Pakistan Elections 2018: PTI Triumphs Over Corrupt Dynastic Political Elite

Millions of passionate young men and women enthusiastically voted for Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf led by cricket legend Imran Khan to help PTI win against corrupt dynastic political parties in July 25, 2018 elections. Scores of dynastic politicians lost their legislative seats in this election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces. This election came to represent a generational shift in many families in which parents reliably voted for the “electables” based on biradries (clans) and feudal affiliations but the children voted for PTI. It is a resounding rejection of old feudal politics in large parts of the country. The only exception to this shift is probably rural Sindh where the dynastic Pakistan Peoples' Party gained seats.

Young Electorate:

Pakistan's 46 million young voters of ages 18-36 years, up from 41 million in 2013, made the biggest impact on the outcome of the elections this year, according to data from the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Pakistan Voter Population by Age Groups. Source: Dawn
The enthusiasm of PTI's young supporters was on full display at many large PTI pre-election rallies addressed by Imran Khan. These rallies set a new standard  with lots of lighting, singing, music and dancing by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls across Pakistan.

Smartphones and Social Media:

Thousands of smartphone wielding young voters were seen following the politicians around while streaming live footage of what a newspaper report described as "something extraordinary: angry voters asking their elected representatives what have they done for them lately".  Here's an excerpt of a report by South China Morning Post (SCMP):

“Where were you during the last five years?” they ask (Sikandar Hayat) Bosan, complaining about the poor state of roads in the area. An aide can be heard pleading that the leader is feeling unwell. To be held accountable in such a public manner is virtually unheard of for most Pakistani politicians, especially in rural areas where many of the videos have been filmed. There feudal landowners, village elders and religious leaders have for decades been elected unopposed. Many are known to use their power over residents to bend them to their will."

Pakistan Political Parties' Trend in 1970-2018 Elections 

"Electables" Swept Away:

PTI's "Naya Pakistan" campaign inspired the voters to sweep away scores of "electables", dynastic feudal politicians who used to easily win elections at all levels in Pakistan. Among the prominent "electables" who lost are former prime ministers Yousaf Raza Gilani and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Voters also rejected several "electables" who joined PTI just before the elections to improve their chances of winning. These include Nazar Gondal, Firdos Ashiq Awan, Raza Hayat Hiraj and Nadeem Afzal Chan.

Many top leaders and former ministers also lost. The list of losers includes:

1.Ch Nisar Ali Khan
2. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
3. Tariq Fazal Ch
4. Talal Chaudhey
5. Abid Sher Ali
6. Khawaja Saad Rafique
7. Rana Afzal
8. Awais Leghari
9. Qadir Baloch
10. Ameer Muqam
11. Asfandyar Wali
12. Ghulam Bilour
13. Moulana Fazal ur Rehman
14. Akram Durrani
15. Siraj ul Haq
16. Aftab Sherpao
17. Mehmood Achackzai
18. Qamar Zaman Kaira
19. Yousaf Raza Gilani
20. Nazar Gondal
21. Nadeem Afzal Chan
22. Raza Hayat Hiraj
23. Firdaus Ashiq Awan
24. Farooq Sattar
25. Mustafa Kamal
26. Raza Haroon
27. Zulifqar Mirza
28. Naheed Khan
29. Ijaz Ul Haq

Conspiracy Theories:

Media coverage of Pakistan's July 25, 2018 elections has been dominated by conspiracy theories alleging "orchestration" of the election process by Pakistan's "Deep State".

A recent episode of BBC's Hardtalk with Dawn Group's CEO showed that such allegations fail to withstand any serious scrutiny. The "orchestration" conspiracy theory challenges credulity by asking you to believe that everything starting with Panama Papers leak by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was managed by Pakistani intelligence agencies to oust Pakistan's ex prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Wide reporting of open criticism of the military and the judiciary by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui shows that the "worst ever media censorship" charge is not credible.

While it is possible that the Pakistani military "establishment" attempted to influence the outcome of the elections, there is scant evidence of "orchestration" as alleged by Hameed Haroon of Dawn Media Group and others. While the military is a key player and has the ability to tip the scales to some extent, it lacks the capacity to determine the outcome of the elections. In the end, it's the voters who decide the winners and losers.


PTI has achieved a historic win because of the millions of young men and women came out to enthusiastically support and vote for Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf candidates on July 25, 2018.  It has swept away many of the corrupt and dynastic "electables" and brought to the fore a new crop of leaders in Pakistan.  There is new hope in Pakistan but these new leaders face many challenges starting with the economy being hurt by a serious balance of payments crisis. PTI will need to move quickly to address these and other challenges to begin to meet the huge expectations of their passionate but impatient supporters of "Naya Pakistan".

Related Links:


Riaz Haq said…
Islamic Development Bank offers $4.5 billion 3-year credit facility for #Pakistan’s #oil imports. #SaudiArabia #Jeddah

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Pakistan met with PTI Chairman Imran Khan at the latter’s residence on Friday. China, which had also refused to bail out the PML-N government, has now agreed to give $2 billion in financial assistance. Of this, over $1 billion has been disbursed this week.
Riaz Haq said…
#China-#Pakistan ties, #CPEC #economic corridor will endure - Global Times

The Election Commission of Pakistan announced Friday that the Movement for Justice Party, led by former cricket hero Imran Khan, has won most seats in the election. Pakistan is about to face its second power transfer between civilian governments in its 71-year history. As an emerging power and third political force outside of Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Movement for Justice Party will hold power for the first time.

