The political landscape in Pakistan has changed dramatically. Imran Khan is out of the hot seat and Shahbaz Sharif is in from the cold. The government and opposition have reversed roles – as have Khan and Sharif, from prime minister to opposition leader and vice versa. The big question is how this political role-flip will play out. Even though Khan and his party legislators lost not just the government but also quit the National Assembly in a huff, the former ruling party will remain the principal political opposition outside parliament. Khan and Sharif will have to deal with each other whether they like it or not.
The litmus test of the success of the role reversal will be if relative political stability is achieved over the next few transition months. After all, it is political instability that has triggered this role reversal. If Pakistan’s political tradition is any guide, this will be easier said than done. Both Khan and Sharif want a full five-term – the former immediately and the latter after getting the country ready for elections which may take several months. Both the opposition and the government in their reversed roles will still be dictated by their instincts about each other – bitterness will be hard to let go of at least in the short term as accusations of ineptitude and non-cooperation are flipped.
Whether new national elections happen on time as scheduled in late summer next year or within this year, both sides are expected to challenge each other politically. But if political stability is a priority – it is critical to economic stability, which is precarious – then stability will only come through a healing touch from the government. Sharif in his maiden speech in parliament has extended an olive branch by offering to establish a commission to remove misgivings of an alleged conspiracy to topple the previous government, but Khan’s party has rejected this off-hand.
The new coalition government – dominated by Sharif’s party but including otherwise traditional political rival parties of Bilawal Bhutto, Fazlur Rehman, Maqbool Siddiqui and others, should theoretically have less imperative to practice vindictive politics like their predecessor. Khan’s party, however, is hurting and angrier than before, for having lost out a make-or-break political fight and is looking to undermine the new replacement dispensation. Indeed, Khan is about to launch a public mobilization campaign to whip up support for immediate elections.
A consensus will allow an issue-based manifesto-driven political campaign for the next elections rather than bitter polarizing personality-centred politics that have ended up costing Khan his majority in parliament.
To navigate this treacherous transitional political terrain, the Sharif government must go beyond offering to settle conspiracy theories and instead float a more tangible offer of collaborative election planning, to allow the new opposition a role in reducing polarization. It helps that the new government is not here to rule for a long time – Sharif intends to clear the politico-legal path to new elections over the next several months.
A key element of any transition from being enemies to being frenemies – essentially a working relationship while remaining political rivals – will be collaborative transition management of a mutually agreed minimum agenda that both Khan and Sharif and their allies covet. Since new elections are sought by both sides, agreeing to a transition agenda of fair elections and some semblance of economic stability must be worked out.
Collaborative strategization and management of the political transition will be key to a new era of political stability. This must start with Sharif reaching out to Khan to jointly develop a charter of legal and political reforms aimed at expanding ownership and legitimacy for both sides for the pre and post election periods.
Such a common agenda of political reforms and economic recovery can work best if both sides agree that they don’t become over ambitious politically and agree to only focus on electoral and other legal reforms that can strengthen legitimacy of elections. They should also agree to not undertake any other radical decisions and leave them to the three-month neutral caretaker government – mandatory under Pakistani law – which can instead prioritize economic recovery initiatives.
Such a consensus will allow an issue-based manifesto-driven political campaign for the next elections rather than bitter polarizing personality-centred politics that have ended up costing Khan his majority in parliament thanks to an exclusionary style of politics alienating even his own party legislators, some of whom have refused his advice to resign from parliament.
Inclusion and common ground are the answers to Pakistan’s current political morass. Pursue détente, agree on a common minimum electoral reform agenda, operate within the confines of the law, throw away the rear-view mirror and look ahead. Graduate from being enemies to frenemies.
The Governance And Inflation Conundrum
The Existing situation presents a bleak outlook for Pakistan as the continuous Governance Crisis and Rising Prices especially Petroleum Prices, have made the Life of ordinary men Miserable. The Growing political Vendetta and intolerance have polarized politics to the extent that even positive criticism invites violence breaking all social and cultural norms and Crossing all the limits of Humanity.The deepening economic crisis has exposed the government’s efficiency within two months’ tenure.
