With the stationing of a prisoner van outside the parliament in Islamabad, the Constitution got consecrated. Parliamentarians of the Pakistan Tehrek-e Insaf (PTI) fell in line with political realities: they had to open space for the opposition to rule over the country. Command changed hands and April 10 saw a smooth transition of power. The PTI was voted out.es ahead are many
One positive with the turn of events was that the Supreme Court (SC) avoided seeking refuge in the Doctrine of Necessity, which had vitiated the political atmosphere in Pakistan. The PTI did not expect that the Supreme Court would opt for reversing the tide of unconstitutional dissolution of the National Assembly. The PTI thought that the Supreme Courtwould adopt the recourse to holding fresh elections soon. To the consternation of the PTI, the the Supreme Court did not seek retreat in Haji Saifullah’s case (PLD 1989 SC 166) which said that though the dissolution under Article 58(2b) was illegal, there was no need to restore the National Assembly. At that time, the excuse givn was that since the country was geared up for elections, provision be made for fresh elections. The PTI lawyers repeated the same excuse to bypass the constitutional allowance to resort to the no-confidence motion. However, through a short order, the Supreme Court refused to offer any face saving to the PTI’s parliamentarians.
After assuming office, new Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif showed the way how to run the country. Instead of 10am, he reached his office at 8 am and worked throughout the day. Opposed to the past practice, he declared to make Saturday a working day. The working on day one was not so usual as used to happen before. The PM is not an employee who works from 9am to 5am. For a developing country like Pakistan, a PM has to work more hours to give relief to the masses. Sharif did that.
It is not only the money laundering issue for terror financing Pakistan is faced with, but it is also the issue of Islamic fanaticism that is ravaging streets of Pakistan. The general elections of 2018 saw the misuse of the religion card especially by the PTI to woo religion-inspired young voters. The PTI remained victorious but later on the PTI’s government had to suppress the voice of the same supporters during its stint in power.
The other day, Sharif uttered a famous adage, beggars are not choosers. The detractors took the idiom in its literal sense. Unfortunately, Sharif’s statement was blown out of proportion and context just to malign him politically.By saying so, Sharif meant that Pakistan was a developing country which could not afford the annoyance of big powers of the world. Being at the receiving end, Pakistan was not in a position to dictate its terms to the world. This is a reality.
Major challenges before Sharif are to keep the coalition of parties appeased, check soaring inflation, and rectify the foreign policy. On April 12, another major challenge surfaced. On the conclusion of the Fourth Annual US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in 2022, the Ministers condemned any use of terrorist proxies and cross-border terrorism in all its forms and,through a joint statement, aired three demands for Pakistan. First, Pakistan should bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and the Pathankot attack. Second, Pakistan should make concerted efforts against all terrorist groups, including groups proscribed by the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee, such as al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, Jaish-e Mohammad and Hizb-ulMujahideen. Third, Pakistan should take immediate, sustained, and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control could be used for terrorist attacks.
Anxieties are not new. The Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act of 2009 had made similar demands from Pakistan before issuing $1.5 billion per year as non-military aid for five years (from 2010 to 2014). The Act had also demanded that Pakistan took action against the Haqqani network and the Quetta Shura. Both demands are now missing from the statement probably for their being redundant. The Islamic State (ISIS) is perceived as the new threat.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is already squeezing Pakistan to the limit. Since August 2018, Pakistan has been in the throes of the FATF which is imposing conditions for Pakistan’s financial survival. Pakistan is still on the FATF’s grey list. On April 8, in Lahore, an anti-terrorism court awarded a collective sentence of 33 years incarceration to the Chief of the banned Jamaat-udDawa (JuD) Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in two cases of terror financing. In 2019, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) had registered the cases invoking several sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 1997.
Interestingly, the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue also laid emphasis on the importance of upholding international standards on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism by all countries including Pakistan consistent with FATF recommendations. For Pakistan, this clearly means that the FATF is bound to stay and dictate its terms. Pakistan has to comply with its recommendations.
On 6 October 2016, a leading newspaper published the details of a civil-military huddle. The civil side called for “putting our house in order” whereas the military side dithered and disapproved. The accounts got divulged to the public and the expose was called the DAWN leaks, which invited the indignation of the military that demanded an inquiry into the matter. Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister, was called a traitor. Now, a challenge has been thrown to the incumbent government to deal with the jihadists on its own land.
It is not only the money laundering issue for terror financing Pakistan is faced with, but it is also the issue of Islamic fanaticism that is ravaging streets of Pakistan. The general elections of 2018 saw the misuse of the religion card especially by the PTI to woo religion-inspired young voters. The PTI remained victorious but later on the PTI’s government had to suppress the voice of the same supporters during its stint in power. On the allegation of blasphemy, December 2021 also saw a Sri Lankan manager, Priyantha Kumara, lynched and set on fire in Sialkot. The police remained bystanders.
It is yet to be seen if Shahbaz Sharif’s government can offer relief to the masses by striking a balance between the challenge of economic recession to revive the economy and the dictate of the FATF reinforced by the US-India Ministerial Dialogue to curb money laundering and combat terrorism financing.