By Anna Brogan
The current situation in Pakistan is very complex. Pakistan is in a state of turmoil, with the economy staring at a meltdown. It is a huge country with 220 million people, and the ruling class has deep links with the West due to 200 years of colonial rule. It was also an ally of the US in the war against the Soviets and helped to destroy the communist government in Afghanistan in the 1990s. The US poured billions of dollars into that project.
All the political parties’ economic policies are neo-liberal capitalist policies designed by the IMF. What the IMF has done to the Pakistani economy (and other Third World economies) is nothing short of criminal, galloping inflation, rising cost of living, deindustrialization and no real growth. The debt crisis and what the IMF has done to Pakistan has destroyed the country. 27 Power Stations have been closed because they do not have enough oil, there are areas without any electricity 24/7.
Political parties in Pakistan are dominated by large landed capitalist families who play ball with the military. Imran Khan (IK) is a right-of-centre politician who was able to use his celebrity status to get ahead in politics and work with the military to get votes.
Imran Khan (IK) Prime Minister of Pakistan was ousted by a vote of no confidence. Although IK has the support of the middle class, he did not get a majority of the votes in the general election, other tiny parties lined up to provide IK with a majority but crucially he had the support of the military. The military is known as the “umpire of Pakistani politics” They have now withdrawn their support and IK’s party has split and some have now joined the opposition. The military bureaucracy is far stronger than any/all parties.
The old elite, the feudal inheritors claim that they became concerned that IK had not been able to come up with an effective team and deliver on his election promises.
For 3 years the opposition has been demanding a vote of no confidence in IK. They said that IK had failed to fix the crumbling economy (inflation is nearly 20%) and root out corruption.
IK tried to postpone the inevitable and delay the vote to oust him by going to the Supreme Court against his own MPs (seeking lifelong disqualification for aligning with the opposition) the Supreme Court ruled that IK’s attempt to dissolve Parliament and call new elections was unconstitutional.
IK popularity has nosedived with rising inflation and high unemployment. The economy is in tatters.
IK’s Government has done very little for the majority of the people. It went back to the IMF for help. The IMF has suspended its programme in Pakistan and there is going to be a balance of payments crisis in Pakistan. They need about 5 billion dollars. (Pakistan has gone to the IMF 23 times)
The IK Government has suppressed the voices of laid off workers activists. The government did nothing for women’s rights activists, instead of supporting the Sexual Violence bills put forward by the Women’s movement, the government sent the Bill to the Council of Islamic Ideology which dismissed the Bill…
Thousands of people have taken to the streets to defend IK, and he has had many large rallies since the vote of no-confidence.
The Military plays a central role in Pakistan. Since 1947 No Prime Minister (PM) in Pakistan has completed a five-year term. The Military took over each time.
Now the fact is that the US has several Military bases in Pakistan and has in fact extended its military presence there because of Pakistan’s geo-political situation and US plans to extend the Middle East war wider. In order to justify its counter-terrorism programme, the US has increased its covert support for “terrorists”
In 2005, a US National Intelligence Council and CIA report predicted a “Yugoslav – like fate for Pakistan -such as was recently seen in Balochistan” (Energy Compass 2.3, 2005) Further, this report stated that by 2015 Pakistan would be a “failed state” with “complete Talibanisation and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons” (Times of India 13th Feb 2005)
It is not surprising that the US wanted IK out, he has done several things which would incense the US. He was a longtime critic of the US war in Afghanistan and the West in general. According to the New York Times and the Pakistani Media, relations became rather strained with the US after the CIA and Pakistan were in talks about a US Military base in Pakistan for Drones. Pakistan agreed to the base but only if Drone strikes were signed off by the Pakistan Military, so the strikes would be against the “terrorists” who the Pakistan Military deemed to be anti-Pakistan and not those they considered friendly to Pakistan. The US disagreed, but the Pakistan Government denied that these talks had taken place.
