Haider Ali’s enterprising 49 and Kamran Akmal’s attacking 41 not enough as Zalmi fall short in 200 chase
Lahore Qalandars 199 for 4 (Fakhar 66, Shafique 41, Irshad 2-47) beat Peshawar Zalmi 170 for 9 (Haider 49, Akmal 41, Zaman 3-32) by 29 runsHaider Ali’s enterprising 49 and Kamran Akmal’s attacking 41 weren’t enough for Peshawar Zalmi, as a whirlwind knock of 66 by Fakhar Zaman helped Lahore Qalandars to a 20-run win.
After Shaheen Afridi bowled Hazratullah Zazai off the third ball of the 200 chase with no run on the board, Akmal and Hussain Talat added 62 as Akmal went for the boundaries while Talat struggled to get going. But Zaman Khan got them both off back-to-back balls in the ninth over, first having Talat caught at deep midwicket before getting Akmal to chop on to his stumps.Akmal’s 41 came off 24 deliveries, including 4, 4 and 6 off successive balls in the fifth over against Rashid Khan, while Talat couldn’t make the most of three drops to limp to 15 from 24 deliveries.
But after Akmal fell, Haider ensured Zalmi didn’t lose the momentum, getting off to a rapid start after himself being dropped. With Mailk also gone and the required run rate up to nearly 15 with seven overs remaining, Rutherford also targeted Rashid, cracking 6, 4 and 4 off consecutive deliveries. However, Zaman Khan dismissed Rutherford for 21 from 11 balls, and despite Haider’s effort, Zalmi were left with too much to do in the end, as David Wiese nearly had a hat-trick for Qalandars with DRS reversing the umpire’s initial out verdict.
And with the bat, Qalandars were set up by an aggressive 94-run opening stand between Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique. Initially, Fakhar Zaman was the one who went after the bowlers, scoring 26 off his first 13 balls after four overs. Shafique then upped the tempo, slamming Arish Ali for 6 and 4 off the first two balls of the next over.
At least one boundary was hit every over until Usman Qadir got Shafique for 41 off the last ball of the ninth to break the partnership.But Fakhar Zaman pumped Qadir for two more boundaries – the ball drooping off Haider’s fingers at deep square leg facilitated the six – before Talat got him for 66 in the 13th over. That is when Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Ghulam and Rashid combined to provide the finishing touches to Qalandars’ innings, as they crashed 82 off the final seven overs, with Rashid hitting three sixes in an unbeaten eight-ball 22.
Imran Khan’s graceless exit
Leaders come and go, but the manner in which Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted from power through a parliamentary vote of no confidence has no precedent in Pakistani history.
After the opposition had mustered the necessary support of the members of the National Assembly, Khan could have resigned and exited from power with grace. Instead, he chose to cling to power until the last moment by sabotaging the vote of no confidence proceedings, despite a clear verdict from the Supreme Court to complete the voting process on Saturday. A cricket legend who played politics like a T-20 match; he kept the nation on its toes until midnight. His ego seemed bigger than the country he led.
Khan promised to build a new ‘Naya’ Pakistan, a thriving nation free from corruption beyond the dynastic politics of the past. But his nearly four years of narcissistic rule have been so nightmarish that ultimately public representatives opted to vote for Old Pakistan.
Khan leaves behind a nation with deeply polarised politics, an economy nearing collapse, and a foreign policy that has ruptured relations with major powers and trusted allies. Challenges that will be difficult to surmount by his successor, Shehbaz Sharif, the leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Pakistan has a chequered political history. In the past half century, long military rules have been followed by unstable civilian eras. This instability is often the result of the military’s intrusion into politics. The current impasse is no different, except that the alternative leader the generals tried to cultivate eventually became a Frankenstein.
To be sure, the post-Musharraf transition to democracy is different from the previous two such transitions of the 70’s and 90’s in the sense that rapid urbanization in the past couple of decades has produced a middle class that is no longer apolitical. Khan’s personal charm galvanised this class, especially its youth segment, leading to the emergence of PTI as a potent challenge to mainstream political parties, including the PMLN and Pakistan People’s Party.
Instead of focusing on the economy, Khan pursued a vengeful accountability drive against the leaders of PMLN and PPP. Their character assassination by trolls on social media, with unfounded accusations of corruption and treason, has introduced a level of toxicity in politics never seen before.
In the PTI’s rise, the military saw an opportunity to discredit both parties. Thus began the unique experiment of a regime built on the premise that civilian and military leaders would remain on the ‘same page.’ The bargain was that Khan would receive unwavering support from the military leadership and his government would, in return, deliver tangible economic outcomes through better governance. Keeping the opposition at bay was a shared interest.
