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The New CEC, PTI’s Plan-C And The Rigging Probe

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For the last 16 Months, the Appointment of the new Permanent chief issue has remained the much echoed or trumpeted issue as all the current political crisis was surrounding the top Slot as the Election Tribunals were controversial and Electoral reforms could not be materialized in the absence of a permanent Chief for Election Commission of Pakistan. However, the efforts of parliamentary Committee for the Search and Selection of Chief Election Commissioner succeeded to name a unanimous candidate for the Position of Chief Election Commissioner.

Justice Sardar Raza Khan has been appointed as Chief Election Commissioner as all the Parties agreed over his name. Whereas the seat of CEC is not a bed of roses as it will have a bumpy road ahead in terms of Policy Making and Reforms, holding of Local Body Elections in almost three Provinces i.e. Sindh Punjab and KPK  , conducting Delimitation exercise in Sindh and Cooperating with Judicial Committee likely to be formed to end Current Political Crisis .

On the other hand , PTI’s November 30 ,rally in Islamabad  may be concern for all the parties specially the Government to constitute a Judicial Committee to Probe the rigging in  May 11 ,2013 Election for which PTI is of the view that there was high level of  Rigging and in their opinion , it was RO’s Elections .With Judicial Commission , it will be analyzed  that how  the Election were manipulated to bring in the most favored Party the Power . The Judicial Commission will also identify the Flaws and Bottlenecks in current Electoral Frameworks giving access to rigging or manipulation.

As So far, the so called Parliamentary Committee for Electoral Reforms has missed the deadlines as per the opinion of political Pundits and analysts that it is deliberately attempting to delay the process to prolong the tenure Govt: tenure since it is headed by the Senator Ishaque Dar who is currently serving the cabinet with the most important Portfolio of Finance Minister raising Question over impartiality of Committee.

As the Proposed EVS (Electoral Voting System) was made controversial by some analysts and even the ECP was reluctant to give their input that without the Permanent Chief in place, they cannot give their Opinion over EVS or proposed points of Electoral Reforms Committee.

But now, when a permanent CEC has taken the oath of the Office of Chief Election Commissioner, it would be easy for ECP to put forward their Opinion over EVS and other proposed Electoral Reforms including the ECP’s own draft calling for amendment in Representation of People’s Act to ensure Free and fair Elections. Since, the Present CEC, Sardar Raza Khan has already remained Acting CEC of Election Commission of Pakistan Twice.

He understands the matters of ECP in-depth and will come up with the best plan to make the most important Institution efficient , transparent and trustworthy as earlier Election have raise questions upon its reliability and efficient as had failed miserably to win the trust of both the candidates in general and the Public in Particular. As the previous governments failed to deliver on the basis of entry wrong ones into the Assemblies. That’s why we are observing the aftershocks of the inefficiency displayed by the former Governments which continue to haunt the present Government and will create problems for future governments if not addressed efficiently and sensibly.

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PTI’s formula to organize Youth and tasks of creating mass awareness regarding Mass Awareness against Manipulated or Rigged Election have worked to the extent that even the visually impaired Persons protesting before Punjab CM House for Want of Jobs were denied access and subjected to brutal physical torture by Punjab police were demanding that after all, what is their guilt and why they were not being allowed to enter the CM house.

The Bleeding Disabled person made all the people unhappy and aggrieved to the extent that every person was to believe that with brutally torturing visually impaired citizens, the Government has invited the wrath of Almighty. Once done by the Great Leader of Muslim Word Shaheed Zulfiquar Bhutto by giving courage and voice to make the leaders accountable for their injustices and ask the government to explain why they are not being served in a democratic way.

With Plan C announcement from PTI to show street power as earlier pressure of Freedom and March and Rallies did not work to compel the Government to accept their demands of formation of Judicial Commission to probe the Rigging in Elections, Introduction of Electoral Reforms and Resignation of PM.

However , on the intervention of their coalition partners in KPK Government, Stalwart of Opposition Jirga and Ameer Jamaat Islami  Siraj-ul-Haq  , they have withdrawn from the point of resignation but they still demand the Judicial Commission to Probe Election manipulation and Electoral Reforms to pave the way of Future or Midterm Election whichever possible after the outcome of the Probe.

Since, their withdrawal from Resignation conditional. If the rigging Allegation proved against PML-N, the PM will likely to resign and announce Re-Election. Even, the Supreme Court May issue such directives to ECP for Re-Election.

The Plan C is the production of PTI’s Change in their Line of Action from Protests (dharnas), Marches to display of Street power to stop the Government’s easy functioning. With their proposed Start of PLAN C in a series of Wheel Jam Strikes to paralyze the Business Hub Cities of Lahore ,Faisalabad and Karachi and Finally ,shutting down the whole country is clear message to the Government that they have changed their course and intensified  their struggle for their genuine demands .

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They also warned the Government that Plan D will be very offensive which in their opinion that Government will not be able to tolerate.  The government seems to be killing the time and prolonging tenure considering PTI as mere Pressure Group but the Analysts have predicted that it is high time for the Government to take the issue seriously and respond to end the lingering Political Crisis that has paralyzed the whole country for the last Three Months. It is very dangerous for democracy that Government and Opposition should have a Nexus or in sporting term fixation of match.

If the opposition continues to play a friendly match with Government and waiting for their turn then it will be very dangerous for the new players to enter the Game of Politics with a thumping majority in the subsequent elections.

The Change of turns has become harmful for the nation since the Country has been going through the serious problems of Internal and External Security , Militancy , famine like Situation in Thar with unending deaths of infants , IDPS rehabilitation,falling FDI and Deteriorating Economic Outlook and the Challenge of Holding Local body elections and implementation of Electoral Reforms.

It would be sensible action on the part of Government to understand the grave issues of Country and resolve them on the priority basis to save the country from falling prey to lawlessness, ethnicity, economic Crisis and militancy.

The government should hold talks with the PTI and other Stakeholders without any further delay to resolve the issues through dialogue and set an example for predecessors that PML-N is not a power-hungry party and welcomes constructive criticism to improve the service delivery.

Since  Splits in the ruling PML-N have already surfaced in form of disgruntled Muslim Leaguers- KHOSA Family of Punjab and Sindh’s Former Party President Ghous Ali Shah both striving to unite the factions of Muslim league blaming Sharif brothers for making Party as Family Affair.

This is evident from the surfacing of forward blocks that the ruling PML-N is also losing grip over its own party, not to speak of service delivery and Governance Improvement. With permanent CEC in place, PML-N has been left with no other option but to request Supreme Court of Pakistan for the formation of Judicial Commission to probe the Rigging Charges to silence the protesting voices and showing their will power to end the Political Crisis haunting the country for last couple of months and developing a sense of uncertainty among the people of Pakistan as it is not the question serving egos but it is in national interest to end the stalemate.

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Pakistan’s top priority now: Inclusive political transition

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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.

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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.

ALSO READ:  Social Media and Polarization of our Society

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.

Via AN

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Social Media and Polarization of our Society

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Conspiracies And The PTI Government

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[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.

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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.

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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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