2021 was truly an unpredictable year for Pakistan. The country saw turbulence in the political realm with protests by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), and dharnas by various other entities. The country’s economic woes only intensified as it failed to exit the FATF grey list. On the bright side, Pakistan’s athletes were given the due spotlight at several games this year, particularly at the Tokyo Olympics. Take a look at some of the major developments that took place in Pakistan in 2021.
Power outages and high electricity bills have become commonplace in Pakistan. Although the government’s poor planning and management are to blame for this predicament, it seems, according to a European think tank, that the World Bank is the main culprit behind the country’s energy crisis. The author, Ayesha Zafar, explains how the World Bank’s three power projects — PACE, SHIFT, and IGCEP — are destabilising Pakistan’s energy plans.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has granted a loan of $3 billion to Pakistan. The state is obligated to return the loan after a year, however, Saudi Arabia can ask for repayment on a three-day notice anytime within that one year. In addition, Pakistan will have to pay $120 million in interest on the loan and Saudi law would be applicable in case of any dispute. The author, Muhammad Hamza Tanvir, explains that since the IMF has restricted Pakistan from borrowing from the State Bank of Pakistan, the economic condition of Pakistan is likely to take a toll. At such a crucial time, Pakistan cannot afford to offend any of its allies, namely China.
After Pakistan became an independent state in 1947, Turkey was one of the first states to recognize it. The two states are bound together by cultural and religious links. The author, Muhammad Abdullah, notes that throughout the years, they’ve cooperated and shown support for each other on several fronts. When Pakistan was hit with a devastating earthquake in 2005, Turkey sent millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan. Similarly, after the Van earthquake of 2011, Pakistan’s Red Crescent Aid Society donated $100,000 to the people of the Van province in eastern Turkey.
Pakistan will host the 17th extraordinary session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers today. The fact that it will be the largest ever conference on Afghanistan since the Taliban took charge in mid-August is momentous not only for Pakistan but also for other regional countries whose role in Afghanistan has remained significant throughout.
On November 17th, 33 bills were passed during a joint session of the Parliament of Pakistan. Among the bills passed were the International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Bill, 2021, the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Bill, 2021, and the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021. The author, Palwasha Khan, notes that the latter, in particular, resulted in the opposition causing quite a bit of commotion during the session. The bill enables the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), allowing overseas Pakistanis to vote in the next elections. As such, it has been a cause of concern for the opposition. Pakistan Muslim League-N’s Shehbaz Sharif called EVMs “evil and vicious machines”, whereas, Pakistan People’s Party’s Sherry Rehman termed the session as a “black day” in the Parliament’s history.
Drug abuse is the willful misuse of drugs that disregards the potential negative consequences on a personal and societal level. Pakistan’s drug addicts have increased exponentially from 7 million in 2015 to 9 million in 2021. The author, Palwasha Khan, also reviews the viability of the National Anti-Narcotics Policy 2019. With a growing population, rising unemployment and absence of safety nets, drug abuse will only be inimical to the progress of Pakistan.
The article explores the hierarchical system of the administrative machinery in Pakistan at the federal and provincial levels. Pakistan follows a federal system which makes the federal and provincial governments exclusive from one another. The executive, legislature and judiciary have been divided clearly between the federation and provinces after the eighteenth amendment. According to the constitution of Pakistan, fields like defence, foreign matters, customs, telecommunication and railways are to be handled by the federal system, whereas the ministries of education, health, local administration, sanitation, agriculture and industry are under the provincial setups.
With citizens being choked by the worsening inflation, the PTI government under Imran Khan is doing everything it can to avert the economic fallout that awaits if the IMF refuses the $1 billion loan. Many economists believe the IMF economic deal to be the cause of Pakistan’s rising inflation, but at this juncture, this dreaded deal also seems to be the only recourse for the country.
Despite growing remittances, the inflation rate in Pakistan continues to soar with a current inflation rate of 9.2% in October 2021. This is a whopping increase from 3.93% in 2018. The author, Daniyal Ali, discusses the possible reasons — IMF and mafias — for this sombre trend, and recommends a course of action for the future.
The agriculture sector of Pakistan accounts for 24% of the GDP and is responsible for the livelihoods of 65-70% of the state’s population. Yet, due to the challenges presented by fast-paced industrialization, climate change, and outdated farming and irrigation practices, this sector is being threatened. The author, Ayesha Irum, notes that by adopting precision agriculture, Pakistani farmers can thoroughly monitor, access, and analyze the agricultural land. Precision agriculture will not only benefit the farmers due to its cost-effectiveness but will also reduce water and crop losses. The author asserts that if implemented properly, it can increase the yield of Pakistan’s crops.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has promised to create millions of employment opportunities, and undertake essential infrastructure and energy projects. The author, Muhammad Ali Talib, a practicing advocate of the High Court of Pakistan, notes that despite the benefits of CPEC, the immense Chinese lending to Pakistan has created a debt problem for the latter. An AidData report, analyzing 100 Chinese debt contracts, reveals that the Chinese loan agreements contain confidentiality clauses that prevent borrowers like Pakistan from revealing any details of the agreements to the general public. Furthermore, these contracts include cross-default clauses, stabilization clauses, and “No Paris Club” clauses which increase China’s bargaining power and policy influence over the borrowing states.
This year, the Republic of Indonesia and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan celebrate 71 years of diplomatic relations. The author, Zohra Asif, discusses how expanding bilateral trade relations can prove to be vital in strengthening and diversifying Pakistan’s economy. As challenging as it is, Indonesia has assured Pakistan of its support in helping the latter attain Full Dialogue Partner status with ASEAN.
The article presents an overview of the history and ideology of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). Owing to the possibility of alliances, the author, Muhammad Hamza Tanvir, personally contacted a senior member of the party to enquire about TLP’s agenda and the kind of system that they would impose if they were to form a government in the country.
According to the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2021 report, Pakistan ranks 130th out of 139 countries. The index is a measure of a nation’s commitment to the rule of law that is assessed by considering several factors. The author, Muhammad Hamza Tanvir, outlines the flaws — such as protracted proceedings — in the justice system of Pakistan. Cases such as the Noor Muqaddam case and the Model Town case are mired in endless delays thus besmirching the courts in the country.
Pakistan’s geostrategic position and its proximity to the Indian Ocean are quite favourable to the country in terms of realizing the benefits of the blue economy. The author, Ayesha Zafar, has brought the neglected yet lucrative area to the fore. The world’s blue economy, if properly taken advantage of, could yield a profit of around $24 trillion annually.
Lahore, a city once known for its gardens, has now become the world’s most polluted city. On the 15th and 16th of November, the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) score reached 425 and 307 respectively. Currently, the hazardous air quality in Lahore has placed 13 million people at risk. The author notes that the severity of air pollution in Lahore has been underreported in Pakistan. It was not until 2017 that the public was made aware of it. She explains that the pollution in Lahore raises serious concerns about the performance of the government, key authorities, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although Pakistan’s government and the EPA have initiated several programs to mitigate the air pollution in the state, the situation would take time to improve.