Pakistan February 2023-

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Pakistan 2017- February 2023

Pakistan to hold delayed elections on February 8, electoral commission says
A caretaker government has been running the South Asian country since parliament was dissolved on August 9.
Pakistan will hold delayed national elections in February as the country grapples with overlapping political, economic and security crises.

26 February
Pakistani ex-Premier Nawaz Sharif’s daughter takes over top provincial post. Rivals boycott her
(AP) — The eldest daughter and close aide of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday became the country’s first-ever female chief minister in eastern Punjab province. Her rivals accused authorities of nepotism and boycotted the session of the provincial assembly.
Mariam Nawaz, 50, became chief minister in a 220-0 vote in her favor, beating out her rival Rana Aftab, nominated by the Sunni Ittehad Council and an ally of imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Opposition lawmakers supporting Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament in 2022, boycotted the 371-member Punjab Assembly session Monday.

23 February
Pakistani ex-Prime Minister Khan wants the IMF to link talks to an independent audit of the election
(AP) — Pakistan’s imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan is writing a letter to the International Monetary Fund urging it to link any talks with Islamabad to an audit of the country’s recent election, which his party alleges was rigged, an official from his party said Friday.
Senator Ali Zafar, a top leader from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI, made his televised remarks after meeting with Khan at the Adiala prison, where he’s serving multiple prison sentences.
The latest development came days before the IMF releases a key installment of a bailout loan to Pakistan.

19 February
Pakistan’s majority parties struggle to form coalition government
(Reuters) – Pakistan’s two major parties are set to meet on Monday to try and bridge differences over forming a minority coalition government after an inconclusive election, a top party official said, underscoring political and economic instability.
Analysts say the nuclear-armed nation of 241 million, which has been grappling with an economic crisis amid slow growth and record inflation, along with rising militant violence, needs a stable government with the authority to take tough decisions.

18 February
Senior Pakistani Official Admits to Helping Rig the Vote
The surprising confession appeared to lend weight to accusations by Imran Khan’s party that the military had tampered with the vote count in dozens of races.
(NYT) A senior Pakistani official confessed on Saturday to helping manipulate results in the country’s elections — a startling claim strengthening a sense that the vote was among the least credible in Pakistan’s history, and deepening the turmoil that has seized the country ever since people went to the polls this month.

