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Food Insecurity Sparks Anarchy In Pakistan

The Report published by World Food Programme comes with an early warning for the months from June through November 2023. Last year 8.5 million people were threatened with food insecurity; the country is looking at a bigger number this year. Pakistan’s financial crisis has deepened due to the increasing public debt

Pakistan has tried to window-dress every aspect of its existence before international bodies, alas the May 9 catastrophe wiped the tower of lies when a mad mob of people wreaked havoc across the country. The degree of violence wasn’t a reflection of people’s concern for Imran Khan, but their frustration towards the multiple crises in Pakistan that have still not persuaded the government to change the dictum and pull a common man from misery.

The social media was flooded with videos of young men ransacking the corps commander’s house; hurling abuses while emptying the luxurious contents of the fridge – frozen strawberries, okra, keema, yoghurt, etc. While inflation has touched 45 per cent and the FAO-WFP (Food and Agriculture Organization-World Food Program) has declared Pakistan a ‘very high concern’ area in food security, political rivalry and blame game still take precedence.

Pak government remains preoccupied with commenting on international events that do not concern them such as the recently concluded G20 Tourism Group Meeting in Srinagar.

PTI protests in Pakistan against Imran Khan’s arrest.(photo:Twitter/Instagram)

If not that, then the focus shifts to yesteryear’s glory. On the 28th Pakistan celebrated the Youm-e-Takbir to recall the day when Pakistan became a nuclear power 25 years ago. But for what? Ranked between 150 and 170 on democratic values, human rights, per capita income, and other parameters, they remain delusional to their reality.

The plight of minorities is even worse. Thousands of women and children across Balochistan are facing acute malnutrition. NGOs working on their rehabilitation are limited to paperwork. Added to that, due to the lack of awareness among the public about ongoing programs on malnutrition, the citizens are not receiving the benefits. In lost hopes, it is the citizens working as a community asking the United Nations and nutrition officials to take the program out of closed doors and grips of political leaders who redirect any aid to their homes or the black market.

The Report published by WFP comes with an early warning for the months from June through November 2023. Last year 8.5 million people were threatened with food insecurity; the country is looking at a bigger number this year. Pakistan’s financial crisis has deepened due to the increasing public debt.

Between April 2023 and June 2026, they have to pay $77.5 billion, and judging from the worsening political instability and complacent attitude of the government the problem of food insecurity is here to stay long term.

The demo of Pak’s future is being witnessed in a big city like Karachi. As entacles of hunger spread, looting the residents preparing for Bakra Eid at marketplaces has become commonplace. Last week in the fight for survival in Pakistan, a robber shot a person for food and money. Sellers of sacrificial animals now fear for their life as meat is worth its weight in gold!

The IMF is also second-guessing its decision to extend a helping hand to a rogue nation. The tumultuous political environment urges IMF and its bilateral partners to halt the release of a new line of credit.

The May 9 debacle was an eye-opener for the rest of the world. The citizens will become a danger to themselves and the leaders will catalyze the national hysteria for the smallest personal gain.

For now, the fight is over vegetables, flour, and sugar, but the next big issue will be over clean drinking water. The 2022 flood water has been stagnant and staring into the face of authorities for 10 months now. Malaria, Typhoid, and E. coli are common problems in Sindh and Balochistan, besides gastrointestinal, reproductive, and neurological problems due to waterborne diseases.

Medication is either unavailable or out of reach. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see people fighting over water, as Pakistan slowly slips into anarchy.

The gravity of the problem has still not ruffled the feathers of the state. The elite is busy gathering vote banks for the Riyasat-i-Madina, selling a purist fantasy to 43 percent of Pakistani teetering on the brink of starvation. Even the Pak army is unable to feed its poor soldiers two meals a day owing to cuts in special funds!

Some people have made shrines their permanent residence as every once in a while a kind benefactor shows up with rice and meat stew to feed the crowd. Reputable government employees and social leaders also sit for this langar hiding their faces, unable to digest their financial helplessness. Some gaze teary-eyed at distribution centers and walk away because their dignity doesn’t allow them to eat free food.

