The Looming Catastrophe in Pakistan by Lt Gen P R Shankar (R)


I tried to put together a paper on Pakistan. I failed. I failed because the dimension of the looming catastrophe in Pakistan is beyond my comprehension. If I do an honest analysis it will be felt that it is blatantly biased. Hence as usual I will let Pakistanis convince you about the degrading state of Pakistan. One thing is striking. This is the thirteenth  article of this genre. In all these articles the common thread is that there is nothing positive. Every article I come across in Pakistani papers generally conveys negativity, pessimism, despair and      hopelessness. Then there is a clear strain of living in denial with their self-created paradoxes. The next issue is complete silence on criticising China or examining any part of the Sino Pak relationship, which is actually a self-administered poison to Pakistan. This is part of the self-denial. 


All these articles must also be seen in the light of the geopolitical tangle they have landed in with a wiser USA back in action in Pakistan, Chinese limitations exposed in Ladakh, Afghanistan situation increasing in toxicity, relations with the Middle East in rocky seas, worsening internal security situation and of the economy which is seeking new bottoms. A significant aspect of the Naya Pakistan is that unprecedentedly there are significant separatist/dissent movements in Sindh, Baluchistan, Khyber Pakthunwa and Gilgit Baltistan. In Punjab, the terror factories of LeT and JeM are still intact. Pretty grim never before kind of a picture. it appears as if  the seams of the cricket ball are coming off on a wearing pitch! 



Saving Pakistan By Ashraf Jahagir Qazi



This article is a must read for anyone who needs a short but accurate all round update on the despondent  situation in Pakistan. However if one looks beyond the inevitable anti India strain, the grimness of the article is stark and dark.    


If the three main political parties have each failed to govern justly, efficiently and successfully the question arises: why? Apart from the prevailing political culture and specific failings of political leaders, the answer lies in the unconstitutional, undemocratic and obstructive structures of power that underpin a façade of democratic governance. The movers and shakers in Pakistan are not invested in the welfare and security of the common man. They are self-serving, risk-averse and disconnected from the people.

What lies ahead? More misgovernance! This translates into a fatal worsening of the current situation including (i) irreversible climate disaster; (ii) possible nuclear catastrophe given India’s genocidal repression in India-held Kashmir; (iii) unending epidemics and pandemics; (iii) overpopulation limited only by the prospect of mass deaths; (iv) continued underinvestment in human resource development and human rights protections; (v) the absence of civil and political institution-building; and (vi) the prevalence of “military security” over “human security” which undermines national security, national development and nation-building. 


Many Pakistanis articulate similar views and sentiments in their conversations, interviews, speeches, thoughts and writings. And yet a collective debility and individual lack of will prevents rational, organised and effective responses to the imminent threat of extinction….. Unsurprisingly, among the intelligentsia there is a profound pessimism, even hopelessness. Most political leaders and power brokers, however, promote a faith-and-resignation-based optimism, even hopefulness among the systematically exploited and deliberately misinformed masses.


… US-Pakistan relations given the priority he gives to strengthening US-India strategic relations? What is the future of CPEC and China-Pakistan relations in an environment impacted by US anti-China belligerence? How realistic is the concept of maintaining a ‘balance’ between Pakistan’s relations with the US and China? How far can Pakistan delink its Afghanistan policy from US strategy and the state of India-Pakistan relations? Can Pakistan become, and benefit from becoming, a strategic partner of China, if necessary, against an unbalanced and aggressive US?




FATF Decision (editorial)



Pakistan feels that having complied with most of FATF requirements, they should have been taken off the grey list. However on key issues on terror financing and legal actions they have not complied. Their bosom friend China has also not been able to bail them out. Pakistan will continue to struggle. 


Pakistan has complied with 24 out of the 27 actions suggested by the FATF. One hopes that it acts vigorously in the remaining areas to be taken off the grey list soon. The FATF announcement that Pakistan has made “significant progress” even if some “serious deficiencies” remain in the mechanisms to eliminate terror financing,


Combating Pollution by Sakib Sherani



Focus on the problem. The authors solution to solving the pollution problem in Pakistan is cockeyed. The larger issue is that the bulk of CPEC is coal based power projects and roads. A geometric and astronomic increase in pollution is on the cards. It is predicted that once CPEC is completed, Pakistan will transform from one of the least polluted nations to  one of the top polluted  nations. A fully polluted Pakistan is visible in future with associated ramped up costs. It implies that its economy will never take off.  


