Pakistan

Navy Rescues 23 Pakistanis From Somali Pirates In Arabian Sea Ops

At least 23 Pakistani nationals were rescued from the clutches of Somali pirates during a daring 12-hour-long operation in the Arabian Sea, said the Indian Navy.

The dramatic rescue unfolded in the early hours of March 29, 2024, when the Indian Navy warship INS Sumedha intercepted the hijacked vessel, FV Al-Kambar, as it was being held captive by pirates. Acting swiftly, INS Sumedha was soon joined by the guided missile frigate INS Trishul to bolster the operation.

Utilising their tactical expertise and strategic coordination, Indian naval forces initiated negotiations with the pirates, compelling them to surrender without bloodshed. The surrender marked a decisive victory for the Indian Navy in combating piracy and ensuring the safety of maritime activities in the region.

Following the successful apprehension of the pirates, Indian Naval specialist teams embarked on the FV Al-Kambar to undertake thorough sanitisation and seaworthiness checks. These meticulous examinations aim to ensure the vessel’s safety before escorting it to a secure area, enabling the resumption of normal fishing activities for its crew.

On Friday evening, the Indian Navy responded to a potential piracy attack on an Iranian fishing vessel in the Arabian Sea, and diverted two naval ships to intercept the hijacked vessel.

The Indian Navy received input regarding a potential piracy incident onboard the Iranian fishing vessel ‘Al Kambar’.

Following this, two Indian Naval ships deployed in Arabian Sea for maritime security operations were diverted to intercept the hijacked fishing vessel.

At the time of the incident, the Iranian vessel was approximately 90 Nm south-west of Socotra and was reported to have been boarded by nine armed pirates.

The hijacked fishing vessel was intercepted on March 29.

“Indian Navy remains committed to ensuring maritime security in the region and safety of seafarers, irrespective of nationalities,” the statement added.

Notably, the Indian Navy has carried out several high-octane operations against piracy attacks lately. Earlier this month, the Indian Navy in a daring operation, intercepted the under-attack pirate ship Ruen, sailing almost 2600 km from the shores of the Indian Coast, and forced the pirate ship to stop through calibrated actions.

The Indian Navy reiterated its unwavering commitment to maintaining maritime security and ensuring the safety of seafarers navigating through these perilous waters. This action by the Indian Navy serves as a testament to India’s resolve to combat piracy and uphold international maritime laws, the Indian Navy said in a statement. (ANI)

For more details visit us: https://lokmarg.com/

Rajnath

Confident That PoK Will Itself Merge With India: Rajnath

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the people of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) are themselves raising the demand for a merger with India. He expressed the confidence that the people of PoK will merge with India.

He made the remarks during the ‘AAP ki Adalat’ programme on India TV. Asked about Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent remarks about Kashmir, Rajnath Singh said, “Can they ever take Kashmir? They should be worried about Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. I had said almost one and a half years ago that there will be no need for us to attack and occupy, because a situation is developing there that people of PoK themselves are demanding merger with India.”

On being asked whether the government was making any plan, he responded, “I will not say anything more, I should not. We are not going to attack any country. India has a character of never attacking any country in the world, nor has it occupied an inch of other’s territory. But PoK was ours, PoK is ours, and I am confident that PoK will itself merge with India.”

Earlier in February, a political activist from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Amjad Ayub Mirza, has claimed that the people in PoK are fed up with Pakistani occupation and they are now demanding merger with India.

In a video released by him, activist Mirza said, “The people of PoK in the last few days have told me that they now demand to be merged into India, as they are officially their citizens”.

“The recent elections in Pakistan have just given us a fractured mandate. The upcoming elections will have a fruitful result for India but we the people of PoK ask that, for how long will we have to wait to get rid of Pakistan’s oppression and get merged in India?” the PoK activist added.

He stated that India has a character of never attacking any nation and not occupying anyone’s land. However, he asserted that India will give a befitting response if its prestige is attacked by anyone.

Asked if China attacks India, Rajnath Singh said, “God should give them the good sense not to commit such mistakes. India has a character of never attacking any country, but if any country attacks us, we do not spare them. But the truth is that if anyone asks us, we have good relations with all our neighbours.”