But this bargain took no time to flicker due to the bad economic start of the Khan regime. It wasted almost a year in negotiating a bailout package with the IMF worth $6 billion, which devaluated the rupee. The subsequent period has seen further economic mismanagement amid the global pandemic, curtailing the GDP growth rate from 5.9% in 2018 to 3.4% this year. IMF conditionalities have led to double digit inflation. Foreign borrowing has raised the debt burden significantly. The economic corridor project with China is derailed. Unemployment has also skyrocketed. There is deep public disillusionment as a result.
Instead of focusing on the economy, Khan pursued a vengeful accountability drive against the leaders of PMLN and PPP, who were hounded and jailed on alleged corruption charges that remain unproven in any court of law. Their character assassination by trolls on social media, with unfounded accusations of corruption and treason, has introduced a level of toxicity in politics never seen before.
Islam has been a convenient tool for both military and civilian leaders to divert public attention from real socio-economic issues. But the way Khan has used his religious narrative to cultivate support among the population has no parallel.
Under no circumstances does the military allow civilian leaders to play with its chain of command, but Khan crossed this red line. He also played the American conspiracy card, using a diplomatic cable from the ex-envoy in Washington to claim the no confidence motion was a US ploy to change his regime. All his opponents, he dubbed traitors.
Without the military’s support, Khan could not have made it to the premiership. Its top brassindeed bet on the wrong horse and may have learned a hard lesson. His reckless subversion of the constitution to keep himself in power has also annoyed the judiciary and, perhaps, a significant chunk of his urban middle class supporters who have already borne the brunt of indirect taxes under PTI rule.
Despite his disgraceful exit from power, Khan retains a cult following among the youth. But with key PTI financiers drifting away and his own accountability about to begin, Khan’s political fate now hangs in the balance. The emergence of PTI as an alternative political force to cater to the rightful aspirations of the middle class was a good thing in the patronage-driven politics of Pakistan. Its demise – at the hands of its own leader – will be quite unfortunate.
Observance of Solidarity Day
The Indian security forces have been using ruthless force to suppress the freedom struggle of the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K), which they launched in 1989 after having been frustrated by the Indian intransigence to grant them the right of self-determination. According to reports compiled by human rights organizations and other authentic sources, since then, 95,791Kashmiris have been killed, more than twelve thousand women have been gang-raped and more than one hundred thousand houses have been destroyed.
The history of the freedom struggle is replete with innumerable incidents of bestiality committed by the Indian security forces. However, none of them can be compared to the brutality and callousness exhibited by them on January 21, 1990, when they resorted to indiscriminate firing on the demonstrators in Srinagar, who were protesting the molesting and rape of Kashmiri women at the hands of the Indian security personnel–killing 55 people and injuring dozens more.
The incident revived the memories of the Jalan Wala Bagh tragedy and justifiably caused severe outrage and resentment in occupied Kashmir, throughout Pakistan, and among the Kashmiri community the world over. A complete strike was observed in Pakistan on the 5th of February 1990 to protest against this dastardly act of the Indian troops. Since then February 5 is observed as Kashmir Solidarity Day in Pakistan and by the Kashmiri diaspora around the world.
The observance of the solidarity day has assumed greater significance in the backdrop of the Indian move to change the special status of the state; its bifurcation into two regions and declaring them part of the Indian union virtually nullifying the UN resolutions; siege of the state and continuation of the killing spree. Reportedly, more than 400 Kashmiris have been killed since August 5, 2019, including 22 martyred during January 2022.
India is in the grip of the proponents of the supremacist philosophy of Hindutva headed by Narendra Modi who by revoking the special status of IOJ&K and making it part of the Indian union has created a very dangerous situation posing a grave threat to peace and security in the region. He has not only ended the special status of IOJ &K but has also adopted a belligerent posture towards Pakistan which has brought the two nuclear powers face to face with each other. Modi is a cunning and callous enemy who can go to any extent to achieve his nefarious designs premised on the RSS ideology of “Hindutva.”
The revelations by the Indian Journalist Arnab Goswami that Modi had orchestrated the Pulwama incident in which more than fifty Indian soldiers were killed to win elections and finding an excuse to take action against Pakistan, amply exposes his fascism. He did send his planes to hit imaginary terrorist camps at Balakot in February 2019, though that incident ended in a lot of embarrassment for his government which cost it two planes and the capture of a pilot. The situation could have led to a full-fledged war between the two countries but the restrain shown by Pakistan and the intervention of friendly countries defused the situation.
Any such eventuality could have disastrous consequences for the entire region as any miscalculation on either side could easily trigger a nuclear war between the two countries. Pakistan has shown tremendous restraint over Indian provocations even though it was fully capable of giving a befitting response to any act of aggression against it as it proved last February.
