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The New Arab Coronavirus: Israel’s spy agency Mossad admits to stealing face masks overseas amid global PPE shortage

Israel‘s spy agency Mossad has admitted to resorting to theft to obtain face masks and other medical supplies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mossad official made the revelation during an interview with Israeli media.The intelligence agency has and will use all means to procure necessary equipment during the pandemic, according to Ilana Dayan, host of Channel 12‘s “Fact”.

Mossad is currently involved in efforts to procure supplies ranging from face masks to the mechanical ventilators required to keep some Covid-19 patients alive.

When asked whether those efforts have included theft, the head of the intelligence agency’s technology division, identified by “Fact” only as H., affirmed: “We stole, but only a little.”

Read also: Israeli forces ‘steal coronavirus food aid for needy Palestinians, beat aid workers’

“The citizens of Israel will have no shortage,” he said according to Haaretz. “In the world in general there will be a great shortage. People are dying because of a lack of equipment. In Israel people won’t go without.”

H. did not elaborate further on what methods the Mossad has used to procure medical equipment.

A number of countries worldwide have blocked the export of face masks and other medical supplies in order to preserve their own stocks as they come face to face with the highly contagious virus.

Mossad’s role in confronting the coronavirus crisis came to light last month when the agency’s director, Yossi Cohen, quarantined himself following close contact with Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who had tested positive for Covid-19.

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In early March, the agency set up a command and control centre to handle procurement and distribution of supplies in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and a military intelligence division, the New York Times reported.

Six current or former officials with knowledge of Mossad’s counter-coronavirus operations told the NYT it had “used international contacts” to avert possible shortages of equipment and prevent Israel’s healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

The intelligence agency had been able to procure supplies and equipment Israel’s own health ministry could not, the six people said on condition of anonymity.

Arab media had earlier reported that Mossad had been involved in procuring thousands of coronavirus tests from countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations. 

Read also: Gaza factories consider exporting masks to Israel as enclave ramps up homemade coronavirus response

As well as bringing in 1.5 million surgical masks, tens of thousands of N-95 masks and other supplies, Mossad has obtained technology and expertise from outside of Israel that will be used to scale up coronavirus testing and boost local production of ventilators and face masks, one high-ranking official said.

The intelligence agency’s efforts were easier in countries with authoritarian rulers, another senior official said. Intelligence agencies in such countries generally have strong ties with leaders, and in turn those agencies sometimes have existing relations with Mossad.

In some cases, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen even spoke directly with ruling politicians, the official added.

Israel has reported more than 11,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 117 deaths.

Courtesy-

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Dina M. Siddiqi, a professor of anthropology at New York University, says the monopoly of religious men and cherry-picked politicians speaking for India’s Muslims has been broken.

 

 

 

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The War in Afghanistan Is a Fraud (and Now We Have Proof) Lee Camp

Editor’s Note-Some bad language is used in this article but it illustrates the authors’ depth of feelings.

The War in Afghanistan Is a Fraud (and Now We Have Proof)

Bombs have numbers. Humans have names. Our American military boasts skill and passion for using numbers to turn names into yet more numbers. But these numbers have grown so gargantuan and out of control that one struggles to comprehend them.

In just 10 months in 2018—the latest numbers made available—our military dropped 5,982 munitions on Afghanistan, turning many thinking, living and loving names into cold, lifeless numbers. Throughout the war, 43,000 Afghan civilians have been numbered. We, as Americans, essentially never even notice when it happens. Statistically speaking, it will happen again many times today, and no one in America will care. (At least not while the game is on.)

64,000 Afghan security forces have been numbered since 2001.

Our government has known for years that the war in Afghanistan is a jaw-dropping disaster on the level of “Cats”: the movie. How do we know they knew? The Washington Post just published some impressive reporting, taking a step back from its lust for pro-war propaganda. (The last time it achieved such a feat was during the O.J. Simpson trial. The first one. The one with the glove.) The Post unearthed a trove of thousands of internal government documents that expose the catastrophic war. And it turns out there are Tinder dates between a young neo-Nazi and an old Jewish lady that have gone better than this war.

[The document trove] reveals that senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable,” the paper reported.

Let me translate The Washington Post’s fancy-pants language: U.S. officials didn’t “fail to tell the truth”; they fucking lied. The phrase “failed to tell the truth” oozes around the brain’s neural pathways, strategically dodging the anger receptors. “Failed to tell the truth” sounds like veracity is a slippery fish U.S. officials just couldn’t catch.

424 humanitarian aid workers have been numbered.

