Revising their original estimates within three months, WHO says a “second”, and maybe a “third wave” “is likely”, both the IMF and the US say that the economic downtown will persist, the recession reaching into 2022. The estimates of failed businesses and industries, with accompanying unemployment figures rising drastically.
Infections in Pakistan have grown exponentially, there are now over 200000 cases. At the outset people were ready to stay at home and comply with “social distancing” when outside, with economic and financial pressures getting harder, fed by an irresponsible media, print, electronic and social across the board spreading widespread skepticism about the pandemic, the majority seem regardless of the consequences. Relying on people to discipline themselves has been an exercise in futility, no lockdown – smart or otherwise –can be enforced without special powers.
With people forced to stay indoors extensive power cuts to go with the almost intolerable heat is making life truly miserable for everybody. Water shortage makes hygiene almost impossible; calls for frequently washing of hands is useless without the availability of water! The timing for substantially increasing prices of petrol was very wrong, it evoked every adverse public perception. The yield per acre having declined, instead of the projected 27 m tons of wheat only 25 m tons has been produced. Here the government is ahead of the curve, wheat imports are on the way. The govt is ahead of the curve in the potentially dangerous likelihood of possible food shortages. Cotton, maize and sugarcane production has also declined.
Two negligent pilots along with a negligent air traffic control tower caused the recent PIA plane crash killing 97 people. PIA (and Pakistan Steel) have particularly been used by the PPP (and also by PML (N)) as a trash can for their either loyal followers or kith and kin of influential people without any qualification. PALPA condoning pilots with fake credentials is the crux of the problem. To protect the livelihood of several thousand why should we risk the lives and livelihood of millions? We must close down the money gulping monster PIA (like Pakistan Steel).
We cannot afford wasteful expenditures. How funds are spent, particularly foreign exchange, need to be monitored, and if necessary, investigated. When 4000 MW electricity was projected available in the South of Pakistan in 2021, how and why did NTDC wrongly certify to the Karachi Electric (KE) KE in October 2019 that they would have no capacity available? What was the motivation for facilitating installing expensive 900 MW and 700 MW plants instead of “step down” grid stations for a fraction of the price? Who in govt was facilitating this? The Finance Ministry does not have deaf, dumb and blind technocrats. They well knew that not one single penny is being contributed by the shareholder, but from KE’s heavily indebted own resources and expensive loans from banks. How could we divert foreign exchange and take a burden that will be borne by the state and the people of Karachi already being subjected to excessive billing beside electricity. NTDC and both the Federal Ministries Finance and of Energy for this outright scam? A very responsible person admonished me for opposing this proposal of a friend. Friendship over the national interest makes the cost too high. Moreover why did the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) selective in its motivation to give income tax exemptions and concessions worth Rs30 billion to the top government officials, military officers and judges of superior courts on perks and privileges in the tax year 2019? The Client-Patron relationship is operating without fear in full public view to please the establishment with this largesse and evade accountability.
Hellbent on protecting the “rights” of the terrorists, why did the Peshawar HC declare hundreds of terrorists “innocent”? What about the rights of those killed and maimed by the terrorists? And the superior judiciary decisions about the killers of Danial Pearl? Which civilized society in the world will condone the return of hardened terrorists to their murderous activities? We now have a major international embarrassment about the moral and ethical erosion of our judicial system. If the forces of law and order are demoralized and rendered powerless by the superior judiciary, the possible meltdown of law and order will be deepened. To add insult to injury, the superior judiciary has made accountability systematically ineffective made by doling out bails for the hardened corrupt on flimsy grounds. What about the billions siphoned off by these scoundrels by fake accounts and money-laundering, why this selective “justice” giving relief to criminals on legal technicalities? Is the wording of the law superior to the spirit of the law?
With a long, hot summer, the danger of locusts eating away our food security and the imminent floods to go with the pandemic, the consequences are grim for Pakistan. Our entire budget is dependent upon the revenues increasing, our finance team is living in cuckoo-land if they think people are going to pay taxes voluntarily! Only emergency powers will reinforce the tax machinery, not to squeeze more money from those already taxed but to make those pay who revel in living outside the tax net. Facing economic and eventual political apocalypse in the absence of more loans, should we wait till anarchy hits the streets?