Continuation of tensions and the possibility of war between Pakistan and India can not go away until the Kashmir dispute is resolved in consonance with the UN resolutions. The world community, the powers which can help in having those resolutions implemented and pressurizing India to end the persecution of the people of the Indian Occupied Kashmir, must abandon their indifference to the plight of the people of Kashmir who are fighting for their right to self-determination.
The people of Kashmir undeterred by the Indian atrocities are continuing their struggle for freedom. Their resistance and freedom movement continue notwithstanding the brutalities perpetrated on them by the Indian security forces. Indian machinations have not been able to subdue their urge for independence and they would not relent until they are allowed to decide their fate as per the UN resolutions. India is holding Kashmir against the will of its people and its stance on the issue has no moral or legal basis. History is a witness to the fact that freedom struggles cannot be subdued with the barrel of the gun. Pakistan which is a party to the Kashmir dispute would not allow India to get away with her illegal occupation of IOJ&K and its annexation to the Indian Union in defiance of the UN resolutions.
India which is spilling the blood of Kashmiris and has crossed all limits of persecution must realize that it can neither keep doing it indefinitely. By continuing the persecution of Kashmiris and maintaining a belligerent posture towards Pakistan it is not only endangering peace in the region but also jeopardizing the security and economic well-being of its people.
LGs and welfare
WITH a renewed focus on conducting local government elections, the issue of grassroots governance has bounced back into the news and policy cycles. This is reflected in the various aspects of LGs being dissected by political and civil society stakeholders, and activities — including protests by political parties — to find better and lasting ways to improve local governance.
Historically, the local bodies, first introduced during Gen Ayub’s military regime, have waxed and waned in line with the wider political schemes of state managers. It is an open secret that LGs are strategically renewed by military governments for undermining the established local political elite and manufacturing into existence a new layer of more pliable grassroots leadership. Meanwhile, elected governments and political parties too have neither looked kindly on the prospect of LGs taking root for similar fears that their locally established leadership might be challenged by new political actors.
However, irrespective of the intention behind the strategic diminishment and resurrection of LGs, the consensus across the political and academic spectrum is that local bodies are the linchpin of service delivery and the chain of political representation. Moreover, their role as connectors of higher-tier government structures and grassroots also remains unchallenged. In this respect, while many aspects of LG service delivery roles are being pored over, the role as a deliverer and administrator of social protection programmes has not been given the attention it deserves.
In Western democracies, the political governance landscape is based on local parish and councils. It is unimaginable to see them knocked out of the political representation and service delivery chain. In the UK, without local councils administrating education, social welfare systems etc, the whole edifice of a unitary state would come crumbling down. In Pakistan, however, LGs have been turned off and on like tap water, discouraging the exercise of people’s right to local representation.
With LGs, Ehsaas can have a greater reach.
The role of LGs in the administration of social welfare programmes is by now also well established in the developing world. Brazil is both associated with introducing participatory budgeting at the municipal level and the use of LGs in the administration of its famed cash transfer programme Bolsa Familia. This model has been copied in the rest of Latin and South America with municipal offices playing an ever-greater role in the roll-out and administration of similar cash transfer programmes. Brazil’s municipalities are at the front and centre in managing its social registry, carrying out a broad set of functions including identification of low-income areas, registration of beneficiaries, data collection and verification, training and outreach etc.
In Colombia, LGs are responsible for processing new applications and updating existing beneficiaries’ data on a rolling basis. Each municipality signs an agreement with the national cash transfer programme, committing to specific obligations and responsibilities. Committees are also established at the municipal level to handle complaints and allegations of ineligible beneficiaries.
In Pakistan, however, the role of LGs in the roll-out and administration of cash transfer programmes has been not systemically thought through. One of the key reasons for this is the evolving and expanding nature of the Ehsaas or Benazir Income Support Programme and the uncertainty about the continuance and longevity of LGs.
However, now that LGs seem to be back in fashion, steps should be taken to make them a permanent feature of political representation and service delivery chains. Only when the LG system is allowed to put down roots and firm up its uninterrupted presence can we begin to think about ways to shoehorn social protection programmes into LG structures for ease and confidence of its beneficiaries.
As the Ehsaas programme expands, LGs can provide it with a firm foothold, acceptability and greater reach among the public. Pakistan should definitely learn from the pragmatic fusion of local bodies and social protection programmes for better service delivery and generating wider public involvement (and hence support) at local levels. Political parties also need to change course and see LGs as the permanent enhancer of representative and service delivery aspects of democratic governance rather than as competitors of established local elites. In the longer term, there is also a long-overdue requirement for conducting research into how the absence of LGs has contributed immensely to the crisis of democratic governance and falling standards of centralised service delivery that we see today.
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