It’s hard to see much good coming out of petty fights within the ruling class that only thirsts for power and revenge. The above events foreshadow a time when the country will swallow itself tugging on each other to remain afloat, fighting over the last bread like animals. Now only providence can save the innocent Pakistani citizen.

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History repeats itself in Pakistan with Imran Khan’s arrest

Immediately following his arrest, the country descended into chaos and anarchy ensued. Never seen before scenes surfaced as Imran Khan’s supporters cried foul play and vowed vengeance…reports Asian Lite News

Arson, vandalism, plumes of smoke and gunshots…all hell broke loose in Pakistan as former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested on corruption charges following months of trial and investigation.

Khan’s supporters stormed government buildings, vandalized properties and clashed with security forces. Omar Ayub Khan, another supporter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said that “Imran Khan was abducted illegally and confined in a case which has no meaning whatsoever”.

These unprecedented scenes…described as a ‘Black Chapter’ by the Pakistan army, marked a fresh low in Pakistan’s political discourse which has been plagued by months of political and economic crises.

What led to this state of chaos and upheaval? Why is a former Prime Minister in the line of fire? Why has almost every Pakistani Prime Minister met a similar fate?

Sushant Sareen a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) had said while commenting on the country’s political culture “Pakistan’s political culture is like that, you are either in the prime minister’s house and the day you leave the prime minister’s house very often you are in Adiala jail (Rawalpindi, Pakistan). So they shuffle between those two places”.

What role does Pakistan’s army have to play in the deadly unrest?

In a stunning twist of fate, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested on corruption charges by Pakistani paramilitary, forcefully escorted out of the Islamabad High Court premises, and taken to Rawalpindi- the home to GHQ, the Pakistan army headquarters.

Immediately following his arrest, the country descended into chaos and anarchy ensued. Never seen before scenes surfaced as Imran Khan’s supporters cried foul play and vowed vengeance.

Ghulam Farooq one of many Imran Khan supporters previously had said that “yesterday, they the (government) inflicted a great atrocity on us. They crossed our red line. But they should not expect that after that we are going to sit quietly. We are going to teach them a lesson that they will remember all their lives”.

The House of an army corps commander was attacked; the Radio Pakistan building was set ablaze and Khan’s supporters aggressively sought retribution from the Pakistan army, alleging that Khan’s arrest was a politically motivated act of army handiwork.

Muneer Bangash yet another Imran Khan supporter said while he was protesting against Khan’s arrest “For Khan, we are willing to lay down our lives. We have closed our businesses and have come out (to protest), although I am the sole breadwinner of my family. Anytime, we can besiege any government building, and we are ready to do it. Whether they shoot down one hundred or three hundred or a thousand, no matter how many Party workers they shoot down, we will continue (protesting).”

It is alleged that Imran Khan and his spouse were given land worth millions of dollars by a real estate mogul via a charitable trust. Imran Khan has denied any wrongdoing.

In the eyes of his loyal supporters, Imran is beyond criticism and can do no wrong. Opposing voices, however, maintain that Imran Khan was among the top corrupt leaders while in office and deserves to be barred from public life.

Shehbaz Sharif.(photo:instagram)

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, whose alliance had ousted Khan from the Prime Minister chair through a no-confidence vote vowed that demonstrators would be dealt with an iron hand.

Opposing the adverse situation after the arrest of Khan, Shehbaz Sharif the current Prime Minister of the country said that “they detained people inside vehicles on roads, risking their lives. So much so that they pulled patients from ambulances and set the vehicles on fire. Private and government vehicles were burned. The perpetrators who take the law into their hands will be dealt with an iron hand. They will be punished according to the law and constitution”.

While Khan’s arrest led to an unprecedented level of unrest in the country, this wasn’t the first instance of a former Prime Minister being arrested in Pakistan. Nearly all prime ministers in the last few decades have either been found guilty of corruption or have fallen victim to the powerful Pakistan army- the country’s deep state which holds great sway in almost every political and business sector of the country.

From Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter, Benazir Bhutto to Nawaz Sharif, Yousaf Raza Gillani, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi- all imprisoned on one or the other charge.

