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Pakistan This Week


Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 532, 15 January 2023

Pakistan This Week: Five Major Developments



PTI in Punjab; MQM reuniting; Baloch leaders join the PPP; Raising USD ten billion in Geneva; Saudi Arabia and UAE to support Pakistan

D. Suba Chandran

POLITICS
1. PTI in Punjab: Imran Khan gets what he wants by dissolving the provincial assembly
What happened?
The biggest development of the week took place in Punjab. Imran Khan succeeded in preventing all moves by the PML-N. First, he ensured that Chaudhry Parvez Elahi – the chief minister of Punjab gets enough support to win the confidence vote in the Punjab provincial assembly on 12 January. Immediately after that, he pressured Parvez Elahi to recommend the dissolution of the provincial assembly. According to Dawn (15 January 2023), “Punjab Assembly automatically stood dissolved late on Saturday evening, following the governor’s refusal to sign the chief minister’s advice.”
 
What does this mean?
The PML-N has to cut a sorry figure. It failed in all its attempts to get what it wanted in the Punjab provincial assembly. Now it has to get ready for the elections or try another attempt through the courts. It appears that the PML-N has realized the writing on the wall, and get ready for the elections.
 
2. Karachi: Factions of the MQM, unite. You have nothing to lose except Altaf Hussain
What happened?
On 12 January, two factions of the MQM – led by Syed Mustafa Kamal (Chairman, Pak Sarzameen Party) and Dr Farooq Sattar (MQM Organisation Restoration Committee) joined the third one - Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) led by Khalid Maqbool. Kamran Tessori – Sindh’s Governor has been working towards bringing the factions together for the last few months.
 
What does this mean?
This is not the first time, efforts were made to bring the MQM factions together. There were earlier attempts, that could not materialize or the unification could not be sustained. Impending elections and the pressure from the Establishment are considered to be two reasons behind the merger process. MQM-London led by Altaf Hussain, is the fourth faction, that still has support amongst the MQM cadres in Karachi.
 
3. Winds of change in Balochistan: Baloch leaders join the PPP
What happened?
A group of Baloch leaders including former provincial ministers, the son of Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, and two nephews of Nawab Aslam Raisani. According to a Dawn news report, the list included the following: Nawabzada Gazin Marri, Tahir Mahmood, Nawabzada Jamal Raisani, Mir Fareed Raisani, Mir Abdullah Raheja and Mir Allah Bakhsh Rind. In late December 2022, numerous leaders of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), including the members of the Baloch provincial assembly, joined the PPP. According to a Dawn report (1 January 2023), the earlier list included the member of the provincial assembly - Zahoor Buledi, Saleem Khosa, and Arif Muhammad Hasani, and others including the following: Haji Malik Shah Gorej, Mir Wali Muham­mad, Mir Asghar Rind, Mir Faiq Jamali, Sardarzada Faisal Jamali, and Agha Shakeel Durrani.
 
What does this mean?
Clearly, two things. First, the end of the road for the Balochistan Awami Party, an artificial creation on the eve of the 2018 elections. Second, there is another political engineering taking place, with PPP and the JUI-F leading the process.
 
ECONOMY
4. Pakistan succeeds in raising USD ten billion in Geneva
What happened?
On 9 January, the donors meeting in Geneva led by individual countries and financial institutions agreed to support Pakistan with ten billion USD, with the Islamic Development, World Bank and Asian Development Bank leading the support with 4.2, 2, and 1.5 USD billion, respectively. The conference was hosted by Pakistan and the UN on Climate Resistant Pakistan. According to a UNDP concept note, the conference aimed “to marshal international support for the people and Government of Pakistan to rehabilitate the affected population and reconstruct the damaged infrastructure in a climate-resilient manner after the devastating floods in 2022.”
 
What does this mean?
Pakistan’s government has succeeded in getting crucial support to address issues relating to the rehabilitation of flood victims, and rebuilding the infrastructure. This should also help the government gain political capital and address the growing public anger against it.
 
5. Saudi Arabia and UAE to support Pakistan
What happened?
On 10 January, according to a report by the News, following the meeting with Pakistan’s army chief Gen Asim Munir, Saudi prince Mohammad bin Salman has “directed his financial officials to study increasing the Pakistan deposit by USD 2 billion.” On 12 January, following the visit of PM Shahbaz Sharif to UAE and his meeting with President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Dawn referred two official announcements saying, “the UAE pledged to roll over $2bn debt payable over the next two months and topped this with an additional $1bn support.”
 
What does this mean?
With the government facing a historic low in foreign exchange reserves, the above two commitments from Saudi Arabia and UAE should give some breathing space for the Sharif government. And also build some political capital out of it. According to the latest data from the State Bank of Pakistan, on 6 January 2023, the total liquid foreign exchange reserves were USD 10,187.8 millions. In January 2022, it had around 22,000 millions.

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