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Saturday, 1 June, 2019

08 COMMENT Imran Khan’s sermon The videotaped message

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N Thursday Prime Minister Imran Khan urged Pakistanis to avail the recently-introduced tax amnesty scheme and declare their assets. Socioeconomic problems like tax dodging and hiding wealth can only be resolved through well-thought-out policies based on the understanding of ground realities. Mr Khan must have realised by now that when he said that people did not pay taxes to a corrupt government he was badly misguided as tax collection has gone down further under the PTI administration. he did well to follow his much maligned predecessors by announcing a scheme to whiten black money, thus setting aside his earlier moralistic objections. As before, this would bring some more people under the tax net. There would however be a need for further measures to deal with the big chunk of people who would still prefer to remain unrecorded. he is badly mistaken if he thinks that the holders of illicit wealth will declare their assets through appeals, moralistic harangues or displays of acts of piety on the PM’s part alone. The holier-than-thou stance has been the undoing of Imran Khan. Many would appreciate it if the PM made a clean breast of the fact the he had little understanding of the economic challenges faced by the country and no plans to deal with them when he fought the elections. After coming to power Mr Khan collected several wellknown economic advisers, who were often found disagreeing with one another and advocating contradictory solutions. For instance, the team remained divided over whether to join the IMF programme till the end. Others who were assigned the task of implementing policies, relied more on hopes, expectations and miracles than on ground realities. In January PM’s advisor Razzak Dawood said the PTI government would achieve the target of the “highest exports in the history of the country.” On Wednesday he confessed his earlier projections of $27-28 billion exports were unrealistic and even his present ‘realistic’ figure of $25 billion may not be achievable. It is time Imran Khan stopped delivering sermons. It is useless on the part of a government leader to state problems, much more so to grieve over them. What people expect from the government are solutions.

The issues pile up The Opposition finds itself pressed to the wall

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he National Assembly saw opposition members engage in strenuous protests on Friday before the Speaker was obliged to adjourn a house which he could no longer control. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari continued to speak outside the National Assembly, where he explained to the press that his letter to the speaker NA demanding production orders of Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar had been completely ignored. he was joined, not unexpectedly, by the PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, but unexpectedly Akhtar Mengal of the BNP (Mengal). Mengal had on Wednesday already spoken in support of the two MNAs, who belong to the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, though sitting as opposition independents. The issue of Mr Bhutto Zardari’s appearance before NAB Rawalpindi, or rather the police attack on the PPP workers trying to protest it, was also raised, as was that of the reference against Mr Justice Faez Isa of the Supreme Court and a Sindh high Court judge. Mr Abbasi presided over a party meeting later which decided to protest the references in Parliament. he also raised the issue of the publication in the press of the material against the judges, and how that material reached them, particularly, who was responsible for their leakage. The accumulation of issues has meant that the opposition is being driven even closer, as the government throws up one cause after another. It is to be noted that the opposition’s demand for formation of parliamentary committees to probe the recent controversy surrounding NAB chairman and the incident involving PTM MNAs’ are valid and the government did not need to be obdurate. It still seems far away from the realisation that cooperation with the opposition is the only viable option it has. By continuously pushing the opposition against the wall inside parliament by ignoring their valid concerns and outside parliament by piling on cases against them, the government remains unable to form any sort of consensus. If the opposition makes good on their call to take to the streets in the coming weeks then the PTI will have an entirely new mess to contend with.

Dedicated to the legacy of the late Hameed Nizami

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Brexit and Theresa May’s resignation