“We want to maintain ties but not at the cost of India’s self-respect. But if any country attacks India’s prestige, it has the power to give it a befitting reply. We want to have good relations with neighbours because Atal ji used to say that we should keep in mind that we can change friends in life but neighbours never change,” he added.

He asserted that India will tackle any threat that arises from China. He emphasised that India has become a powerful nation in the world.

On being asked whether there was any threat from China now, the Defence Minister said, “We will tackle if any threat arises, what’s there in it. But, we cannot sit holding our head in hands thinking about the threat. If the threat arises, it will be tackled. India is no more a weak country. India has become a powerful country in the world.”

On Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that China has occupied nearly 2,000 square kilometres of India’s territory, he expressed sadness over his remarks and stated that he does not want to remind him about the activities China did in 1962.

He said, “I am feeling really sad that he is questioning the valour of our jawans. He should not be making such remarks. How much territory was occupied by China in 1962 and what activities have been done by China. I do not want to remind him and do not talk about it. Rest assured, today, we can say that we will not like to lose even an inch of our territory. I cannot disclose much about the details because India and China are engaged in talks, and the talks are going on in a right manner. Talks are going on in a cordial atmosphere. Otherwise, I would have disclosed more details. Please do not compel me to disclose more. I cannot disclose much.”

Earlier in February, India and China held the 21st round of Corps Commander level meeting on Monday at the Chushul-Moldo border to defuse tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

The two nations have been engaged in a standoff since April-May 2020 over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala. The situation worsened after violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in June 2020.

Lauding the bravery of India’s defence personnel, he stated, “I just want to say that whatever happened with China this time too, I feel proud of the courage shown by soldiers of Indian Army, Air Force and Navy personnel. There are many such incidents that if countrymen are made aware of about the army of our country, their respect will increase further.”

Recalling the fight between India and China in Galwan, he stated that India’s soldiers did not fire a single shot and instead were engaged in a physical combat. He said India lost 20 soldiers during the fight. However, China did not disclose information regarding their soldiers.

He said, “You have seen what happened in Galwan during our fight with China, our brave jawans did not fire a single shot, they were engaged in physical combat. 20 of our jawans were killed, and how many Chinese soldiers were killed? I am not saying, but foreign agency reports say 35 to 40 Chinese soldiers were killed in the clashes. We have not said anything related to China. We have accepted it that 20 of our jawans were killed.”

He noted that “it is true that China is carrying out infrastructure development near Line of Control at a fast pace since a long time.” He further said that Defence Minister during Congress government asked not to develop infrastructure on India-China border. He stated that India has started developing infrastructure at a fast pace after the Modi-led government came to power.

He said, “it is true that China is carrying out infrastructure development near Line of Control at a fast pace since a long time. During Congress government, Defence Minister said that if we develop infrastructure on the India-China border, China will enter India, so do not develop infrastructure. After the Modi government came to power, we have also started developing infrastructure at a fast speed on border.”

Refuting Rahul Gandhi’s claims that PM Narendra Modi fears China, he responded, “I am surprised when somebody says Modiji Darte Hain. It is not in his nature to be afraid. There is nothing to be afraid of. The problem is these people do not understand. Why are they raising questions about India’s strength and valour”. (ANI)

For more details visit us: https://lokmarg.com/

Israel-Palestine Jaishankar

Jaishankar Slams Pak Over Industry Level Terrorism

Emphasising the complex situation of dealing with a neighbour like Pakistan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that Islamabad uses terrorism as an instrument of statecraft and does not even hide from the fact.

He affirmed that India will not skirt this problem anymore and the mood in the country is not to overlook the issue of terrorism.

The EAM, who is in Singapore as part of his three-nation visit, was speaking at the Institute of South Asian Studies of the National University of Singapore on his book ‘Why Bharat Matters’.

Speaking at the event, Jaishankar said, “Every country wants a stable neighbourhood…we have been unfortunate, or ill-starred to be blessed with the one we have to our west. How do you deal with a neighbour, who does not hide the fact that they use terrorism as an instrument of statecraft?”

