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The year 2023 has undoubtedly been a challenging one for Pakistan, as the nation grappled with a multitude of issues that had far-reaching consequences. From the relentless surge of inflation to escalating militant attacks, and the intensification of institutional clashes and political instability, Pakistan faced an array of challenges that tested its resilience.

Throughout the year, numerous stories emerged that not only dominated headlines but also left a profound impact on the country’s political landscape, social fabric, and economic stability. These stories shed light on the pressing issues that Pakistan continues to confront.

Imran Khan’s arrest

Imran Khan, the founder chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was arrested in Lahore after being found guilty in the Toshakhana case and given a three-year prison sentence by a district and sessions court in the federal capital.

The PTI founder and former prime minister avoided arrest for months and urged his supporters to thwart attempts to apprehend him. There was rioting and protracted standoffs between the police and Khan’s followers as a result of the PTI founder’s effort to elude arrest.

The event set off a protracted political cycle of instability that is still hurting Pakistan’s ability to remain a cohesive entity.

The IMF and Pakistan reach an agreement

At the end of June, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Pakistan achieved a significant breakthrough when they came to a $3-billion agreement on a Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) which immediately allowed the disbursement of about $1.2 billion in July. This gave the economy some respite to implement several stringent steps to stabilise the situation after months of a volatile situation.

The IMF agreement was viewed as a huge benefit for Pakistan and its struggling economy.

By lowering the likelihood of a possible default, the cash from the international lender opened the door for additional contributions from Pakistan’s bilateral and multilateral allies. Furthermore, it helped in stabilising the currency market and grounded expectations for inflation, economic expansion, and interest rates.

National Assembly dissolved

On August 9, 2023, President Dr Arif Alvi assented to the premature dissolution of the National Assembly shortly after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif forwarded the summary.

“The president dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of the prime minister under Article 58-1 of the Constitution,” read an official statement issued by the President’s Office.

With the dissolution, the turbulent five-year term came to an end.

Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar takes oath as interim prime minister

Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar was sworn in as caretaker prime minister on August 14. Kakar was nominated as caretaker PM on August 12 after outgoing Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly (NA) Raja Riaz and outgoing PM Shehbaz Sharif agreed on his selections.

The caretaker government under PM Kakar will oversee the upcoming elections, which were announced for February 2024.

After spending years in exile, Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz announced the return of its supremo, Nawaz Sharif, who had been living in self-exile in London for four years, as soon as it was established that elections would take place on February 8 of the next year.

The ousted PM was sentenced to ten and seven years in prison in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references, respectively. However, after his return on October 21, he was acquitted in both cases.

In his homecoming rally, former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif said he had “no desire for revenge” and that all institutions must work together for Pakistan to succeed.

The former three-time premier is hoping to make it to the helm for the fourth time following the national elections.

Military trial of perpetrators of May 9 attacks

After Imran was first arrested on May 9, party workers and his supporters resorted to violent clashes that damaged several government buildings, including police stations and military installations. To contain the escalating hostilities, the PDM-led government dispatched military personnel to Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Islamabad.

Following the end of the hostilities, the government declared that the imprisoned protestors would face trial under the Official Secrets Act and the Army Act. The military leadership, on its part, has vowed to try protesters under the Army Act.

There is concern that using military courts to try civilians could set a risky precedent and threaten the nation’s democratic system.

SIFC formed to propel growth in Pakistan’s industrial and agricultural sectors

To draw in foreign investment, Pakistan established the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC). Outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stated at the time that the council represented a “unified approach” to help the nation escape its economic crisis. “It will include our institutions particularly the institution of Pakistan Army, lead by COAS General Asim Munir, who has personally contributed in this programme in a way that has no parallel in the past,” he said.

With the army chief sitting on the body’s apex committee and the army acting as the national coordinator for both the apex and executive committees, the military will have a key role in the new organisation.

Expulsion of illegal foreign nationals

Pakistan decided to expel unlawful foreign nationals, primarily Afghans, from the country due to an increase in terrorist attacks and economic hardship. Of the approximately 4 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, Pakistan maintains that 1.7 million were unauthorized.

Pakistan’s relations with the Afghan Taliban may be impacted by the decision, but Islamabad insists it won’t back down from its efforts to drive out illegal immigrants.

DG ISI Lt Gen Nadeem Ajnum gets extension

Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar stated in November that the head of Pakistan’s primary intelligence organization, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), will be serving for an extended period to maintain “continuity” of policy at a time when the nation is experiencing an increase in militant assaults.

One of the most important roles in Pakistan is the DG ISI, which operates at the intersection of national and international politics.

Prognosis for 2024

Many may contend that Pakistan had a difficult year in 2023. Some of the lessons learned include protracted political turmoil and growing security threats.

Let’s hope that Pakistan will experience stability and prosperity in 2024.


Comments are closed.

KU Dec 31, 2023 01:01pm
It's amusing that we rest our hopes on future after bad times and yearly milestones, yet the daily lives of people with its frustrations, uncertainty and misery have no milestones or an end in sight. Much of the same economic chaos will continue in 2024 and sadly by the same leadership and their hordes of raiders that are dangerously similar to the invaders of subcontinent of yesteryears. They are not here to stay and get elected or serve the people, but to loot the country and live happily ever after in some other country.
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Parvez Dec 31, 2023 04:05pm
The title realistically should read " From political meddling, abysmal governance and judicial collapse to economic mayhem, Pakistan's hopes for a better 2024 stands in tatters ".
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Fatima Dec 31, 2023 04:27pm
I can’t see a legitimate people’s government being elected, so more of the same drama.
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