Let’s take a moment to consider the motivations and goals of the war in Afghanistan. The U.S. ostensibly invaded the country to stop al-Qaida from attacking us in any way, namely by flying large planes into our buildings. We achieved this goal within the first couple of months. With al-Qaida essentially decimated, it seems logical that we should have left the country, reserving the right to return if any other big passenger aeroplanes came after us.

But we didn’t leave. We never leave. Rule No. 1 of the American empire is “Never Truly Leave a Country After Invading.” To explain our continued presence, we had to move the goal post. To what? We weren’t sure. We’re still not sure. Nearly 20 years later, if you ask a U.S. general or president (any of them) what the goal is in Afghanistan, they’ll feed you a word salad so large it’ll keep you regular for months. We now know that even during some of the earliest years of the war, the Pentagon and the Bush administration didn’t know who the bad guys were. (Right now you’re thinking it’s rather juvenile and uninformed of me to refer to enemy forces as “bad guys,” but, as you’ll see in a moment, our government spoke about them in those terms. Side note: This is because murderous rampages by war criminals are always juvenile. Murder, by definition, is unevolved.)

According to the Post’s Afghanistan Papers, an unnamed former adviser to an Army Special Forces team said, “They thought I was going to come to them with a map to show them where the good guys and bad guys live. It took several conversations—[a]t first, they just kept asking: ‘But who are the bad guys, where are they?’ 

Yet we Americans were instructed in the early years that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had everything under control. To imply otherwise was to make a mockery of tens of millions of yellow ribbons. But in reality, Rumsfeld, too, had a sizable bad-guy problem.

I have no visibility into who the bad guys are,” he said behind closed, locked, soundproof doors. Meanwhile, Rumsfeld publicly and boldly led the nation in a well-defined and decisive victory in the land of the Afghans.

In 2003, he said, during a press conference alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai, “General Franks and I … have concluded that we’re at a point where we have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction and activities.”

Yep, no more major combat—just 17 years of reconstruction (and activities). Most U.S.-backed “reconstruction” is done from the air, via bombs. Let that be a lesson to you, the rest of the world: You better not screw with us or we’ll reconstruct you and your whole family!

67 journalists have been reconstructed during the war in Afghanistan.

Are two decades too long for an utter, unmitigated disaster? Maybe we can stretch it to three? We’ve been funding warlords and extremist jihadis and hoping they will play nice. Yet American presidents have continually told us we’re making progress. “Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as Afghanistan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015, ‘What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.’ 

I imagine that quote particularly upsets many Americans because if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s having a foggy idea of what we’re doing.

Vietnam: foggy idea.

Iraq: very strong foggy idea.

Libya: one hell of a foggy idea.

Unfettered capitalism: the foggiest idea.

To put it simply, we are the best at bad ideas. But these Afghanistan Papers unveil a pretty terrible picture. One we need to confront as a nation and not just sweep under the rug (and not just because the rug would have to be the size of the Pacific Rim).

Upon hearing these revelations, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did his best impersonation of someone who gives a shit. He said:

A bombshell series of investigative reports from The Washington Post exposing heartbreaking truths about the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which has claimed some 2,400 U.S. lives and cost nearly a trillion dollars. The Post says … officials routinely lied to the American people about the war. … This is truly a bombshell.

Yes, it’s a bombshell—although much of the information in the Afghanistan Papers has been known for a decade or more. Back in 2012, I was doing poorly written standup comedy bits about how our government-funded both sides of the war in Afghanistan. This goes to show that the mainstream media has two priorities—one is to spout the U.S. government’s talking points, and the other is to distract us all from the whitewashing of history.

 

 

 

 

 

They help Americans believe that we just found out about the failures in Afghanistan; that we just started McCarthyism, and it didn’t happen before in the 1950s to horrific consequences; that we just now discovered the breathtaking environmental consequences of factory farming. (I’m kidding—corporate media will never report on that. You could have a CNN anchor tied up in a sack in Gitmo, and he would still refuse to admit factory animal farming is killing the planet at an aggressive pace.)

But Blitzer wasn’t content pretending to be shocked that the Afghanistan War isn’t going well, so he put his acting chops to the test by further postulating that there also might be flaws with the war in Iraq. He said, “I can only imagine and brace for a similar report about the long U.S. war in Iraq as well. I suspect that could be some horrifying news as far as that is concerned also.”

That’s right: As of last month, Blitzer thinks there might be some problems with the war(s) in Iraq. (Blitzer strikes me as the type of guy who wouldn’t notice if you stole his pants off him in negative-10-degree weather.) Yes, Wolf, not only has there been similar mismanagement and mass war crimes committed in our invasion of Iraq, but you helped manufacture consent for that war as well. You are complicit in the deaths of millions of people who will never come back from the enumeration.