8-16 February
Pakistan’s New Government: Crown of Thorns and ‘Family Business’ As Showrunners
For now, the new Shehbaz Sharif government in Islamabad will have to address an urgent fiscal exigency.
C Uday Bhaskar
(The Quint) Pakistan is all set to have a new government led by former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif a week after the 8 February National Elections – one that has been bitterly contested, visibly controversial, and what may yet prove to be consequential in the troubled nation’s tumultuous political trajectory.
This election pitted the two major parties, the Pakistan Muslim League or PML (N) led by Nawaz Sharif, the elder brother of Shehbaz (who is also a former three-time PM), and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) representing the Bhutto-Zardari family, against the ‘new kid on the block’ – the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Election turmoil leaves Pakistan with a weak and unpopular coalition
Government will be formed by Nawaz Sharif’s party but it may not survive long given the popularity of the jailed Imran Khan’s PTI
(The Guardian) It was mid-afternoon on Pakistan’s election day, sources say, when military intelligence began to realise that things on the ground were not going as planned.
Mobile services, including the internet, had been suspended across the country on the pretext of security issues. Those aware of the decision-making said the real reason was to keep voter turnout low, making the results much easier for Pakistan’s powerful military to “manage” and, most importantly, keep supporters of the former prime minister Imran Khan away from the ballot box.
The strategy failed. With Khan behind bars, sympathy for him was running at an all-time high. So too was anger at Pakistan’s military and what many viewed as its increasingly brazen attempts to decide the election outcome before any votes were cast.
Khan’s party defied the odds and won the largest number of seats.
Jailed candidate Yasmin Rashid says she defeated Nawaz Sharif for a seat in Pakistan’s general election but that the results were manipulated. She is one of many candidates affiliated with Imran Khan’s PTI party who allege electoral interference.
Who can form a government in Pakistan’s post-election chaos? The answer isn’t straightforward
Hameed Hakimi, an associate fellow at Chatham House and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council
Young and urban Pakistanis are dismayed by the state of their country, which they blame on the ruling class’s incompetence
(The Guardian) Since the founding of Pakistan in 1947, not a single prime minister has served the full five-year term. If this fact betokens a country marked by instability and sudden changes in the political mood then last week’s remarkable elections have done little to change that reputation.
The powerful lesson behind Pakistan’s stunning election result
Analysis by Ishaan Tharoor
There was justified cynicism surrounding Pakistan’s general election held Thursday. Historical precedent suggested the country’s overweening military authorities would not accept any outcome that went against their political agenda. Recent events indicated that the military, via the judiciary, was clearing the path for their favored candidates. And yet, as vote counting finished over the weekend, would-be lawmakers from a faction technically barred from the polls were in the lead.
Protests take place across Pakistan amid election vote-rigging allegations
Police fire teargas on supporters of Imran Khan amid turmoil as several parties claim they would be forming government
(The Guardian) The results of the election, which took place on Thursday, gave a surprise first place to Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which won the most seats despite facing a stringent crackdown by the country’s powerful military establishment.
But with no clear majority winner, the country remained in a state of turmoil as several parties claimed they would be forming a government, and protests shut down swathes of the country.
Imran Khan claims victory in Pakistan poll but military might have final say
Jailed leader says he has support to form next government but analysts say results only suit the army
(The Guardian) Imran Khan’s political party has declared it intends to form the next government after claiming a shock election victory, despite efforts by the opposition to take power in a backroom coalition deal.
Even as results showed that candidates backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party run by the incarcerated former prime minister Khan, had won the most seats, by Saturday night there was still little clarity on who would be forming the next government in Pakistan, adding to a climate of political turmoil.
Pakistan’s Khan, Sharif both claim election win, despite no clear majority
Protests erupted across the country over delays as final results of Thursday’s elections have not yet been released.
(Al Jazeera) Independent candidates, mostly linked to jailed leader Khan’s PTI, are well ahead with 102 seats, according to the latest tally posted on the election commission’s website. Meanwhile, Sharif’s PMLN is in second position, having secured 73 seats, followed by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) with 54.
Can Pakistan form a new government on split election results?
With election results split three ways, a coalition may be necessary – but much rests on what PTI candidates do next.
Does anyone believe Pakistan’s election results? (YouTube)
(Al Jazeera The Listening Post) This past week’s elections in Pakistan were meant to be a formality, the outcome – a win for the PMLN – predetermined by the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus.
But despite their attempt to manage the narrative and meddle with politics, former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party, the PTI, had an unexpected pull with the people.
Pakistan vote counts drags on after election marred by attacks, outages
If the election does not result in a clear majority for anyone, as analysts are predicting, tackling multiple challenges will be tricky – foremost being seeking a new bailout programme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the current arrangement expires in March
(Reuters) – Pakistan’s vote count following a national election on Thursday was hit by unusual delays, leading the country’s election panel to issue a late night warning to polling officers, 10 hours after polls closed, to release results immediately.
Counting of votes underway in polls marred by violence and internet shutdown
Thousands of troops guard polling stations as borders with Iran and Afghanistan temporarily shut
Pakistan election: officials warned to release results swiftly amid unusual delays
Projections on local television channels slow coming in compared to previous elections as some early urban results show surprise lead for Imran Khan’s party
(The Guardian) Pakistan’s vote count following a national election has been hit by unusual delays, leading the country’s election panel to issue a late-night warning to polling officers, 10 hours after polls closed, to release results immediately.
An “internet issue” was the reason behind the delay, said Zafar Iqbal, special secretary at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), after he announced the first official results for a constituency, more than 10 hours after the polling process ended on Thursday.
Internet and mobile phone services shut in Pakistan in ‘ominous start’ to election day
Pakistan on high alert amid threat of violence and terrorist attacks as people cast votes

7 February
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: The millennial ex-minister bidding to become Pakistan’s youngest ever PM
Youth appeal and ambitious plans to combat climate change form the core of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s effort to become prime minister of Pakistan, which, if successful, would make him its youngest premier since his mother Benazir was in office.
(The Independent UK) As general elections near on 8 February, the 35-year-old, a former foreign minister and scion of a family that gave the nation two prime ministers, called for new ideas and leadership to calm political and economic instability.
“The implications of the decisions taken today are going to be faced by the youth of Pakistan,” Mr Bhutto Zardari told Reuters in Larkana, his hometown in the southern province of Sind, a family bastion.
“I think it would be better if they were allowed to make those decisions.”
About two-thirds of Pakistan’s population of 241 million is younger than 30, while its prime ministers since 2000 have been older than 61, on average.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (Wikipedia)

Pakistanis vote but don’t decide who’s in charge
On Thursday, Pakistan is holding what should be one of the largest elections this year – but with the country’s most popular leader locked up, the military tilting the scales, and over two dozen killed this week in terrorist bombings, can it be called “democracy?”
The only way Pakistanis can safely protest Khan’s exclusion is to sit out, so we’ll be watching voter turnout, and for the possibility of more violence from extremist groups after nearly 1,000 Pakistanis were killed in terrorist attacks last year.
Islamic State claims responsibility for bombings on eve of Pakistan election
At least 30 killed in attacks on party office and that of an independent candidate in Balochistan province
The first blast rocked the election campaign office of an independent candidate in Pishin in the troubled region of Balochistan, killing 18 people and injuring at least 30 people, local authorities said.
Less than an hour later there was a strong blast at an election office for the ultra-conservative party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) in the area of Qilla Saifullah, also in Balochistan. At least 12 people died and dozens more were injured.
Late on Wednesday, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks. Rallies by JUI-F had already come under attack last year in two suicide attacks carried out by the Islamist group, which targeted the party for its affiliation with the Taliban.
The bombings came despite the deployment of tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces across Pakistan to ensure peace during the elections after a recent surge in militant attacks in the country, especially in Balochistan.
… On 30 January, a separatist Balochistan militant group attacked security facilities in Balochistan’s Mach district, killing six people.
More than two dozen attacks have been carried out in Balochistan in the past week alone. Balochistan’s caretaker home minister, Muhammad Zubair Jamali, said that almost 80% of the province’s 5,028 polling stations have been declared “sensitive”.

