I say things are looking good for Pakistan based on recent events and solid facts…
US Government finally blinked when State Department official, Ambassador Alice Wells on Tuesday said ‘The US seeks to move towards new relationship’ with Pakistan. Then followed by Department of Defense’s Gen Dunford saying, “we committed to a more effective relationship with Pakistan”.
Well, now it’s Pakistan’s turn to do the talking. Prime minister Abbasi should bring out the account books and start milking the US for the losses sustained in the Soviet-Afghan war of the ’90s and the War On Terror of the 21st century. While Pakistan is at it, might as well get loan write-offs (like Egypt got), trade access for textile products, concessionary loans for mega projects of Pakistan’s choice, US pressure on India for a better-negotiating position on Kashmir, relaxed work visas, ending the negative travel advisory on Pakistan, understanding on CPEC, favorable end game in Afghanistan and full US involvement in Governance reform.
US Government functionaries have come to the conclusion that the US can be rendered irrelevant in the region by Pakistan. The US desperately needs Pakistan to slow down or limit the scope of CPEC, allow them face-saving exit from Afghanistan, and have some semblance of authority in the region, with the troops left behind. They will do whatever is possible to secure Pakistan’s support in Afghanistan. Capitol Hill will have to change its opinion too eventually.
The US has already tried all the alternatives with Pakistan; regime changes of Mr. Zia and Musharraf, discontent and insecurity in the society, diplomatic isolation, withholding development funds from IMF / World Bank, pressure from India, reverse flow of militancy, coercion, and even direct threats from the US president himself. Nothing has worked. Pakistan has had to pay in blood and tears to get to this vantage position. $125 Billion in losses, more than 50000 deaths is something no ordinary country could have sustained.
Well, good times are coming! , Why? Because…
Democracy has taken hold. This is the second 5 years term likely to be completed by Jun ’18. Many indicators point towards reasonable improvement in governance. Pakistan has improved in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) from 175 to 117, jumped from 138 positions to 115 in the Competitiveness Index, and is getting better at No 147 in the Human development index (HDI).
The most encouraging thing is that repeated polls have confirmed the majority of Pakistanis identify with the democratic process (GALLUP Nov ‘17) and believe Governance has improved (PILDAT Oct ‘16). There is a consensus in the society that Pakistan’s salvation lies in the democratic process.
The courts have found their voice. Supreme Court is beyond coercion. No unconstitutional measure would now be endorsed. Blatant injustice is resolved through judicial activism.
Recently, 1800 Ulema of all hues, have signed a religious decree (Jan ‘18) declaring suicide bombing ‘haram’.
1,800 Pakistani religious scholars declare suicide bombings ‘haram’ in new fatwa
The decree further says that jihad can only be declared by the state of Pakistan. Hate speech, incitement of violence, breaking the law, creating a law and order situation, and imposing Sharia by force are all un-Islamic. Non-muslims have been granted equal rights, free of coercion, in the society of Pakistan. The constitution of Pakistan has been accepted as the supreme document in the country, to be referred to when required, as it has the essentials of the medina agreement drafted by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
On the economic side, Pakistan has crossed the trillion Dollar economy mark (World Data Atlas 2017) i.e. Pakistan is the 25th largest economy in the world based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).
This means that the economy has the strength to generate the required revenues to pay back loans and run the country effectively.
The $ 55 Billion CPEC bonanza will act as a catalyst for other countries to join the bandwagon of trade. Pakistan will be able to break out of the trade stranglehold of the US-India combine. The Special Economic Zones being set up by China will help end the negative current account deficit of Pakistan by promoting exports.
Terrorism-related incidences are down 58% since last year. Now that the government has a clear resolve not to allow terrorism and extremism to take root in Pakistani society, law enforcement agencies have a clearer mandate to go all out.
Pakistan’s vibrant media has given Pakistanis the voice they were denied for so many decades. No leader can now fool them for too long. Neither can any other country impose its will on the Pakistani populace.
The basic building block in the social fabric of Pakistan, the nuclear family has survived testing times. Pakistan’s web of social protection has helped the country’s vulnerable coast over economic hardships. Now that there is the board consensus, investment is being made in education, healthcare, and pluralism the cornerstone of a healthy society.
So, Pakistanis have a lot to cheer about, if they play their cards right this time over.
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