The IMF’s strict conditions ask for putting a levy on Petroleum Prices, raising Gas and ElectricityTariffs costing heavy for common people but the Government, on the other hand, seems non-serious on the Inflation issue as within two months of their coalition regime, they have raised the petroleum prices over 100 per Liter that has jolted the working-class especially public transport operators, Rickshaw Drivers and other Market players such as Uber, Careem, InDriver and Bykea etc.
All the business operators are complaining that the rising Inflation and Petroleum prices have affected their businesses miserably. They have raised the prices of their rides and people have limited choices to travel from one place to another, and have nothing than cursing the current coalition Government with the inclusion of tested and Tried corrupt politicians who have dynastic roots in politics and major players of corruption and misappropriation. They have been facing corruptioncases and some of them have remained behind the bars in corruption cases.
That is the main reason to have a clean chit, the government took the steps to curtail the NAB Powers by amending the NAB ordinance and Electoral Reforms Bill, rejecting the use of EVMs in upcoming elections and depriving overseas Pakistanis of their right of casting votes.
Unfortunately, the corrupt and criminal people amended NAB laws to provide relief to Nawaz Sharif, His Sons, Asif Zardari, Khursheed Shah and several other black sheep who have been looting the Public money for decades and have not left any effort in making Pakistan a bankrupt country, unlike Sri Lanka.
The ouster of PTI’s Government in Center through the No-confidence Motion has created a very uncertain situation where people are concerned that what will happen shortly as the current government has been tasked to keep dropping Petrol, Gas and Electricity bombshells on the public having no sense or feeling that how the labourers, Salaried Persons and workers earn their livelihood to feed their family as daily use items prices are touching the sky. Even the average person cannot purchase a flour bag or Gheepouch.
On the other hand, the PTI leader adopted the narrative that there were foreign hands involved in the ouster of his PTI-led coalition government waving the letter. Hence the claim has not been proved with evidence.
US involvement in Pakistan’s power politics is not new, the murder of Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, PM Liaquat Ali Khan and the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto are examples that show the US silenced anti-US voices to maintain its hegemony in the region.
It has been our political norm that whoever comes into Government alwayscriticizes the previous regimes and holds them responsible forall the mess that we witness today. They never revisit the steps that have broken the waist of common men. Whenever asked why the petrol, Gas and Electricity prices have been raised every week, the reply comes very irritatingly and insensible that it was essential to raise the fuel prices since there was an agreement with IMF by PTI Government.
Therefore, to get the stalled Tranche from IMF, we are compelled to comply with the conditions to get the tranche released at the earliest to escape the shrinking balance of payments issue.
Inflation has hit lower-income level people very badly. The purchasing power of an average person has dropped extensively making their lives miserable. The state is like a mother but here, unfortunately, the mother is acting as a stepmother having no sense of love, care, feeling or sympathy.
It can easily be inferred from the incumbent Government’s tactics that they got the power to get rid of the cases registered during the PTI regime and make such electoral reforms that could favour them in the upcoming election for stopping the entry of a new political force or PTI.
They are well aware that if the PTI or Other political force won the election and formed the Government with a simple majority or with the help of allies, they will try to deliver and fix the economy to the point where they won’t need financial assistance from any state including IMF Program.
Pakistan needs visionary leadership and a team of Professional Economic Experts to steer the country from the existing depreciation of the Rupee against the Dollar, rising fuel prices and daily use items so that it may progress.
Pakistan does not need the capitalists, Feudal Lords, Choudhry’s, Sardars, Peers and Mirs as legislators but it requires highly Educated, sincere and honest elected representatives having leadership qualities who can restore its former grandeur. Today we have to make the resolve that we have to liberate our country from foreign liability and external debts that have compromised our sovereignty. If we did not resolve the issue of external debt, IMF may put a condition to roll back the nuclear program that has been our biggest deterrence and balance of power tool against our enemies.
Being Pakistani, it hurts our sentiments when our enemy, India criticises Pakistan if it begs for financial assistance from Saudi Arabia, China, or UAE, how will it demand Kashmir’s freedom.