6 February
UN rights body concerned by ‘pattern of harassment’ of Imran Khan’s party members ahead of election
(AP/CTV) The United Nation’s top human rights body expressed concern Tuesday over the “pattern of harassment” against members of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party ahead of this week’s parliamentary election.
During a news briefing in Geneva, Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged Pakistani authorities to ensure a fully free and fair voting process.
… Throssell said the UN’s rights body was disturbed “by the pattern of harassment, arrests and prolonged detentions of leaders” of Khan’s party and its supporters.
She said all eligible parties in Pakistan must be able to compete fairly.
“Ahead of Thursday’s parliamentary election in Pakistan, we deplore all acts of violence against political parties and candidates, and urge the authorities to uphold the fundamental freedoms necessary for an inclusive and meaningful democratic process,” she said.
She said the upcoming elections are also a “reminder of the barriers faced by women and minority communities in Pakistan, particularly the Ahmadis.”
[‘Why single us out?’ Pakistan’s Ahmadi minority boycotts elections, again — The community was officially declared ‘non-Muslim’ four decades ago. Today, it is increasingly under attack.]
… Throssell expressed concern over some political parties not meeting the legal quota of women representatives. Pakistan’s parliament reserves 22% of the seats for women. She also said minorities having separate voter lists exposed them to violence.

Pakistan on edge as old dynasties vie for power and populist Imran Khan languishes in prison
(CNN analysis) Pakistan is on edge as the South Asian nation heads to the polls Thursday for a widely anticipated general election in which its charismatic – and widely popular – former leader is barred from standing. …
The vote, delayed by a year, comes as nuclear-armed Pakistan faces mounting challenges – from economic uncertainty and frequent militant attacks to climate catastrophes that are putting millions at risk. That sets the stage for a difficult road to recovery for whoever wins in a nation where no democratically elected prime minister has ever completed a full term in office. …
However, in place of the usual campaigning fanfare that accompanies an election cycle, there is a sense of desolation among many of the country’s 230 million population, nearly 40% of whom are living in poverty, according to the World Bank.
Many young voters – the median age in Pakistan is just 22.7 – say they feel unseen and unheard, unable to pick the leader they want to guide the country for the next five years.
Pakistan’s disillusioned voters wonder if new polls will change a country mired in political feuding
With Imran Khan in jail, Pakistan gears up for election most voters don’t trust
One Pakistani political analyst calls it ‘the least credible election’

Pakistan Election: Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto lead PM race, Imran Khan still in jail — here’s their stance on India

30 January-5 February
Pakistan elections 2024: By the numbers
As 128 million voters prepare for the February 8 elections, Al Jazeera decodes the key numbers shaping Pakistan.
It is an election that will decide the next government of the world’s fifth-most populous nation. Befittingly, it is also an election of large numbers – very large numbers.
In all, 128 million people registered to vote in the elections to pick 266 representatives on February 8, forming the 16th parliament in a first-past-the-post system
In the country of 241 million people, two-thirds are below the age of 30. A citizen becomes eligible to vote at the age of 18.
It is also a vast country, spanning mountainous terrain in its north, multiple deserts and a 990km (615 miles) coastline. On February 8, 90,582 polling stations will service voters who want to cast their ballots
The elections are taking place amid an ongoing economic crisis, with inflation running at almost 30 percent and a weakening currency, which has shed more than 50 percent of its value against the United States dollar in the last two years.
Meanwhile, the county entered into a nine-month $3bn bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund in July last year, which is set to expire around the same time as a new government will take oath.
In addition to these economic woes, attacks from armed factions have increased in past months adding to the instability of the country.
Pakistan’s disillusioned voters wonder if new polls will change a country mired in political feuding
(AP) — Pakistan is holding parliamentary elections this week but many voters are disillusioned and wonder if the balloting can bring any real change in a country mired in political feuding, a seemingly intractable economic crisis and resurgent militancy.
Forty-four political parties will compete on Thursday for a share of the 266 seats in the National Assembly, or the lower house of parliament, with an additional 70 seats reserved for women and minorities.
After the election, the new parliament will choose the country’s next prime minister. If no party wins an outright majority, then the one with the biggest share of assembly seats can form a coalition government.