Given that power transfer in other countries has sometimes led to a temporary change of attitude toward Chinese investment, some Western media have been hyping the topic of whether a similar change would take place in Pakistan. Some have made wild guesses over whether Khan would adjust Pakistan's China policy.

All Chinese scholars interviewed by the Global Times expressed firm confidence in China-Pakistan ties. They believe China and Pakistan's all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation has lived up to its name, and the conditions that help foster this special relationship have not changed with the rise of Khan and his party. Supporting China-Pakistan relations remains a key pillar of Pakistan's diplomacy.

Movement for Justice Party's victory is a major political event in Pakistan. There had been other political oscillations in the country, but Beijing never interfered in Islamabad's domestic politics. China-Pakistan relations always transcend political changes within Pakistan.

As for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), there have never been any political trials against it in Pakistan. A consensus has been formed that the corridor is a mega project that benefits both countries. Discussions about the project are technical and never meant to pose strategic obstacles.

Khan reportedly said he appreciated the CPEC and that his nation can learn from China's crackdown on corruption and poverty alleviation efforts.

The CPEC has a strategic significance for both countries and will bring strong impetus to Pakistan's economic development. Western speculation about Pakistan's "debt issue" is not a technical analysis but political hype, a move to drive a wedge between Beijing and Islamabad.

China and Pakistan are carefully assessing relevant debt issues related to bilateral cooperation so that the debts will be kept within a controllable range. The two countries enjoy a high level of mutual trust and their coordination has been active and close. These factors fundamentally assure smooth bilateral cooperation.

Analysts believe Khan's challenges come mainly from domestic sectors. The most urgent issues include domestic extremism, economic development, a population boom and a water crisis. Economic development is obviously the key to solving other problems. China is Pakistan's most reliable friend in its initiative to strive for stability and prosperity. China's overall support to Pakistan is irreplaceable.

Few Western media are friendly and fair toward Pakistan. Smearing Pakistan's reputation and China-Pakistan relations is all too natural for them. They barely said anything positive about the CPEC and this attitude will hardly change in the future.

The economic corridor will not be built in one day. China and Pakistan should ignore those comments and there is no need to get upset. We should continue carrying out our work, implement the plan in accordance with reality, make sure our work fits both countries' interest and plays a constructive role in regional prosperity.

Pakistan's development was often disturbed by turmoil but its destiny will not always be sluggish. Development will once again become the main theme of the country which needs support from infrastructure. With the recession of extremism in South Asia, the future of CPEC is bright and it will be the new bond between Beijing and Islamabad.
Riaz Haq said…
Amid allegations of blatant rigging in Pakistan elections, member of international observers group and former Chief Election Commissioner of India SY Quraishi told NDTV that they found the system to be transparent, free and fair. Mr Quraishi said that some glitches did show up due to either inexperience or poor training particularly towards the end of the day.
Riaz Haq said…
How a phone app and a database served up #ImranKhan's #Pakistan poll win. A phone #app and #database of more than 50 million voters were key weapons in the successful campaign of cricket legend Imran Khan in last month’s #pakistangeneralelections #PTI

How Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party used the database and the associated app represents a sea change in the antiquated way in which Pakistan’s biggest parties conduct elections, from pre-poll targeting of voters to on-the-day mobilization of supporters.

PTI was secretive about the technology plan ahead of the July 25 poll, fearing rivals could copy it, but several party workers showed Reuters how the app transformed their campaign and gave them an edge.

The phone app proved especially useful in getting supporters to the polls when the government’s own telephone information service giving out polling place locations suffered major problems on election day, leaving other parties scrambling.

It partly explains why Khan’s party managed to win tight-margin races in the nuclear-armed nation of 208 million people, though Khan’s rivals allege he also benefited from the powerful military’s support - an allegation he staunchly denies.

“It’s had a great impact,” said Amir Mughal, tasked with using the app and database, known as the Constituency Management System (CMS), to elect Asad Umar, a lawmaker who won his seat in Islamabad and will be Khan’s new finance minister.

The small CMS unit led by Mughal, Umar’s personal secretary, was typical of how Khan’s party set up teams in constituencies across Pakistan to mine the database, identifying voters by household, zeroing-in on “confirmed” PTI voters, tagging them on the app, and ensuring they turned out on election day.

“Work that would take days of weeks is being completed in one to two hours,” Mughal told Reuters in Umar’s office minutes after the polls shut.

Khan’s PTI surpassed expectations to scoop about 115 seats out of 272 elected members of parliament, while the party of ousted and jailed premier Nawaz Sharif trailed in second with 64 seats.

Developed by a small tech team, the CMS was a key response to Khan’s bitter complaints after the 2013 poll loss that his party failed to translate mass popularity into votes because it did not know the “art of winning elections”.

Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) ran a more erratic campaign, hurt by divisions within the party and the loss of key leaders who were either disqualified or in case of Sharif and his daughter, jailed.

Weeks before the elections, Khan sent out a video via WhatsApp urging PTI candidates to embrace CMS.

“I have seen and experienced how it works and I’m using it in all five constituencies I am contesting,” Khan said in the video message, seen by Reuters. “The faster you apply this system, the easier your life will become,” Khan added.
Riaz Haq said…
#India's Imran challenge. #India no longer has a choice of ‘dialogue-or-no-dialogue’ with #Pakistan. #ImranKhan offered an olive branch in his victory speech. #Modi has a wonderful opportunity to respond by supporting/attending #SAARC Summit in #Islamabad

By M.K. Bhadrakumar August 12, 2018

The astonishing part is that the Indian narrative is blithely unaware that Imran is a product of our turbulent times. The Pakistani election results have completely overshadowed an event of momentous significance to that country—direct talks between the United States and the Taliban (without the participation of Afghan government), which took place in Qatar. The timing—just two days before the Pakistani elections—was exquisite. And, the Pakistani military leadership made it possible. The Taliban since expressed satisfaction that the meeting ended with “very positive signals” with an agreement to meet again “soon” and that the two sides discussed Taliban’s participation in the Afghan government.