Throughout the past 20 years, the mainstream media reiterated the lies told by our various presidents. They beat those lies into our heads with impressive frequency. Lies like those told by President Obama, when, in 2012, he said on national television: “Over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces. … Our troops will be coming home. … As our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty thrilled for the war to be over in 2014—whenever 2014 may come.

3,800 contractors have died in Afghanistan for these lies.

The Afghanistan Papers show that not only has the 20-year war been wasteful of human life, it’s also been wasteful of money. Of course, this is the point when you think, “The military— wasteful?! Well, paint my nipples and call me Phyllis Diller; that’s the damnedest thing I ever did hear!”

Yes, this is hardly shocking, since $21 trillion has gone unaccounted for at the Pentagon over the past 20 years. That’s two-thirds of the amount of money wrapped up in the entire stock market. Money has been flowing into Afghanistan so fast that officials aren’t even able to waste it quick enough! (I wish that were a joke.)

From the Post’s report, again: “One executive at USAID guessed that 90 per cent of what they spent was overkill: ‘We lost objectivity. We were given money, told to spend it and we did, without reason.’ … One contractor said he was expected to dole out $3 million daily for projects in a single Afghan district roughly the size of a US county.”

The contractor said he couldn’t conceive of how to spend $3 million a day for people living in mud huts. Well, I guess USAID should start handing out furniture built out of blocks of shrink-wrapped hundred-dollar notes. Maybe fill bean bag chairs with small bills. (If you aren’t yet outraged enough, please keep in mind that, according to The New York Times, adjusting for today’s dollars, it would take less than eight days of the Pentagon’s stated budget to give the entire world clean water for a year, thereby saving millions of lives and turning the U.S. into the most beloved nation on earth.)

But rather than accept our corruption and war profiteering, our military placed the blame squarely on the Afghan people. Per The Washington Post, “The U.S. military also accused Afghan commanders of pocketing salaries—paid by U.S. taxpayers—for tens of thousands of ‘ghost soldiers.’ 

Although ghost soldiers sound like an incredible and tough-to-defeat resource, I think they meant the Afghan commanders claimed they had a certain number of soldiers, but most weren’t real. So America can’t fund the health care of our goddamn real soldiers who get home and wait in line for months to secure any semblance of care, but we can fund ghost soldiers half a world away?!

Donald Trump just cut food stamps to 700,000 people, impacting more than a million children, but we’re funding fucking ghosts? Maybe we could start a campaign asking the ghost soldiers to donate some of their suppers to the starving kids of America.

Ghosts seem to be an ongoing difficulty for the U.S. In the same issue of The Washington Post containing the Afghanistan Papers, there was an unrelated article titled, “The U.S. Wasted Millions on Charter Schools” that said, “A report found that [during the Obama Administration] 537 ‘ghost schools’ in America never opened but received more than $45.5 million in federal start-up funding.”

We’re funding ghost schools and ghost soldiers, and almost nobody in our government seems to give a shit! I guess you could say they give a ghost shit—it’s not there.

Yet the problems in our forever war don’t stop at the walking dead. The Post says, “The US has spent $9 billion to fight the problem [of opium] over the past 18 years, but Afghan farmers are cultivating more opium poppies than ever. Last year, Afghanistan was responsible for 82 per cent of global opium production.”

But what The Washington Post doesn’t tell you is that a lot of that opium was for use inside the U.S., to fuel our opioid epidemic.

An American becomes a number every 11 minutes from an opioid overdose.

So how does our government respond when revelations like the Afghanistan Papers come out? A few senators pause in the middle of their T-bone steaks and red wine to say, “This needs to be looked into, I daresay.” But then a few days pass and they just give the Pentagon more money to sink into a black hole.

The spending bill just passed by Congress sends $738 billion to the Pentagon. And, as RootsAction stated, it contains “almost nothing to constrain the Trump administration’s erratic and reckless foreign policy. It is a blank check for endless wars, fuel for the further militarization of U.S. foreign policy, and a gift to Donald Trump.”

To put it mildly, asking the Democrats to stand up against endless war is like asking Anne Hathaway to bench-press a Chevy Tahoe. It’s not going to happen, and she has no interest in even trying.

42,000 Taliban and insurgents have been numbered.

That may sound like a successful war to some, but keep in mind that the U.S. military likes to categorize anyone it kills “an insurgent.” The Pentagon goes by the theory that if it kills you, then you’re an insurgent—because if you weren’t an insurgent, then why did it kill you? A great many of the 42,000 were truly innocent civilians.