In Pakistan’s elections, the Lord of the Rings is showing his wrath
He has decided to decimate the former governing party, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. And no one will stop him.
Zarrar Khuhro, Pakistani journalist, columnist and talk show host
(Al Jazeera) First, the fundamentals: In Pakistan, the election cycle is not the only process to be watched when determining the future political direction of the country; the cycle of the appointments of, and extensions granted to, the army chief is of equal and sometimes greater importance.
That is because Pakistan’s chequered political history is the tale of a push and pull between civilian politicians and the military establishment; ground is gained and ceded and relations span the spectrum of cooperation, co-optation and confrontation – sometimes within the same tenure – and all depending on who is the current face of the civilian regime and who is heading the establishment. Nothing is a monolith, after all.
But inevitably, a falling-out does tend to take place and that is because, in Pakistan, much as in Tolkien’s Middle-earth, there is only one Lord of the Rings, and he does not like to share power. His influence may ebb at times, and he may even go into hibernation for years, but eventually, the true lord always returns. To shift fictional universes for a moment, one could say that the empire always strikes back, and usually with a vengeance.
Right now, that vengeance is on full, naked, display with just about every trick in the book, traditional and brand-new, being used to decimate the former governing party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
… former Prime Minister Imran Khan was sentenced to 10 years and 14 years in jail in two consecutive cases and has been barred from holding public office for a decade. Many legal experts have called the proceedings hasty and in violation of due process, while also pointing out that the sentences are draconian and disproportionate.
the very questionable conduct of these cases also allows for the convictions and sentences to be struck down during the appeal process, leaving the door open for a “redeemed” and “acceptable” Khan to rejoin the political fray once it becomes convenient for the state to allow this. Whether he will play ball at any time in the future is an open question, but we have seen this particular drama unfold a few times before, with today’s villains becoming tomorrow’s heroes; the script tends to remain the same even if the actors change.
31 January
Pakistani military use age-old tactics to keep Imran Khan away from election
Hannah Ellis-Petersen, South Asia correspondent
Former PM, once military’s golden boy, has been sentenced in two separate cases to 10 and 14 years
(The Guardian) The script seems eerily familiar. Imran Khan, once the golden boy of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, found himself at the receiving end of not one, but two, damning court verdicts this week.
Sentenced to 10 years in jail on Tuesday, and 14 years on Wednesday, the brazen timing of the convictions in two separate cases made one thing abundantly clear: the military will stop at nothing to keep Khan away from Pakistan’s general election, which will be held next week.
It was not so long ago that Khan himself benefited from these age-old tactics utilised repeatedly in Pakistan’s chequered political history. In 2018, when Khan was running for prime minister, it was the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who had fallen out of grace with the military and found himself facing charges of corruption and being barred from office. Less than two weeks before the election in July 2018, Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
30 January
Pakistan court jails ex-PM Imran Khan for 10 years ahead of election
Former cricket star found guilty of leaking state secrets
Khan’s former foreign minister also gets 10 years
US says it is a matter for Pakistan’s courts
Lawyers to challenge verdict in higher court
Party calls verdict ‘unacceptable’ attempt to influence polls
(Reuters) – A court in Pakistan jailed Imran Khan for 10 years on Tuesday for leaking state secrets, the harshest sentence the popular former prime minister and cricket superstar has received and one announced just days before a general election.
The party of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khan’s main political opponent, said the verdict was not harsh enough.
Analysts believe Sharif’s party is the frontrunner to form the next government. Sharif and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, were convicted and jailed over graft allegations days before the last general election in 2018. Analysts say that that helped Khan win, while Khan’s sentence now helps Sharif. Both blame the military.
Khan’s sentencing just before the polls will “raise questions about the election’s credibility”, said Mazhar Abbas, a Karachi-based analyst.
Pakistan’s recovery from an economic crisis depends on political stability. The election comes as Pakistan is navigating a tricky recovery path under a $3 billion International Monetary Fund bailout that helped it narrowly avert a sovereign default last year.

22 January
Why There’s a Sudden Crisis Between Pakistan and Iran
Triggered largely by instability in the broader Middle-East
(Global Dispatches) On Tuesday, January 16th, Iran launched airstrikes in Pakistan targeting a terrorist group it claimed carried out attacks in Iran. Two days later, Pakistan responded with its own strikes in Iranian territory, targeting a separatist group that has carried out attacks against Pakistan.
These attacks were notable for both their scale–these were major missile and drone strikes — and for the fact that Iran and Pakistan otherwise have normal, stable and even cordial diplomatic relations. These are not hostile neighbors, yet in the course of one week they conducted major military strikes on each others’ territory. And of course, these hostilities come amid escalating instability throughout the broader Middle East. …
Why Did Pakistan Respond the Way it Did?
With guest Michael Kugelman, Director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center
First of all, the fact the attack was of such an unprecedented scale was a big compelling reason for Pakistan to retaliate. But a second and perhaps even more compelling reason for it to retaliate was a need to restore deterrence as quickly as possible. What do I mean by that? Pakistan knows the context that you and I were discussing earlier — that Iran is on this very dangerous regional offensive campaign to directly target threats to itself in the broader Middle East. I think that Pakistan likely feared that if it had not retaliated — and if it had not retaliated swiftly — the chances of another Iranian strike on Pakistani soil would have increased. I think that’s the compelling reason.
There certainly are other factors at play. Pakistan is experiencing severe political turbulence at the moment. There has been rising anger among the public against the Pakistani army, mainly because the army’s been cracking down hard on Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister who’s very popular. He’s been in jail since August. The army likely concluded that it could get a bit of a political bounce, even if a momentary one, out of retaliation on the assumption that many Pakistanis would have supported a strong, quick retaliation.
Finally, in anything that Pakistan does when it comes to security policy India always looms large. And I think that another reason why Pakistan may have decided to retaliate, and especially as quickly as it did, was with an Indian audience in mind — basically to signal that if India were to consider doing something like this on Pakistani soil, this is what they’d get.

