Political chaos to prevail in Pakistan till September
There is a strong possibility that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party of Imran Niazi will be held accountable for May 9 mayhem and banned.
Declining foreign direct investment, rampaging short term inflation, aggravated political turmoil post May 9 Imran Niazi’s party instigated attack on military institutions and a spike in terrorist related fatalities, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan today is at total war with itself with constitutional institutions playing part in the rot.
The Pakistan Army stands humiliated by the image of its then Lahore Corps Commander Lt Gen Salman Fayyaz Ghanni pleading before the PTI rioters on May 9 to spare Jinnah House, the commander’s residence, and his family. While Ghanni was thrown out for his cowardice, his replacement apparently refused to take up the job of the most powerful Corps Commander in Pakistan, signaling a divide within the Army over action on Niazi. The new Lahore Corps Commander is Lt Gen Syed Aamer Raza.
The Army under General Asim Munir has now retaliated and is booking PTI politicians and rioters, who even desecrated the statutes of Pakistan war heroes, under the stringent Army Act and Official Secret Act in order to bypass a judiciary which is overtly soft on Niazi and his erstwhile troopers. The process of isolation of Niazi has begun with top leaders of PTI abandoning the former cricketer and there is a strong possibility that the PTI party, once upon a time darling of Rawalpindi GHQ, will be banned.
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However, Pakistan watchers say that uncertainty and turmoil in the Islamic nation will continue till September when both Chief Justice of Pakistan and PTI appointed Pakistan President Arif Alvi demit office as the two constitutional heads have a soft corner for Niazi and his brand of radical politics.
While the political mess is out in the open, Pakistan has recorded a total of 226 terrorism linked fatalities in April 2023, the highest tally since February 2022 with a 86 per cent jump in fatalities to security forces and slight increase in terrorist killings. This data indicates terrorist-initiated escalation and increasing terrorist capacities on ground with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the most violent region in Pakistan followed by Balochistan, Sindh and then Punjab provinces.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan terror group is on a rampage with no less than 148 attacks with 294 casualties till April and no less than 28 militant groups have joined the TTP since July 2020 including Baluch groups. Proscribed jihadist groups like Laskar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) openly collected funds of Pakistani ₹300 per family as “Fitrana” during last Eid all over Pakistan with deputy emir of LeT and globally designated terrorist Abdul Rehman Makki pitching for a newly floated Pakistan Markazi Muslim League for the forthcoming Punjab Assembly elections.
Just as the Shehbaz Sharif government is grappling with the May 9 political mayhem in Pakistan, the economic situation of the country has hit rock bottom with the IMF still to release USD 1.1 billion tranche to the poor country. The short-term inflation, based on the Sensitive Price Index, rose up to 45.62 per cent and the FDI inflows declined by 22.5 per cent to USD 1.04 billion during the first nine months of the current financial year.
Pakistan attracts the lowest FDI in the region and the inflows have been declining for the past three years—from USD 2.6 billion in 2019-2020 to USD 1.9 billion in FY 2022. The country’s foreign exchange reserves have improved marginally to USDF 4.46 billion during the week ending April 20.
To sum it up, Pakistan today is between a rock and a hard place with a precarious economic and political system and the reputation of its saviour, the Pakistan Army, in tatters at the hands of unscrupulous power-hungry politicians like Niazi.