lawyer in the treason case framed against him. Farogh has now been given Law Ministry. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, head of MQM-P, who was also part of Mush regime, has been assigned Ministry of Information Technology.

ChTarar Bashir Cheema has taken over the Ministry of Frontier Works. An old PPP stalwart and a suspected member of Al-Zulfiqar, he was jailed in 1981, but was released along with other PPP convicts in exchange for the release of passengers of PIA that was hijacked to Kabul. He stayed out of the country till 2003and then joined the ruling PML-Q. He got elected on PML-Q ticket in 2018 elections. 

Another old PPP leader Ghulam Sarwar who had served as a minister in Shaukat Aziz cabinet in 2004 has been awarded Ministry of Petroleum. Zubaida Jalal from Baluchistan contested 2002 elections on PML-Q ticket and soon became the darling of Mush and George W. Bush since she actively pursued Mush’s policy of enlightened moderation to show soft face of Pakistan to the world. She was given the portfolio of Education Minister. In 2008, she was involved in a corruption scam. Rs 50 crore had been embezzled that were to be spent on streamlining Madrassas into national education system. In the 2010 Pildat Report, Zubaida was declared as a second richest person in Baluchistan. Her total assets are worth Rs 5 crores 78 lacs. She has now been assigned Ministry of Defence Production.

MakhdoomKhisro was in Ministry of Foreign Affairs during Mush regime. He has been allotted Ministry of Environment. Fawad Choudhry was spokesman of Mush led All Pakistan Muslim League Party. In 2012, he joined PPP and managed a ministry in in the cabinets of both Gilani and Pervez Ashraf. In 2016, he joined PTI and after gaining complete trust of IK, he became the spokesman of the party. He was among the aspirants for Chief Minister (CM) Punjab chair. ShafqatMehmood (Education Minister), Pervez Elahi (Speaker Punjab Assembly), Jahangir Tareen, Aleem Khan, Umar Ayub, AmerKayani, Mirza Shehzad Akbar, are loyalists of Mush. IK himself was a fan of Mush and had fully supported him in 2001 presidential election and had become part of his team in 2002 for a year or so.

The Punjab cabinet formed on August 26 had 23 members and in this 12 were from N and Q Leagues. Finance Minister MakhdoomHashimBakht and Food Minister Samiullah are ex PML-N. While 26 winning independents had joined PTI after the elections, but only one was accommodated, which caused resentment. 17 independents boycotted CM Buzdar’s dinner on August 31, including few PTI ticket holders who had a similar grudge.

Fearing a revolt, 12 additional members were inducted on Sept 12 taking the total to 35. Among the new inductees, M. Aslam, HusnainJahania, Amjad Cheema and ShaukatLalika are independent MPAs. Six independent MPAs have been adjusted as advisers to CM due to shortage of vacant ministries. The two MPAs who cribbed the most, Akbar Nohani and TaimurLali, have again been ignored.  Almost one dozen MPAs including the two have not been given any portfolio. The resentful lot will continue to pose a danger to Buzdar.

Punjab Assembly presently consist of 354 MPAs from 5 parties. Out of them, PTI has 175 MPAs, N-League 159, Q-League 10, and PPP 7. From this, it is apparent that PTI has formed a govt in Punjab with a majority of 16 only. If Q-League is included, it takes the strength to 26. In case those who have been deprived ministries opt to rebel, this majority can reduce further. In case at some stage the 7 MPAs of PPP decide to join PML-N, it would add to the problems of PTI govt. To forestall such a development, the PTI with the help of Pervez Elahi are trying to form a forward block of 20-22 PML-N MPAs.  

The new regime under IK has made tall promises to build corruption free New Pakistan based on the model of Meesakh-e-Madina. IK has introduced simplicity and austerity and has made a good start by radically reducing the vehicles from 80 to two, and servants from 500 to two employed in PM House. Luxury and bullet proof cars are lined up for auction and it is intended to deposit the amount in national kitty. PM House will be converted in Research University and Governor Houses/state guest houses opened to the public.

IK is determined to bring back the looted amount from abroad and to eliminate the scourge of corruption and for this purpose intends to strengthen NAB and make it independent. He has formed task forces to recover looted money stashed in foreign banks.

