2023, a year of crisis for Pakistan’s economy, politics and security.  5 takeaway

 – Gudstory

2023, a year of crisis for Pakistan’s economy, politics and security. 5 takeaway – Gudstory

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1. Economic crisis

Pakistan sees new low in 2023. Pakistani rupee crosses all-time low PKR 300 points against USA Dollar in August 2023. The country’s foreign reserves with the State Bank of Pakistan (SPB) also fell to an alarming level – $3.1 billion in January 2023.

The cash-starved country struggled to secure funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). To secure this, the SBP raised interest rates by 300 basis points (bps) to 20 per cent – ​​the highest level since October 1996. The country introduced the taxes after increasing gas and electricity prices.

According to the CEIC database, Pakistan Consumer Price Index (CPI) growth reached the highest level of 38.0 percent year-on-year in May 2023. In October 2023, it was measured at 26.9 percent on an annual basis, whereas in September the rate was 31.4 percent. Inflation increased so much that one liter milk started being sold at a higher price. 200 in Pakistan.

To deal with inflation, free flour scheme was launched in Pakistan under the Ramzan package, especially for the poor of Punjab province. Around April–March, a deadly stampede at a free food distribution center in Karachi, Pakistan killed more than 10 people.

Pakistan finally reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF on a “nine-month Stand-by Arrangement (SBA)” worth $3 billion. The IMF’s Executive Board will finally meet on January 11, 2024, to consider final approval of the next $700 million tranche of its loan program to Pakistan.

2. Political drama started with the arrest of Imran Khan

The crisis in the political field of Pakistan was no less than the economic crisis. In May 2023, the country witnessed the arrest of a prominent political leader – Imran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician and former Prime Minister of Pakistan. He was accused of corruption, illegally selling gifts from foreign dignitaries, and leaking state secrets, among many other charges. Khan was disqualified from contesting the upcoming general elections in Pakistan.

Imran Khan’s dramatic arrest was followed by massive protests and violence in Islamabad. There is news of clash between police and supporters of Imran Khan. After the arrest, Imran Khan’s supporters also attacked the Pakistani Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi and the residence of the Corps Commander in Lahore.

Despite his arrest, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) announced that its founder and jailed leader Imran Khan will contest the 2024 general elections from at least three seats.

3. Pakistan Assembly dissolved, controversy over new date of elections

In August 2023, President of Pakistan Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, ending the government’s tenure and paving the way for the next general elections.

Subsequently, a caretaker government took over and months later, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that general elections would be held on February 8, 2024.

It is believed that national elections should have been held within 90 days of the dissolution of Parliament. However, the ECP said it needs time for the delimitation process after the latest census.

4. Nawaz Sharif is back!

In another dramatic move, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan in October 2023 after four years of self-exile to lead his party in the general elections. He is the only Pakistani politician to become Prime Minister of a country with a record three coups.

PTI quoted his son-in-law Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar as saying that Nawaz Sharif is preparing to contest the 2024 elections again from Mansehra region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. He can also contest elections from Lahore.

However, Nawaz Sharif faces a major hurdle as the Supreme Court has disqualified him from holding public office in the Panama Papers case.

Earlier this year, amendments were made to the Election Act, 2017 by the government led by Sharif’s younger brother and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif. In a significant move, disqualification of MPs was limited to five years with retrospective effect.

Subsequently, the Supreme Court decided to form a larger bench to determine once and for all whether the disqualified candidates can contest the elections in the light of the amendments to the Election Act, 2017. It is expected that a decision on this matter will be taken before the elections. 8 February.

5. Terrorist attacks in Pakistan

This year, several terrorist and suicide bombing incidents shook Pakistan. News agency ANI, citing a statistical report released by independent think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, reported that at least 271 terrorist attacks took place in Pakistan during the first half of 2023, in which 389 people lost their lives and 656 were injured. People got injured. (PICSS).

In September, suicide bombings hit two mosques in Pakistan, killing at least 57 people. In July, more than 40 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a political rally in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Islamic State terrorist group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack in July, Reuters reported.

Terrorist attacks in Pakistan have increased since 2022 when a ceasefire between the government and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella organization of radical Sunni Islamist groups, broke down.

(with inputs from agencies)

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Published: 23 Dec 2023, 06:01 PM IST


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