A recurring fallacy of Indian foreign policy discourse is its tunnel vision—the singular failure to correlate diplomacy with the wider geopolitical templates and regional and global alignments. We must understand that Pakistan is preparing for the formidable challenge posed by the imminent outbreak of peace in Afghanistan. The tumultuous history of Pashtun irredentist claims underscores that had there been no Imran, Pakistan would have had to invent one.

This has sub-plots and a few of them have direct bearing on India’s vital interests, too. First, peace in Afghanistan eases pressure on Pakistan’s internal security and allows it to concentrate its forces more on its eastern border with India (which brings us to the Kashmir issue.) Second, Pakistan expects quid pro quo from the US for bailing it out of a humiliating defeat and ignominious retreat from Afghanistan. Pakistan seeks strategic balance in South Asia, which requires course correction in US regional policies. Third, Pakistan’s close cooperation with the US helps it to breathe new life into its relations with the west, while its Eurasian integration processes also continue apiece. (No doubt, Imran makes a brilliant global salesman for his country.) Fourth, in a stable regional environment, Pakistan hopes to garner the benefits of China’s Belt and Road Initiative as well as attract western investment. Geo-economics gains primacy. Indeed, history has not ended in our region.
Riaz Haq said…
BBC News - #Pakistan's first lawmaker of #African descent raises hopes for #Sidi community. Sidis descended from #slaves brought to #India from East #Africa by #Portuguese. Their ancestors were also soldiers, traders, pearl divers, #Muslim pilgrims.

Pakistan is set to have its first ever lawmaker of African descent, raising the profile of a small and mostly poor community that has been in the region for centuries.

Tanzeela Qambrani, 39, was nominated by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to a women's reserved seat in the regional parliament of southern Sindh province.

She hopes her nomination after last month's election will help wash away the stigma attached to the Sidi community, the local name for the ethnic African population concentrated in the coastal regions of Makran and Sindh.

"As a tiny minority lost in the midst of local populations, we have struggled to preserve our African roots and cultural expression, but I look forward to the day when the name Sidi will evoke respect, not contempt," Ms Qambrani, whose ancestors came from Tanzania, told the BBC.

Many Sidis are believed to be descended from slaves brought to India from East Africa by the Portuguese. Historians say their ancestors were also soldiers, traders, pearl divers and Muslim pilgrims.

They enjoyed senior positions during the Mughal empire but faced discrimination under British colonial rule.

Estimates put their population in Pakistan in the tens of thousands. They are well-integrated but keep alive some traditions, including an annual festival that blends Islamic mysticism, crocodiles and singing in a blend of Swahili and a local language called Baluchi.

Sidi communities also live in the Indian states of Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

The Sidis dominate the Lyari district of Karachi and have been staunch supporters of the PPP, now chaired by Benazir Bhutto's son, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto.

However, no Sidi had ever made it to parliament until Mr Bhutto Zardari nominated Ms Qambrani for the reserved seat.

"Just as Columbus discovered America, Bilawal has discovered Sidis," said Ms Qambrani, whose great-grandparents came to Sindh from Tanzania.

The PPP came third in the recent general election, which was won by former cricketer Imran Khan's PTI party. However the PPP again won the most seats in the Sindh provincial assembly.

Can Imran Khan change Pakistan?
Ms Qambrani, a computer science postgraduate with three children, hails from the coastal area of Badin. Her father, Abdul Bari, was a lawyer while her mother is a retired school teacher.

Her family has kept its African connections alive; one of her sisters was married in Tanzania, while another has a husband from Ghana.

"When my sister married a Ghanaian husband, local youths and guests from Ghana put on such a show in our neighbourhood," she said.

"They danced those typical Sidi steps to the Mogo drumbeat which they say comes from Ghana but which we've traditionally played in our homes. You couldn't tell a Sidi dancer apart from an African."
Riaz Haq said…
Dr. Ata ur Rahman: #Pakistan: a new beginning. After a decade of loot and plunder by successive democratic governments, there is finally hope that Pakistan will embark on the road to progress. #PTI #ImranKhan #NayaPakistan

The massive loans taken by the last two governments have placed Pakistan in a dire financial situation. Our current account deficit is $18 billion. The value of the rupee declined from Rs60 per dollar to Rs123, whereas the magnitude of foreign loans increased from $37 billion, accumulated over 60 years, to $95 billion – an additional debt of $58 billion in just 10 years. The outstanding rupee debt is Rs4 trillion, which the new government will need to rollover during the coming months. Around 190 Public Sector Enterprises have lost a huge sum of Rs1.1 trillion, and we have lost some Rs3.7 trillion over the last three years.

The former finance minister has escaped the clutches of the law and taken refuge in the UK. He needs to be brought back through Interpol and given exemplary punishment, if found guilty of looting public funds. The former prime minister languishes in jail for massive corruption and misuse of public funds. Imran Khan has emerged as a knight in shining armour after relentlessly struggling against corrupt rulers for 22 years. His speech was full of wisdom and humility – it came straight from the heart and proved that Pakistan finally has a leader who is a visionary, and is honest and committed.