In such pandemonium, where everything was seemingly spiralling out of control, a disinformation war also ensued. Social media was rife with both plausible and conspiracy theories.

There are many who believe that the Pakistan army-whose intervention in the country’s political affairs is no secret and which has previously staged several military coups, is conspiring to stage one more.

The claim cannot be ruled out for Pakistan observers believe that the atmosphere is conducive for the Pakistan army to take over and use the current state of unrest and chaos as justification.

The army has ruled Pakistan directly for nearly 33 years in the little over 75-year history of the country. It is also accused of undermining democratic institutions and manipulating the political process to consolidate its own power.

Sareen also said that, If the army steps in and that might be the last resort, it might happen in a couple of days, for all we know. Then the problem is what magic wand does the army have to sort these similar matters out? Are they going to shoot at people? What are theu7 going to do? How are they going to fix the economy?” this stand is especially correct especially when the people are protesting.

Imran Khan’s arrest and the subsequent outbreak of chaos coincide with the massive economic crisis the people of the country have been grappling with for the past several months.

The country is yet to recover from the trail of destruction left by the floods last year. Inflation is at an all-time high; forex reserves have depleted and the number of countries lending a helping hand is rapidly decreasing.

Tilak Devasher an author and member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) said, “This is how the spiral has gone out of control in Pakistan, they have the largest contiguous irrigation network in the world. Till about two or three years ago they had surplus wheat, which they would send out today they have to import three million tonnes of wheat. You know why the acreage under wheat has been reduced they don’t have enough fertilizers they don’t have enough water.”

Even China, Pakistan’s so-called all-weather friend, has reprimanded the country for not being proactive enough in dealing with both immediate and long-term challenges. Experts believe that Pakistan’s turbulent political situation can deteriorate further if the ruling government fails to take effective action immediately.

But above all, it is imperative for Pakistan to resolve Khan’s situation, for if it is left unaddressed, it can escalate into unprecedented levels of turmoil and tumult. (ANI)

ALSO READ-In audio leak, besieged Imran seeks US intervention

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Pakistan hurtling towards massive crisis

Global ratings agency Moodys’ warned that Pakistan could default in case it fails to thrash out an agreement with the IMF over the bailout package…reports Asian Lite News

The arrest and subsequent release of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad which has already led to violence in several parts of the country, will further dent the crumbling economy. Economic growth will slow down as the arrest may even lead to a full-blown civil war.

“Forget about the economy for now…the Shehbaz Sharif government and other authorities will now be busy fighting the political crisis…nobody will have the time for economic well-being,” observed an analyst engaged with a global ratings agency.

Global ratings agency Moodys’ warned that Pakistan could default in case it fails to thrash out an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the bailout package.

Just last week, China’s Foreign Minister, Qin Gang during his visit to Pakistan said that stability is the premise of development, and that the South Asian nation must focus on building political consensus and uphold the economy.

“We sincerely hope the political forces in Pakistan will build consensus, uphold stability and more effectively address domestic and external challenges so it can focus on growing the economy,” Qin said at a press briefing. While Khan has been persistent in his demand for holding early general elections, the Sharif government has been in favour of postponing the polls.

The rise in political uncertainty prompted the Chinese embassy to shut down its consular section in February. Qin is not alone.

Alfred Grannas, Germany’s Ambassador to Islamabad, recently underlined the need for “political dialogue” while focusing on “stability” and the “greater good” of the country.

Last month, Sweden, in view of the deteriorating “security situation” decided to shut down its embassy “indefinitely”.

Pakistan’s economy has taken a beating over the years due to gross mismanagement and political instability. Currently the country is in the middle of an unprecedented crises—stretching from political, security to economic. Though Pakistan has been in negotiations with the IMF for months for the $6.5 billion loan package, the two are yet to strike a deal.

The moot question now is this: Will the IMF package get further delayed amid the political crisis?

The recent events seen as a major blow to the ruling alliance which was hoping to use the arrest to bolster its political capital but found itself on the defensive again, lamenting that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party once again got preferential treatment.

