By Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza
Glasgow [Scotland], May 31 (ANI): Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi has suddenly bounced back into the limelight of his country's media, but for political reasons.
His statement that if he were to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan he would eliminate unemployment, his recent visit to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), escorted by military personnel, where he addressed crowds and bashed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a photo opportunity grabbed hastily at the PIA plane crash site in Karachi, all seem to be indications of a new sinister game-plan being designed by the deep state of Pakistan.
Since the spread of coronavirus pandemic and its intrusion in Pakistan by Muslim pilgrims returning from Iran via Gilgit-Baltistan, returning Tablighi and migrant workers from abroad and the delay in taking a decision regarding quarantine and lockdown have exposed the lack of cohesion in Imran Khan's governance.
This was also the occasion that brought contradictions on the handling of the coronavirus crisis between the civil government and the military into the open, bulldozing the myth that for the first time, in a very long time, both the Prime minister and the military generals were on the same page.
In recent days the contradictions seem to have taken a turn for the worst.
Hesitant to order a complete lockdown of the country, Imran Khan reacted to the nation-wide lockdown initiated through the army intervention, by issuing a statement on Labour Day, calling it a 'decision... taken by the elite without thinking of the poor'.
This proved that there were serious issues between the 'elite' (read military Generals) and the Prime Minister on how to govern a country caught in a debt spiral and the abyss of uncontrollable corruption including tax evasion amid coronavirus pandemic.
On May 4, fearful of a total meltdown of profits earned by sugar and wheat mafia, Imran announced a gradual easing of the lockdown so that factories can restart production.
However, the Rs 3 billion worth of sugar and wheat subsidy scandal in Punjab during his tenure as Prime minister, which the Federal Board of Revenue is now investigating, has pushed Imran Khan against the wall.
Top party leaders such as Jahangir Tareen also known as Imran's ATM machine and allied partner Moonis Elahi, leader of Pakistan Muslim League (Q), are a few among those who have been accused of committing corporate fraud.
Hence a Prime Minister who was rushed to the seat of power by none other than the military establishment has been caught harbouring sugar and wheat mafia in his own cabinet!
Imran has become an embarrassment for the military institution.
His failure to lure international donors and finance capital into Pakistan and mismanaged media PR during sanctioning Bajwa's extension as the Chief of the army staff plus his failure in preventing the courts from awarding death sentence to ex-President General (R) Pervez Musharraf and the U-turn he took over his decision to participate in the Kuala Lumpur Summit along with the leaking of documents that reveals massive corruption in the CPEC projects have all contributed to the military elite having second thoughts about their puppy.
Recent changes in Khan's cabinet, like the removal of information advisor Firdoss Awan with serving army General Asim Bajwa who was made special assistant to the Prime Minister on information and broadcasting and of General Asif Ghafoor as managing director of the state-owned Pakistan Television, Corporation should be seen in this light.
Several of Imran Khan's cabinet members are now being investigated for corruption.
They include Ghulam Sarwar Khan the minister for aviation too. In a confidential letter from Director General National Accountability Bureau (NAB) addressed to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) Rawalpindi, Muhammad Saleem Khan has asked him to provide "record relating to agriculture, residential and commercial properties/lands/plots, purchased/owned/sold" in the name of Ghulam Sarwar Khan and members of his family.
The size of Pakistan's economy has shrunk to USD264 billion and the GDP growth rate has fallen into (negative) -0.38 per cent 3 per cent.
This has not happened in the past 68 years. And as foreign investors pull out USD26 billion from Asian markets for Pakistan's attempts to attract investments are dangerously bleak.
Juggling between an economy akin to a dead patient in Intensive Care Unit being artificially kept alive on machines, the demands of 20 per cent increase in salaries and perks from a greedy military establishment who controls the commanding highest of the Pakistani economy and a health crisis that has been tormented as four federal health secretaries have so far been changed since the coronavirus pandemic, Imran Khan is making a last-ditch effort to survive.
Hence he has allowed the sugar scandal report to go public in a futile attempt to present himself as an honest ruler in the eyes of the public.
It might be too late as the military establishment is now seemingly looking for his replacement. It is in this light that the sudden projection of Shahid Afridi should be seen.
However, Shahid Afridi might just prove to be a distraction and the real change might be engineered from within the house. Whatever means or mechanisms are applied to bring in another yes man; one thing seems pretty sure that the sands of time are running out fast from our playboy Prime Minster.
[Disclaimer: Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from PoK. He currently lives in exile in the United Kingdom.] (ANI)