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Imran Khan

WE FILERS ARE IDIOTS!

A marked deterioration in the economy, a treasury on the verge of bankruptcy and huge levels of debt made fresh fiscal measures unavoidable, the PTI’s Federal Minister for Finance had perforce to present the Finance Supplementary (Amendment) Bill 2018 in the National Assembly (NA) on Sep 18.

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NO MORE PSLs ABROAD

The pulsating cheering crowd in the National Stadium Karachi for the PSL Final, and subsequently for the three international T20s, underscored the return of peace to a city (and country) torn by internal strife. Bereft of any sports spectacle and living in cold fear for life and limb of their (and their families) because of open-ended threats from terrorists, political, religious and the criminal kind, the people of Karachi had very good reason to celebrate, both their “freedom” and Pakistan’s return from sports “exile”. When the speakers playing the National Anthem failed during its rendition before the start of the match, the entire audience spontaneously started singing the anthem, could anyone have stage-managed patriotism better?,” to quote my article “Lest we forget” of April 6, 2018.

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COMMON MAN’S UNCOMMON PM

Imran Khan won over the hearts of the masses by his very candid and honest manner in his address to the nation as PM. Delivered from the heart in plain words, his talking points scribbled in his own handwriting he meant what he said. The nation has been waiting to hear from their leaders for the last 71 years about the poor-rich divide and the vital issues haunting the masses on the poverty line or barely above it. Not attacking the Opposition directly, he held them responsible for the current debt crisis of Rs 28 trillion that 10 years ago (2008) was only Rs. 6 trillion.

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ACCOUNTABILITY BEGINS AT HOME

A democratic form of govt being accountable to the people, the elected representatives are accountable to the people who elect them. Our enduring constant crisis in governance stems from our inept and corrupt rulers trampling the essential pillars of good governance, rule of law and accountability. This gives rise to unbridled and widespread corruption, low human development and higher poverty levels.

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE GOVT

The balance of payment crisis has been aggravated by major currency devaluations taking place over the past few months, the Rupee plunging 15% since December last. Surprisingly the currency has appreciated by 4% .e. Rs 7.00 since Imran Khan’s elections on July 25. The State Bank having had to raise interest rates, the current-account gap widened by 43% in the last fiscal year with foreign-exchange reserves dropping alarmingly to $ 9.1 billion. While a China- sponsored “bailout” is rumoured, the newly elected govt might approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These loans come typically with strings attached i.e. curbing fiscal deficits, tighter monetary policy, etc one can expect even tougher conditions given that many structural reforms promised to the IMF were either delayed or not done by the previous govt. The US being front and center in any IMF initiative, one can also expect another boat of “do more”.

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DEFINING MOMENT

Pakistan’s third-ever democratic elected process leading to the transition of power took place on 25 July 2018. More than 100 political parties contested the 272 seats in the National Assembly (NA), the balance reserved seats being allocated on a proportionate basis with an outright majority would need to have 172 seats. A quick look at the unofficial results show that with nearly 115 NA seats Imran Khan’s PTI is capable of making the Federal and KPK govts, but will be hard put to make the govt in the Punjab, even with independents. As things stand today PML (N) can make a weak coalition govt in the Punjab. Will PML (N) risk this?

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150 HRS TO A NEW DAWN?

Though the usual feudal modus operandi for obtaining votes, particularly in the rural areas, is through outright coercion and/or intimidation, it also depends upon who counts the vote, and even more importantly, who gets to collate it. With rigging/tampering with ballot and ballot boxes fairly widespread in 2008 and 2013, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) must be given credit for taking effective steps for minimizing electoral fraud of various kinds.

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FAIL-SAFE LINE OF CONSTITUTIONAL MORALITY?

The Supreme Court (SC) recently dismissed several petitions contesting the 2013 elections for various deficiencies. Interestingly just before the 2013 elections the SC ordered the defective electoral rolls to be corrected, because of time constraints the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was instructed to go ahead with the elections, verification of voters being mandated for Karachi only. Such anomalies added to the suspicions and allegations about electoral rigging, culminating in the present protests. On Mar 19, 2014, the SC ordered the long overdue “Local Bodies” elections be completed by Aug 18, 2014, only Balochistan complied. Almost three months after that timeline has expired, feudal pressure has kept democracy from functioning at the grassroots level.

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HIGH NOON AT MIDNIGHT

The Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri show, or as my friend Ejaz Haider puts it, the “Lucky Irani Circus”, finally made it to where they wanted to be in the first place and where the Mian Nawaz Sharif regime did not want them at any time, at the “D Square” in front of Parliament. While it was a massive crowd, the numbers do not matter. The emotions of the men, women and children who braved both the artificial and natural odds to follow their leaders to their date with destiny did. Contrary to the govt-fed propaganda most of our more renowned TV anchors were parrotting ad nauseam, the PTI followers remained true and faithful. Not politically extensive nationwide as Imran Khan’s, Tahirul Qadri’s flock in Islamabad numbered far more. Their remarkable capacity to remain resolute and with resilience, all with remarkable discipline, belies political reckoning. Make no mistake, the Sharifs under-estimated Tahirul Qadri’s political nuisance value. Alongside Imran, he may well bring down their govt.

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A PAKISTANI QB VII?

Serving a defamation notice on the PTI Chairman, Imran Khan, for “levelling baseless allegations” against him and the judiciary, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry threatened civil and criminal proceedings “in accordance with the law, both inside and outside the jurisdiction of Pakistan, if unconditional apology is not tendered by you,” the notice claimed in damages, “a token sum of Rs 15 billion only; and another Rs 5 billion only as damages for mental agonies, torture, harassment, humiliation, etc., caused to me as well as my family.”

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