Taking a veiled dig at Pakistan, the EAM said that in the country, terrorism exists almost at “industry level” and “assembly line”.

“It’s not a one-off, different countries at different points of time have experienced this. But, a very sustained, almost an industry level, assembly line…people whose job is to do bad things at night,” he said.

Jaishankar added that India has decided that it will have to find a way to address the problem because dodging it will only invite more trouble.

“I don’t have a quick, instantaneous fix, but what I can tell you is that India will not skirt this problem anymore…if we have a problem, we must be honest enough to face up to the problem. If you have to have those discussions, we should, if it’s hard to find a solution, we must work through. We should not give the other country free pass…in India the mood is not to overlook terrorism,” the EAM said.

“If you look at the changes that have happened in the last decade, the great deal of public anger to lack of response to terrorism threat is one factor,” he added.

Jaishankar is on an official visit to Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia from March 23-27.

The visit will focus on enhancing bilateral relations with the three countries, and would provide an opportunity for engagement on regional issues of mutual concern, a Ministry of External Affairs release said earlier. (ANI)

For more details visit us: https://lokmarg.com/

NEET-UG 2024

SC To Hear On March 19 Pleas Seeking Stay On CAA Rules 2024

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on March 19 the pleas seeking a stay on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) Rules, 2024, which opened implementation of CAA granting speedy citizenship to members of persecuted minority in Islamic countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra accepted the request of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing on of the petitioners in the case.

Mentioning the matter for urgent hearing Sibal said, “CAA was passed in 2019. At that time there was no rules, so no stay was granted. Now they have notified the rules ahead of elections. If citizenship is granted, it will be impossible to reverse. So the interim application may be heard.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, none of petitioners has any locus to question the grant of citizenship.

The bench then said it will list all the applications seeking stay on Rules for hearing on Tuesday.

The apex court also said that the whole batch comprising 237 petitions will be listed along with the latest applications.

The Central government on March 11 notified the Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2024 which effectively brought into force the controversial CAA of 2019.

A day after the Central government issued the Rules for the CAA, Kerala-based political party Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) approached the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the implementation of Rules.

The Kerala-based political party demanded that the impugned statute and regulations be stayed, and that no coercive steps be taken against persons belonging to Muslim community who have been deprived of the benefit of this law.

Apart from IUML, Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Leader of Opposition in the Assam Assembly, Debabrata Saika, and Congress MP from Assam, Abdul Khaleque, and others also filed applications seeking stay on Rules.

The IUML (petitioner), which was one of the first parties to challenge the CAA before the top court in 2019, filed application seeking stay on the Rules, saying, it creates a “highly truncated and fast-tracked process” for the grant of citizenships to non-Muslim migrants from the specified countries, thereby making operational a “manifestly arbitrary and discriminatory” regime solely on the ground of religious identity.

The plea stated that Rules are manifestly arbitrary and creates an unfair advantage in favour of a class of persons solely on the ground of their religious identity, which is impermissible under articles 14 and 15 of the Indian Constitution.

The plea said, “Since the CAA is discriminates on the basis of religion, it strikes at the root of secularism, which is the basic structure of the Constitution… India’s constitutional framework, read with obligations under the international law, mandates a framework of refugee protection that is non-discriminatory.”

Plea said Act and Rules would result in valuable rights being created and

citizenship being granted to persons belonging to only certain religions, thereby resulting in a “fait accompli situation”.

CAA, passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019 and got the President’s assent the following day, met with protests all across the country. The CAA came into effect on 10 January 2020.

The law fast-tracks the process of granting citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and took refuge in India on or before December 31, 2014.

The 2019 Act amended the Citizenship Act, 1955, which makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship if they (a) belong to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian communities, and (b) are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan. It only applies to migrants who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. As per the amendment, certain areas in the Northeast are exempted from the provision. (ANI)

For more details visit us: https://lokmarg.com/

Family Business Season 2 in Pakistan

Live Streaming In Pakistan – Family Business Season 2

Forget corruption charges and delivering poor governance – two families in Pakistan have worked their way back to power. They can thumb their noses at critics, at home and in the Western world who call “dynastic rule” undemocratic. For now, the two rival ‘dynasties’ have buried their differences to keep out their third rival Imran Khan, a “non-dynast”.