He intends to reform the police and bureaucracy, improve civil service and FBR, and streamline education divided into three tiers, and make Pakistan clean and green by carrying out massive forestation. For the benefit of the poor, he plans to create one crore jobs, build 50 lacs cheap houses, improve govt hospitals and schools, issue health cards, provide interest free loans to the youth, make the state responsible for the care of street children, widows and crippled, dealing sternly with child abusers, and improve the dignity of a common man.

Ending terrorism, resolving water crisis, building four new tourist spots every year, improving local bodies system, attending to water and transport issues of Karachi, addressing grievances of Baluchistan, and directing civil courts to complete cases within one year and doing away with VIP culture are other projects in hands. 

All those who had milked the tax payer’s money and misused national resources to amass ill-gotten wealth and stash it in foreign banks have been identified. Sooner than later the law of the land is expected to fall upon them to get back over $200 billion. Given the trend of accountability and the rising ire of the people against the looters and plunderers, it is earnestly hoped that the corrupt do not get away this time.

Before the culprits are nabbed, forced to surrender their wealth and get imprisoned, I reckon they still have time and a chance to transfer their foreign accounts into Pakistani banks voluntarily, accept their crimes and apologize to the nation. This way, maybe some mercy is shown to them.

The judiciary, NAB and the Establishment are backing the govt in this regard since Pakistan is going through financial crisis and foreign debts have crossed the figure of $80 billion while circular debt has reached Rs 1160 billion. IMF under instructions from USA is not prepared to give a bailout package without tough conditions.



Performance of PTI regime in its infancy

Part 2

Asif Haroon Raja

An appraisal

Imran Khan (IK) has leadership qualities, has charisma, is populous, has no corruption scandal or foreign assets, he is adept in fund raising and in making thrilling speeches, is a go-getter, but has no experience of governance and is therefore prone to making mistakes. His critics equate him to Peter Pan, inclined to imprudence and impatience. There have been several slipups in the very initial weeks after taking over power. These missteps are providing ammunition to the opposition and IK’s critics to fire derisive salvos. Let us recount the major mistakes committed by the new regime so far:-

In the pre-election era when IK was frenetically striving to wear the crown, his first blunder was marriage with Reham Khan. Once he got rid of her at a heavy cost, he got inclined towards Ruhanyat (Mysticism) and fell into another psychological snare after he dubiously married Bushra, a Peerni (mystic) and an ex-wife of Khawar Maneka with grown-up children.

His marriage is morally, ethically and rationally specious and has given a handle to his detractors to beat him with. She wields strong influence over him particularly because Bushra claims to have a big role in the fulfilment of IK’s life-dream. We saw IK bowing and touching his forehead at the doorsteps of a Khanqah in Pakpattan at the bidding of Bushra and her ex-husband.

She has already begun to meddle into the state affairs as was seen in DPO Pakpattan Rizwan Gondal’s case, who was posted out by IG Punjab at the behest of Chief Minister (CM) Punjab and prompting of Bushra. If this trend continues, it will not augur well for IK. One can only hope and pray that notwithstanding the significance of mysticism in South Asia’s religious scene, it doesn’t prevail upon the decisions of policy makers. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar’s firm action may put sense into the heads of power wielders.

The first slip-up of IK after taking over was his choice of persons on key positions and making of the cabinet comprising great majority from allied parties and only three from PTI. It indicates as if he wants to build New Pakistan with old masons with a tainted past still believing in the merits of old Pakistan. It has given reason to IK’s critics to say that old wine has been put in new bottles. It is feared that IK will remain under the influence of Gen Musharraf’s cronies, making that much difficult for him to bring back Musharraf through Interpol, wanted by the courts to try him on charges of treason, murders of Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti, Lal Masjid case, and corruption. Some say that the IK’s cabinet is the new King Party of Musharraf.         

Ex-Director JAG retired Col Inam-ur Rahman has brought to the notice of NAB that Musharraf has stashed $2 billion and 15 crore in offshore banks and maintains accounts in 7-10 foreign banks. He has given the list of his assets in Pakistan as well as high-price plots he had doled out to other generals during his rule. It is widely believed that he was and still is protected by the Army and induction of Farogh in Law Ministry will further provide him the safety valve.  