If there’s one thing we should learn from the Afghanistan Papers, which the mainstream corporate media have already ceased talking about, it’s that ending these immoral, illegal, repulsive wars cannot be left to our breathtakingly incompetent and corrupt ruling elite, who have probably been lying to us about them for decades. So it’s up to you and me to stop them.

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Who Was Really Behind 9/11? By Eric Margolis September 14, 2019

Who Was Really Behind 9/11?

By Eric Margolis

September 14, 2019 

A large number of Americans still don’t believe the official version of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. I am one of them.

The government and tame media version – that crazed Muslims directed by Osama bin Laden attacked New York’s twin towers and the Pentagon because they hated ‘our freedoms’ and our religions – is wearing very thin as contrary evidence piles up.

Ever since the attacks, I’ve held the belief that neither bin Laden nor Afghanistan’s Taliban were involved, though bin Laden did applaud the attacks after the fact and remains a key suspect. Unfortunately, he was murdered by a US hit squad instead of being brought to the US to stand trial. Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, was adamant that bin Laden was not behind the attacks.

So who did it? In my view, the attacks were financed by private citizens in Saudi Arabia and organized from Germany and possibly Spain. All the hijackers came from states nominally allied to the US or its protectorates.

Fifteen of the 19 were Saudis. Two came from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and one each from Egypt and Lebanon. Amazingly, during the national uproar after the attacks, little attention was focused on Saudi Arabia, a key US ally (or protectorate) even though most of the hijackers were Saudi citizens, and a planeload of important Saudis were quietly ushered out of the US by the CIA soon after the attacks.

Saudi Arabia was too important to US domination of the Mideast to point any fingers at the Saudis. The Saudi royal regime in Riyadh did not appear to have been involved – why would it since their survival and gravy train depended on US protection?

But the royal regime does not represent all Saudis, as many people believe. Saudi Arabia is a collection of tribes played off against one another by Riyadh and kept in line by the US Air Force from its bases in Saudi and a tribal force, ‘the white army,’ led by American ‘advisors.’ Saudi Arabia has little in the way of a regular army because its rulers fear coups by the armed forces such as occurred in Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

In addition, over 40,000 Americans live and work in Saudi. Another 5,000 US military personnel are stationed there. Much of the kingdom’s technology – banking, telecommunications, airports and flights, trains, military affairs, TV and radio – are supervised by foreigners. This process began in the 1920s when the British moved into Arabia and helped promote the Saudi tribe to prominence.

A sizeable Yemeni community lives in Saudi. The bin Laden family originally hailed from Yemen. Saudi also has an important Shia Muslim minority, about 20% of the population, with smaller numbers of other Muslim sects. Most important, the reactionary, ultra-rigid Wahabi religious sect still dominates the nation and royal family. The Wahabis hate Shia, calling them apostates and heretics. A similar dim view is taken of the nine million foreign workers, principally Indians, Pakistanis and other South Asians, who do all of the Kingdom’s dirty work.

Within the complexities of Saudi Society lie bitterly anti-western groups who see the nation as being militarily occupied by the US and exploited – even pillaged – by foreigners. Arabia was originally the holy land of Islam. Today, it has been westernized, occupied by US military power, and given marching orders by Washington.

While covering the Afghan War in the 1980s, I met Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, a fiery nationalist leader and anti-communist who was bin Laden’s teacher and spiritual mentor.

“When we succeed in kicking the Russians out of Afghanistan,” Azzam told me, “we will go on and kick the Americans out of Saudi Arabia.” I was shocked, never having heard of Americans called ‘occupiers’. Azzam was murdered by a bomb soon after, but his words kept ringing in my ears. He thought of the Americans as many colonialists as the Soviets.

Private nationalist groups in Saudi who bitterly opposed foreign domination of their country could very well have financed and organized 9/11. But, of course, Washington could not admit this. That would have brought into question the US occupation of Saudi.

What’s also pretty clear is that Israel – at a minimum – knew the attack was coming yet failed to warn its American ‘allies.’ Israel was the chief beneficiary of the 9/11 attacks – yet its bumbling Arab foes and bin Laden were blamed for this crime.