In a power-sharing deal, Shehbaz Sharif – notwithstanding his disastrous 18-month rule during 2022-23 – is poised to be the prime minister again. Maryam, his niece and elder brother Nawaz Sharif’s political heir is now Pakistan’s first woman chief minister, and that too, of Punjab, the most populous and powerful province. As Sharifs keep the two big jobs, above them all, Asif Ali Zardari is poised to be the country’s President, again, facilitated by the all-powerful army-led military and civil ‘establishment’.

The ‘establishment’ retains all the aces in domestic and external relations. It has ditched Khan, its ‘proxy’ of the 2018 vintage. Convicted in numerous cases, he is in jail even though his hundred-plus supporters were elected in a House of 264, making the entire exercise controversial.

That is because the ‘establishment’s’ calculations failed. Although tipped for a fourth term as the prime minister, Nawaz fell short of the numbers and had to make way for his younger brother. The deal with the Bhutto-Zardaris who came third in the electoral race, gets Punjab for the Sharifs but also keeps alive ambitions within their clan.

Khan has lost despite his proven mass popularity. In hindsight, his position became untenable when General Asim Munir and Justice Faez Isa whom he had targeted as the prime minister reached their respective top offices. Besides, he alleged an American ‘conspiracy’ for his ouster. Now, he and his supporters will struggle and protest in and out of the jail, courts and the legislature. In Pakistan, it is business as usual for now, until the cyclical process, driven by political wrangling, public disenchantment and monitored by the men in khaki, ends where it began.

Maryam at 50 marks a generational change. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari joining the Shehbaz government would have reinforced that. He had pleaded in the previous National Assembly that the old guard makes way for the young.  He did not succeed. How a complete debutante Maryam and Bilawal’s experience limited to foreign affairs — though not an unusual thing in South Asia — would have fared in tackling the country’s myriad problems is a different story.

There indeed was some talk of Bilawal as the prime minister, Pakistan’s youngest at 33. But the deal went the way his father Asif Ali — the real (civilian) king-maker this time around – possibly wanted, to secure the presidency and the power in Sindh for his clan.

He had earned the sobriquet “Mr Ten Percent” by allegedly taking the cut in business transactions, when his wife Benazir was the prime minister twice, adding to her woes and a collapse in governance. Her 2007 assassination and the sympathy it generated led him to the president’s house. Although he had the Constitution amended to limit the president’s powers, during 2008-13, the country was run from his office.

ALSO READ: Maryam To Be Pakistan’s First Woman CM

Not for nothing he is called the “wheeler-dealer”, ‘Machiavelli II’ and more. Pakistan’s most astute politician is also a great survivor. As feudal in politics do, he was involved in family feuds, including the killing of Benazir’s brother Murtaza. He has a lengthy record and the length of time spent behind bars, without ever being convicted.

They say that “the only thing certain in life is death and taxes”; in Pakistan, it might as well be “death, taxes, and Mr Zardari’s political relevance”….. Yet, he is also the first democratically elected president to serve out a five-year tenure, and likely to become the only person to have held that office twice,” Zain Siddiqi writes in Dawn (February 23, 2024).

Besides being in and out of jail and being in exile, Zardari has some things in common with Maryam Nawaz: controversies over educational qualifications. Zardari’s claims cover degrees in England and France, while Maryam, who had to change schools when young, could not complete her studies in medicine when her admission was challenged, but has supposedly done her M.A., and Ph.D. Another is both remained out of the government but active politically. Indeed, Maryam joined only a decade back to counter Imran Khan’s growing charisma among the youth.

Maryam is the fourth Sharif family member to become Punjab’s chief minister. The province accounts for 53 per cent of Pakistan’s 241 million population and 60 per cent of its $350 billion GDP. Her problems are more daunting than those her father and uncle tackled, with arguable results.

At the top of her problems is her being a woman politician in a deeply conservative Pakistan. Only around a dozen women were elected to the National Assembly in last month’s elections. Most women enter parliament in seats reserved for women and religious minorities.