Pakistan needs to break this begging bowl as Allah has blessed it with all ingredients that can be found in any developed state i.e. Sea Ports, the Best riverine system,Minerals,Gas, Oil,Agriculture etc., but it lacks the visionary leadership that can transform the country into a developedstate. Pakistan should adopt the economic Model that suits its income level. The country cannot be run on IMF Program.
The Government should focus on Education,Health,Infrastructure, employment creation and especially the promotion of Tourism.
Switzerland, Malaysia,UAE, Singapore, Indonesia and UK earn billions of dollars from the tourism Industry, Pakistan needs to explore these sectors so that it can earn passive income. Dubai earns billions from the tourism industry as everybody knows Dubai is desert and tax-free but still earns from Tourism and Industries.
The tax-free status will also help promote the set up of the automobile industry, Textilesetc that will create jobs for Youth. The Skill development programs must be devised so that same may place talent in jobs.
We love Pakistan as it is our homeland, we have to set aside all our differences and made serious efforts to take this country out of the crisis,As our parties, our designation, portfolios,and Identity rest with our country so we have to put Pakistan first than our priorities. Furthermore, the poor must be saved and fuel prices should be slashed importing oil from Iran and Russia as these countries have abundant fuel reserves.
All the institutions should work within their limits and don’t attempt to usurp or interfere in the affairs unless required in National interests. Pakistan should adopt a neutral or Independent foreign policy and avoid playing any role in other countries since we have already paid a huge price for the so-called war on terror and have given sacrifices to our Valiant Soldiers, civilians and children’s APS attack.
Pakistan’s valiant forces should not bedragged into political affairs as they have played their pivotal role in maintaining peace and security having given several sacrifices for the defence of the country.
Finally, all the parties must display their political maturity and work together to get the country out of crisis- be it PML N, PPP or PTI. These three mainstream parties have a bigger role to play to find a lasting solution to Water Crisis, Gas and Electricity load shedding, Overpriced Petrol and making serious efforts to bring the daily food items prices down even offering subsidies to facilitate the masses.
Pakistan has great potential to become an Asian Economic Tiger given its resources and strategic Importance provided that a positive, cooperative, collaborative and tolerant approach should come forward to put the economy on growth on track by bringing reforms.
If there is no political consensus possible then Fresh General Election is the only option to resolve the existing issues as the right to vote will empower the People to elect the best Political party to take the reins of the country and start the journey to the development.
The Big cities Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Multan, and Rawalpindi should be revamped and modern facilities should be provided so that Tourism Industry and Job creation process may be expedited.
It is hoped that all the parties andInstitutions will come on the same page and debate and discuss a possible solution to prevent the country from defaulting. The blame game should stop now. Let’s make Pakistan self-sustained and economically stable to develop by leaps andbounds. Let the institutions work in their domain without usurping or interfering in others’ domain .
Social Media and Polarization of our Society
Social Media has witnessed a mushroom growth that has impacted the discourse of political, cultural and religious systems by providing the equal opportunity of freedom of expression and of sharing an opinion or viewpoint on any issue.
Social Media has played a greater role in right-wing politics that paved the way for populist politicians to reach out to their voters.
Though Social Media has connected the people around the world, at the same time, it is causing division or disintegration and facilitating the social media lobbyists to polarize the communication so much the people support the arguments or opinions or political tirades against leaders without fact checking.
The world has been rocked by social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube because the users of these social networks have already surpassed millions and are growing, but due to the limited regulatory framework, fake news, cyberbullying, extremism and terrorism has reached new heights.
The influencers’ interactions with social media users have polarized the political and social circles that led to the formation of online echo chambers, a tactic of social media recommendations by politicians to influence the users to strengthen their narrative regardless of facts that whether it is right or wrong, but it is knit in a manner that echo chambers appear to be normal for the people thus changing the way of thinking and increasing the supporters base.
The echo chambers post such content that we enjoy a lot while reading, while keeping us away from the content that may stir a debate or arguments or expression of our disagreement over certain social, economic, religious, cultural or policy matters.
