Imran Khan, a former prime minister of Pakistan, has failed to win over his political rivals with his threat to “quit the corrupt political system” and leave all of the assemblies where his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party is in power.
After failing to persuade the government to agree to his demand for early elections, they interpret Imran’s threat as an effort to “stay politically relevant.”
Instead of speaking to the current civilian government, he is directing his remarks at the new military leadership, an organization he has been criticized in recent months.
Observers believe Imran is attempting to convince the new army chief that they can cooperate.
The leader of the PTI party wants the military to persuade the government to hold elections before October of next year in order to prevent a protracted period of political instability and social unrest in the nation.
However, the majority of Imran’s political adversaries think he won’t let go of the Assemblies he controls because doing so could cause a rift among PTI lawmakers.
In Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan, his party is in charge.
A bluffing game?
Speaking at a well-attended rally in Rehmanabad, Rawalpindi, on Friday, Imran declared that his party would no longer be a part of the “corrupt political system,” where those accused of committing billions in corruption were allowed to escape punishment.
He did not specify a deadline to leave the Assemblies, however, leaving the matter open.
After consulting with the chief ministers of his party in these four provinces, he said he would make a final decision on the matter.
Imran also made the decision to halt his lengthy march and asked his supporters not to enter the nation’s capital, Islamabad, as he had originally planned to do because he did not want unrest in the nation.
However, the majority of observers believe that his attempt to play the statesman was made from a weak political position after he was unable to pressure the government into calling early elections.
When he was unable to have an impact on the selection of the new army chief, Imran lost a significant amount of political momentum.
As the head of the opposition in parliament, he had made an effort to put pressure on the government to consult him before making the crucial choice.
Asim Munir will take over as the new army chief, replacing Gen. Qamar Javad Bajwa, whose term is set to expire on November 29. This was announced on Thursday by the Shehbaz Sharif-led Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government.
Since 2016, Bajwa has been in charge of the army.
Because of Imran Khan’s tenacious campaign against the army and its propensity to meddle in domestic politics, there was a lot of speculation regarding the selection of the new army chief in Pakistani political circles.
Imran, who was ousted as prime minister in April after losing a vote of confidence in parliament, claimed that the army and the US government were behind the plot to remove him due to his outspoken opposition to US meddling in Pakistan’s internal affairs.
Particularly among the nation’s younger generation, Imran’s campaign against dishonest politicians, US involvement, and the army had been gaining a lot of traction lately.
On October 28, he started his “long march” from Lahore to Islamabad in an effort to pressure the Sharif administration into granting his demand for early elections.
In October 2023, Pakistan will hold parliamentary elections.
However, Imran seems to have lost a lot of momentum as a result of the Sharif government’s choice to name Munir as the new army chief.
Munir served as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general for just eight months, one of the shortest periods in the agency’s history. When Imran was prime minister, Faiz Hamid, a favorite of Imran, took Munir’s place.
Pakistan’s puppet master
Bajwa had previously spoken out against the army getting involved in domestic politics.
He had admitted that this was the main cause of the public’s negative perception of the army in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, where the military has ruled for 50 of the country’s 75 years, the army chief has traditionally held more power than the prime minister.
Since each one of them was ousted from office by the army, no Pakistani prime minister has yet been able to serve out the full five-year term.
The Pakistan People’s Party of the Bhuttos and the Pakistani Muslim League of the Sharifs were the two main political parties at the time, and the army was searching for a third option when it brought Imran to power.
Nevertheless, the highest echelons of the military establishment began looking for a new prime minister when he failed to revive the economy and improve Pakistan’s tense relations with the US while at odds with the army over important appointments.
Why Imran wants elections now
The most well-liked leader in Pakistan right now, however, is Imran. If elections were held right now, he would win hands down.
In the same vein, the PDM coalition, led by Sharif, is hesitant to call early elections.
Accepting the IMF’s requirements to end subsidies in order to revive the ailing economy has made it quite unpopular with the general public.
The government will have some breathing room to boost the economy and announce new subsidies to lessen pressure on the general public if elections are held as planned — only in October of next year.
US Fighter Jets Shoot Down Octagonal Object Near Canadian Border
The Pentagon has reported that US fighter jets have shot down an unidentified flying object in the Midwest, near the Canadian border. The object was flying at an altitude of 20,000 feet and posed no military threat, however, it may have interfered with domestic air traffic. A statement by Pentagon spokesperson, Patrick Ryder, noted that the incident was the latest in a series of similar events, including a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that raised security concerns in North America.
The Pentagon reported that a third unidentified flying object was shot down over North America in just three days, and the fourth in a week. The object was brought down over Lake Huron on the US-Canada border at 2:42 pm local time on February 13th, according to a statement by the Pentagon. The recent activity of defence has been sparked by the appearance of a white balloon that was spotted over the US in late January. The balloon hovered over the country for days, leading the US to suspect it was a Chinese surveillance balloon.
On February 4th, fighter jets brought the balloon down off the coast of South Carolina. The latest object that was shot down appeared to have an octagonal structure, with strings hanging from it but no clear payload, as reported by an official to the press.
The object, detected near military sites in Montana, led to the closure of US airspace by the Pentagon due to its proximity to sensitive sites.
General Glen VanHerck, head of the US Air Force responsible for securing US airspace, informed the media that the military was unable to identify the nature, source, or means of staying aloft for the three recent unidentified objects.
