STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

Kukar toon ganday tay agaye han” answered Ashraf, an experienced mason now out of work in once booming construction industry, when asked how he is doing. It is a disaster out there. Sectors that provided employment aredevastated. According to latest statistics; textile, construction, industrial and large manufacturing sectors’ have seen job cuts of around 50 million. Economy is in a total tail spin and this budget is a disaster.

State Bank of Pakistan’s recent debt figures are staggering. From independence to March 2022, a 75 yearperiod, the total national debt stood at Rs 43,700 Billion. In one year under PDM Government, the debt has shot upto Rs 58,600 Billion. An increase of Rs 14,900 Billion; a 34% increase of total national debt! Squeeze applied in the name of IMF has led to unimaginable sufferings for common man. Runaway inflation is hovering around 40%. This $9 billion program is spread over 5 years. In thistranche we seek $1.1 billion. Through gross mismanagement by Economic Tsar, Ishaq Dar there is areported drop in textile exports of $9 billion and adecrease in overseas remittances of $6 billion. Inbound foreign exchange will see a decline in one year that is greater than the size of IMF program.

A national disaster is unfolding at a breakneck speed; PDM couldn’t give a damn. Their PM prances off on overseas junkets at the drop of a hat, continuously embarrassing the nation. One would burst out in laughter at the latest comic episode at the inauguration ceremony of President Erdogan; if national dignity was not involved. PM SS was desperate to hug Erdogan and wouldn’t let go of his hand explaining the quality of mangoes he had gifted. Even the translator had trouble containing her laughter. This disconnect between reality and the cuckoo-land these guys dwell in is a national tragedy.

This downward spiral gaining momentum by the dayappears to have no impact on apolitical Army leaders. Instead, they have thrown their hat into the political arena. The recent Formation Commanders Conference summarized in a press release has rung alarm bells around the world. The venom in this message is loud and clear and their intent is explicit. Unfortunately,it does not reflect a considered position of a well run institution; rather it represents the anger felt by its leaders,being ratified by its second and third tier.

It is a clear message to these “bloody civilians”; how dare they disobey? The edifice of this entire narrative is flawed. Through manipulated events of May 9th they are justifyingthe present onslaught. Erroneous conclusions have been reached without holding any enquiry.

There are huge holes about the veracity of what went on that day. Lahore has become the epicenter of political resistance by PTI. Anytime IK announced a political activity anywhere in Lahore or elsewhere, hundreds, if not thousands, of uniforms would descend to block off access. On May 9th after the unceremonious arrest of Imran Khan,all forces should have been on highest alert. Yet throughout the entire route from Liberty Chowk to Corp Commander’s residence all the law enforcers evaporated. Lahore Cantt is a fortress and all entry points are heavily manned by soldiers.  Troops patrol the entire area. Mysteriously, even the guards at Corp Commander’s residence disappeared. It was a huge case of entrapment.

When you tell a lie, you end up telling another hundred to justify it. The planners of this elaborate scheme used a battle plan developed in 70’s when disinformation campaigns went unchallenged. We are in the digital age and every cell phone owner is a journalist. May 9th is a poorly made movie with a bad script. Using this dicey narrative as a springboard, the powerful are pushing ahead claiming to have “irrefutable evidence”. Clips of human right abuse, maltreatment of women, arrests of 10,000 workers, torture while in custody, and collective punishment are circulating globally. Yet it is being called a myth in this release.

Parliament is polluted, media is entirely muzzled, and Americans are being duplicitous. Courts are being bullied and under attack. Threats that dissenters will be dealt withan iron hand and the noose will be tightened around the masterminds is clear cut political intervention. Trial in military courts is the ultimate weapon.

It is widely accepted that General Bajwa removed IK based on false assumption that out of power PTI will disintegrate. It did not happen in 14 months till direct action was taken by the Powerful. IK may also have made some wrong assumptions. He may have underestimated the ire that the Powerful have against him and what he stands for. Controlling the destiny of this nation is their priority, not the rule of law.

One wishes these apolitical Formation Commanders had met to strategize how to deal with debilitating economic crises rather than how to bring down IK. They may be able to suppress dissent within the country; they must beware of their new nemeses – the Overseas Pakistanis, who will expose their illegal acts. Australia has banned the entry of top generals; this could spread, making them a pariah in the civilized world. IK represents a vision of freedom, it’s time has come. Don’t rejoice these migratory politicians flying the nest. Voters are much more honorable. If IK is removed, they may be temporarily silenced, but they will wait to react under Sulaiman and Kasim Khan’s leadership. Hope springs eternal; despondency is a sin in Quran.                


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