For Maryam, a mother of three and a grandmother, it could be familial, like Benazir who had a husband (Zardari) to deal with, at home, in public and in her government. Maryam too has a husband Mohammed Safdar Awan, a former army captain and a lawmaker.   

A fiery orator like Benazir, Maryam will have to guard against all that Bhutto faced — from the hardliners among the clergy who cite scriptures to disapprove of a woman holding public office. Patriarchy at all levels dominates Pakistani society. The most daunting could be the militants who took Benazir’s life. Indeed, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), with affiliates of the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), has dug deep roots in Punjab.

Coming from a business family, Maryam has done well to keep her focus on economic issues that not just Punjab but the whole of Pakistan need to tackle. Women activists are enthused by the symbolic boost for women and that she has touched on women and the young, on education and health in her inaugural speech.

But all these need money and the initial pronouncements carry little by way of reforms – less ostentatious spending and more taxation – that the foreign donors, especially the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been demanding.  

Reports link Maryam to her maternal great-grandfather, Gama (Ghulam Mohammed) Pehelwan, undivided India’s champion wrestler and “Rustam-e-Hind” who migrated to Pakistan. He was never defeated.  Gama remains a known name in India. She could work on this legacy and her father Nawaz’s readiness to do business with India.

It will be interesting to watch if Maryam, on a possible India visit sometime in future, will create as much public frenzy, and goodwill for Pakistan, as Benazir did in 1972 at the Simla Summit and while meeting Rajiv Gandhi, her Indian counterpart in the 1980s.

The writer can be contacted at mahendraved07@gmail.com

For more details visit us: https://lokmarg.com/

Israel-Palestine Jaishankar

Uri, Balakot Sent Their Own Message: Jaishankar

Calling the national security a complicated calculus in today’s times, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar highlighted India’s response to Chinese incursions at the Line of Actual control (LAC) and towards cross-border terrorism from Pakistan through its ferocious responses in Uri and Balakot.

India carried out a surgical strike against terror units in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 2016 in response to an attack at an army base in Uri, Kashmir. In 2019, after the Pulwama attack — which killed over 40 Indian soldiers — the Indian Air Force carried out an airstrike against Pakistani terror camps in Balakot.

The EAM was giving the Pandit Hriday Nath Kunzru Memorial Lectures 2024 at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Convention Centre, on the topic of ‘Bharat and the World’.

Addressing the event on Monday, Jaishankar said, “The calculus of national security has become much more complicated. Traditional methods of competing and pressuring are buttressed by new tools of influence and disruption. Here too, Bharat has pushed back with determination and fortitude.”

He said that India has worked on developing border infrastructure, one of the aspect which the EAM said was “long neglected.” He added that India’s response to the cross-border terrorism were seen in the episodes of Uri and Balakot.

“When we were challenged on the LAC, with China, In the midst of COVID rapid and effective counter deployments were the appropriate answer. Seeking to rectify the long neglected of the border infrastructure. We have made the defence of the nation much more effective,” Jaishankar said.

He added, “On the largest stage when it came to the Indo-Pacific. We held firmly to our decision to establish and take forward the Quad. On the Western Front, the long standing challenge of cross-border terrorism now elicits more befitting responses. Believe me, Uri and Balakot sent their own message.”

Further, the EAM said that while ‘Bharat’ won’t shy away from answering questions, it also has the courage to question the questioners.

“Economically, Bharat’s answer is in greater Atmanirbharta. Politically, a more authentic and rooted representation that will contest the propaganda which will favour the compliant and discredit it. Bharat will never shy away from questions, but equally, Bharat has the courage to question the questioners,” he said.

Jaishankar also highlighted how India stood with its stand of procuring cheaper oil from Russia for its domestic interests countering Western pressure.

“The world now looks more volatile and uncertain, demanding independent and confident thinking from us. We have seen that already when it came to our energy procurement choices. Bharat chose the interest of its domestic consumers while resisting international pressure,” he further said. (ANI)

For more details visit us: https://lokmarg.com/

Making Sense of Pakistan Current Chaos

Making Sense of Pakistan’s Current Chaos

In Pakistan’s chequered history, a hundred Independents being elected to the National Assembly as happened last week, is not unprecedented. In 1970, in its first and the only free and fair election, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League won 160. The consequences are well known.