It has come as a huge setback for the government and the security establishment that the Supreme Court declared Imran Khan’s arrest illegal and ordered his release, Pakistani author Zahid Hussain writes in Dawn.

The court ruling came amid violent protests sweeping the country. The public reaction to Khan’s arrest has been unprecedented. Widespread violence paralysed life in major cities. With the situation going out of control of civilian law enforcement, the army was called in. Internet and social media services were suspended. The events of the past few days have pushed the country close to anarchy, Hussain wrote.

Imran Khan had repeatedly warned of a Sri Lankan kind of mass uprising. The PTI has demonstrated its capacity to mobilise street power, but it was certainly not a spontaneous outburst of public anger. The attacks on the military installations seemed pre-planned, Hussain wrote.

“Some leaked audio tapes appear to suggest that the attack on the Lahore corps commander’s official residence was led by local PTI leaders. The organised manner in which a fortified building in a top security zone was completely gutted indicates it was not just mob action. What is most curious is that there was no move to stop the attackers as they ransacked the place. The security detail had simply disappeared,” the article said.

“But the images of people ransacking the residence of a top regional commander and attacking military installations in various parts of the country without resistance presented a picture of a fractured state. The civilian administration seemed to have completely collapsed in the face of enraged mobs”, he added.

The author said what has transpired raises questions about Shehbaz Sharif’s capacity to provide leadership in times of crisis. It’s apparent that the coalition government with its dwindling support base is now completely dependent on the security establishment for its survival. With growing political instability, the role of the military will further increase. What we are witnessing is creeping army rule, Hussain said.

“The country today is more divided than ever. It’s an extremely perilous situation for a country facing multiple crises. Most worrisome is the looming collapse of the economy. With no agreement with the IMF in sight, the prospect of default is staring us in the face. Growing political instability will make it even more difficult for the government to get any external financial support needed to bail us out,” he added.

It’s not just the economy, but also the rising terrorist threat that has imperilled national security. The questionable legitimacy of the present dispensation has rendered the situation untenable. The reckless power struggle has eroded the writ of the state. With the country in the midst of an economic meltdown amid the faltering democratic political process, the prospect of a return of despotic rule is very real, Hussain said.

ALSO READ-Pakistan drifting away from Iran

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Imran blames General Munir for arrest

PTI chief Imran Khan said “Army Chief General Asim Munir is worried that if I come to power, I will de-notify him.”

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan has blamed the army chief for his “abduction” on May 9 and distanced himself from violence that took place in several cities after his arrest.

He expressed these views while having brief conversation with media persons on the premises of the Islamabad High Court on Friday, reports Dawn.

“It’s not the security agencies. It’s one man, the army chief. There is no democracy in the army. The army is getting maligned with what is happening,” the PTI chief replied when asked about the impression that security agencies were against him whereas the judiciary was favouring him.

“And he (the army chief) is worried that if I come to power, I will de-notify him. Which, I tried my best to send him a message, I will not. All this is happening is direct orders from him. He is the one who is convinced that if I win, he will be de-notified,” alleged Khan.

The former premier also talked about “victimisation” of his party by the government, alleging that “5,000 people have been arrested during the last one year”, Dawn reported.

Khan said he had survived two assassination attempts and had only called for an investigation, regretting that his demand had been rejected.

Reiterating his position which he took in the Supreme Court on Thursday evening, the PTI chair said he was totally unaware of the developments which took place after his arrest and claimed that he had learnt that 40 people had lost their lives during the two-day protests.

Expressing “sadness” over the events that took place when he was in the custody of NAB, Khan stated that “the army is getting maligned because of just one man”, Dawn reported.

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SPECIAL: Pakistan Justice System Ostracises Minority Hindus

Dawn called the Hindus, Pakistan’s “frozen out” community.” The leading English newspaper noted that the Pakistani state “has come under repeated international flak for its record of failure in protecting and empowering minorities”…. writesDr Sakariya Kareem

‘Unaware’ that it exists in the book, Pakistan’s minority Hindus do not avail provisions of law pertaining to their women, property, inheritance and marriage.