The vast amounts of looted public funds have been accumulated abroad, while thousands of Pakistanis are committing suicide due to abject poverty. The answer lies in implementing a punishment system such as that of China, Thailand, Morocco, Philippines, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq and Vietnam. Such trials should be carried out by military courts, as the normal justice system cannot work against such a powerful mafia. The murder of late Justice Nizam Ahmed is a reminder of what can happen to judges. Plea bargaining should not be allowed, except for commuting a death sentence to life imprisonment, with Class C jail facilities, only if all looted funds are brought back.

One of the most important tasks that lie ahead for the new government is revamping the judicial system. Some out-of-the-box thinking may have to be done to make this possible. The system can be improved by hiring several thousand new judges on contractual basis from a lot of qualified lawyers. They should be given the mandate to decide all new cases within three months. Those who fail this test should be fired. The backlog of cases must be cleared within 24 months. This can be done; all it requires is will. It will also be an appropriate justification to the name of the party in power -- Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Pakistan’s wealth lies in its 100 million people below the age of 20. So our action plan must primarily focus on unleashing their potential, so that Pakistan can transition into a knowledge-based economy. Achieving this will require funds. The fastest way to generate funding is by introducing projects in the agriculture sector. Providing access to water through building dams and lining canals, reducing water wastage and using biotechnology to improve crop yield and disease-resistance should be given the highest priority.

The mushrooming of substandard universities has promoted mediocrity and contributed to the joblessness of poorly prepared ‘qualified’ graduates. This must stop. Our focus should be on sending our brightest students to top universities abroad. They must then be attracted back through research grants, jobs on arrival, and their salaries must be tripled as per the tenure track system. This system, introduced in 2005, must be made mandatory for all new faculty inductions so that there exists a mechanism for weeding out non-productive faculty through international evaluation.
Riaz Haq said…
Dr. Ata ur Rahman: #Pakistan: a new beginning. After a decade of loot and plunder by successive democratic governments, there is finally hope that Pakistan will embark on the road to progress. #PTI #ImranKhan #NayaPakistan

There is a huge scope in several sectors of our economy. These include information technology, mineral processing, electronics, engineering goods, value-added agriculture etc. The projects to be undertaken in each sector have already been shortlisted in a 320-page document prepared as a result of intense consultations with thousands of stakeholders through a ‘foresight’ exercise carried out under my supervision during 2004-2006, and approved by the cabinet in 2007. These now need to be picked up and implemented upon.

To make rapid progress, Pakistan needs to focus on projects which can create jobs and thereby alleviate poverty. The motto of the new government must be ‘Jobs, Jobs and Jobs’. To make this happen, agricultural development and industrialisation has to be our focus. To promote manufacturing in high value-added fields, technical training, education, science, technology and innovation (TESTI) should be a priority. The autonomy of the federal HEC must be restored, and the body must be fully supported to discharge its function independently of the Ministry of Education. Some of our best universities should be transformed into ‘research universities’ and some of our best research institutes developed into centres of excellence. To promote innovation and entrepreneurship, every university should establish a Science Park for the incubation of new companies. The vice chancellors of all universities should be screened and those who appear to be academically and administratively weak should be removed, with a better person being appointed in their place.

School and college education needs to be completely revamped. A Lower Education Commission could be formed that is independent of ministries and reports directly to the PM on the same lines as the HEC, so that a coordinated nationwide strategy for improving school-level education can be developed. Similarly, the provincial HECs need to be disbanded as they are duplicating the functions of the federal HEC, and the higher education departments in each province should be given the task of uplifting colleges.

The new cabinet must not contain any politicians. It should be composed of respected technocrats, each a specialist in their relevant discipline. All federal secretaries should be replaced by top experts, and each ministry should have think tanks which comprise experts from within Pakistan and abroad. These should then advise the federal ministries. The same should be done at the provincial level.

The clock is ticking. Secretaries should be required to be in office at 8am sharp and the ministries should function till 5pm each day, including on Saturdays. National holidays should be cancelled except for one day each for Eid and Muharram. If people want to celebrate Kashmir or Iqbal days, then that week’s Sunday should be declared a working day and the salary for that day should be donated to the relevant cause. Destiny has provided a wonderful opportunity to Pakistan through a dynamic, honest and sincere leader in the form of Imran Khan. We should all gather round to support him.

The writer is the former chairman of the HEC, and president of the Network of Academies of Science of OIC

Countries (NASIC).
Riaz Haq said…
'Much Like #Brazil, #Pakistan's left has destroyed itself – and this is how'. #Ideology alone is not enough unless it is followed up with meaningful action. #PPP #ANP #PTI #PMLN

As the once unthinkable happens in Brazil and far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro takes the helm, one would think that the self-combustion of its leftist parties would serve as a stark warning to counterparts across the globe. However, this seems to just be the continuation of a larger trend that saw Israel elect Netanyahu, India elect Modi and the US elect Trump.

In a similar vein, elections in Pakistan saw its leftist parties, once a formidable force, relegated to an afterthought as Imran Khan’s centre-right Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) surged in the polls.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the largest self-proclaimed progressive party in the country, saw its vote bank all but disappear nationwide, except for its provincial stronghold of Sindh, where it rules through the patronage of influential feudal families.

After decades of empty rhetoric, chronic mismanagement and perceptions of institutional corruption on a massive scale, supporters abandoned the party in droves, flocking to the PTI, which offered accountability and change. Only the most ardent of Bhutto loyalists remain supportive outside of Sindh.