Nor, for that matter, is a confrontation between the army chief and the prime minister of the day. Z A Bhutto paid for his worst folly when General Zia ul Haq deposed and jailed him and had him hanged through a controversial court verdict.

One may not wish for dire consequences for the Pakistani people living in more complex times today. But relations between the jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan and the current chief, General Asim Munir, whom he had targeted when in power, could hark back to the Bhutto-Zia era or that of Nawaz Sharif’s third prime ministership and General Pervez Musharraf.

In 1970-71, Pakistan’s military-civil ‘establishment’ then led by the army chief, General Yahya Khan, had calculated that Mujib would not score beyond 60 seats in the then East Pakistan. Perhaps, the Munir-led set-up also never imagined that the jailed cricketer-politician would score “a century without the bat”, the election symbol his party was denied.

All stakeholders underestimated Khan’s support, particularly among the middle class. The results show that the general voter, surviving the Corona-19 pandemic and floods, battered by rising prices of essential commodities and miserable living for long years, is disillusioned by the two dynasties who have ruled by turns – the Sharifs of the Pakistan Muslim League and the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) of the Bhutto-Zardaris. Of the two, Nawaz was perceived as the army’s favourite.

Whether Independents who do not constitute a party or a coalition of parties can, or will, be invited to form the new government is doubtful. As it did in 2018 with Imran as the mascot, the ‘establishment’ may facilitate the Sharif and Bhutto-Zardari families to forge a coalition with others. Even if formed within the constitutional norms, such a coalition would lack credibility, if not legitimacy, and ensure continuing political turmoil.

Chances are that Imran may reach a compromise with the military, his mentors-turned-foes. Besides his safety, freedom and political future, too much is at stake for him. Independents loyal to him can form coalition governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. Denied power, they could be poached and purchased. Some have already joined Nawaz.

The military must either strike a compromise with Khan or prop up the rivals, for now at least and tackle protests by Khan’s supporters. Such a government would be unstable and perhaps short-lived, leaving the military to do more manipulations.

The election’s outcome is thus both clear and complicated: It is a vote against “electoral engineering”. But the complication is that the army-led elite will still call all the shots. Inherent to this surprise development is that Munir could face dissension from among the top military brass.

Being rebuffed by the general populace and failing in its effort to influence the results using the state institutions, the army is unlikely to stay inactive. Its role in the coming days and weeks is more difficult to predict than even the politicians jockeying for power.

The situation opens possibilities of a significant role for the country’s President Arif Alvi. He is a die-hard Khan loyalist – something he has not concealed while holding the highest constitutional office. He can be expected to play a key role in the coming days. It needs to be mentioned that his term ended last November but he continues in office because the college that elects the president – the National and the provincial assemblies – has been dissolved.

The people voted for Khan, despite his four years of bad governance. Khan had “cancelled out” all others. He defied and even maligned the army once he was pushed out of power through a vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly. The military is particularly angry with Khan as his supporters had attacked military installations to protest their leader’s arrest last August.

As of now, Khan is convicted and jailed for the next 24 years. Any about-turn by the establishment would, however, require the country’s judiciary to re-look at Khan’s multiple convictions –just as it did with the Sharifs only a few weeks back — and work to free him. That process could take weeks to gain fruition. Now, Khan and his close associates are being bailed out. The judiciary is known to comply with changing political trends.

Prominent among the losers were top leaders of the two largest Islamist parties, Maulana Fazlur Rahman of Jamiat Ulema Islami (JUI) and Sirajul Haq of the Jamaat-e-Islami. It is unclear if they lost out to the more militant group, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), which put up more candidates than the mainstream parties. The Islamists are generally pro-establishment and carry more influence socially than electoral clout.

At the international level, Khan’s victory spells defiance of the United States. Anti-American sentiment is easy to stoke in Pakistan. But this was the first election in which the US became a ‘factor’ in that Khan was convicted for leaking a cypher, an official communication from Pakistan’s then-ambassador in Washington to the Khan-led government. It contained a purported conversation between the envoy and Donald Lu, a senior American State Department official warning Khan of “dire consequences”. Khan publicly accused the US – which the Biden administration denied – of ousting him from office because of his ‘independent’ and “pro-China” policies.