12 January
‘Election engineering’: Is Pakistan’s February vote already rigged?
Even with Pakistan’s chequered electoral history, some analysts believe the coming vote might be among the most unfree yet.
(Al Jazeera) A former prime minister is in jail. Election authorities are busy stopping his party’s candidates from contesting. And another ex-premier, previously imprisoned and then in exile, is now back, with the cases against him dropped.
Less than a month before Pakistan holds its 12th general elections on February 8, concerns are mounting among analysts and sections of the political class that the coming vote might rank near the top of the list of most manipulated votes even in the country’s chequered democratic journey.

11 January
Pakistan says the IMF executive board approved release of $700 million of $3B bailout
(AP) — The International Monetary Fund’s executive board approved Thursday the release of $700 million of a $3 billion bailout for cash-strapped Pakistan, the finance ministry said.
The bailout is meant to enable Pakistan to emerge from one of the worst economic crises in its history.

2023

30 December
Pakistan commission rejects Imran Khan’s bid to overturn election ban
Former prime minister is barred from standing in elections after being jailed for unlawfully selling state gifts while in office
Pakistan’s election body has rejected former prime minister Imran Khan’s nomination to contest the 2024 national elections in two constituencies, officials and his party’s media team said on Saturday.
The 71-year-old former cricket star has been embroiled in a tangle of political and legal battles since he was ousted as prime minister in April 2022. He has not been seen in public since he was jailed for three years in August for unlawfully selling state gifts while in office from 2018 to 2022.
Khan was disqualified from contesting the national elections scheduled for 8 February because of the corruption conviction, but he nevertheless filed nomination papers for the elections on Friday, his media team said.

1 December
The Bengali blood on Henry Kissinger’s hands
Analysis by Ishaan Tharoor
Though most Americans have little recollection or awareness of it, Kissinger is remembered keenly in South Asia for the part he and Nixon played during the bloody period that led to the emergence of the independent nation of Bangladesh in 1971.
At the time, the state of Pakistan, carved out by the departing British, existed as a two-winged artificial entity, split in between by a thousand miles of India. The army generals from West Pakistan, mostly ethnic Punjabis, disdained the ethnic Bengalis from the east of the country. After 1970 elections yielded a democratic victory for Bengali nationalists, a crisis ensued that culminated in a vicious crackdown by the Pakistani military on East Pakistanis — a campaign that turned into a mass slaughter of minority Hindus, students, dissidents and anyone else in the crosshairs of the army and collaborator-led death squads.
Sydney Schanberg, the New York Times’s South Asia correspondent at the time, described the month-long Pakistani crackdown in March 1971 as “a pogrom on a vast scale” in a land where “vultures grow fat.” Hundreds of thousands of women were raped. Whole villages were razed, and cities depopulated. An exodus of some 10 million refugees fled to India. When all was said and done, hundreds of thousands — and by some estimates, as many as 3 million — were killed, their bodies left to rot in the rice paddies or flushed into the ocean down the region’s many waterways.
The carnage horrified onlookers, and hastened an Indian intervention. The White House, though, stood on the side of Pakistan’s generals. …
Kissinger did not trust the Indians, who leaned toward the Soviet Union, and did not care about the national aspirations of the Bengalis of East Pakistan. Crucially, as outlined in Gary Bass’s excellent book, “The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide,” he also ignored messages and dissent cables from U.S. diplomats in the field, warning him that a genocide was taking place with their complicity.
Neither Nixon nor Kissinger exercised any of their considerable leverage to restrain Pakistan’s generals. Instead, they covertly rushed arms to the Pakistanis — in violation of a congressional arms embargo — as India and its Bangladeshi separatist allies gained the upper hand. “Throughout it all, from the outbreak of civil war to the Bengali massacres to Pakistan’s crushing defeat by the Indian military, Nixon and Kissinger, unfazed by detailed knowledge of the massacres, stood stoutly behind Pakistan,” wrote Bass in his book. He pointed also to how “these practitioners of realpolitik were all too often propelled by emotion” — including contemptuous, openly racist views of their South Asian quarry.

28 November
An architect has found a way to build flood-proof homes
She’s building swaths of flood-resistant homes out of bamboo. What makes the material so ‘marvelous’?
(WaPo) … The material worked so well that over the last decade, Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, the group Lari started in 1980 to preserve the country’s traditional architecture, has built some 85,000 structures for displaced Pakistanis, including victims of last year’s devastating monsoon rains.
That disaster, the worst flooding in Pakistani history, left a third of the country underwater and destroyed more than 2.1 million homes. The thousands of bamboo structures Lari’s group had erected “all survived,” she said.
… The bamboo homes, which combine mud and limestone facades with inner bamboo skeletons or bamboo roofs, are designed to be copied and pasted across Pakistan and perhaps, beyond its borders. Her foundation’s free YouTube videos show how to build the homes.

12 August
What lies ahead for Pakistan now that a new caretaker PM has been named?
Senator Anwar ul-Haq Kakar has been named as caretaker PM as Pakistan prepares for a general election within 90 days.
The election is meant to be held within 90 days, by November, but uncertainty looms over the date as the nation grapples with constitutional, political and economic crises.