General VanHerck, who is in charge of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command, stated that they referred to the objects as “objects” and not balloons for a specific reason. He added that he wouldn’t exclude any explanation, including the possibility of extraterrestrial involvement.
Legislators are calling for more information regarding the objects that have been shot down. US legislator Debbie Dingell, among other Michigan lawmakers, has stated the need to know the origin, purpose, and reason for the increase in the frequency of these objects.
Heino Klinck, a former US deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia, believes the government should be more transparent about these incursions. Klinck mentioned that the challenge for the government is to release information without compromising sources and methods, but it is high time for them to say something. The latest object was first detected over Montana on Saturday evening but was initially thought to be an anomaly.
However, it was detected again on Sunday over the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, moving over Lake Huron. US and Canadian authorities restricted airspace over the lake as fighters were scrambled to intercept and identify the object. Meanwhile, Canadian authorities are searching for the wreckage of the object shot down over the Yukon region.
Joe Biden Believed to Have Invited PM Modi for State Visit to US
It has been reported that the President of the United States, Joe Biden, has extended an invitation to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, for a state visit this summer. The invitation has been accepted in principle, and both sides are now working on scheduling a mutually convenient date. Currently, the visit is in the early stages of logistical planning.
India is set to host a series of events in the lead-up to the G-20 summit in September. This includes several events aimed at showcasing the country’s progress and achievements. Given the significance of the G-20, the state visit by President Biden is expected to be a significant event that will highlight the strong partnership between the two countries.
The visit will also provide an opportunity for the two leaders to engage in discussions on a range of important issues, including trade, investment, and regional security. India and the United States share a strong relationship, built on shared values and mutual interests. The state visit will further strengthen this relationship and deepen the ties between the two nations.
The visit is expected to generate significant media coverage and will likely be seen as a significant event in the region. Both sides are expected to take advantage of the opportunity to highlight their respective achievements and to set the tone for future cooperation.
The state visit is expected to last for a minimum of a couple of days and will involve several key events such as a joint address to the US Congress and a state dinner at the White House. Prime Minister Modi has a busy schedule ahead, including participation in the G-20 summit, domestic and international commitments, and campaigning for state assembly elections later in the year.
Sources, who remain unnamed due to the sensitive nature of the matter and restrictions on discussing it publicly, have not disclosed the timing and messenger of President Biden’s invitation to Prime Minister Modi. Biden previously hosted French President Emmanuel Macron for his first state dinner in December.
A senior official from the Biden administration has stated that the President values the partnership between India and the United States, which is seen as critical for addressing global challenges and advancing shared interests.
In conclusion, the state visit by President Biden to India this summer is expected to be a significant event that will reinforce the strong partnership between the two countries and deepen the ties between their people. Both sides are working to ensure that the visit is a success and will contribute to the continued growth and prosperity of both nations.
US Plans to End Public Health Emergency for Covid in May
The Biden administration has announced its plan to end the coronavirus public health emergency in May, signaling a shift in the perception of the pandemic’s severity. The expiration of the emergency will bring both symbolic and practical changes, as millions of Americans have received free Covid tests, treatments and vaccines that may not be available without cost after the emergency ends.
The White House intends to keep the emergency in place for a few more months to provide adequate time for hospitals, health care providers, and health officials to prepare for the changes that will come with its end.
Although Covid-19 is still taking an average of over 500 lives daily in the US, about double the number of deaths during a severe flu season, the pandemic is no longer disrupting daily life to the same extent it once did. This is due, in part, to the increasing number of people who have received vaccinations or have developed some level of protection from prior infections.
The White House is committed to an orderly transition out of the public health emergency. Additionally, the administration intends to let a separate declaration of a national emergency expire on the same day, May 11.
The White House has warned against the sudden end of the emergency declarations, stating that it could result in widespread chaos and uncertainty across the healthcare system. The statement highlights the potential impact on states, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and most importantly, millions of Americans.
The White House emphasized the importance of an orderly transition to minimize disruption to the healthcare system and to ensure that the needs of all stakeholders are addressed. The message serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and the need for continued vigilance and preparation to manage its impact on public health and the healthcare system.
The White House statement was released prior to a planned vote in the House on a bill named the “Pandemic Is Over Act,” which aims to end the public health emergency immediately. The Republican-led House is scheduled to discuss several pandemic-related measures this week. The White House’s statement serves as a response to the proposed bill, as well as another bill aimed at ending the national emergency.
The disagreement between the White House and House Republicans indicates a likely prolonged political dispute over the administration’s handling of the pandemic. Republicans aim to criticize the Biden administration for excessive spending in response to the coronavirus crisis. Representative Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana and the Majority Leader, has called on the Biden administration to end the emergency declaration immediately instead of waiting until May 11. Scalise believes that the Biden administration has used the Covid crisis as a cover to waste taxpayer dollars on unrelated policies.
However, the White House claims that it is the federal Covid policies, including free tests, treatments, and vaccines, that have improved the control of the pandemic. The officials have reported that Covid was the third leading cause of death from 2020 to mid-2022, but is no longer among the top five killers.
In conclusion, the decision to end the coronavirus public health emergency marks a significant turning point in the pandemic, reflecting the administration’s confidence in the progress made in controlling its spread. However, it also brings with it the challenge of ensuring a smooth transition that addresses the impact of the emergency on the healthcare system and its stakeholders.
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