Take for instance the nutrition crisis in Thar, where countless children died from preventable diseases, and levels of malnutrition were at times comparable with those in Chad or Niger. Under the PPP’s rule, the situation only deteriorated with time, with the local administration proving inept at providing food, water and aid. Not even extensive coverage in the national media could get the PPP to up its game, and all that people received were empty platitudes and no action. They did, however, announce that those villages would get free wifi, which was clearly a priority for residents without basic necessities.

For all its lofty progressive rhetoric, the PPP is a party built on the back of feudalism – akin to modern slavery. Feudal lords, or Waderas, as they are known in Sindh, are notorious for flouting the rule of law and often consider themselves untouchable, as the state institutions turn a blind eye to their activities. Such is the perception amongst the general populace that a song parodying the excess of feudal culture called Waderai Ka Baita (Son of Feudal) by comedian Ali Gul Pir was an overnight success and turned him into a household name.

A clip of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar, visiting the prison cell of Shahrukh Jatoi, a member of an influential feudal family, guilty of murdering a police officer’s son, expressing his anger at the favourable facilities illegally being provided to him went viral recently. The sight of Jatoi smirking while the Chief Justice lambasted the jail officials caused tremendous outrage in a country where there often seems to be no accountability for the rich and politically connected.


The Pakistani left is crying out for representation but there are no credible contenders. Jibran Nasir, an independent candidate who won widespread acclaim for never backing down in his fight for Ahmadi rights, and to a lesser extent Ammar Rashid of the tiny Awami Workers Party, do show great promise but lack any significant political clout.
Riaz Haq said…
#ImranKhan Takes on #Corruption in #Pakistan. Plans to introduce #Whistleblower law with reward of 20% on recovered assets. #PTI #PMLN #PPP #NawazSharif #Zardari @Diplomat_APAC

Throughout his campaigns over the years, Imran Khan, now Pakistan’s prime minister, has always commented on his intention to carry out an intensive anti-corruption drive once in power. Pledging “strict accountability” and a crackdown against “the people who looted this country,” Khan visualized an extensive anti-corruption campaign. Finally, with his recent election, the time seems to have arrived, as unprecedented measures are being taken along with the announcement of a new “whistleblower law” to help end financial crimes.

For starters, an Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) has been established with its headquarters based in the prime minister’s office in Islamabad to retrieve monies or hidden assets overseas. Comprised of bank officials as well as representatives from all the government intelligence agencies, this unit aims to target high-level corruption in the initial phase. Getting details of illegal foreign bank accounts within the country, the ARU has special powers to access any kind of information from any department within seven days. Although it is not possible to gauge the exact amount of stolen wealth or aggregate value of ill-gotten overseas properties at this point, the unit will likely present more precise projections in the coming months.

Second, a law to facilitate and reward whistleblowers has been unveiled recently. Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Khan outlined the new incentive, saying, “The law will invite countrymen to identify the corrupt and [whistleblowers will] get 20 percent of the ill-gotten money and assets recovered from such people.” The award of 20 percent from ill-gotten stashes of wealth is aimed at actively motivating close business partners, associates, or employees of powerful kingpins to alert the authorities of financial wrongdoing.

Ostensibly, the remainder (80 percent) of the recovered funds would be used to ease Pakistan’s balance of payments crisis as well as its debts. Recovering funds as quickly as possible is a dire need for the cash-strapped government. In the coming days, a draft of the new law is likely to be presented before parliament for passage as a bill and further stipulations would be added to protect whistleblowers to increase their confidence in coming forward.

As Pakistan’s financial crisis gets worse, the government constantly highlights that rampant, uncontrolled corruption from the highest to the lowest tiers of society and government is a key factor responsible for its predicament. Trying to regain the confidence of foreign investors and business partners alike, the fledgling government has had to find new methods and exert all its resources to get back stolen funds. In the meantime, Pakistan’s budget deficit climbs and foreign exchange reserves are depleting fast. Staving off a balance of payments crisis requires a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as all other options have failed.

The Pakistani government has request help from various foreign governments in recovering corruption proceeds. Agreeing to cooperate, the British Home Secretary Sajid Javid recently announced a joint declaration along with the Pakistani law minister. Titled “U.K.-Pakistan Justice and Accountability Partnership,” it enumerates that both governments would track corruption and restart a bilateral prisoner transfer process so that the corrupt can brought back to face the courts in Pakistan. Khan has also requested the UAE to help identify Pakistanis who have acquired properties worth billions of dollars in the Emirates and hastened the signing of a bilateral treaty with Switzerland for the exchange of information. Taking fast-track measures to retrieve nearly $2 billion that has been traced overseas by various culprits, details of over 10,000 properties in England and Dubai have also been compiled.
Riaz Haq said…
Which way is the Pakistan Democratic Movement going?

by Prof Rasul Bakhsh Rais

The two major dynastic parties— the Pakistan Muslim League (N) and the Pakistan People’s Party are concerned that if Khan continues to stabilize and devise strategies for reforms, which he is set to roll out in the coming months, he may win the next election. If that happens, it will end dynastic elite politics, as staying in the political wilderness could cause splits, defections and fragmentation.

The leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of 11 political parties that include religious, ethnic and two major national parties, have been holding rallies in different parts of the country in an effort to bring down the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The question is why, why now, and by what means can the opposition remove an elected government?

In the parliamentary system that Pakistan practices, the executive or the prime minister can stay in power as long as he enjoys the confidence of the house, while the Parliament is elected for five years. They cannot exercise the option of ‘no-confidence’ or in-house change because the numbers game cannot work in their favor.

Khan’s party has the support of allies to sustain a comfortable majority, and is even in a position to break parliamentarians away from opposition parties, if and when it requires. Never has it been a problem for any government in the past to beat back opposition offensives within the parliament.