9 August
Pakistan’s parliament is dissolved to pave way for elections as Imran Khan seeks release from prison
(AP) — Pakistan’s president on Wednesday dissolved the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, a first step in the countdown to a general election by mid-November. The move came as the country’s top opposition leader is fighting to overturn a corruption conviction that landed him in a high-security prison over the weekend.
A statement from President Arif Alvi’s office said he acted on the advice of the country’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in disbanding the lawmakers as the assembly’s five-year term is ending.
Usually, such a step is a formality and a general election would typically have to be held within 90 days. But this year there’s a twist. A delay until the spring is possible if Pakistan’s election commission opts for redistricting ahead of an election, based on the results of a recent census.

5 August
Pakistan’s ex-PM Imran Khan arrested: What you need to know
The cricket star-turned-politician was arrested after a court sentenced him to three years in prison for illegally selling state assets.
(Al Jazeera) An Islamabad court issued the arrest warrant after convicting the cricket star-turned-politician, who remains the leading opposition figure despite his removal. Police moved quickly to take Khan from his home in the eastern city of Lahore to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. It is the second time he has been detained this year.
Since his removal from power in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022, Khan has been slapped with more than 150 legal cases, including several on charges of corruption, terrorism and inciting people to violence over deadly protests in May that saw his followers attack government and military property across the country.
Efforts to put Khan behind bars have been stepped up in advance of elections expected later this year. His popularity and large support base, combined with his ability to mobilise massive crowds, pose a threat to the governing coalition and could potentially polarise the electorate.

31 July
Pakistan’s imports of Russian crude face port, refinery, currency constraints
Cheap crude price partly offset by extra transport cost
Paying in yuan could be a challenge for Pakistan
Volume likely to reach one cargo a month – analyst
(Reuters Analysis) – Pakistan is unlikely to meet a target for Russian crude to make up two-thirds of its oil imports, despite attractive prices, hampered by a shortage of foreign currency and limitations at its refineries and ports, officials and analysts say.
The cash-strapped South Asian nation became Russia’s latest customer snapping up discounted crude that has been banned from European markets due to Russia’s war on Ukraine. Its first cargo arrived in June and a second is now under negotiation.
ISIL claims responsibility for Pakistan bombing that killed 54 people
Funerals held for the victims of Sunday’s suicide attack, which also wounded nearly 200 people.
Suicide bombing in Pakistan’s Peshawar wounds at least eight
Pakistan Taliban threatens top political leadership including PM

30 July
China, Pakistan to mark mega infrastructure anniversary
(CNA) Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng arrived in the Pakistan capital on Sunday (Jul 30) to mark the 10th anniversary of an enormous economic plan that is the cornerstone of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Since its initiation in 2013, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has seen tens of billions of dollars funnelled into massive transport, energy and infrastructure projects.
But the undertaking has also been hit by Pakistan struggling to keep up its financial obligations, as well as attacks on Chinese targets by militants.
… The CPEC corridor linking China’s far-western Xinjiang region with Pakistan’s strategic port of Gwadar in Balochistan has sparked claims that the vast influx of investment does not benefit locals.
Baloch separatists have claimed several attacks on CPEC projects, and thousands of Pakistani security personnel are deployed to counter threats against Chinese interests.

21 July
Pakistan election body says ready for national polls in October
The five-year tenure of national and provincial assemblies ends on August 12, with new elections to be held within 60 days of the date.
In a news briefing in capital Islamabad on Thursday, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) officials said if the national as well as provincial assemblies in Sindh and Balochistan are dissolved after completing their five-year tenure on August 12, general elections could be held no later than October 11.

14 July
China Begins Construction of Pakistan’s Largest Nuclear Power Plant
(VoA) Pakistan held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for what will be its largest civil nuclear power plant — constructed by China — that will contribute 1,200 megawatts of electricity daily to the national grid and is estimated to cost at least $3.5 billion.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and senior Chinese officials attended the televised event in the central city of Chashma, dubbed the birthplace of China-Pakistan nuclear energy cooperation.
Over the past 30 years, Beijing has installed four nuclear power generation units in Chashma, collectively generating about 1,300 megawatts, with China providing enriched uranium for fuel.
“This mutual cooperation to promote clean, efficient, and comparatively cheaper energy is a gift of friendship between the two countries and a model for other countries to emulate,” Sharif said at the ceremony.

7 July
At least 50 dead in Pakistan monsoon floods since end of June
Most of the deaths were in Punjab province and mainly caused by electrocution and building collapses
The summer monsoon between June and September brings 70-80% of south Asia’s annual rainfall every year. It is vital for the livelihoods of millions of farmers and food security in a region of about 2 billion people – but it also triggers landslides and floods.

30 June
Crisis-hit Pakistan strikes $3bn IMF bailout deal
(BBC) To help secure the deal, Pakistan’s central bank raised its main interest rate to a record high of 22% on Monday.
Pakistan’s economy, which was already struggling after years of financial mismanagement, has been pushed to the brink by a global energy crisis and devastating floods that hit the country last year.