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia. https://ericmargolis.com/

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2019

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Imran Khan: From “Man on Container” to Prime Minister by Dr.Moeed Pirzada in Global Village Space

Imran Khan: From “Man on Container” to Prime Minister

by

Moeed Pirzada

On 18th August Imran Khan completes the first year as Prime Minister of Pakistan. His journey from days of street agitation to corridors of power offers an interesting glimpse into the man who may become one of the most important statesmen of the contemporary Muslim world, and perhaps soon a fit candidate for Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Imran

August has many important transition points in Pakistan’s history. The country was carved out of the British Indian Empire on 14th August 1947. Gen. Zia’s crash on 17th August 1988 ended a kind of dark age in the nation’s turbulent history. Imran Khan initiated his famous “dharna” (sit-in) on Constitution Avenue, Islamabad on August 2014, and four years later he took over as Prime Minister of Pakistan on 18th August 2019. PTI’s initial 21-member cabinet took its oath on 19th August and so on.

Pakistan’s Middle Class has arrived

History cannot be understood or defined without reference to key events that shape consciousness. The global order cannot be discussed without reference towards the Second World War, Bretton Woods, Vietnam, and 9/11. Russians cannot make sense of themselves without invoking the terms Bolshevik revolution, Great War, and Gorbachev. One cannot understand Modern Europe, without making sense of the French revolution.

History in Pakistan is often understood in terms of the partition, 1965 war, Students movement against Ayub Khan, Fall of Dacca, Bhutto’s nationalization, Zia’s martial law, Nuclear Explosions, Kargil, and so on. In a similar vein, Urdu word “Dharna” has now assumed a peculiar significance in Pakistan’s political psyche. Its meanings may fluctuate with all shades of opinion – good, bad, or evil – depends upon who you are talking with. But no historian will be able to deny that a ‘Naya Pakistan‘ (new Pakistan) emerged from the fossils of the old as a larva emerges from a dying caterpillar. Pakistan’s urban middle class had finally arrived with “Dharna” in August of 2014.

In August of 2014, Nawaz Sharif was sitting in Prime Minister House, and Imran Khan sat on top a container for 126 days of Dharna. In August of 2019, Nawaz is in jail and Imran Khan is Prime Minister

I say “final” because Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s agitation against Field Marshal Ayub Khan, in the late sixties was also a middle-class moment. It was inspired and led by the ideas of intellectuals like JA Rahim, Hanif Ramay and many others on the left and right of Bhutto – supported by the industrial workers of Punjab.

But as soon as Bhutto came to power the feudal nature of his mind overtook, intellectuals were brushed aside, workers suppressed, and the feudals of Sindh and Punjab soon dominated the party. But this time it is different.

Imran Khan is a quintessential representative of Pakistan’s middle class. At times because of his former celebrity status, his first marriage with Jemima Goldsmith and his house on the hilltop in Banigala, he is perceived as part of the “super-rich.” US-based analysts are often misled on this issue; few months before the 2018 elections, a respected US-based analyst compared him with Trump and thought that they both share one thing: they are rich.

But nothing is far from the truth. In 2005, I worked as a TV anchor in London with “PTV Prime” (now called Prime TV UK); we came to Pakistan to interview the then Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, and we also thought of interviewing the cricketer turned politician who was becoming known for his radical positions. We travelled on a dusty road to his newly built residence on top of the hills in Banigala. On the way, we crossed, with difficulty, a somewhat unruly, inhospitable water stream.

After the interview, Khan showed me around; from his lawns, we could barely see a few houses on the hills around. “Why do you prefer to live in this wilderness,” I asked. Khan was candid; he told me that a single Kanal in E-7 sector of Islamabad, his other choice, was for three crores (Rs. 30 million). But he and Jemima had preferred to live in a large open space. “And people will gradually come, they will follow me here, this is how areas develop” he added.

The now-famous, and controversial, Banigala residence spreads over almost 300 Kanals of land, but it cost him little more than Rs. 1 lac per Kanal when he bought it. It’s a different matter that a single Kanal in E-7 has only multiplied 3-4 times in price, but Banigala land may have increased in value ten or more times.

Fast forward 14 years: Pakistan’s first quintessential representative of its middle classes has managed to become its prime minister and through a long drawn political struggle. Ayub, Zia, and Musharraf were also middle class, but they represented their institution and were nothing without it – fish without water. Imran’s opposition also blames him for being an “Establishment stooge” – but they have chosen to believe in their own propaganda. Pakistan’s history has reached a point where the establishment needed a genuinely popular leader to deal with the world and to save the realm from total collapse.

The majestic outpouring of 25,000 plus Pakistani Americans, from all over the East coast of the United States, to catch a glimpse of Khan, at Capital One Arena, Washington in the third week of July was an expression of this popular support. Their enthusiasm cannot be understood without grasping Pakistan’s middle-class moment. In many ways, this is similar to the political change in India; Modi, despite his narrow Hindutva politics, has risen because of new middle classes who despise corruption of dynastic politics and see Modi as a harbinger of change.