Even when a government might lose its majority by defections from its ranks or when the governing coalitions split, the system leaves the prime minister in an advantageous position, with the powers to dissolve the assemblies and call for fresh elections. This is exactly what the opposition parties seem to be struggling for— fresh, free and fair elections.

There are no signs and no compelling reasons in the present circumstances for the government to call for midterm elections; the government has two and a half years more to complete its tenure. So why can’t opposition parties wait for the next elections, is the six-million-dollar question.

Prime Minister Imran Khan says there are some foreign powers that don’t want to see stability, strength and progress in some Muslim countries, and that Pakistan is one of them. He sees their hand behind the opposition movement. But governments in the past have spun such conspiracy theories to discredit opposition parties or movements.
Riaz Haq said…
G. Parthasarathy, Former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, wants India to "Reset Ties with Pakistan".

PAKISTAN’S political families have drawn their wealth primarily from agricultural properties. Land reform was never even considered. The ownership of agricultural lands now continues largely in the hands of politically influential families. Pakistan’s Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto drew his wealth from his lands in Sind, even as he professed socialistic leanings. His grandson Bilal Bhutto, and son-in-law Asif Ali Zardari, who lead the Pakistan Peoples’ Party, belong to today’s rural aristocracy in Sind. The Sharifs, who originally resided in Kashmir, moved to Punjab, where the patriarch (Nawaz Sharif’s father) settled down, and set up a steel industry. The industry was duly sold and the Sharifs now possess a $300-million sugar industry.

Shehbaz Sharif has always behaved as the younger brother, who obediently followed his elder brother’s wishes. But unlike Nawaz, who has run afoul of the army, Shehbaz has maintained a good professional relationship with the army. It, therefore, had no doubts while backing his bid to succeed the mercurial Imran Khan.

Nawaz has an ambitious and bright daughter, Maryam. Shehbaz has an equally ambitious son Hamza, who has been catapulted to the position of CM of Punjab. Maryam is information minister in Shehbaz’s Cabinet.


Pakistan’s economic problems have been marked by acute shortages in its foreign exchange reserves, necessitating constant use of a begging bowl, to be filled by donations from Arab states. Pakistan’s GDP has fallen drastically from $315 billion to $292 billion in the past four years. Its foreign exchange reserves have been falling, despite large doses of foreign aid. Foreign exchange reserves, which stood at $18.8 billion in August 2021, fell to $14.9 billion in February 2022. Pakistan has depended on doles from Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Imran Khan, however, was getting ready to join an Islamic grouping being set up by Malaysia and Turkey, obviously to challenge Saudi Arabia. An infuriated Saudi Crown Prince Salman, backed by UAE’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Zayed, turned the economic screws on Pakistan.


India should continue its diplomatic and economic pressures on Pakistan till Rawalpindi dismantles the infrastructure of terrorism on territory under its control, in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. In the meantime, New Delhi should establish a credible back-channel to discuss ways to move ahead for establishing a normal relationship with Pakistan. As a first step, ambassadors have to be appointed to take charge soon. Much will, however, depend on whether Pakistan continues supporting terrorism. One hopes Pakistan remembers the old adage that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. We can, in due course, even restore bus and air services while having a normal people-to-people relationship. India can even consider a phased restoration of SAARC if Pakistan fully implements the provisions of the SAARC Free Trade Agreement. The ball is in Pakistan’s court.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistani prime minister #ShahbazSharif appears in court in corruption case. Sharif’s #PMLN party is a family-run and family-dominated party that has long been tainted by #corruption allegations. #NawazSharif #MaryamNawazSharif #HamzaSharif #Punjab

Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif appeared in court on Monday in connection with an old corruption case and was granted exemption from further appearances in person in the hearings, his defense lawyer said.

The case dating back four years is related to Sharif’s alleged links to a multi-million dollar housing scam in the eastern city of Lahore, according to the attorney, Amjad Pervez.

Pervez described the proceedings as a “politically-motivated case,” adding that Sharif was implicated in the case falsely, by the government of his predecessor, Imran Khan. He said he hopes for a full acquittal.

The prosecution claims Sharif abused power while he was chief minister of Punjab province from 2013 to 2018. He is accused of awarding contacts for a housing scheme for low-income citizens to those connected to his Pakistan Muslim League party. He has denied the allegations.

Sharif became prime minister in April, when he replaced Khan, a former cricket star turned Islamist politician who was ousted through a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Khan, who came to power in 2018, claimed he never victimized his political opponents. He insisted that his ouster was U.S. conspiracy — a charge both Sharif and Washington deny.

Pervez, the attorney, successfully argued on Monday that Sharif’s regular appearances in court would negatively impact his daily work as premier, since he would have to travel often to the city of Lahore to attend the hearings. The lawyer added he would continue to represent Sharif until the verdict.

Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League is a family-run and family-dominated party that has long been tainted by corruption allegations.
Riaz Haq said…

Ch Aitzaz Ahsan


Video clip of Aitaza Ahsan showing him describing Nawaz Sharif as a fugitive criminal appearing on Pakistan TV and directing the PMLN government of Shahbaz Sharif on running the country.

Aitazaz is also critical of the fact that Salman Shahbaz Sharif, another fugitive from Pakistani law, participating in official meetings in Saudi Arabia.
Riaz Haq said…
Maryam Nawaz Sharif's leaked audios of conversation with her uncle PM Shahbaz Sharif:

The first clip purportedly features a conversation between PML-N Vice President Maryam and the premier about Miftah, who has reportedly faced criticism from within the party for taking tough economic measures.