How the Biden administration, preparing for the presidential election, will respond remains to be seen. It is still clueless about its policy in the Af-Pak region — Afghanistan from where the US evacuated in 2021 is inherent to the Pakistan policy. The US needs it to deal with the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Islamabad, besides its historic deep-seated military and strategic ties with the US, also needs Washington’s nod for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan that it desperately needs to be on the road to economic recovery.

The election results should also worry Pakistan’s “all-weather friend” China. It is concerned about the lack of adequate push for the multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the ‘flagship’ of its Belt and Road Initiative across the globe that it seeks to extend to Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s political instability also concerns its other benefactors – Saudi Arabia and the UAE, besides Turkey — who have bailed it out during the economic crisis. This instability in a leading Islamic nation confirms the widespread, but debatable, notion that Islam and democracy do not always go together.

Pakistan needs better ‘coordination’ between Allah, the Army and America to rise out of its multifaceted crisis.

For more details visit us: https://lokmarg.com/

Pakistan Elections

Pakistan Election: With No Clear Winner, Horse Trading On Course

Even though the counting of votes was underway and no clear winner in sight, the major political parties in Pakistan held meetings on Friday night aiming to wrangle sufficient numbers to form governments in the Centre and the four provinces, Dawn reported.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif in his Friday remarks that he had tasked his brother, former PM Shehbaz Sharif, to reach out to major parties such as the PPP, MQM-P and others to form an alliance.

Notably, PML-N and PPP were the two major parties in the ruling coalition government in Pakistan after Imran Khan’s ouster in April 2022. But, the two parties were at loggerheads during the intense electoral campaign. However, as the counting is nearing an end, no part has reached majority and would need to forge a coalition.

According to the provisional results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the independent candidates, mostly backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) are leading on 91 seats followed by PML-N and PPP at 71 and 54 respectively.

On the other hand, the unofficial results reported by Geo News on 255 out of 265 seats show the independents leading on 100 seats, followed by PML-N and PPP at 73 and 54 respectively.

Shehbaz met with PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, at the residence of Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi in the late hours of Friday, Dawn reported citing sources.

“The meeting was a kind of beginning of something big,” a PPP source said, indicating that they discussed the results of the polls and the post-election situation.

Before the general elections, the MQM-P had announced that it would support Nawaz Sharif as the prime ministerial candidate after elections. However, the dismal performance of the PML-N provided the MQM-P an opportunity to rethink, as Haque refused to comment when reminded about his party’s electoral deal with the N-league, as reported by Dawn.

Separately, MQM-P convener Siddiqui invited all independent candidates who won the elections to join his party.

“Although we don’t have a briefcase our doors are open for all independent candidates,” he told a press conference.

Earlier, amid the Election Commission of Pakistan drawing flak over the delay in declaration of the results of the general elections, former PM and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan on Saturday released a ‘victory speech’ in his AI-enabled voice, saying that the ‘London Plan’ of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif failed with the massive turnout of voters on polling day, as he also claimed victory in the general elections.

However, heavy speculations have been raised on how free and fair the elections were in nature. The United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have separately expressed concerns about Pakistan’s electoral process over violence, “lack of level playing field” and internet outage. (ANI)

For more details visit us: https://lokmarg.com/

European Union Pakistan

EU Questions Credibility Of Pak’s Elections

Amid reports of rigging in Pakistan general elections conducted on February 8, the European Union has “regretted” the lack of a “level playing field” for leaders of all political parties referring to restrictions on former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI).

As official results from Pakistan general elections showed independents backed by Imran Khan taking the lead howver, three-time former leader Nawaz Sharif has claimed his party emerging as leading the mandate.

The country’s National Assembly has a total of 266 elected members. A party or a coalition needs 134 seats to win.

In a statement by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on the general elections, the EU took note of the completion of the polling in the general elections, which took place on February 8 in Pakistan, following several months of postponement and uncertainty and in the context of a tense security environment.

