Kamala Harris set to speak at Newport Beach DNC fundraiser – Spectrum News

Kamala Harris set to speak at Newport Beach DNC fundraiser – Spectrum News

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Dangerous politics – The News International

On the last working day ahead of Monday, when a meeting of the executive board of the IMF is scheduled to consider the revival of a bailout for Pakistan, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa announced the province cannot honour its commitment to turn up a surplus at the end of the current fiscal year. The assertion to this effect, coming from Finance Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra in a letter to Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, can only be seen as an attempt to put politics above the nation’s interest. Jhagra’s letter came a day after another leader of the PTI, former cabinet minister Fawad Chaudhry, openly threatened the government with scuttling the programme by having Punjab and KP go back on their commitments with the Fund. Nor is it secret anymore that a senior PTI leader telephoned certain senior officials in Punjab Finance Department at around the same time, urging them to shoot a similar letter of their own to the federation. This audacious attempt calculated to push Pakistan over the precipice of default has befittingly attracted flak from all sides. Imran and his PTI need to realize that there are red lines in politics, and that the nation’s economic integrity is foremost among them. As things are, it is amply clear that Pakistan is contending with a problem largely of Imran’s making. As of April 2022, Pakistan was staring down the abyss of sovereign default by June 2022. The IMF programme was on the rocks because Imran had suddenly grown scruples ahead of his ouster after signing up for painful economic reform, going back on his commitments and announcing an unbudgeted subsidy on fuels and a standstill on electricity tariffs. Ever since it rose to power, the PDM’s coalition government has taken Pakistan through hell just to bridge the trust deficit created with the Fund by the previous PTI administration. It has put to pain people already staggering under the burden of a stellar inflation by rolling back unfunded energy subsidies. Now that all seems set for the Fund to revive the bailout, Jhagra’s letter will undermine the government’s position. At another level, this is probably the first time the provinces have been used as pawns to put pressure on the federation in favour of a political party’s agenda. Needless to say, provincial governments pitching into the battle on the side of one or the other party is quite unacceptable. It is a marvel that the PTI deems it fit to employ scorched earth tactics at a time when Pakistan is in unprecedented peril. The economy was still struggling to get to its feet when a natural disaster of biblical proportions struck in the shape of monsoon floods. Vast areas of three provinces of the country are submerged as of now, painting a grim picture for the coming sowing season. Vast damage to housing, infrastructure, government and industrial installations, and agriculture is going to take tens billions of rupees to repair. Already sky-high, food inflation is now set to climb further, soon to be compounded by shortages. Food imports will become necessary, putting further pressure on the rupee. For a country already reeling under the impact of these interlocking crises, a move like Jhagra’s letter can be the proverbial last straw. The provincial grievances Jhagra has brought up in his letter look real enough – although they remained unresolved throughout the four years when the PTI controlled both Islamabad and Peshawar. That said, as federal minister for finance, Miftah Ismail has a duty to at least listen to these issues and defuse any tiffs before they get out of hand. The agenda for the IMF board meeting is already locked, so it is unlikely that Jhagra’s letter finds its way to the table on Monday. However, it will be a very embarrassing situation for Pakistan if it does. If someone at the board decides to take a closer look at what is afoot, the Pakistani representative will be hard pressed to explain the sickening politics at work here. The finance minister is confident no such scenario will arise, especially given that the IMF deals with national governments. If, on the other hand, the PTI’s ploy works, Pakistan will be in the middle of a gigantic crisis. Averting default without IMF help was difficult enough before the floods. Now it will become an impossible task. The government will be hard pressed to look for budget financing elsewhere. It will inevitably have to impose new taxes to create domestic fiscal space. This is a grim prospect to even consider, let alone live through. Whichever way it goes, the polity needs to institute solid disincentives to this kind of behaviour in the future with a view to ensuring that the government representing Pakistan at the international level is completely assured that nobody from the political opposition will stab it in the back. The approval of the Anti-rape Amendment Bill 2022 by the Senate’s Committee on Interior has given some hope to the… Pakistan’s sports community has widely hailed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s announcement that the government has… The country stands devastated due to the heavy rains and floods that have ravaged through most cities, towns, villages… That politics is an evolutionary process is an historical fact. That this evolution unfortunately seems to have… Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Qatar was not pointless after all. Qatar is to spend $3 billion on various… Ever since the BJP assumed power in India in 2014, its leaders have been trying to incite hatred against religious…
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