Prime Minister Imran Khan's government has been accused of wanting to devastate his rivals running Sindh state. Photo: AFP / Muhammad Reza / Anadolu
Prime Minister Imran Khan was against the transfer. Photo: AFP / Muhammad Reza / Anadolu

He must be thinking that putting the entire opposition behind bars will be enough to hide his incompetence, ignorance and highly authoritarian mindset, but unfortunately the Oxford University graduate Imran Khan has been living in a fool’s paradise since he was “elected’ – without a “real’ mandate – to occupy the Prime Minister’s Office of the 72-year-old South Asian country. The July 2018 general election will prove to be the beginning of the end the story of Pakistan that began when it won independence in 1947.

Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Following the footsteps of Sisi

Imran Khan is indeed afraid of those who have access to the public platforms and are using them to expose the failures of his regime. This conman always wanted to be the prime minister of Pakistan, but very soon he realized after getting “elected” that was quite incompetent to run the office he had yearned for.

He could have simply resigned after that rude awakening, but why would he quit when he’s best suited for the script to strengthen the 72-year-old status quo?

The Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of Pakistan – Imran Khan – is known for his indirect persecution of the opposition and media outlets up and down the country. He’s a narcissist who can’t even win a fixed match, let alone a free and fair one. Under his rule, free speech is a crime and dissidents are criminals; victimizing the opposition and pushing the economy into crisis are business as usual; the use of taxpayers’ money by Khan and his cabinet to support extravagant lifestyles and to send mangoes and cakes to the journalists who are best at portraying the “chosen one” as “Madinay ki Riyasat ka Rehnuma” (Leader of an Islamic Welfare State) is what they are best at.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif, vice-president of the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and daughter of currently incarcerated three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, is under National Accountability Bureau (NAB) custody; former president and current leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur were arrested by the NAB on June 11; Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durani, former prime minister and senior PML-N member Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Saad Rafique (another senior PML-N member), the leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly (son of the current president of PML-N) Hamza Shahbaz – all are facing NAB inquiries and therefore are under its custody. The Anti-Narcotics Force has arrested Rana Sanaullah, another senior PML-N leader, after alleged recovery of drugs from his vehicle.

After coming into power as president of Egypt as a result of a successful military coup, Sisi did exactly the same thing. There is currently no opposition in Egypt. Many prominent civil-society activists and opposition leaders are facing the same sort of extreme intimidation as in Pakistan.

Vice-president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

After releasing the video of Judge Arshad Malik in which he admitted to having convicted Nawaz Sharif without evidence, and then her address to a rally of thousands in Quetta last month in which she asked protesters to support her in a march against the “fake government,” Maryam Nawaz was arrested even though her speech wasn’t given coverage by any of the country’s media outlets.

Meanwhile, after the completion of Khan’s first year in power, the country is standing on the brink of an economic collapse.

Trade deficit with India

You must be aware of the fact that Pakistan’s Sisi did announce after the Balakot air strikes that the country would cut all trade ties with India to make it suffer. You will laugh at what  the country actually ended up doing: Increasing its trade deficit with India from US$91.3 million (July fiscal year 2019) to $114.9 million (July FY20) – one of the major implications of choosing an incompetent over an accused. As Pierre S du Pont said in a statement to the National Assembly of France in 1790, “Bad logicians have committed more involuntary crimes than bad men have done intentionally.”

China is Pakistan’s so-called “all-weather friend,” and last month its trade deficit with China was $691 million. But then the PTI regime complains about the shortage of foreign reserves. While Pakistan is unable to produce anything at home, foreign direct investment plunged from $3.47 billion int the last fiscal year of Nawaz Sharif’s government to $1.66 billion in the first fiscal year of Imran Khan, a 52% decrease.

Inflation figures say it all: Right now Pakistan is going through a period of galloping inflation. The lower and middle classes are suffering the most. Tax rates are increased without an equivalent increase of the base. the Karachi Stock Exchange this month dropped to a five-year low, below 29,800 points. Domestic and foreign investors are indeed losing confidence in the economy.

Hafiz Saeed, head of the Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawah, and alleged mastermind of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Will FATF blacklist Pakistan?

The Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering) could downgrade Pakistan to its blacklist this October, but I think it won’t, as the country still has some allies. It might manage to secure the three votes that will be required to avoid being put on the blacklist. But by no means will Khan’s administration be able to find a way out of the gray list. Last week the FATF’s regional body the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering put the country on an Enhanced Monitoring Mechanism after the APG found that it had failed to comply with 32 of 40 compliance parameters related to anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing.

There must be a special place in hell for those in Pakistan who still want Kashmir – how will they feed millions of Kashmiris with this economy? For goodness’ sake, clean up this mess first.

This is an edited and updated version of an article that first appeared at The Economic Times.

Ali Salman Andani

The writer is a journalist and economic and political analyst and columnist for Asia Times and various online and print media outlets. His analysis focuses on economic, political, social and cultural issues, especially those related to corruption, human rights violations, the global market economy, foreign policy, and environmental crises. Find him on Twitter @an_alisalman

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