“We regret the lack of a level playing field due to the inability of some political actors to contest the elections, restrictions to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression both online and offline, restrictions of access to the internet, as well as allegations of severe interference in the electoral process, including arrests of political activists,” the statement added.

Independent candidates, mostly backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), are leading with 52 seats, according to the provisional results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) so far, Dawn reported.

The ECP has released the provisional results for 120 out of 266 seats of the National Assembly.

While PTI-backed independent candidates are leading on 52 seats, PML-N is a close second with 40 seats, followed by the PPP with 19 seats.

The unofficial results by Geo News for 204 seats have shown the independent candidates leading with 87 seats. They are being followed by PML-N at 60 seats and PPP at 45 seats.

“We therefore call upon the relevant authorities to ensure a timely and full investigation of all reported election irregularities and to implement the recommendations of the upcoming EU Election Expert Mission report,” the EU also said.

According to the EU statement, the authorities were faced with the “challenging task of countering serious terrorist threats and attacks”.

The EU also condemned all acts of violence, which took place in the lead-up to the elections and called on all parties and actors to use peaceful and democratic mechanisms to settle differences, refraining from further violence.

“The EU attaches paramount importance to political pluralism, democratic values, independent media, vibrant civil society, judicial independence and international human rights standards, which are key for democratic elections. We call on all political actors in Pakistan to engage in a peaceful and inclusive dialogue aiming at the formation of a stable government and to respect human rights in line with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, as well as with international treaties to which Pakistan is party,” the statement also noted.

Notably, former Pakistan PM Imran Khan, currently incarcerated, was disqualified from contesting the elections due to criminal convictions. The electoral symbol of the PTI was also taken away by the ECP in a ruling later backed by the Pakistan apex court. As a result, the PTI leaders and supporters contested as independent candidates, Dawn reported.

The participation by the Pakistani people to exercise their right to vote, despite systemic barriers still faced by women and persons belonging to minorities, demonstrates their commitment to democracy and the rule of law. The EU welcomes the increased number of women registered to vote compared to the last elections, it also said.

EU also urged Pakistan to “continue reforms in the areas of human rights, good governance, as well as labour rights and environmental standards, to address the shortcomings outlined in the GSP+ report of November 2023, and to continue the necessary economic reforms”. (ANI)

For more details visit us: https://lokmarg.com/

Pakistan

Pak To Close Borders With Afghanistan, Iran Ahead Of Elections

Pakistan has announced the closure of its borders with neighbouring Afghanistan and Iran to ensure security during the upcoming general elections slated for February 8, as per Dawn

The decision, disclosed by Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch on Wednesday, aims to maintain stability during the polling process.

The FO spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, stated, “To ensure full security during the general elections to be held in Pakistan on February 8 , border crossings with Afghanistan and Iran would remain closed both for cargo and pedestrians, as reported by Dawn.

Normal operations would resume on February 9.”

According to Dawn, authorities have duly informed both Afghanistan and Iran regarding the closure.

Notably, tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have led to frequent closures of border crossings at Torkham and Chaman in the recent past.

However, despite recent tensions and exchanges of missile fire, the border with Iran remained open last month.

With approximately 128 million voters poised to participate in electing members of the national assembly and four provincial assemblies, stringent security measures have been implemented.

Army troops have been deployed, and nearly half of the 90,000-plus polling stations nationwide have been marked as sensitive.

The province of Balochistan, in particular, has witnessed a surge in terrorist activity leading up to the polls.

Twin terrorist attacks in Pishin and Qilla Saifullah on Wednesday resulted in casualties and raised concerns about election security.

Despite challenges, authorities have affirmed their commitment to conducting the elections as scheduled in Balochistan.

Similarly, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) province has been on high alert following frequent terrorist incidents, including an attack on a police station in Dera Ismail Khan where 10 police officials were martyred.

Observers anticipate significant challenges for authorities and law enforcement agencies in ensuring trouble-free polls in both provinces, given the heightened violence.

However, authorities remain resolute in their determination to safeguard the democratic process from disruption by terrorist elements. (ANI)

For more details visit us: https://lokmarg.com/