Summer heat is at its most intense and so is politics in Pakistan. Country’s opposition is threatening that it will come out on the streets to remove an incompetent government that has made lives miserable through a bad IMF deal, hike in energy prices and massive inflation – only to become worse with the coming budget.
The government ministers define opposition threats as “Muk Muka” politics or in this particular case the ‘Abu Bachao’ (save our fathers) movement. Maryam Nawaz’s father (Nawaz Sharif) is languishing in prison and Bilawal Bhutto’s father – Asif Zardari – may end up there soon.
The economy, however, is a real concern as inflation touches over 9% and is expected to hit double digits starting July. The devalued currency has hit its lowest levels at over 150 and is expected to resume its downward trend post-Eid and certainly after entering the formal IMF program – somewhere in July.
Dr. Kamal Monnoo, a political analyst and author of “Economic Management of Pakistan,” writes an incisive piece on the looming challenges the economy faces and how the government should get its house in order. Whilst Javed Hassan, a former investment banker, explains the PTI imperatives for the IMF program.
In light of the impact of the deteriorating economy, especially on the poorest sections of the country, our special feature this month was to understand the government’s vision for the Ehsaas program. This visionary program will through a series of measures unite all departments and agencies working on it under the division of social protection & poverty alleviation that will work under the auspices of Dr Sania Nishtar.
We sat down with her to discuss the different elements of the program which Prime Minister Khan has explained as adopting the principles of Riyasat-e-Madina. At the same time, Dr. Omer Javed, an institutional political economist, who worked at International Monetary Fund, critically evaluates the program, points out its gaps and explains why it does not go far enough to accomplish its stated goals.
In the region, PM Modi and the BJP won the Indian general elections with a bigger majority than in 2014, PM Khan immediately congratulated him and said he was looking forward to working with him for peace and prosperity in the region. Former Foreign Secretary Najmuddin Shaikh evaluates the Modi win and appraises hopes for better relations between the two countries.
After running a campaign in which BJP relied upon strong emotions against Pakistan and Indian Muslims to unify its right-wing vote banks it may be too early for Modi to engage Pakistan. It will be interesting to see if a formal meeting takes place between Modi and Imran Khan at the SCO summit in Kyrgyzstan.
On the second anniversary of the GCC boycott of Qatar, Dr. James Dorsey, Senior Fellow Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, explains that soccer may be the tool that finally breaks down the boycott and brings the Arab countries together.
On the 30th death anniversary of Imam Khomeini, we look at his impact on the region’s politics. Iran’s Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost sits down with GVS to give an overview. And there is much more to flip through – do visit our wanderlust pages and decide to spend some time cooling in Shandur, Gilgit-Baltistan, this year to watch the King of Games: Polo festival held there between 7-9th July.
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