IK said that he is the victim of a foreign conspiracy hatched in the US. He said he was asked to join yet another US war and he said NO. When he was asked about US bases in Pakistan he said “Absolutely Not”
IK’s position on Afghanistan, Ukraine etc. would not have pleased the US. IK praised India’s Foreign Policy on Ukraine in maintaining a neutral stance. (India buys oil from Russia) IK was in Moscow when the war began in Ukraine. He went to Russia with the blessings of the Army to get a deal on oil and wheat, once the US contacted the Army and stated its displeasure at the way Pakistan had voted at the UN on Ukraine.
IK has not helped his case by expressing support for the Taliban!! and Osama bin Laden. A General in the Indian Army said on TV that the US thinks that Pakistan has been two timing them with the Taliban, that this was why the US had the failure in Afghanistan, this is of course a fiction, the US war was doomed to end just the way it did.
IK has said Muslim Countries have let down Palestine and Kashmir…
He also said that the PM of India Modi is a Fascist and a Nazi…(there was no response from India.)
Most damning of all was the emergence of old videos of IK being extremely critical of Pakistan’s Army, mentioning genocide in Baluchistan and that they have killed people and taken money from the US.
All of the statements IK had made and which his enemies are now using to gloat over his downfall are true – but an Indian General said the fact that IK raised the issue of material transmitted to the Pakistan PM’s Office regarding a discussion between American Assistant Secretary of State Lu and his Pakistani counterpart, in front of a public rally is unheard of and this sealed his fate. IK waved a piece of paper at a public mass rally which he said was proof that he was the victim of a US hatched conspiracy.
The Indian general said that Pakistan did not conform to the norms of diplomatic behaviour….
There will be a massive Trust deficit in the diplomatic community re Pakistan, and nobody will want to speak to a Pakistani diplomat “.
(So, the truth is irrelevant, just “proper diplomatic behaviour” – is what matters.)
The Indian General also said the US is watching all countries which have not condemned Russia. He said the EU, US and Germany wrote to every country which was neutral and said “Please don’t be neutral, please condemn this aggression”
Once IK had divulged the contents of the EU letter, the US was very angry and conveyed this to the Pakistan Army Chief who promptly went on TV and in English said that the Foreign Policy of Pakistan will be in line with the US, despite the fact that the Army knew what IK was going to Russia for and agreed with his stance, they were not willing to do anything to upset US interests.
Pakistan’s geo-strategic location on the border with Afghanistan is of immense importance, especially to the US, it provides a pathway to Central Asia. Pakistan has extensive oil and mineral resources which is largely in the Balochistan region. Balochistan makes up more than 40% of the land mass of Pakistan. The Iran-India pipeline will transit through Balochistan. There is a deep sea port (Gwadar) in Balochistan on the Arab Sea, not far from the Strait of Hormuz, where 30% of the world’s daily oil supply is shipped.
Foreign oil/gas contractors such as BP, Italy’s ENI, Austria’s OMV and Australia’s BHP are in Balochistan – Pakistan’s oil/gas companies which have the larger stake in the oil fields were privatised under the IMF/World Bank in 1994. Pakistan plans to finalise a Russian built gas pipeline despite international pressure.
The new government is clueless, the Prime minister is just another right-wing politician. not in office to serve the people but to serve his own interests. His brother is in prison for criminal activities. The cycle starts again.
The new PM is going back to the IMF to beg for renegotiation of the debt because he needs money to buy oil. He is under tremendous pressure to get rid of whatever subsidies are in place and raise the price of gas.
Pakistan needs a Communist/Worker’s Party which breaks from the elite and ruling class agenda, for workers’ power. Every other Party has come and gone including the Military. They have all gone to the IMF and done what the IMF instructed them to do. The Communists are the only ones who are willing to think outside the Neo-Liberal Capitalist box. Nationalise the Mines, oil and gas and break with Imperialism.