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Pakistan gears up for a turbulent 2012

Big Boss

Dec 22, 2011
Pakistan gears up for a turbulent 2012

Najam Sethi, Lahore

If 2011 was a "bad year" for Pakistan, 2012 could turn out to be no better. Consider. The assassinations of the Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer, and the Christian leader Shahbaz Bhaati, in January 2011 were tragic precursors to the mass murders of Shia Hazaras in Balochistan province later in the year by sectarian extremists. Lack of decisive action to stamp out such dangerous elements from the body politic by provincial and federal "law enforcement" agencies will remain a hallmark of 2012 because of political and administrative reasons.

The onset of elections will lead to a mad scramble for votes and compel the mainstream political parties to make tactical alliances with such organisations at local levels, especially in Punjab province where such organisations have a significant footprint in many areas.

The "Raymond Davis affair" in February 2011 marked the beginning of a steady decline in Pak-US relations in general and ISI-CIA relations in particular. This was followed by the US raid to extract OBL from Abbottabad in May and the Salala incursion in FATA by NATO-ISAF in November. By the turn of the year, both "strategic' allies had abandoned even the pretext of a "transactional" relationship, Pakistan by freezing the visa regime and transit facilities and the US by freezing military aid. 2012 is likely to demonstrate continued cold relations between the two sides. Pakistan will demand a radical revision of the "rules of engagement" between the ISI and CIA especially with regard to the CIA's scope and nature of work in Pakistan, including the use of drones, while the CIA and Pentagon will resist any limitation of their warring writ. Indeed, lack of American success in eliminating the threat from the Haqqani network in Waziristan by war or negotiations could frustrate Washington into desperate interventionist measures.

The Pakistan military has had a bad year. Next year may not be better. The war against the Tehreek-e-Taliban has exacted a heavy toll, despite attempts to raise local lashkars to fight them or make peace agreements with them. Renewed efforts are likely in this direction but will meet with limited success. Cross border raids by the Pakistani Taliban from sanctuaries in Afghanistan will continue. This will strain relations between the opposing NATO and Pakistani forces along the border and could lead to new Salala- type "misunderstandings". The military's relationship with the Zardari government, currently on edge, could precipitate new crises and destablisation, including regime change.

Government-Judiciary relations are also poised to plunge to breaking point. Sooner rather than later, the Supreme Court will haul up some federal minister or PPP stalwart for contempt and put him into prison. Indeed, the prime minister and/ or president himself could come directly into the firing line on one count or another. But if there are elections and a new non-PPP government or coalition assumes office, which is very likely, the judiciary may be expected to take a step back and avoid any clash with the new mandate-holders.

2011 was a bad year for journalists in Pakistan. At least 11 were killed in the line of duty, either in conflict crossfire or targeted and picked off by state and non-state actors for crossing various red lines. The problem is especially serious in Balochistan province where disappearances, abductions and murders have led to exile and asylum-seeking.

Salman Taseer
2011 began with the assassination of Salman Taseer.
Electronic media elsewhere will continue to incur the wrath of state intel agencies and terrorists and extremists. Unlike in the past when second string media was the complainant, senior journalists are also likely to be targeted.

One of the most disturbing new trends is related to kidnapping-for-ransom. Although the case of Shahbaz Taseer is most prominent, the business and professional-class communities are likely to be targeted as a matter of strategy by criminals and terrorists in urban areas. The TTP is splintering and cash strapped. It has developed a strategy to raise revenues by establishing links with gangs of criminals and fundamentalists. Layers of business cooperation have developed in order to kidnap businessmen and their family members in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar and transport them to Waziristan for safe custody while negotiating ransom-receipts. Visiting white collar immigrants from USA, Canada and UK will be especially vulnerable because they are rich and are inclined to pay-up in a hurry and return to their country of work.

The economy is not expected to improve by much. Foreign investment has dried up because of terrorism and political instability. The IMF will not return to bail out Pakistan's balance of payments unless a new government assumes office and quickly takes reformist measures that will lead to belt tightening among all sections of society. Similarly, the prospect of renewed US aid on any significant scale is not very bright. So we expect low growth, high inflation and fiscal deficit, and a depreciation of reserves and currency. Fortunately, however, the economy will be buoyed up by robust remittances from overseas Pakistani workers, stable agricultural growth and rising exports, particularly of the textile sector. But the power crisis will remain a big dampener on all expectations.

- The writer is editor of The Friday Times, Pakistan

Read more at: Pakistan gears up for a turbulent 2012 : Najam Sethi News - India Today


Oct 18, 2006
All the more reason for kicking the Pakistan Plunderer's Party (PPP) out of the government. I say 2012 would be indeed turbulent but hopefully not as Najam Sethi has mentioned. I don't like him anyway.



New Recruit

Jul 2, 2010
From a military point of view, 2011 can only be categorized as a huge success, which translated into much better security conditions throughout the country, as the casualties from terrorism dropped significantly. I have detailed statistical data to prove this. Najam Sethi must be high on something.


Sep 12, 2010
From a military point of view, 2011 can only be categorized as a huge success, which translated into much better security conditions throughout the country, as the casualties from terrorism dropped significantly. I have detailed statistical data to prove my points as well. Najam Sethi must be high on something.
The Quetta blast yesterday was one after a long long time.

And even that was not from Taliban, but from BLA.

So, I consider it a success as far as a military operations viewpoint goes.


Apr 22, 2010
United States
i think the article can be summerised as
the political instability,cross boarder attacks and terrorism will hurt pakistan but textile, foreign remittances and agriculture growth are yet expected..

in short we are going down due to idiotic govt

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