Read more: What’s Next for U.S-Pakistan Relations After Imran Khan’s U.S Visit?

Whether Imran Khan succeeds or he fails, PTI progresses as a political force, or it perishes, the fact is: wheel of history has moved on. This is a new Pakistan – and challengers of Imran and PTI will not emerge from the folds of Sharif and Zardari clans. These challengers may creep out from the disgruntled forces inside PTI or its myriad allies.

Pakistan: Experiencing Durkheim’s “Anomie”

French sociologist, Emile Durkheim, had coined the term “Anomie” to describe a state of agitation in the lives of individuals and societies. Durkheim believed that when a social system is in a state of anomie, shared values and common meanings are no longer understood or accepted, and yet new values and meanings have not developed.

Pakistan, today in many ways, can be described as experiencing its moments of anomie. The political order that was thrown up by the martial law of Gen. Zia, after 1977 – and that had comfortably reenacted itself after the end of Musharraf’s benign rule – is finally coming to an end. With it all those polite values of political compromise, built around adjustments and bargaining – often referred to as “mukh mukka” – are vanishing. Old political elite led by the Sharif and Zardari dynasties and many in the administrative and judicial hierarchies took a while in absorbing this new reality, but now it’s becoming evident to them. The stage is being set for a fight unto “political death” or oblivion.

Meeting of National Security Committee starts with PM Imran Khan in chair. Defence Minister, Foreign Minister, Interior Minister, Minister for Kashmir Affairs, CJCSC, COAS, Naval Chief, Air Chief, PM AJ&K, SAPM on Info, DG-ISI & other senior officials are also present.

View image on Twitter

In August of 2014, Nawaz Sharif was sitting in Prime Minister House, and Imran Khan sat on top a container for 126 days of Dharna. In August of 2019, Nawaz is in jail more or less since July of 2018; his sons, his closest confidante, and accountant – Ishaq Dar – and many others are in self-exile. Most key leadership of PML-N – including ex-premier, Shahid Khaqan Abbassi and strongmen, Khawaja Saad Rafique and Rana Sanaullah – are in jail and many others may also land there. Nawaz’s daughter, Maryam that looked like creating waves a few weeks ago, looks isolated and rudderless.

PPP leadership is yearning to strike some old fashioned bargain not realized so far. Failure of Nawaz Sharif’s last political move when his nominee – Senator Hasil Bizenjo – failed to dislodge Chairman Senate, Sadiq Sanjarani on 1st August, despite overwhelming numbers in the Senate, reflects the ground realities of this new Pakistan. Failure in the Senate contest sends a strong “realpolitik signal” that now Nawaz and Zardari, and many others facing corruption cases will not get any reprieve from the system.

Imran Khan has successfully engaged Pakistan’s stakeholders – Saudi Arabia, UAE, China, Turkey and Malaysia – and built trust in Washington

The system is now being driven by an angry middle class and its amorphous, inchoate values. Many believe that progress has been denied to Pakistan only and only because of the corruption of its elite. Most proponents of these ideas are under thirty years of age, are unemployed or have worked at best for few years; their incomes often fall below the tax nets, and they believe things will change through strict action against the rich especially those not paying their taxes. While there are serious elements of truth in this narrative, it is not the whole story.

The country suffers from underperformance in several areas including school and college education, industrial and managerial skill sets, and so on. Concept of wealth generation through intelligent ideas, creativity, skilled workforce, and pro-business government policies is not understood. Most sections of the government bureaucracy are used to 9 am to 5 pm jobs, they have never produced a winning product and few winning policies, yet the government is hugely involved in industry and services- almost all loss-making.

If you watch Pakistani TV news and political talk shows, it appears that country has lots of wealth hidden around or abroad in Switzerland, and the government merely has to take decisive honest steps to dig it out or discover.

This is how close we were to bringing back Pakistan’s money from Swiss banks. Klasra sahab reveals how Ishaq Dar and his cronies drowned Pakistan in the sea of despair while they had a golden chance at rescuing its dwindling economy

http://m.dunya.com.pk/index.php/author/rauf-kalsra/2018-07-22/23983/58441914 

Even sober people, in Pakistan, believe that if the government manages to accomplish its declared task of collecting Rs. 5.5 trillion of taxes before the end of the fiscal year, it will achieve nirvana and rest will take care of itself. In reality, even if the government achieves its tax targets, it will only be fixing its own balance of payment problem; its expenses will still be almost Rs. 2 trillion more than its declared ability to collect.

