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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Foot-dragging by the IMF

Even after having thoroughly rubbed Mifta Ismael's nose, the US-controlled IMF has still not released the first tranche of a measly USD 1.17 billion. Hoping against hope, the beleaguered sitting government of Pakistan is banking upon the tranche as the first drop of rain that will usher the opening up of the World Bank, Asian Bank, Saudi, and UAE coffers.

More than three months after Imran Khan was removed from office, the post-regime-change political setup is still embroiled with the IMF over the conditionality of a fresh loan. The loan, it is expected, will prevent, or at least delay, the imminent economic meltdown in Pakistan.

Even after having thoroughly rubbed Mifta Ismael’s nose, the US-controlled IMF has still not released the first tranche of a measly USD 1.17 billion. Hoping against hope, the beleaguered sitting government of Pakistan is banking upon the tranche as the first drop of rain that will usher the opening up of the World Bank, Asian Bank, Saudi, and UAE coffers.

Read more: Last step taken towards the IMF bailout programme

Why is the IMF insulting Pakistan’s present government in such a manner?

As the things are gradually unfolding, we now understand, and please don’t insult peoples’ intelligence, that the regime change was brought about through remarkable synchronicity between Imran Khan’s opposition, establishment, judiciary, and Islamabad’s local administration –it was an attempt to engineer the occurrence of highly improbable coincidences between events where there was no causal link. How else do we explain the events that happened when the Supreme Court opened in the middle of the night when prisoner vans started lining up near the PM House, and helicopters started hovering above? Who was the invisible drummer on whose drumbeats all of them were dancing?

It is obvious now that the regime change was brought about to bring in a new set of pliable rulers who would be more responsive towards the US sensitivities in South Asia. These are:

  • To promote India as the pivot of the US strategic interests in the Indian Ocean and the Asia –Pacific Region.
  • Coerce Pakistan into accepting the Line of Control in Jammu& Kashmir as the International border between India and Pakistan.
  • Gain access to Pakistan’s land and air corridors for launching operations against Afghanistan, and containing Russia and China.
  • Neutralize CPEC.
  • Force Pakistan to recognize Israel.
  • Seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

Almost all the above-mentioned US objectives, except the last two, have been achieved through the regime change, or are in the process of being facilitated for fruition. Look how.

Read more: Like Pakistan, Bangladesh reaches out IMF

Pakistan-India Relations

Till the 1965 War, despite having fought a war with India over the disputed Jammu & Kashmir state, Pakistan was having normal relations with India. After the war, Pakistan changed its policy and made normalization of relations contingent upon an amicable resolution of the Kashmir Dispute. This stance was maintained by all the Pakistani governments for more than half a century. It appears that there is a diametric change in Pakistan’s historical stance on J&K. At the US behest, and at the urging of Saudi Arabia and UAE, Pakistan’s new regime has put the J&K Dispute on the back burner. On May 11, soon after the regime change in Pakistan, Pakistan appointed a Trade Minister – the first of a series of “Confidence Building Measures” between the two countries.

In October 2021, a few months before the tabling of the No Confidence Motion against Imran Khan’s government, there was news that Saudi Arabia and UAE were striving to facilitate India in her plans about IIOJK. It was going to be a South Asian“Deal of the Century”, similar to Trump’s “Deal of the Century” which he had devised to snuff out any prospects for a future Palestinian state. Trump’s deal, which was rejected by the Palestinians, also leaned heavily on UAE and Saudi support.

Reportedly, UAE and Saudi Arabia plan to invest USD 100 billion in J&K if Pakistan agrees to declare the LoC as a permanent border between Pakistan and India. It is worthwhile to note here that Saudi Arabia and UAE, both of them members of the G-20, didn’t object to the holding of the next G-20 meeting in IIOJK.

US Access through Pakistan’s “Boulevard”

A little less than one year after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, there was a US drone attack in Kabul, killing Aiman al Zahrawi, one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attack on New York’s Twin Towers. Though Imran Khan’s government had said “Absolutely Not” to providing the US planes access through Pakistan’s airspace, the US declared it reserved the right to carry out “Over the Horizon” attacks in Afghanistan. An Over Horizon attack is the US euphemism for launching drone and manned aerial attacks through Pakistan’s airspace from the US aircraft carriers deployed in the Arabian Sea. Due to the US threat, Pakistan never closed its air corridor into Afghanistan – a corridor that US pilots called “The Boulevard.”

In the past, the corridor was essential for ferrying ammunition and weapons for the US and Afghan forces waging a war against Al Qaeda and Taliban since 2001. US intelligence flights and combat missions used it when taking off from the US bases in the Persian Gulf or aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean. Theoretically, it was still operational after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. However, the US never dared to launch droner attacks when Imran Khan was in power.

Read more: Govt to jack up petroleum levy on IMF demand?

The US Anger on CPEC

In 2017, US Defence Secretary James Mattis stated his administration believed that the china-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes through a disputed territory. He was speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Justifying his statement, Mattis said “the US opposed the One Belt, One Road policy in principle because in a globalized world, there were many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating One Belt, One Road. And it opposed the one going through Pakistan also because it passed through a disputed territory”.

There was no change in the US policy on CPEC after the Democrats came to power. Presently, the Chinese are not pleased with Pakistan. This was evident when they let India veto the proposal to invite Pakistan to a seminar held on the sidelines during the last meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Recognition of Israel

Though the formal recognition of Israel by Pakistan is yet to take place, a Pakistani semi-official delegation has recently made a not-so-secret visit to the Jewish state. In the past, Nawaz Sharif did not have business relations with India’s Jindal only. He had also bought Israeli machinery for his Jeddah steel mills.

Pakistanis, ranging from politicians to bureaucrats, to maulanas, frequently visit Israel. In the past, Maulana Ajmal of JUI had created news when his secret visit to Israel was exposed in the media.

Read more: Bangladesh approaches IMF after energy prices trigger crisis

Seizure of Nuclear Weapons – The last nail

“Let’s Buy Pakistan’s Nukes,” wrote Bret Stephens in 2008 in The Wall StreetJournal in an op-ed article in which he highlighted the problems Pakistan’s atomic program has caused to the US. Stephens, who interviewed Pakistan President Zardari in September 2008 when he was participating in the UN General Assembly session, suggested the government of Pakistan verifiably eliminate its entire nuclear stockpile and the industrial base that sustains it.

In exchange, the US and other Western donors would agree to a $100 billion economic package, administered by an independent authority and disbursed over 10 years, on the condition that Pakistan remains a compliant state within a U.S.-Indian security matrix.

So, what is the strategy of Nawaz Sharif, Zardari, and the legions of Trojan horses which include, among others, bureaucracy and media barons? Through the manipulation of financial institutions which, over the years, they have packed with their cronies, they are striving hard to crash the money markets and soar the dollar high enough to choreograph an economic meltdown. Thereafter, IMF will step into offering a financial bailout in exchange for Pakistan handing over its nuclear assets to the US. Is this a mere conspiracy theory?



Saleem Akhtar Malik is a Pakistan Army veteran who writes on national and international affairs, defense, military history, and military technology. He Tweets at @saleemakhtar53. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.