Little has been done to let the country’s largest minority community, a minuscule 1.8 per cent of the 220 million population, know of the existence of the law that took 69 years to enact, leading to its ‘negligible’ use, Dawn newspaper (May 8, 2023) said in an editorial.  The law was signed into law six years ago.

A majority of the Hindus live in Sindh province which has a separate law, enacted after several years of chequered passage and debate. The newspaper said the implementation of the Hindu Marriage Act, 2017, applicable in Punjab, Balochistan and KP, “reeks of our institutionalised prejudice” against the community. Members of the community for which it has been enacted are simply unaware of its existence.

The law is important, especially for women, as in Pakistan, over 1000 underage girls belonging to the minority Hindu, Christian and Sikh communities are kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam every year according to ABC News. Most of the targets are Hindu and Christian girls from lower Castes and poor families.

Dawn called the Hindus, Pakistan’s “frozen out” community.” It noted that at an event last week, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressed concern that marginalised sections were “ignorant about laws that protect them.”

The provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act are watered down to meet reservations from different quarters. They are still ‘opaque’ about who is authorised to solemnise Hindu nuptials.

The law’s journey, the newspaper observed, has been ‘paradoxical’.

“Although a comprehensive document which breaks with severe traditions on many counts, its implementation has so far merely replaced a marriage photograph with a certificate.

“The majority of women from a frozen-out community in Pakistan continue to live without official documentation, consent and inheritance, and submit to underage marriage as well as social and domestic violence,” it said. But there is a catch.

“Where the law rescues Hindu women from stringent social confines, the Act’s clause 12(iii) declares that a marriage will be annulled if any of the spouses convert to another religion. This enables rampant exploitation and gives cover to the crimes of kidnapping and forced conversions of married women validated by fake certificates to prove consent to law enforcement authorities.”

Pakistan has an organised movement condoned by society and law and encouraged by mosques and the clergy who solemnise marriages of abducted minority community girls that are abducted or forced by Muslim men. 

The law favours the men as the matter goes before a Sharia court, leaving no option for the girl, often a minor, to tell the court that she has married with consent and wants to live with her husband.

Dawn said the law ignored the “caste matrix is intrinsic to the Hindu community. Inter-caste marriages take place in the shadow of persecution, especially for the woman regardless of her place in the hierarchy. These intricacies require lawmakers to revisit the law and guarantee protection, equity and freedom to women in particular and lower-caste men.”

“The law needs to be pushed forward with other legislation centred around security and crime control.  The newspaper noted that the Pakistani state “has come under repeated international flak for its record of failure in protecting and empowering minorities.”

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ISI’s Smuggling Network and Its Links to Khalistan Movement Exposed

This smuggling network has allegedly fueled the Khalistan movement and played a key role in the formation and operation of narco-terrorism.

A recent interview between retired Pakistani military officers Colonel Akbar Hussain and Major Adil Raja has revealed that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan operates an extensive smuggling network that involves high-ranking army officers.

This network has allegedly fueled the Khalistan movement and played a key role in the formation and operation of narco-terrorism.

Colonel Akbar Hussain, in the video interview, spoke to retired Pakistani military officer and YouTuber Major Adil Raja, who provided insight into the activities of the ISI.

According to Major Adil Raja, the ISI used individuals such as Khalistan Commando Force Chief Paramjit Singh Panjwad to operate drug cartels and target the youth in Punjab.

The intelligence agency facilitated the smuggling of drugs into India, using terrorists like Panjwad as pawns, according to Major Adil Raja.

Colonel Hussain explained that several high-ranking military officials are complicit in this illegal drug network, which reflects poorly on the battalion units and dishonours the Pakistani flag.

Major Adil Raja also alleged that the ISI raises funds under the guise of black operations, which are then misappropriated or used to finance smuggling and contraband networks.

He claims that Panjwad, under ISI protection, supplied illegal arms and drugs to India from across the border. The intelligence agency relied on Panjwad to escalate Khalistani separatism in Punjab and orchestrate terrorist attacks, such as the 1999 bomb blast near the Chandigarh passport office.