16 June
Pakistan’s Military Still Runs the Show
Why Imran Khan’s Revolt Sputtered
By Aqil Shah, Associate Professor in the Department of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma
(Foreign Affairs) The ultimate truth of Pakistan’s politics is deceptively simple: power flows through the barrel of the gun. Regardless of who holds the reigns of the government in Islamabad, the military has always been and continues to be the de facto arbiter of politics in the country. Short of a coup, the generals have typically maintained their supremacy and control by cobbling together “king’s parties”—alliances of convenience and opportunity among the country’s politicians—to counter any civilian challengers. The military puts these concocted factions in power by engineering elections. It then ruthlessly discards its erstwhile partners if they fail to toe the line. For their part, politicians have often exhibited a cynical pragmatism that justifies working with the military as the only certain route to power. The politicians’ self-serving habit of knocking on the barracks doors has allowed the military to divide and rule for much of Pakistan’s 76 years of independence.
… Khan’s party looks dead in the water. His dalliance with the military seems to be over, and his efforts to fashion himself as an antiestablishment hero have failed spectacularly as his party rapidly disintegrates. Loyalists in the judiciary may try to come to his rescue, but the courts are no match for a determined military.
Ironically, the supposedly pro-democracy PDM coalition has thrilled to the schadenfreude of Khan’s destruction by the military. Even before the current crisis, the future of democracy in Pakistan was hardly bright. But the civilian government’s collusion with the military has dashed the faint hope that democracy in the country had a fighting chance. For now, Pakistan appears headed toward a future that tragically mimics its past, in which democracy merely serves as a façade for unrelenting military domination

15-16 June
Rights, press bodies slam Pakistan crackdown on ‘critical voices’
At least seven journalists and political commentators have been charged with sedition and other offences in the past week.
(Al Jazeera) The charges against the seven are part of a continuing government crackdown on the supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan following his dramatic arrest on May 9 over a corruption case.
The arrest triggered deadly protests across Pakistan, during which government buildings and military properties were vandalised. The government is trying several of the accused under stringent military laws.
Pakistani journalists abroad face terrorism investigations at home
Pakistan authorities must cease harassing foreign-based journalists Wajahat Saeed Khan, Shaheen Sehbai, Sabir Shakir, and Moeed Pirzada and allow them to work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Thursday.
On Saturday, June 10, police in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad opened a criminal and terrorism investigation into freelance U.S.-based journalists Khan and Sehbai, along with two former army officers, for allegedly “inciting people to attack military installations, spread terrorism, and create chaos” on May 9 after the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, according to news reports and the two journalists, who spoke with CPJ by phone.
Separately, on Tuesday, June 13, Islamabad police opened a similar criminal and terrorism investigation into Shakir, a freelance journalist based outside of Pakistan, Moeed Pirzada, U.S.-based editor of the news website Global Village Space, and another former army officer, according to news reports and the two journalists, who spoke with CPJ by phone.

9-10 May
Imran Khan Arrest: It has come down to street power versus Pakistan Army’s grip over power
By C Uday Bhaskar
Protesters attacking army establishments is a dramatic first in Pakistan’s history. But the Army will not give up its primacy in the power matrix. The bottom line is that neither the military nor the netas, including Imran, are putting aside narrow self-interest to address the crippling economic crisis
(Money Control) Tuesday’s arrest of Khan that was initially interpreted as a case of brazen high-handedness by the Army has been upheld by the Islamabad High Court which has ruled that all legal formalities were completed by the NAB. This accords Imran Khan’s arrest a degree of judicial sanction and it is expected that the matter will now move to the courts – while the current protests (that have led to three deaths) are expected to be brought under control by the security forces. This judicial process and the expected indictment could lead to Imran Khan being disqualified from the forthcoming national elections.
Pakistan cracks down on Imran Khan’s supporters after violence
(Reuters) – Police in Pakistan have arrested hundreds of supporters of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan for violence after his arrest on corruption charges, authorities said on Wednesday, deepening a political crisis in the nuclear-armed country.
Tuesday’s arrest of the former cricket hero, and Pakistan’s most popular politician according to opinion polls, came at a precarious time for the country that is facing a shortage of foreign exchange and a months-long delay of an IMF bailout.
It’s no wonder that many in Pakistan now fear for the fate of Imran Khan
Farzana Shaikh
The arrest of the former PM is yet another chapter in the conflict between the country’s all-powerful army and political class
(The Guardian) The arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan on charges of corruption has sent shock waves throughout Pakistan and the wider world, raising the prospect of an imminent disintegration of the country’s fragile social and political fabric.
For many, however, it also speaks to a well-established tradition: the incarceration of political leaders who fall foul of the country’s all-powerful military.
Pakistan internet cut as violence erupts after arrest of ex-PM Imran Khan
Since Khan fell from power in April last year in a vote of no confidence, he has been on a crusade against Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, and in particular the senior army generals who it is widely acknowledged helped bring him to power. But after the relationship disintegrated, they orchestrated his removal as prime minister.
He accused the military and the Sharif government of a “western-backed conspiracy” to topple him and of being behind an attempt on his life in November last year, when a gunman opened fire during a rally in Punjab and Khan was shot in the leg. This week, the media wing of the armed forces issued another strongly worded rebuttal of Khan’s allegations.
Yet during this time Khan’s popularity his soared, with many admiring his determination to go up against Pakistan’s military establishment, which has long been Pakistan’s political puppet master. There is widespread discontent with the Sharif government, as inflation and food shortages have rocketed, and it is expected that Khan could return to power in the next general election, due in October, if he is not disqualified from politics before then.
Khan has been putting pressure on the Sharif government to call an early general election, claiming that the coalition that took power after he was removed is “illegitimate”.
Imran Khan’s arrest pushes Pakistan deeper into turmoil
Haroon Janjua in Islamabad
(DW) “Khan’s arrest by paramilitary forces – and the manner of the arrest, with dozens of forces in riot gear – is not about any corruption case against Khan, as was the pretext for the arrest, but should be seen in the context of his recent comments against officials in the military and intelligence services. Those comments seem to have been the military’s ‘red line.'”, Madiha Afzal, a fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, told DW. Khan’s popular support has protected him against the [military] establishment over the last year; but now that the establishment has asserted itself, it’s hard to see it backing down, and difficult to see how the situation will deescalate. This is a very dangerous development.