While the people were expressing their amazement over the selection of federal cabinet members, appointment of unassuming Sardar Usman Buzdar as CM Punjab, who can hardly read, write and comprehend and is devoid of leadership qualities, personality, drive and initiative, shocked them. In a case of murder of six persons in Taunsa in the local elections of 1996, he and his father were named in the FIR. The trial court in DG Khan had declared the two as murderers. Buzdar clan gave Rs 75 lacs as blood money through Jirga to the aggrieved party to settle the case out of the court. Usman joined PML-Q in 2001 and in 2013 joined PML-N. In the last elections, he jumped the wagon of PTI.

Hailing from most backward area of South Punjab which is devoid of water and electricity is no criteria and justification to let Buzdar rule the most challenging province which acts as the centre of gravity for any government. One must not overlook the fact that Buzdar family has been holding all important posts at Union Council levels in DG Khan, but failed to provide basic facilities to their region.

Speaker Punjab Assembly Pervez Elahi described Buzdar as a poor man deserving support. He probably doesn’t know that the assets declared by Buzdar are worth Rs 2.50 crore in addition to three tractors and two cars.

It is gossiped that Jahangir Tareen, who had been debarred from holding public office for life by the apex court and his review petition is under consideration, he is eying for the slot of CM Punjab and will edge out Buzdar once he gets clearance from the Supreme Court. He and Aleem helped by Governor Sarwar and Pervez Elahi are the de-facto rulers of Punjab while Buzdar is just a puppet.                

The other slipup was the appointment of Prof Atif Mian as one of the members of 18-member Economic Advisory Council (EAC). Atif belong to Ahmadis sect, which was declared non-Muslim minority by the Parliament in 1974. He has been casting aspersions on CPEC and advocating revision of agreements. He has now been excluded on account of pressure from the Far Right, particularly Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s Tehreek-e-Labaik, which embarked upon a road march from Lahore to hold November 2017 like protest dharna in Islamabad. In itself the exclusion of Atif may not make much difference to the working of EAC, but its ramifications are significant for the new regime struggling to gain a firm foothold.

 

The matter of CPEC, seen as the economic lifeline and a game changer for Pakistan, became touchier when the government hinted at revisiting all the agreements related to CPEC, and even suspending it for one year. This line was reported by Financial Times which quoted Razaq Dawood, appointed as adviser to PM on Textile & Industry, as a strong advocate of revision. It has raised many eyebrows since it is in sync with the agenda of Indo-US-Israel. 

 

Appointment of Razaq Dawood as PM adviser and his controversial interview to Financial Times concerning CPEC has raised a storm. Although he has rebutted portions of his interview which he says were wrongly interpreted, but suspicions about his motives are still lingering. He is chairman of Board of Governors of Deskon Companies since 2008,which deals in the fields of engineering, construction, power sector and chemicals. Deskon is among very few leading companies that has not been awarded any contract in CPEC. One reason is that it is selling expensive electricity to the nation.

 

Dawood had a grudge against the previous regime for not awarding him contracts, and now fears that with the construction of energy parks, price of electricity will fall, which will severely harm his profitable business. It is in this backdrop that he reportedly gave his views on CPEC, asserting that all agreements should be revisited and made afresh since these tilt heavily in favor of China. The matter has cooled down after the recent visit of Foreign Minister of China and both sides expressing their resolve to keep CPEC the highest priority project. Ongoing visit of Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa to Beijing will remove all kinks and irritants.  

 

Case of transportation of Prime Minister IK from his private residence to PM Secretariat and back became another contentious issue and became a hot topic. Fawad Choudhry made himself a laughing stock when he stated that it’s much cheaper to travel by helicopter. The stance of his decriers is that it runs contrary to his much publicized austerity drive.

 

Alleged misuse of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)official helicopter and KP Houses in Murree, Islamabad; callous remarks made by Punjab Information Minister Fayaz Chohan against film artists, use of official helicopter by CM Punjab and his family were other issues that were censured.