Panjwad, who was known as Malik Sardar Singh in Lahore, was ultimately gunned down by unidentified assailants on May 6, 2023, in Johar Town, Lahore, Pakistan, and his organization, the KCF, was designated as a terrorist group by the Indian government in July 2020.

Major Adil Raja also alleged that the Pakistani army employed actresses as honey traps. Pakistani actress Sajal Aly has since responded to these defamatory allegations on social media.

Additionally, Major Adil Raja accused the ISI of tracking him and attempting to hack his virtual presence last month.

ALSO READ: Khalistan Commando Force chief shot dead in Lahore

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Imran Khan arrested by baton-wielding security forces

According to NAB officials, arrest warrants for the former premier in the Al-Qadir trust case were issued on May 1…reports Hamza Ameer

Based on orders by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested by the Pakistan Rangers from outside the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday.

Khan had travelled to Islamabad earlier in the day from his Lahore residence to appear before the IHC seeking bail in the Al-Qadir trust case lodged by the NAB.

However, upon his arrival at the IHC, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief was arrested by the Rangers and took him to the NAB office.

According to NAB officials, arrest warrants for the former premier in the Al-Qadir trust case were issued on May 1.

The arrest was made under the same reference, the officials added.

Confirming the arrest, PTI’s lawyer Faisal Chaudhry said that as soon as Khan arrived at the IHC, a large number of Rangers troops surrounded the court premises.

He also said that PTI lawyers and supporters were assaulted.

“Imran Khan has been arrested by Rangers outside the IHC. Lawyers have been subjected to torture and PTI workers and supporters are also being arrested,” said Chaudhry.

IHC Chief Justice has taken notice of the arrest outside the premises, directing the Islamabad police chief, Interior Ministry secretary and additional attorney general to appear before the court immediately, warning that he would summon the Prime Minister if the officials did not appear within 15 minutes.

“Imran Khan has been arrested in Al-Qadir trust case. Situation in under control,” said Inspector General Islamabad Amir Zulfiqar Khan.

The arrest comes hours after Imran Khan recorded a video message before leaving his residence in Lahore, stating that his claims against a senior intelligence agency official were true, who he claimed attempted to assassinate him in two different incidents.

The PTI chief had said that he will provide all evidences when required, calling out the military establishment to get ready to be held accountable by the people.

The arrest of Imran Khan has been on the wishlist of the ruling government, who have been piling up cases against the former premier.

In the wake of the arrest, the situation across the country is expected to become tense supporters of Imran khan are expected to take to the streets, which may lead to chaos and unrest in the coming days.

ALSO READ-Shehbaz terms Imran a liar

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Wheat shortage hits Pakistan in unprecedented levels

The Pakistani media is filled with tragic stories of chaos and stampedes in markets coming from several areas covering all the provinces.

The current food crisis in Pakistan is marked by an unprecedented shortage of wheat across the country that may lead the country into anarchy, reported The Pakistan Military Monitor (PMM).

The ongoing economic crisis in Pakistan is a classic example of this phenomenon where poor citizens have been battling backbreaking inflation and food crises for months now without any support from various custodians of power. For a society, the pain of a calamity is most enduring when it hits the weakest section. Stricken by misery, the vulnerable ones take a long time to recoup, and the food crisis is making the future of the country’s poor look hopeless, reported PMM.

The scarcity is translating into towering prices of the staple grain which are scaling new highs every week. According to the latest Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, there was a 47.2 per cent rise in prices on a year-on-year basis for the week ending April 19, 2023.

The Pakistani media is filled with tragic stories of chaos and stampedes in markets coming from several areas covering all the provinces. As per a recent report in the prominent Pakistani newspaper ‘The Express Tribune’, thousands flock to the markets and spend hours every day for the subsidized flour bags which are in short supply.

Policemen examine the site of stampede in southern Pakistani port city of Karachi on March 31, 2023. At least 11 people were killed and more than 10 others injured in a stampede during ration distribution in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi of Sindh province. (Str/Xinhua)

In social media, videos appearing almost every day are testimony to the severity of the present crisis, reported PMM.