The PML-N vice president has publicly stated that she does not agree with the decision to hike petrol and electricity prices, saying she did not own such decisions, whether her party was in government or not.

"He doesn't take responsibility [...] says strange things on TV which people make fun of him for [...] he doesn't know what he is doing," the voice said to be Maryam's says in the alleged clip.

"He clearly cut corners," the voice said to be PM Shehbaz's is heard as saying.

"Uncle, he doesn't know what he is doing," Maryam purportedly says, as she wishes for the return of PML-N stalwart Ishaq Dar.

Former finance minister Dar is set to return to the country next week to facilitate PM Shehbaz on the economic front.

The second clip allegedly concerns a conversation between the premier, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Law Minister Azam Tarar, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and former NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq about the resignations of PTI lawmakers from the lower house of parliament.

A third clip purportedly features a conversation between Maryam and PM Shehbaz regarding the return of former army chief retired Gen Pervez Mushar­raf.

The former military ruler’s family publicly confirmed in June that he was “going through a difficult stage" where recovery was not possible while Inter-Services Pub­lic Relations (ISPR) Director Gen­eral Maj Gen Babar Iftik­har said Mushar­raf's family was in contact with the military regarding his planned return.

Discussing this in the alleged clip, the voice alleged to be Maryam's can be heard saying that she "sees this coming", adding that she said the same to Nawaz in a phone call.

"I told him to tweet this. He listened to me immediately," the PML-N vice president allegedly says, adding that the move was "opposed" by several people. She allegedly reasons that showing "magnanimity" in this situation would help the government save face.

She said that there was nothing in the leaks that was similar to the "anti-Pakistan conspiracy of Shaukat Tarin", referring to the audio clips attributed to Tarin regarding the International Monetary Fund programme.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah appeared to play down the matter while speaking on Geo News show "Naya Pakistan", saying that nothing definitive could be said about the prime minister house’s security being breached until the leaks were investigated.

"I don't think we should take them so seriously since this is so common," he added.

“If the probe proves that it’s not safe to talk in the prime minister house and somebody has done this [spying] arrangement, then it’s really serious but it is inappropriate to say this without proof.”

Sanaullah did not reject the content of the audios, instead, saying that the current setup's "good governance" was reflected through them.

He also said that the prime minister had taken notice of the leaks and would consult his cabinet on the issue tomorrow, adding that the matter would be sorted out in the next few days.

On the leak where Maryam could allegedly be heard criticising the finance minister, the interior minister said expression of opinion was allowed in democratic and political systems, adding that Ismail was criticised by outsiders so it made no difference if Maryam or some others in the PML-N did so as well.

"What was wrong if Maryam said some of his decisions cost us politically."

Sanaullah also seemingly blamed the finance minister for the recent high fuel adjustment charges, asking why they couldn't have been spread over a period of months.
Riaz Haq said…
The Assassination Attempt on Former Prime Minister Imran Khan Could Push Pakistan to the Brink

How bad will things get? It’s the question everyone in Pakistan is asking following Thursday’s shooting of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, as the cricketing icon led a march on Islamabad to demand snap elections that could return him to power.

Khan, 70, was wounded in the shin when a gunman opened fire with an automatic weapon on his convoy of lorries and cars in the Wazirabad district in the east of Punjab province, the sound of gunfire crackling through a chorus of “Allah-Hoo,” a popular religious song, that was blaring through loudspeakers. One supporter was killed and seven more injured in the apparent assassination attempt, according to Punjab police. Khan has since undergone surgery on his leg and is said to be recovering well.

Protests have erupted across the South Asian nation of 230 million in response to the attack—which Khan blamed on a conspiracy between the government and Pakistan’s powerful military—with demonstrators blocking main roads and, in a marked escalation from previous flare-ups, even haranguing senior military figures.

“The political situation in Pakistan has been a powder keg for months,” says Michael Kugelman, the deputy director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. “This attack could be what causes the powder keg to explode if calmer minds don’t prevail.”

In a statement issued through Asad Umar, secretary-general of Khan’s centrist Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the former Prime Minister accused Pakistan’s current leader Shahbaz Sharif alongside interior minister ​​Rana Sanaullah and director of counterintelligence Major General Faisal Naseer for orchestrating the attack. “I have prior information about the attack and I demand all three should be removed from their position. If they are not removed we will call a country-wide protest,” Umar said on Khan’s behalf, according to The Times.

Sharif of the center-right PML-N—also a brother of Khan’s longtime nemesis Nawaz Sharif—has denied involvement and released a statement on Thursday condemning the attack. The alleged assailant was apprehended at the scene and police released a video confession of a disheveled man alleging that he wanted to “kill Imran Khan because he claims prophethood by comparing himself with prophets.”

However, neither Khan nor his supporters accept that this was a lone gunman. Asked whether he believes Sharif was behind the attack, Fawad Chaudhry, former Information Minister for the PTI, tells TIME: “Of course, they were openly threatening Khan.” In response, some pro-PML-N supporters have accused the PTI of a false flag attack to boost Khan’s popularity.

Pakistan is no stranger to political violence. In 1951, its first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was shot dead at a gathering. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007 in a gun and bomb attack during an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi. Following her death, Khan penned an op-ed for the U.K. Telegraph newspaper with the unfortunate headline: “Benazir Bhutto Has Only Herself to Blame.”
Riaz Haq said…
The Assassination Attempt on Former Prime Minister Imran Khan Could Push Pakistan to the Brink

It’s unlikely that Khan will feel the same way about his own narrow escape. The PTI has become increasingly swathed in a victim complex following Khan’s ouster in a parliamentary no confidence vote in April, after a dozen lawmakers from his party defected in part over his embrace of Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow on Feb. 23 at the outbreak of the Russian President’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Khan has since raged—without evidence—about a U.S.-sponsored plot to unseat him. Social media teems with PTI supporters alleging that Thursday’s assassination attempt was a foreign plot to destabilize Pakistan. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement condemning the attack, calling on “all parties to refrain from violence, harassment, and intimidation.”