She expressed her profound regret that she could not “deliver Brexit”, announcing in a press conference that she will be resigning on 7 June as the Conservative party leader and will be heading the country until the new Prime Minister is elected. Besides, she laid great emphasis on the significance of “compromise”, dwelling on her achievements. With tear-filled eyes and a voice choking with emotions, she uttered the last line. She left the podium and walked back to the black door of 10 Downing Street. She was tasked with one job: Brexit. She tried to put her best foot forward in solving this jigsaw puzzle. however, she could not live up to ropean Union Council, Donald Tusk, on 29 the challenge. She could not bridge the yawning March 2017. This set a two-year clock ticking on gulf between her own party and the opposition. the Leave process. The deadline was set for 29 her own party set up roadblocks in her way, March 2019. Later on, the cut-off date was ex- thereby throwing a spanner in the works. Welltended up to 29 October 2019. intentioned as she was, she tried to make everyTheresa May’s tenure as PM witnessed many one happy. She tried to walk a tightrope between challenges. however, she stood like a rock in the the demands of the eU and those of the British face of the adversity. people. Notwithstanding her unwavering comShe announced general elections in 2017 in mitment and untiring efforts, she could not. Like the hope of winning a majority. however, it the iron lady, Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May backfired, robbing her of the slender majority she too fell victim to factionalism and infighting. commanded. With her resignation, UK After tortuous negotiais back to square one: it is betions and painstaking discustween the devil and the deep sions with the eU, she blue sea; whether to leave the If hard Brexit (no deal) eU with a deal or crash out of succeeded in putting the finishing touches to the prono deal. It can’t have is given preference over ititswith posed withdrawal Draft cake and eat it too. It is to Agreement/deal. It was no choose between the two coma deal with the EU, mean feat. It is 611 pages peting options at the earliest. Britain’s economy long, and comes in two parts; A second referendum on a legally binding text of a Brexit is still not off the table. would be thrown into 585-page withdrawal agreeMPs are toying with it. Now disarray, it is feared ment dealing with the terms the Labour party, after perof the UK’s divorce from the forming poorly in the euroeU and a non- binding text, pean Parliament election, is a 26-page statement on fualso supporting it. The holdture relationship. ing of a second referendum, therefore, cannot be She survived two attempts to vote her out. ruled out. however, she refused to bow to pressure. The That Brexit is easier said than done goes first challenge was mounted on 11 December without saying. May’s successor may face chal2018, when 48 of her party’s MPs put forward a lenges to extricate the UK out of the quagmire of “no-confidence vote” against her in the house of the Brexit. The sands of time are running out.. If Commons. She defeated the motion by a vote of the proposed withdrawal deal is ratified by the 200 to 117. Parliament, the next Prime Minister is to do the The draft withdrawal agreement was put to bidding of the eU. vote thrice in the house of Commons, but was At the end of the day, one wonders if the sucvoted down each time. It was first tabled on 15 cessor of Theresa May would pay heed to MarJanuary. however, it was defeated overwhelm- garet Thatcher’s famous speech made way back ingly. In its wake, May’s premiership came under in 1979 in order to strike a conciliatory tone in a threat a second time when the Labour party tabled profoundly divided country: a no-confidence motion in the Commons. She “Where there is discord, may we bring harnarrowly survived the challenge by 325 to 306. mony; March witnessed two rejections of the proWhere there is error, may we bring truth; posed deal bill; on 12 and 29 March. Needless to Where there is doubt, may we bring faith; say, it was the issue of the Irish backstop that beAnd where there is despair, may we bring came an apple of discord in all three votes on the hope”. draft withdrawal agreement in the Commons. Facing one challenge after another, May, fiZaeem Mumtaz Bhatti is a lawyer based in nally decided to leave the premiership, drawing Lahore. He tweets at @zaeem8825. He can be a curtain over a period of 3 years. contacted at zaeem.bhatti89@gmail.com.

May was overshadowed by Brexit ZAEEM MUMTAZ BHATTI

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he Conservative party came to power in the UK following the general election of 2015. Picking up the reins of government, David Cameron pledged to hold a referendum on membership in the european Union before the end of 2017. True to his word, he held the referendum on 23 June 2016. The people of the UK were given two options in the referendum: to leave the eU or to remain in it. he lost the gamble. Leave campaigners won the referendum by 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent. Cameron resigned as the leader of the Conservative party and promised to go as soon as the new prime Minister was elected. At 49, Cameron was the youngest man to bid farewell to 10 Downing Street since the earl of Rosebery in 1895. On one side were the politicians, who campaigned enthusiastically for Brexit. Prominent among them were Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP, Jeremy Corbyn, now the opposition leader and head of the Labor party, and Nigel Farage, former leader of the eurosceptic UK Independence party (UKIP). They rode a wave of populism and took full advantage of the wind sweeping across the world. It goes without saying that the Brexit was largely driven by several factors. Chief among them were xenophobia, anti-immigration sentiments, racism and slogans like Britain must “take back control”. On other side were the politicians, who opposed Brexit tooth and nail. Their rallying cry was “Britain Stronger in europe”. Cameron was their leader. Following the resignation of Cameron, five candidates, namely, Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox threw their hats in the ring for the Conservative party election. To her good luck, Theresa May won the election unopposed as other candidates were either eliminated or withdrew. Taking office, May delivered a speech echoing populism, saying that “Brexit means Brexit”. Settling in the government, she triggered Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon to formally begin the legal process of withdrawing Britain from the eUby writing a letter to the President of the eu-