The echo chambers keep ideas flowing on a regular basis to the one side –the positive side of the argument, while its negative side is deliberately concealed to hide the facts.
This is the big issue that might be discussed with students, who should be informed and taught at school, college or degree level so that positive and constructive use of this digital medium could be ensured.
Social media connectivity around the world is undoubtedly amazing but the problems it created for both people and students are very dangerous, and need to be addressed and regulated.
Digital media, especially social media, for a long time remained unbridled to post any content that may fall in the purview of hatred, racism, bullying, derogatory remarks, character assault, rebellion, or anti-state elements instigating people to create chaos using the olive branch of social media. Since it was not monitored given the type of content being circulated and the information of people posting such content, including their motives behind such content as may have a constant flow of information that is recommended by the users pretending to be professionals, experts and mentors.
Alarmingly, people without fact-checking go on sharing the content and thus creating hype for such an issue as does not have a basis and was the result of a conspiracy to exert pressure on some person or leaders to get some favours.
“The schools and colleges should chalk out the initiative to create awareness and practice of fair use so that social platforms should not post single or one-sided opinions or arguments but should welcome both so that positive use could be ensured. This will further the importance of social media.“
Sometimes, the active echo chambers or volcanoes erupt over such issues as may be beneficial for the wider circle of society, but this finds serious criticism masterminded by people with an individual approach. They term it detrimental for them since it did not serve their interests, though it might have been beneficial for general people.
Humans have an intuitional inclination to communicate with like-minded people or the people with the same choices on social media, thus the echo chambers get even stronger. The discourse that discourages dissenting voices always comes under fire from the thinkers and intellectuals of the nation since it is tantamount to concealing the facts from the people.
The world is coming closer after the covid-19 pandemic that engulfed the entire world, bringing misery and economic crisis. The social media debates go with biased and unbiased approaches regarding getting the vaccine. Some optimists termed it great, while some pessimists or biased approaches raised questions.
The echo chambers try to influence their opinions and win support.Similarly, echo chambers of both Democrats and Republicans only canvassed for their candidates but the leaders instigated the masses to attack Capitol Hill through social media and emotional speeches using their influence on social media, especially Twitter .
Some researchers have found that echo chambers influence people to win support but social media influencers have a follower-base of millions, and may polarize the public and politics, since influencers share success stories like internet marketers compelling you to buy their products.
The opinion leaders and experts reveal that for the last two decades, the percentage of American people having consistently holding liberal or conservative beliefs— rather than a blend of the two, which is the case for most people— has increased from 10 percent to over 20. Beliefs about the other side are becoming more negative creating an alarming situation.
Since 1994, the number of people who see the opposing political party as a threat to “the nation’s well-being or security” has doubled, which heralds how deepening polarization has predictable results raising eyebrows.
The government shutdowns, violent protests, scathing attacks on elected officials, the capitol Hill incident –all indicate that social media have been polarizing the political system and divided the nation each passing day due to echo chambers of both mainstream parties regarding the issues of health, security, human rights, employment and environment.
According to evidence from empirical research conducted on US politicians, politicians following extreme ideologies attracted a larger public audience than those who were moderate, which is the real example of echo chambers.
Usually, messages containing extreme thoughts, emotional instigation, patriotism, or criticizing the opposition received a warm welcome on social media platforms than those messages reflecting merely information.
The polarization of issues and political ideology will have serious repercussions in future that should be addressed on a timely basis so that societies could be saved from further isolation and disintegration.
The issues could be resolved through educating the people and creating awareness about the fair and professional use of social media channels for advocacy for winning support for legislation, an issue, a policy or employment.
Instead of showing the dark side of the issue, we have to educate people regarding both pros and cons of matters of importance for the general public rather than misleading the people with biased approaches to oppose the initiative of the government, community or civil society for the general benefit.
Social Media network operators are the bigwigs and the most influential in this.They cannot be controlled but only be regulated by framing such laws that may ensure fair use of this digital platform and are careful so that users may not face any legal issue by discussing sensitive issues such as desecration of holy places, religions, personalities, anti-state tirades, rebellion, terrorism, extremism and so on. The sensitive issue may stir protests and cause legal proceedings, if the cyber-regulatory laws are implemented to discourage the influence of one-sided opinions or campaigns.