To partially quote from my article of July 1, 2020, “From India with “Love”!”, “India has lost its platform in Afghanistan to continue waging their four decades long proxy war against Pakistan. Their entire strategy targeted to neutralizing their immediate neighbors and imposing hegemony on them has started to unravel dramatically. Facing a physical confrontation with the Chinese and with the Indian public and media baying for Chinses blood, Modi and Ajit Duval are desperate to create diversion from the Chinese reality, what better than to mobilize public opinion by a fresh wave of terrorism, launching “false flag” operations, etc through their paid proxies in Pakistan? The attacks on Rangers in Sindh and Karachi along with the failed hostage attempt on Karachi Stock Exchange has shown that this is only the start. The BLA is being allied by RAW with MQM militants and Jeeay Sindh activists to gain traction on the ground. MQM is openly a terrorist entity, with Anwar the money handler in UK confirming on prime time TV the funds from RAW he handed over to Altaf Hussain over the years. The British Govt will certainly look the other way because of their commercial interests in India. Remember the MQM terrorists being garlanded coming out of police stations despite openly boasting about their “exploits”? To keep the peace in Karachi and their govt in power in Islamabad the PPP (and the PML (N)) became de facto, complicit to their atrocities). To confront the possible meltdown of law and order force-multiplied by terrorism, we can only confront them by imposing emergency NOW,” unquote. Let us start by banning the name “MQM”. One feels sorry for its many sincere and patriotic party workers, unfortunately the name is synonymous with terrorism. Ask Mustafa Kamal who actually represents the majority of the people of Karachi!
Emergency is actually in force in many countries of the world without actually declaring it as such. Our “democrats” are taking full advantage of the present morass to escape accountability. Hafeez Shaikh and company’s bold projections for the Budget remains a calculated risk. Can we depend upon the promises of the Advisor Finance and his team? Hopefully these are not meant just to gain time, which one has personal experience of.
To quote from my article, “Declare national emergency now!” of March 20, 2020”, “A Proclamation of emergency on account of war, internal disturbance, etc can be issued under Article 232 of the Constitution of Pakistan if the President is satisfied that a grave emergency exists in which the security of Pakistan, or any part thereof, is threatened by war or external aggression, or by internal disturbance beyond the power of a Provincial Government to control provided that for imposition of emergency due to internal disturbances. Article 233 of the Constitution of Pakistan reads (1) Power to suspend Fundamental Rights, etc., during emergency period. Nothing contained in Articles 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 24 shall, while a proclamation of Emergency is in force, restrict the power of the State as defined in Article 7 to make any law or take any executive action which it would, but for the provisions in the said Articles, be competent to make or to take (2) While a Proclamation of Emergency is in force, the President may, by Order, declare that the right to move any Court for the enforcement of such of the Fundamental Rights conferred by Chapter I of Part II as may be specified in the Order, and any proceeding in any Court which is for the enforcement, or involves the determination of any question as to the infringement, of any of the Rights so specified, shall remain suspended for the period during which the Proclamation is in force, and any such Order may be made in respect of the whole or any part of Pakistan”, unquote.
India is conducting hybrid warfare of both kinetic and non-kinetic nature, mixing adverse propaganda with their covert warfare. Haven’t we learnt any lessons from 1971? Moreover compliance with FATF demands and effect financial reforms require extended powers for the executive. In parliament the opposition is more interested in keeping their corrupt leaders from jail than in solving problems. To quote my article “An emergency is on us”, of March 19, 2020, “one can almost guarantee that the Pakistan Army will face such a crisis of “clear and present danger” in the near future. Madame de Stael said of Napoleon’s coup de etat: “As soon as the moral power of the national representation was destroyed, a legislative body, whatever it might be, meant no more to the military than a crowd of five hundred men, less vigorous and disciplined than a battalion of the same number.”, unquote.
With adequate provisions under the Constitution and with the circumstances demanding it, the elected and representative govt must declare emergency immediately. The passing of the Federal Budget gives the govt legality for spending during financial year 2020-2021. Either act constitutionally now or else when anarchy sets in, we will again stumble down the route of “the doctrine of dire necessity”!
The writer is a defense and security analyst).