Very little, if any debate is taking place around the questions: How will the near collapsed state of trade and commerce turn around? How will Pakistani exporters make competitive products; how the government will reduce its huge expenses, its unproductive footprint into the economy? How will the country get rid of loss-making enterprises? How can Pakistani youth be imparted meaningful skills? How will we renegotiate the bad contracts of “capacity payments” with Independent Power Producers? How do we overcome the recurring scourge of “circular debt”?

At times PTI supporters get angry when someone pointedly asks these questions. Such are now the pressures for conformity that this is perceived as a lack of patriotism or loss of faith. It reminds me of American writer, Walter Lippman’s now immortalized words: “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much”

So, while the political success so far – and it has not been a mean achievement – has depended upon the spirit of the ambitious, over-optimistic, angry young middle class, this now also carries the seed of disappointment, political instability, chaos, and failure –and if not managed well, then growing fascism.

Opposition: its strength and its weakness

Imran Khan’s opposition – mainly PML-N & PPP – could not have been in worse shape. Their key leaders are either under arrest, facing serious investigations of graft or have gone underground keeping a low profile. Yet, this fragmented opposition derives its strength from the economic crisis Pakistan now faces. In May of this year, PML-N leadership brought out a kind of white paper titled “PML-N vs. PTI.”

They compared PML-N’s last year in power (till May 2018) with PTI’s 9 months of rule on facts of tax revenue growth, current expenditure, public sector development programs (PSDP), rupee devaluation, prices of major consumer products, monthly inflation, gross public debt, foreign debt, GDP growth rate and policy rate.

Read more: Imran Khan defeated Indian agenda: US-Pak relations reestablished

PML-N leaders used data from the State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue and Ministry of Finance to blame Khan’s government for creating an absolute mess; multiplying country’s debt as a result of devaluation, reducing its GDP from around $330 billion to approximately $250 billion, destroying its industrial productivity, trade cycle, and market confidence.

The argument is that Imran as a chief executive and PTI as a party are incompetent and inexperienced; they should have rushed to the IMF in August of 2018, should have continued with import driven growth model supported through external financing and internal borrowing – and could have managed with a minimum controlled devaluation of Pakistani rupee. “The United States, China and India are all heavily leveraged, there is nothing wrong in raising public debt, as long as economy continues to grow” they argue. Some economists, many businesspeople, and diplomats of key countries also support this contention.

In July issue of this magazine, Mohammad Zubair, ex-Governor Sindh and former privatization minister in the PML-N government wrote a scathing analysis of PTI government building on the same theme. But PTI supporters, most independent economists and international institutions working inside Pakistan blame PML-N and PPP’s fiscal mismanagement, and overall bad governance, for the economic crisis Pakistan now faces.

Read more: PTI is responsible for Pakistan’s economic mess..?

Economics is far from being an exact science. Economists and bankers seldom agree with each other. It is said that if there are two economists in a room, then there are at least three strong opinions. Most economists of Pakistan have a near consensus that import and debt-driven economic growth model of PML-N (growth rates of 5-6% cited by PML-N) was not possible in the circumstances which existed in August of 2018 – when PTI took over from the interim government.

While PML-N’s critique may not be sound, and PTI government may have inherited a mess created by the 10-year mismanagement of PPP and PMLN, yet the economic crisis Pakistani citizens and businesses now face is humungous. And its effects upon general population so painful that it will continue to present opportunities to a fragmented opposition to find new leaders and stage a come-back. Khan’s government’s handling of its opponents, media and public policy issues at times is also patently unwise.

Britain tried to introduce a similar ID card through an Act of Parliament in 2006, but under growing public opposition from human rights activists, lawyers, academics, security experts and politicians it was scrapped in 2010

The government faces multiple challenges on several fronts, but it continues to open new fronts creating new enemies. For instance, the way it is dealing with traders on the issues of sales tax and national identity card is amusing.

While documenting B2B transactions between manufacturers, suppliers, and the traders makes perfect sense; Pakistan has now become the first country on the planet where any natural citizen making a purchase of more than Rs. 50,000 ($312) will have to deposit his National Identity Card (CNIC) as proof of purchase.

While government and its middle-class supporters continue to offer myriad economic explanations (streamlining taxes, increasing documentation) for this bizarre decision, the Orwellian nature of control it offers a state upon its citizens is patently obvious. In Pakistan’s peculiar political atmosphere – driven by fears of terrorism, slogans of anti-corruption and taxes – few realize that overuse of the National Identity Card, as an absolute tool of control upon citizens, is becoming ridiculous.