That appears a vain hope. Pakistani politics has become increasingly nasty and vindictive, with several top PTI figures arrested and intimidated over recent months, while Khan himself has been slapped with various charges—including terrorism, over comments deemed threatening he made to the judge and senior policeman responsible for the arrest of an aide—that he claims are politically motivated. In the meantime, the nuclear-armed nation has been blighted by runaway inflation that reached 26% in October and floods that inundated one-third of the country, claimed over 1,700 lives, and caused an estimated $40 billion in damage. “It’s striking that given Pakistan’s economic crisis, given these terrible floods, the government has continued to target Khan and its supporters with retributive politics,” says Kugelman.

Still, Khan was guilty of needlessly antagonistic behavior before his own toppling, denouncing political rivals as “traitors” and taunting the powerful military—which has ruled Pakistan for half its 75-year existence—as “neutrals,” in a sardonic reference to their historical role as kingmaker. Last week, Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt. Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum gave an unprecedented press conference—the first time the head of Pakistan’s spy agency has ever addressed the media—during which he accused Khan of duplicitously negotiating with the military at night while denouncing them during the day.

By feeding into Khan’s victim narrative, the attack undeniably boosts his ambitions of returning to power. Although Sharif does not constitutionally have to hold elections until August, millions taking to the street may force his hand. Khan’s party has gained seven seats in recent by-elections and has the political momentum behind him. But Pakistan’s elections commission in October also disqualified Khan from holding office for five years, amid allegations he sold state gifts and concealed personal assets—charges he denies. Even if Khan could run, who would win any such contest “really depends on who can mobilize the people,” says Samina Yasmeen, director of the Centre for Muslim States and Societies at the University of Western Australia. “At the moment, it’s heavily in favor of Imran Khan.”

Not that Pakistan’s problems would be over should Khan return to power. His first term was blighted by entrenched polarization and economic mismanagement compounded by global headwinds like the pandemic and soaring oil prices. And Khan’s injury also raises the stakes for his opponents since he would have no shortage of axes to grind were he back in office. The military, whose support was crucial to bring Khan to power in 2018, has already said that it would back Sharif’s government in case of widespread unrest. That is exactly what looks in store. “Let’s say people demonstrate a lot, there’s a lot of disturbances and political violence, would the military shoot at people?” asks Yasmeen. “The moment that happens it becomes a very different picture.”
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s New Middle Class
Neo Pei En, Phedra, Amit Ranjan

15 December 2022

New Middle Class

The new middle class is distinct from the old middle class. Its members work in mid-level positions, often in the private sector or have families making money through semi-skilled jobs in the Middle East or North America.[33] They rose mainly during Musharraf’s rule, whose economic reforms allowed many to join the middle class though his subsequent actions disillusioned them.[34] In 2008, more than 50 per cent of Pakistanis lived in towns of more than 5,000 people or more – this increasing urbanisation indicates most of the middle class could be found in urban areas.[35]


This new middle class is also evolving as it uses social media to interact with the outside world more. It is “a global pioneer in digitally fuelled amplification of protests” and has the power to take down governments.[46] Currently, its identity is diversifying with the additional mix of freelancers and gig workers. The ease of accessing information with the rise of the internet contributed to the middle class’ increased connectivity with the world through digital means. This would, therefore, continue to have an effect on the Pakistani middle class. It may lead to new developments as protests are now initiated online and can reach more people instantaneously, which is a great way to swiftly gather a large following.

As is seen in many countries, including Pakistan, there is a global consensus that the rise of new information and technologies has changed the political arena.[47] With heightened access to the internet and unrestricted information, the middle class, particularly the youths, are likely to receive more information and be mobilised from such online platforms that would influence their political views. This can be seen from the throngs of middle-class youths that support Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who have been mobilised by the PTI through digital media both in the past and in the present.[48] The PTI’s ability to use social media platforms, broadcast videos and initiate blog postings have led them to successfully attract the viewership of the youths and the middle class. The evolution of the new middle class, which has also included increased access to the internet, combined with the political parties’ deft use of digital media, will change how political parties function in Pakistan in the long run.

Further, other factors, such as Imran’s populist politics, may have a part to play in galvanising apolitical youths.[49] With their contempt for politicians of the past and their corrupt ways, the new middle class and youths threw their support behind Imran for his promises to implement large-scale political change and his stand against status quo politics.[50] The effects of this support in pushing Imran back to being the leader of Pakistan remain to be seen. Given their fervent support for Imran and his politics, the middle class is likely to have a role to play if that happens.


Over the course of Pakistan’s history, the middle class has seen itself morphing, transiting from the old to one that now includes the new middle class. The new middle class appears to subscribe to a slightly different set of religious values and leadership compared to the old middle class. The identities and aspirations of the new middle class, along with their engagement in Pakistani civil society, may continue to change as they grow in size and influence. In the contemporary times, many in this new middle class viewed the old leaders as corrupt politicians who have damaged the country. In this regard, Imran’s pledge to fight corruption and his vow to create a Naya Pakistan (new Pakistan) are directly responding to the imperatives of the new middle class. As a result, a sizeable portion of the middle class supports him, which could trigger political changes and restore Imran to power.

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