Shehbaz Sharif Politicized International Flood Aid To Pakistan Due To His Fear Of Losing Power

Shehbaz Sharif Politicized International Flood Aid To Pakistan Due To His Fear Of Losing Power

By Andrew Korybko

The post-modern coup leader’s warning can be interpreted as a cry for help to his backers in the Golden Billion that his time in power might soon be coming to an end unless they send billions’ worth of aid very soon.

Incumbent Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who scandalously replaced his predecessor Imran Khan as the result of a US-orchestrated post-modern coup in early April, politicized international flood aid to his country by warning that insufficient amounts could supposedly lead to “political instability”. Express Tribune reported the words that he shared to Financial Times behind the latter’s paywalled article, informing their audience that he ominously said the following:

“We are obviously concerned because if there is dissatisfaction leading to deeper political instability and we are not able to achieve our basic requirements and goals, this can obviously lead to serious problems. I’m not saying it in terms of any kind of threat, but I’m saying there’s a real possibility.”

He’s not saying it directly, but there isn’t any doubt that Shehbaz is hinting that his predecessor could return to the office in the scenario that nationwide protests against his team’s response to this natural disaster influence The Establishment – a popular Pakistani term referring to their country’s powerful military-intelligence structures – into forcing him to hold early elections. The innuendo is that ties with the US-led West’s Golden Billion would suffer, hence the urgent need for more aid from them.

There’s nothing wrong with a national leader, irrespective of their legitimacy in the eyes of millions of their compatriots, requesting support from the international community after their country was just hit by one of its worst natural disasters ever. What’s so contentious about his warning, however, is that he needlessly politicized the reason behind it with a view towards leveraging that aforesaid aid for self-interested domestic reasons that distract from Pakistan’s objectively existing humanitarian ones.

The world’s focus should be on helping all Pakistanis achieve their basic requirements and goals, exactly as Shehbaz first phrased it, but this should be done for ethical and moral reasons, not political ones connected to the stakes that the Golden Billion has in his post-modern coup regime. The very fact that the incumbent leader felt the need to make this inappropriate threat (despite immediately afterwards gaslighting that it isn’t one) shows how insecure he truly feels about his grip on power.

Pakistan’s preexisting economic-financial struggles reached crisis proportions shortly after the US-orchestrated post-modern coup succeeded. It remains the realm of speculation whether this outcome was inevitable irrespective of the externally driven regime change that took place, but there’s no denying popular perceptions that it at the very least accelerated related trends. Under such pressing circumstances, the same Establishment that helped sweep him into power might end up turning on him.

It was only due to their infamous “neutrality” in standing on the sidelines and letting the regime change unfold without interference that he and his fellow conspirators were able to seize power. Furthermore, it’s also only due to them refusing to hold free and fair elections as early as possible that former Prime Minister Khan hasn’t yet been democratically returned to office by the people exactly as many expect would happen if The Establishment changed their mind.

In other words, Shehbaz owes his political fortunes solely to this same Establishment, which might eventually conclude that his placeholder status has become more of a liability than an asset over the long run. Had it not been for Pakistan’s recent natural disaster, his powerful patrons in the elite echelons of The Establishment might not have thought twice about using maximum force to put down a popular and purely peaceful uprising by the people, but the flood might have changed their calculations.

The reason for this assessment is that the optics of the armed forces using force, including lethal in the worst-case scenario, against the peacefully protesting and largely impoverished masses in the aftermath of their natural disaster and the post-modern coup regime’s difficulties in adequately meeting their basic needs would almost certainly be unacceptable for the vast majority of the international community. This obviously includes their benefactors in the Golden Billion, who might pull their support.

The domestic political mood remains extremely tense after the former premier’s PTI just swept yet another round of by-elections, thus proving that it’s by far the most popular political party in all of Pakistan, though the post-modern coup regime (or rather, its powerful patrons in the elite echelons of The Establishment) still refuse to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible. That said, for the abovementioned reason, they might now be loath to use maximum force against peaceful protesters.

Even though Interior Minister Rana Sanullah infamously threatened to publicly execute former Prime Minister Khan by “hanging him upside down”, actually going through with this is another matter entirely, especially against the context of his country’s political crisis and post-disaster humanitarian situation. The Establishment seems to have realized that they’re now caught in a dilemma of their own making after correctly presenting their people as environmental victims in desperate need of aid.

That was done for the right reasons, but it also served to counteract their own narrative that was pushed through media and political proxies alleging that those who peacefully protest in favour of free and fair elections as soon as possible are part of some dangerous January 6th-like conspiracy movement. The flood changed everything though since the international community would understand why increasingly desperate and already largely impoverished people might passionately protest for more aid.

The Establishment would therefore have a very difficult time explaining to the Golden Billion’s masses why they just used maximum force (including lethal in the worst-case scenario) against these same people who they just spent the past few months telling the world are desperately in need of aid. This state of affairs inadvertently works in the Pakistani people’s favour since it reduces – but to be clear, doesn’t fully eliminate – the chances that they’d be seriously harmed or even killed for protesting.

In the event that former Prime Minister Khan’s Absolute Freedom March goes through and isn’t deterred by The Establishment’s threats, then the latter might very well be successfully pressured into holding free and fair elections as soon as possible as the only politically acceptable pressure valve. Resorting to maximum force against these peaceful protesters, some of whom are literally climate refugees, would discredit their US-backed post-modern coup regime in the eyes of the world.

Shehbaz has clearly been ordered by The Establishment to do his utmost in order to preemptively avert that scenario, hence his ominous warning that urgent aid is required in order to offset that credible chain of events. If Pakistan receives billions more in aid without further delay, then the post-modern coup regime can claim that the people’s humanitarian needs have been adequately addressed, thus enabling them to in turn allege that anyone protesting is purely part of a Trump-like “conspiracy”.

From there, maximum force can potentially be used against them without the risk of discrediting The Establishment among the audience that matters most, the Golden Billion and their masses. That said, the failure to receive billions more in aid without further delay would result in the global perception that some of those possibly forthcoming protesters are bonafide climate refugees who’ve been pushed to desperation by the recent natural disaster, thus making them illegitimate targets for the use of force.

So long as that global perception remains credible like it presently is due to the post-modern coup regime’s public admission that it hasn’t yet received anywhere near the amount of aid required to meet the basic needs of its tens of millions of climate refugees, then The Establishment will think twice before resorting to the use of maximum force against any mass of peaceful protesters. If they succeed in putting enough pressure on Shehbaz, then his overlords might order him to comply with their demands.

The Establishment’s elite echelons wouldn’t really have much of a choice in that scenario since they’d be focused first and foremost on preserving their power, which wouldn’t be possible in the event of the large-scale civil unrest that maximum force against those protesters could risk catalysing. With this in mind, Shehbaz’s warning can also be interpreted as a cry for help to his backers in the Golden Billion that his time in power might soon be coming to an end unless they send billions’ worth of aid very soon.

Categories: Current Affairs, Pakistan

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