Undue criticism on mandatory CNIC for business and trade: Chairman https://arynews.tv/en/chairman-fbr-shabbar-zaidi/ 

Deliberating fix taxation for small traders & businessmen:

Britain tried to introduce a similar ID card through an Act of Parliament in 2006, but under growing public opposition from human rights activists, lawyers, academics, security experts and politicians it was scrapped in 2010, and all data was destroyed. But then perhaps Britain – a big perhaps –as a political and social order – has never experienced the kind of existential fears, Pakistanis continue to suffer.

Imran Khan’s challenge

PTI supporters argue that in less than 12 months, Khan government has reduced current account deficit by around 30 percent, trade deficit by 14 percent, has initiated a crackdown on money laundering, electricity, and gas theft and has pushed hard on accountability drive, has retrieved state land worth hundreds of billions and has pushed back against sectarian organizations like TLP creating an atmosphere where long-pending cases like Asiya Bibi can be amicably resolved.

They point out that Imran’s government is implementing an Rs. 100 billion development package for tribal areas (erstwhile FATA), has held peaceful elections there and launched pro-poor schemes like “Ehsas program” to provide a safety net and “Panahgah” to provide shelters for the homeless and expanded the Health Card to around 80 million Pakistanis.

And why forget he has successfully engaged Pakistan’s stakeholders – Saudi Arabia, UAE, China, Turkey and Malaysia – and built trust in Washington, earning rare plaudits from a US President and Senate. He boldly defended Pakistan against Indian aggression and then delivered peace to South Asia and the world when he gracefully returned the captured Indian pilot, Abhinandan.

Read more: Mike Pompeo to Imran Khan: ‘You were a rockstar at Capital One Arena’

Khan’s critics repeatedly argue that the prime minister has little experience and he is learning on the job. But the kind of challenges, Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister faces are unique, and there was no way he or anyone could have been trained to handle all this. As a young officer in 1797, Napoleon had no idea how to conquer Europe – he learned on the job.

Imran Khan has to fight the Sharif and Zardari clans and their supporters inside the system – including powerful media barons – because his vision of a clean “Naya Pakistan”, which he has sold to his supporters, cannot be achieved if those who savagely abused the public office are allowed back into politics –through a process of legal sanitization.

He has to fight big business, corporations, traders, and tax machinery because he has to resolve his balance of payments and has to meet his recurring commitments with the IMF. He has to deliver on Afghanistan to keep Washington in good humour to ease tensions built around FATF, IMF, and India. He has to tame Pakistan’s Jihadi spirit at a time when Modi government is deliberately creating tensions in Kashmir.

He has to court Washington while keeping Beijing close to his heart. And he has to find ways – no one knows how – to stimulate the economy, build business confidence, increase transactions, restrain FBR harassment of businessmen, collect taxes, and generate jobs. Perhaps most importantly, he has to continue telling his desperate supporters and his ruthless critics with a poker face that “good times are around the corner.”

But he has to do more to earn his place in history. At a time when minorities are being mob lynched across India, he has shown the strength to stand for Pakistan’s Hindu, Christian and Sikh minorities – his wholehearted support to Kartarpur initiative has already eased tensions across Punjab. Liberals have been miserly in not sufficiently praising him, but he has put the genie of TLP (Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan) into a bottle – though admittedly there is much more to be done.

Govt of Pakistan

@pid_gov

Prime Minister Imran Khan urges the youth to widely participate in the plantation campaign to make it a success to materialize the dream of green and pollution-free Pakistan.

View image on Twitter

He has initiated schemes for the promotion of tourism, and for “Clean and Green Pakistan” but he has to do more to secure the environment in this region. He has inaugurated Mohmand Dam, but he has to speed up work on dams and preservation of aqueous resources to save millions from a water-deprived future.

And finally, he has to find intelligent, out of the box, ways to engage Modi and Yogi Adityanath’s India driven mad by reactionary forces of Hindutva. Trump – for reasons not fully understood – has already created an impetus in this direction. If Imran Khan delivers on half of these challenges, we should demand universities in Pakistan, UK, and the US to recommend him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Moeed Pirzada is Editor Global Village Space; he is also a prominent TV Anchor and a known columnist. He previously served with the Central Superior Services in Pakistan. Pirzada studied international relations at Columbia University, New York and Law at London School of Economics, UK as a Britannia Chevening Scholar. He has been a participant in Chaophraya Dialogue, and at Salzburg Forum and has lectured and given talks at universities and think tanks including Harvard, Georgetown, Urbana Champaign, National Defense University, FCCU, LUMS, USIP, Middle East Institute and many others. Twitter: MoeedNj

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