 

The new government was banking a lot upon recovering $ 200 billion stolen money, spending $ 100 billion on repayment of loans and the rest on welfare of the people. In the first cabinet meeting presided by IK, the amount of stolen money was reduced from $200 billion to Rs 80 Billion, meaning thereby $. 0.8 Billion. 

 

What the detractors of IK and his party are muttering is that much against the tall claim that a change would start occurring from the day one and a difference will be discernible within 100 days of rule seem far-fetched since so far decisions taken are knee-jerk and many reversed. IK is named as “About Turn Khan”. They say that if the foundations of new Pakistan are being laid by the ones tied to old Pakistan, how a real change can occur? IK has asked them to grant him three-month time to make some change in the existing mindset which refuses to come out of the colonial era.

 

IK has inherited weak economy, mountain of debt and circular debt, $38 billion trade deficit, current account deficit, $2.522 billion debt servicing due to be paid by November, declining foreign exchange reserves, sick state-owned enterprises causing a loss of Rs 750 billion annually, and above all looming water crisis.

 

People have attached great expectations. Although IK is upbeat and is fully determined to convert Pakistan into a true welfare state, so far, symptoms of building a momentum for the ‘change’ cannot be felt or seen. Till now, he is involved in dishing out ministries to those who won seats, in forming task forces, auctioning cars and making scintillating speeches. Crackdown has started against the encroachers in the capital city, but across the board accountability drive has so far not been unleashed. Sindh which is a safe haven for the corrupt and criminals and is topsy-turvy, need immediate attention.

 

They say, the slogan of dam and a call made to the Pakistanis living in Pakistan and abroad to make donations is a distraction to keep the people deflected from real issues. What IK urgently needs is to avoid IMF debt trap and to seek a bailout package from elsewhere to make the wheels of economy churn forward and to carry out reforms. If his call for donations materializes and he manages to bring back portion of the looted amount, and the total amount collected is sufficient for the Diamer-Bhasha dam ($14 Billion), and for uplifting foreign exchange reserve to $20-25 Billion, he will be over the hump. However, there are still many a slip between the cup and the lip. Status quo lovers will leave no stone unturned to fail him.

 

IK announced the 100-day reform plan in May 2018, but he didn’t have an execution plan and he still doesn’t have it. PTI wizards should have framed an evidence based socio-economic policy framework suggesting clear-cut steps to remove the snags and uplift the economy, and the same should have been put into motion soon after the oath taking ceremony.   

 

There are more of dramatics to earn kudos and less of real-time actions. EAC team is still twiddling their thumbs. Till such time IK sets aside political expediency, nepotism and favoritism, and inducts right persons for the right jobs, and welds a highly educated, professional, experienced, honest, patriotic, motivated and selfless team with a missionary zeal, no worthwhile results would accrue. Exploiters from other parties will have to be gradually weeded out or sidelined. 

 

Conviction of Nawaz Sharif (NS) by Judge Bashir has evoked mixed feelings and many legal wizards have opined that it was an erroneous judgement and sooner than later the case will be dismissed.  

 

NS, Maryam and Safdar were released on parole for five days to attend last rites of burial of Begum Kulsoom Nawazon Sept 14 and the Soyem. Funeral which was heavily attended saw emotional scenes and political sloganeering. What is evident is that NS popularity has not dimmed in Punjab. Kulsoom’s tragic death has softened the hearts of chronic haters of NS. Bail to NS and Maryam, or their acquittal by Islamabad High Court in Avenfield case are some of the possibilities being aired.

 


Rumor mill has also churned out the story of Saudi mediated and Establishment-govt-judicial backed NRO, by virtue of which NS and Maryam would be allowed to fly to Riyadh and stay out for next ten years in return for NS coughing out $10 billion and KSA placing $ 20 billion in Pak banks. This amount is badly needed by present govt and so is the riddance of NS, who is a ticking bomb. NS had refused to sign the parole and later to seek extension. Will he accept NRO or prefer dying or languishing in the jail is anyone’s guess. While NS political career may be over, Maryam has the potential and scope to bounce back.    
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