WHILE Pakistan’s carbon emissions are very low in comparison to the rest of the world, it is among the most polluted countries in terms of ambient (outdoor) air pollution and water contamination. According to rankings compiled by IQAir, Pakistan was the world’s second most polluted country in the world for both 2018 as well as 2019, behind Bangladesh, with air quality characterised as “unhealthy” as measured by levels of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter that have a diameter less than 2.5 micrometres)…..


The estimates for the number of premature deaths caused annually by pollution in Pakistan vary from 22,600 in the mid-2000s, to well over 300,000 as of 2015. Based on data for more recent years, air pollution is the sixth leading risk factor for mortality in Pakistan…. 

Air pollution is not just a health issue but a significant (and growing) development challenge. High levels of ambient air pollution impose significant costs on society and the economy….

 The major sources of ambient air pollution worldwide include inefficient modes of transport (polluting fuels and vehicles), inefficient combustion of household fuels for cooking, lighting and heating, coal-fired power plants, agriculture, and waste burning. In Pakistan’s case, with the rapid increase in the number of motor vehicles on road from approximately 4.5m in 2001 to a provisional estimated 29.5m by 2020, vehicular emissions are estimated to account for over 40pc of ambient air pollution….




LOC Ceasefire (editorial)



There are no illusions or great expectations about the LOC ceasefire in Pakistan. The number of articles on our side are disproportionately large. We need to cool it down


However, no one should be under the illusion that the bitterness afflicting bilateral ties will magically disappear on the basis of one statement. Peace-building is a long and arduous process, and when the relationship is as complex as that of Pakistan and India, things will take time to fall into place.





Head Winds From The US By Javid Hussain


This is a clear headed article which points as to where the new US-Pak relationship is expected to go. They also  know that India cannot be stopped. Further,  after the Ladakh set back for China, (the Pakis understand its significance better than most as to what we have done to them), there will a lot of rethink in tom tomming the Sino-Pak relationship.    


Any analysis of the emerging scenario must be firmly grounded in strategic realities rather than in wishful thinking….


there is now growing strategic divergence between Pakistan and the US because of the development of the Indo-US partnership as an essential element of the US policy of containment of China, on the one hand, and the deepening cooperation between Pakistan and China on the other. CPEC is a prime example of growing Pakistan-China cooperation….


factors which will influence US policy on Pakistan are India’s economic weight with a GDP of $2.6 trillion, its increasing global political influence as evidenced by its current membership of the UN Security Council and G20, and its position as the world’s largest democracy despite the setbacks caused by the rise of Hindutva under Narendra Modi. By way of comparison, Pakistan’s economy is in dire straits with a GDP of only $285 billion, there is political instability and its journey as a functioning democracy has been interrupted several times in the past…. 


The increased presence of Americans of Indian origin in powerful positions in the Biden administration may reinforce the trend of deepening cooperation between the two countries, especially in military, nuclear and high-tech areas thereby upsetting further the strategic balance in South Asia to Pakistan’s disadvantage. In short, India is likely to be given the central role in the US Indo-Pacific strategy which will also involve the strengthening of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad involving India, Japan, US and Australia as affirmed by President Joe Biden in his recent telephone conversation with Prime Minister Modi….





Corruption Index by Idrees Khawaja


Typical Pakistani denial. The country has become more corrupt than before. This author starts questioning the methods of assessment rather than accepting the reality of corruption in Pakistan. Shooting the messenger. 

TI’s recently published CPI shows that Pakistan has slipped three ranks. Some believe that the deterioration reflects an increase in the level of corruption. This piece looks at what goes into the computation of the TI’s CPI and what kind of inferences are possible using the index.

The CPI is a perception index and seeks to gauge perceptions regarding the level of corruption in a country and how this level compares with that in other countries. The index is not directed at assessing the magnitude of the actual level of corruption.

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