A shaky political situation in Pakistan could get worse with arrest of former PM Imran Khan
(The World) Paramilitary troops arrested former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan during a court appearance on Tuesday, sparking protests and complicating an already-fragile political situation in the country.
… Imran Khan is currently facing a number of corruption charges, and it was on the basis of some of those charges that he had appeared in Islamabad’s high court. Now, the Interior Ministry in Pakistan alleges that the decision to arrest Imran Khan was undertaken on the basis of his having failed to appear before the court on previous requests. It’s because many of Imran Khan’s supporters believe this to be a ruse and also agree with Imran Khan that these charges are politically motivated, and have just poured onto the streets in the aftermath. The arrest itself comes on the heels of a growing confrontation that has been taking place between Imran Khan and the Pakistan military, leveling charges against each other.

20 April
Pakistan’s Punjab elections to go ahead as court confirms ruling
Supreme court stands by decision to order elections next month in move that seemingly pits judiciary against government
The chief justice of Pakistan’s supreme court has stood by its decision to order elections next month in its most populous province, a move that seemingly pits the judiciary against the country’s government and the military establishment.
The court has announced elections in Punjab for 14 May after declaring a delay to the vote unconstitutional and rejecting a petition from the defence ministry to instead hold elections simultaneously across the country later, amid deteriorating security and economic conditions.
Pakistan has drifted into polarisation and one crisis after another since the former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted in a constitutional vote of no confidence in April last year.

5 February
General Pervez Musharraf: A tragic figure who failed to earn his nation’s respect, despite intensely yearning for it
From architect of the 1999 Kargil misadventure and Janus-faced US ally in the post 9/11 global war on terror to backchannel peace proponent with India, Musharraf was done in by his recklessness and lack of political convictions
C Uday Bhaskar
Former Pakistan President and army chief General Pervez Musharraf…was a complex and impetuous leader. He combined a penchant for reckless military adventurism (Kargil) and yet had the ability to pursue more than once a peace dialogue with India – a nation that he detested, but also professing a love for its Hindi film songs!
Musharraf will be remembered for his feckless audacity when he embarked on the imprudent Kargil war in 1999 – a year after both India and Pakistan had acquired nuclear weapons. This was a solo tactical decision, whose strategic enormity by way of likely implications for regional stability was neither shared with the civilian political leadership (Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif) nor the rest of the military. At the time, even the Pakistani air force and navy were not kept in the operational loop by Gen Musharraf.
India, with the astute Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the helm of national affairs prevailed in Kargil – albeit at considerable human cost in lives lost – and the US brokered a Pakistani withdrawal in July 1999 that was humiliating for the General.
C Uday Bhaskar, Indian strategic analyst, speaks with Mayank Chhaya on Pakistan’s general turned president Pervez Musharraf’s legacy (South Asia Monitor)
The Economist: Pervez Musharraf was one of Pakistan’s better army dictators
When Pervez Musharraf was appointed army chief of Pakistan in 1998, he was considered a surprising choice. … Mr Sharif, it was clear, envisaged Mr Musharraf as a weak army chief whom he could control. … The general toppled Mr Sharif in a coup in 1999, had him sentenced to life in prison and ruled Pakistan, first as “chief executive” and then as president, until his resignation in 2008.
Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan martial ruler in 9/11 wars, dies
(AP) — Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup and later led a reluctant Pakistan into aiding the U.S. war in Afghanistan against the Taliban, has died, officials said Sunday. He was 79.
Musharraf, a former special forces commando, became president through the last of a string of military coups that roiled Pakistan since its founding amid the bloody 1947 partition of India. He ruled the nuclear-armed state after his 1999 coup through tensions with India, an atomic proliferation scandal and an Islamic extremist insurgency. He stepped down in 2008 while facing possible impeachment.
Later in life, Musharraf lived in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid criminal charges, despite attempting a political comeback in 2012. But it wasn’t to be as his poor health plagued his last years. He maintained a soldier’s fatalism after avoiding a violent death that always seemed to be stalking him as Islamic militants twice targeted him for assassination.

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