In a horrific video shared last month by a UK-based person, Faran Jeffery, hundreds were seen hanging from a wheat flour-carrying truck with many others chasing it. Also seen was how a child attempting to get near it narrowly escaped from being run over by the vehicle.

Several deaths have also been reported to have occurred due to the struggle of poor people for the humble grain. This includes deaths during stampedes in the queues at government distribution points for the poor, reported PMM.

Coming at the time of Eid, the high inflation rate made it challenging for many Pakistanis to purchase essential items for the celebrations. According to a report from the World Food Programme (WFP), the price of wheat has increased by 74 per cent during the last year alone.

To make matter worse, the fangs of corruption are not sparing even the poor surrounded by gloom. There are reports in the media about some Pakistani officials stealing the flour bags, reported PMM.

In April, a case was registered against 11 persons including officials involved in distribution for stealing 8,000 bags of flour in Chiniot of Punjab province. Some counterfeit tokens were also found at the local flour distribution centre.

The government agencies have chosen to blame low agricultural output due to adverse weather conditions, water shortages, locust attacks and the Russia-Ukraine conflict as the reasons responsible for the crisis, reported PMM.

However, factors like corruption in the supply chain, hoarding and black marketing skipped mentioned by those responsible for addressing the problem. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Dwindling textile sector hurts the livelihoods and economy of Pakistan

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Mystery surrounds multiple blasts, gunfire in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

There was no official word from military or security agencies regarding the incidents, or the number of casualties.

 Multiple attacks, suspected to be terror incidents, were reported from across different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on Thurs�day night, but there was no official word from military or security agencies regarding the incidents, or the number of casualties, media reports said.

A powerful explosion, followed by several blasts and heavy gunfire, rocked Lakki Marwat city on Thursday night, official sources said, the Dawn reported.

Sources said the blast took place near the Government Postgraduate College, which houses security forces and a military camp, Dawn reported.

Residents said that after the first explosion, several other blasts were also heard, followed by heavy gunfire, which partially damaged houses in the settled area.

People came out of their homes after the first blast shook the area, but subsequent explosions and gunfire drove them back indoors, Dawn reported.

Citing preliminary reports, sources said militants had attacked a military compound late in the night. “It was a bomb and gun attack,” they said, adding that troops retaliated and a fierce gun battle continued for about an hour.

The management of the district headquarters hospital called doctors and paramedics to duty to cope with any possible emergency.

Muhammad Ashfaq Khan, Lakki Marwat’s district police officer, said that the exchange of fire stopped and no casualty had been reported.

The attack came after three militants, who had targeted a retired colonel in his guestroom, were killed on April 24 in a shootout with counterterrorism and police officers in the Paharakhel Thall village of Lakki Marwat.

CTD inspector, Javed Iqbal, who was wounded in the exchange of fire, later succumbed to wounds at a hospital in Bannu.

Meanwhile, a number of other incidents were also reported in the early hours of Friday; two in the Janikhel area of Bannu district and one in the Mir Kalam area of Tank district. However, neither police nor Inter-Services Public Relations offered any information, Dawn reported.

ALSO READ: Gilgit-Baltistan in turmoil as Pakistan denies basic human rights

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Cash Crisis Puts Breaks On Pakistan Projects

There have been reports earlier in media about Pak Missions in European countries struggling to release salaries due for several months. Its Embassies in USA, France, Germany, Oman, Austria and Belgium have been frequently deprived of salaries. Cash availability in Pak treasury has deteriorated. It is not a secret that now Islamabad’s forex crisis has started hitting even essentials and imports of raw materials … writes Dr Sakariya Kareem

Cash-strapped Islamabad’s difficulties are mounting, the most recent is being the construction of a building belonging to the Pakistan International School in Cairo. The Egyptian authority has imposed heavy fines for non-completion of the school building project, according to a report.

Pak Mission is neither in a position to pay up the fine nor complete the construction of the building within the stipulated time due to the forex crisis it is facing. The building project of the school has been long pending and so far only 70% is completed due to financing difficulties. Now, the Pak mission in Cairo is in the dilemma of taking the embarrassing decision of occupying the building by foregoing the construction of the remaining part of the building.