We cannot deny the importance of social media platforms as they provide equal opportunity to people to express and share their thoughts or opinions, but safe and thoughtful use of these platforms will encourage healthy discourse and prove pivotal in promoting dialogue to discuss social, economical and cultural issues peacefully without hitting the sentiments of other communities.
Thus, echo chambers will be less powerful to build a narrative that is appealing but the readers will be engaging themselves in the debates that need interaction.
Undoubtedly, social media platforms have changed the political and social approach of the people and enabled face-to-face digital interaction through video and audio conference calls, so their fair use will mitigate their cons manifold.
The social media networks apply algorithms to connect you with like-minded people but it is up to you whether your engagement in communication is either unbiased or biased.
Social media should be promoting positive discourse to explore the political and economic solutions to the problems of people by reflecting the two sides of the coin so that the discourse be constructive and problem-solving. Social media has given a voice to marginalized people and governments are compelled to resolve the issues of people on a priority basis due to trending topics of social media.
Even the populist leaders may face resistance from social media as the public makes the most of the freedom of expression and criticizes the role of politicians for their failure to address the issues of the public.
In recent times, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have been creating history in highlighting issues of both public and national interest but at the same time such platforms have been taken by storm by those influencers who continue to feed the news about their vested interests and create psychosocial hype for any issue that may jolt the power corridors of Government.
The politicians always take to Twitter for their precise viewpoint and policy debate and are usually followed by millions of followers. Even the print and electronic media take the tweets as policy statements or the narrative of some party or group.
The schools and colleges should chalk out the initiative to create awareness and practice of fair use so that social platforms should not post single or one-sided opinions or arguments but should welcome both so that positive use could be ensured. This will further the importance of social media.
The Conspiracies And The PTI Government
[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]E[/su_dropcap]ver since the PTI emerged victorious in the landmark General Elections of 2018, formed the government in Center, Punjab, KPK and coalition Government in Baluchistan, the Oppositions parties could not digest their defeat and start raising their hue and cry regarding the credibility of elections owing to RTS failure. The Opposition’s recent rumpus in the parliament and boycotting the proceedings, has prompted the PTI government to take the tough stand against them owing to their futile attempts to overthrow the government since the parties are facing several corruption charges.
Pakistan has been facing the severe economic crisis due to flawed policies, rampant corruption and mounting burden of loans acquired from the IMF program by both – the PPP and the PML-N. The existing circumstances created by the losers in General Elections 2018 have aggravated the situation.
The Corrupt elite politicians are pushing hard to influence government to issue yet another NRO as practices in Past in Musharraf era.
With PTI hardly completing its two and a half months in government, the impatience of Opposition has no limits as Moulana Fazal playing key role in bridging the gap between two arch-rivals I.e PPP and PML-N persuading them to hatch conspiracies against the Government by bringing a Resolution against the Government in the parliament since PM Imran Khan has already scraped their evil designs by securing Bailout package of $12 Billion Dollars from Saudi Arabia and yet another is likely expected from UAE on the basis of deferred payments facility.
Pakistan’s best friend China has also announced to help Pakistan come out of this financial quagmire by pledging a handsome amount since Pakistan might have suspended the plans to avail bailout package from IMF given the Trump’s absolute pressure on IMF not to give any financial Assistance since America thought that Pakistan will repay the Chinese loans with IMF program. This was the very setback that pushed Pakistan to go for alternate options to strengthen rupee against the dollar and fulfil the balance of payments issue to repay the loans availed by former governments.
The former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar currently availing political asylum, as per reports, have said that the PTI government is responsible for all the mess as their inefficiency and incompetence have dragged the country into the financial quagmire.
Well, Mr Dar has held responsible to the PTI Government but if he is true and innocent, then why he has applied for political asylum despite the suspension of his legal travel documents such as Passport and ID card etc.
