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.
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.
President Biden of the US will host a two-day Summit for Democracy this week to cast an eye over the current status of democracy in the world. Much like the author, many feel this summit to be an affront to the US’s ‘undemocratic’ rivals, China and Russia — two nations that were struck off the invite list.
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.
The much-awaited Biden-Xi virtual summit took place on 15th November to deliberate and resolve the contentious issues between the two states. The meeting focused on four key areas: Taiwan, trade relations, human rights violations, and climate change.
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.
President Vladimir Putin, who sees Soviet collapse as an epic tragedy, is extremely enthusiastic about reviving Russia’s lost honour. The author, Ayesha Zafar, considers Russia’s 49-year lease on the Syrian port of Tartus an attempt to expand the scope of its military power and trade routes.
Alarming numbers and existing evidence by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have prompted a ‘Code Red’ for humanity. An annual global climate conference, this year’s Conference of Parties, COP26, will take place in Glasgow from 31st October to 12th November. It will allow countries to present policies and measures taken to address climate change. The author, Ayesha Zafar, highlights Pakistan’s significant commitments to tackling climate change, which includes the establishment of the Global Change Impact Studies Centre, the National Climate Change Policy, and the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, among others.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left no part of the world unharmed. Aside from its devastating impact on human life, COVID-19 has severely damaged the global economy. The author notes that the collapsing global economy has increased unemployment, food insecurity, and poverty, and threatened international trade and tourism. Due to the pandemic, the oil demand has reduced by 30% and the oil prices have reached an all-time low, causing the oil-producing states to suffer a 50-85% loss in oil revenues. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), this collapse is likely to cost the world economy $5.8 to $8.8 trillion. The author explains that for the recovery of the global economy, international organizations and varying countries (i.e. the US, China, Japan, and Pakistan) have introduced several initiatives and stimulus packages. However, for these measures to be successful, international cooperation is necessary.
The coronavirus pandemic has set the course for pandemic diplomacy, a strategy that could reinforce the soft power image of the state wielding it. The author reports the pandemic diplomacy taking place in the Central Asian states, with both China and the United States competing to gain the upper hand in this new area of diplomacy.
Due to its strategic location and vast oil reserves, Libya has attracted the attention of the world’s major powers. For these states, Libya’s war-torn condition is irrelevant and only their national interests matter. The author, Ayesha Zafar, notes that since the US’s interests are linked to oil in Libya, it continuously exploits the state by not only making use of the capitalist economic order but also by supporting opposing factions—the Haftar group and the Government of National Accord (GNA)—simultaneously, within Libya. Moreover, to influence the state, the US and the major powers impose the capitalist ideology on it through policies introduced by international economic institutions like the World Bank and the IMF.
Over the years, the people of Pakistan have expressed their growing concern over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has become a common misconception in Pakistan that CPEC is just another modern-day East India Company. The author, Ayesha Zafar, compares the two and argues that the objectives of CPEC and the circumstances under which China set foot in Pakistan are different from that of the East India Company. She notes that while the East India Company was imperialist in nature and only benefitted the British Empire, CPEC profits both China and Pakistan. Instead of exploiting Pakistan, it is aiding in infrastructural development, energy production, and alleviating unemployment in Pakistan.