Bharat: Nurturing nationalism with national polls even in the restive Northeast, where separatist elements once ran parallel administrations, the lotus bloomed for the saffron party. The rePM Modi planned and managed to run the gion with 25 parliamentary seats was swept by electoral campaigns with a Presidential style where the BJP and its allies to elect 18 members to the the prime slogan was ‘Once Again Modi Govern- NDA tally in the 17th Lok Sabha. More imporment’ (not NDA or BJP govtantly, voters of Arunachal ernment). Putting exclusive Pradesh and Sikkim have focus on one individual opted for the BJP and NDA (Modi) contradicts the conconstituent Sikkim Krantikari The north-eastern cept of India’s parliamentary Morcha (SKM) for their democracy. But the entire opprovincial governments in region witnessed a very position lacked anyone to Itanagar and Gangtok. match Modi’s personality, orIn fact, BJP recorded the peaceful, participatory atory skill and leadership best ever performance in the reand smooth electoral quality. gion surrounded by Nepal, While the opposition Bhutan, Tibet (China), Myanprocess that might have leaders repeatedly termed mar and Bangladesh. Keeping helped the residents of alive the national trend, where Modi as a ‘thief and liar’, millions of voters, including many veteran Congress leaders various ethnic a large section of young and lost the electoral battles, northeducated seemingly realized communities to nurture eastern voters also rejected various achievements of the many influential Congress cana new kind of Modi government, referring didates. While the grand old to clean India movement, party was losing its vote-shares, nationalism where the corruption-free image, digiBJP nominees had won two electorate set aside talization of financial transLok Sabha seats of Tripura and actions, skill development one seat in Manipur for the first their differences and initiatives, medical benefits, time. Unlike many parts of new bank accounts for poor West Bengal, where every came forward for a families irrespective of their phase of polling was marred strong, safe and religion, caste or creed. The with violence, the north-eastern message from national elecregion witnessed a very peaceprosperous Bharat tions was also loud & clear ful, participatory and smooth that the electorate would no electoral process that might longer patronise the dynastic have helped the residents of politics. Not only the (Indiravarious ethnic communities to Rajiv) Gandhi dynasty faced wrath from the vot- nurture a new kind of nationalism where the elecers, others belonging to the families of Lalu torate set aside their differences and came forward Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sharad for a strong, safe and prosperous Bharat. Pawar, Bhupinder hooda, Ashok Gehlot etc also encountered massive rejections in the poll-battles. Nava Thakuria is a political commentator

The BJP won two provincial governments in the North-east NAvA THAkUrIA

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MIDST all criticisms for majoritybased politics, hindu-centric propaganda and one man worship, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) triumphed again in the recently concluded Indian national elections. With an undercurrent of cautious nationalism, the NDA notched a tally of up to 353 in the 543 member Lok Sabha. The BJP alone emerged victorious in 303 seats, crossing the magic number needed (272) to form the federal government in New Delhi, where the main opposition party, the Indian National Congress along with its allies remained restricted within 100 seats. The rightist political party, led by hardliner Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also succeeded in spreading its presence to almost all corners of the vast country. The billion-plus nation witnessed a sevenphase polling exercise (11 April to 19 May) through electronic voting machines (eVM) supported by the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) mechanism, where over 700 million voters participated in the process, conducted by the powerful election Commission of India, to send their representatives for the next five years to New Delhi. With the ideology and background of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), PM Modi along with the saffron party chief Amit Shah promoted national pride and patriotism. With Islamist-sponsored terrorism continuing to grab the international media headlines and affecting India’s neighbouring countries, the mainstream Indians perhaps accepted the hindu-centric nationalism for their safety and security. Karachi – Ph: 021-35381208-9

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