It is an old custom that when one cannot solve the issue and dragged the country into financial crisis then, it is easy to shift the responsibility and start blaming the successor for the mess generated by them. Such face-saving tactics are being practised for long to befool the public so that they may not change their loyalties and remain stuck to your side despite injustices and breach trust.
It is debatable that why the arch-rivals have come closer only because they are being prosecuted for the corrupt practices and they need another NRO as offered by former President Zardari to Sharif brothers when both Nawaz and Shahbaz were disqualified to contest Elections and NRO offered by Musharraf to sharifs on the request of Saudi Arab.
Apparently, the joint Opposition is playing a dangerous game of instigating the sentiments and emotions of the people against PTI government such as Zardari is reportedly blamed the government that he was being tried in fake accounts case only because of 18th Amendment since the Government intends to repeal the said amendment. Such a statement has sent tremors of the earthquake to the provinces to resist such movement and is an attempt to create chaos to fail the government.
Perhaps, they are not aware of the fact that the people this time, are well aware of evil designs of these monsters and their misleading, irritating and instigating remarks are aimed at diverting the attention of the people in order to hide their corruption and misappropriation of billions of rupees. They are using the elevated platform –the parliament for personal gains.
Imran Khan is a sportsman and everybody knows that a sportsman always remains under pressure in nail-biting contests but never succumbs to pressure. So these triangular games of PPP, JUI and PML-N won’t bear any fruit because all three are unpopular among the people and their claims of being populist leaders are baseless and deceptive.
Pakistan’s image as a peace-loving country has been recognized with the effective, robust and independent internal and external policies of Imran Khan. In just two and a half months, he has already proved his worth and initiated “Clean and Green Initiative”; to make Pakistan environmentally safe with massive plantation and cleanliness drive.
PM Khan has also initiated the much echoed and trumpeted “Naya Pakistan” Housing Program to construct 5 million houses for the people throughout Pakistan. This was the really much-awaited project that will benefit people with low-income level.
PTI’s innovation did not stop here, PM Khan went on to announce first-ever “Pakistan Citizens portal” to address the problems faced by Pakistanis globally. It is an online complains management system that will help people get their problems resolved through the portal and by using the Mobile application. The Portal caters to the needs of local people as well as the ex-pats residing in any part of the world. The newly launched portal will prove instrumental in addressing the issues of ex-pats and will play a pivot role in maximizing foreign remittances by removing the complexities.
Even some economists are of the view that Pakistan will prosper if such initiatives are taken, and in coming days, Pakistan will shift from an aid receiver to self-reliance. PTI has painted a positive picture of Pakistan nationally and internationally, it will likely succeed in the resolution of age-long issues of terrorism, health, education, unemployment, energy crisis and economic crisis. These issues are currently dubbed as the biggest challenges.
With strong independent Foreign policy and maintaining cordial diplomatic relations on the basis of mutual benefits and understanding with the neighbours and resolving all the issues with neighbours including the core issue of Kashmir with India, these initiatives will serve as the basis to steer Pakistan out of this political and economic conundrum and impasse.
The opposition’s drum-beating will not serve any interests of the public rather it further plunge the country into governance and financial crisis. Though, soon after elections, Moulana Fazal Rahman’s proposal not to take the oath, received the negative response since all the parties seemed reluctant to such move especially PPP distanced itself from voting or any APCs held by the opposition’s parties.
It is imperative that PTI should not give any heed to such mounting pressure and should only focus on their projects and service delivery. These dissent voices will have the logical end with the passage of time since they don’t have any serious national issue to raise their voice except self-centric desires of getting immunity or NRO to get rid of corruption charges levelled by State institutions and investigated by FIA and NAB. The PTI Government appears resolved to continue the accountability process till recovery of the looted wealth within the country, Dubai and other parts of the world. The Opposition’s claim of being sole targets is baseless and aimed at point-scoring and an abortive effort to get public support. Since PM IK presented himself voluntary to start accountability process if the opposition has any evidence.
PM Khan is ready to face these challenges and emerge as victorious as the country is desperately looking for an honest and dedicated leadership that steers the country out of crisis and brings prosperity, peace and sustainable growth by crossing all the impediments that may hamper Pakistan from becoming a true welfare state.
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