It is not the first time that Islamabad faced difficulties in financing primary projects, connected with its missions abroad. There have been reports earlier in the media about Pak Missions in European countries struggling to release salaries due for several months. Its Embassies in the USA, France, Germany, Oman, Austria and Belgium have been frequently deprived of salaries. Cash availability in the Pak treasury has deteriorated. It is not a secret that now Islamabad’s forex crisis has started hitting even essentials and imports of raw materials.

Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar

The Forex crisis hitting the economy is fast heading towards a ‘financial emergency’. Realising this, Pakistan has resorted to taking desperate cost-cutting measures since last December. Rationing of fuel for government vehicles, restrictions on official travel, stopping leave encashments, medical bill payments and removing allowances are the result of these measures.

The cash crisis of the Pak government has compelled it to borrow more. A recent report prepared by the Pak Finance Ministry throws light on the country’s debt situation. Pak’s Debt-to-GDP ratio and Gross Financing Needs to GDP ratio, which determines the country’s sustainability of debt, are currently exceeding desired levels and analysts do not rule out significant risks associated with default.

Islamabad’s public and publicly guaranteed debt increased to 78% of the GDP in the last fiscal year and now it could further increase due to compulsive government borrowing to avert to keep the government running, overcome forex crisis and avert default. It is nearly impossible to reduce it by nearly one-third within four years in line with the stated goal of the Pak government. Experts suggest sustainable Debt-to-GDP ratio for countries like Pakistan should not be higher than 70%.

The gross financing needs of the government, the other criteria determining sovereign default, is surpassing 15% of GDP in Pakistan – the sustainable level, widely agreed by experts. Further, it is projected that the gross financing needs will range from 19.2% to 18.9% of the GDP during the next three fiscal years, indicating the gravity of the situation which might push the country into default.

Islamabad has breached the limits of both the indicators and the government report cautioned that if brewing financial shocks continue, the country would remain above the sustainable level at least for the next 3 years, maybe even beyond 2026. Amidst the current troubled business environment, there are likely chances that Pak would default.

The rise in the debt-to-GDP ratio was attributed to the depreciation of the rupee and the primary deficit. The Pakistani rupee has been struggling to stabilize for the last five years with no respite. Furthermore, the Finance Ministry itself admitted that ‘when considering combined macro-fiscal and standardized contingent liability shocks, the debt-to-GDP ratio continues to exceed the 70% threshold’.

It added, “gross financing needs remain high, posing several liquidity risks mainly due to high interest rates and pressures on external accounts”. Further, it revealed that the depreciation of the rupee alone contributed to a debt increase equivalent to 6.1% of the GDP. A currency depreciates due to a loss of confidence apart from demand and supply dynamics.

Shehbaz Sharif.(photo:instagram)

All the above-mentioned issues have translated into shocks to real GDP growth, primary balance, real interest rate, exchange rate, and contingent liabilities. These have eventually resulted in an

increasing debt burden beyond sustainable limits. The interest rate shock alone has contributed an additional Rs 1.5 trillion to the debt servicing cost in the current fiscal year to Islamabad, accounting for about 70% of the projected revenues for the year.

Islamabad has so far tried to hide all major data concerning the health of the economy. But the World Bank has now brought the right facts out. The development partner’s condition now provides insights into Pakistan’s external and domestic debt situation, contingent liabilities and economic outlook for the next three fiscal years. This exercise deserved the attention of the Pak economic policymakers, but they remained busy in painting a good picture even when the economic wounds were getting deeper.

Campaign group Debt Justice recently warned that poor countries were facing their highest bills for debt servicing in the last 25 years. Pakistan is an extreme example of such a debt burden. It stated that Pakistan’s scheduled repayments on foreign public debts are equivalent to 47% of government revenues in 2023, leaving a scant amount for capital formation and investment. This would worsen its growth prospects which would further aggravate the cash and forex crisis as the government’s revenues and the country’s export earnings are affected. How long Islamabad could pull its debt sustainability is a big question! Pakistan is drifting into a financial abyss, but the politicians are busy settling political scores and not ready to give priority to the economic problems facing the country. It does not auger well.