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Pakistan under PDM: Constitution subversion, human rights violations, mockery of the rule of law & economic collapse

Pakistan under PDM is a grim tale of constitution subversion, grave human rights violations, mockery of the rule of law & a complete collapse.



After ousting Imran Khan, the PDM government elected Shehbaz Sharif as the new Prime Minister. Meanwhile, Imran Khan launched the movement for Haqeeqi Azadi (true freedom). After numerous protests that mobilized thousands of workers, Khan called for the Haqiqi Azadi March towards Islamabad as a showdown. Instead, May 25, 2022, saw a turning point as Khan’s march was met with brutal force. Peaceful protestors, primarily women and children, were tear-gassed and baton-charged – a first in Pakistan’s recent history. With no accountability, the government and its “handlers” grew more audacious, and have since decimated human rights, made a mockery of the rule of law, and eventually subverted the Constitution.

The PDM government launched a brutal crackdown against the opposition, journalists, social media activists and dissenting voices. Intimidation, threats, harassment, abduction & violence became commonplace. Journalist and anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan, a vocal critic of the PDM government, was arrested. Journalist Jamil Farooqui was abducted, stripped naked and tortured in custody. Shaheed Arshad Sharif was forced to flee the country due to death threats and was later assassinated in October 2022. His elderly mother is still awaiting justice. Other journalists like Dr Moeed Pirzada and Sabir Shakir were compelled to leave Pakistan to ensure their safety. Currently, Imran Riaz Khan has been missing for over a month. He was abducted from outside Sialkot jail & despite the video evidence at the Court’s disposal, the authorities have failed to produce and have denied knowledge of his whereabouts.

The ruling period of the so-called “Democratic Movement” also witnessed the worst victimisation & human rights abuses of political opponents. Dr Shahbaz Gil was abducted on sedition charges and was subjected to physical & sexual torture in custody. Senator & senior PTI leader Azam Swati had his house raided in the middle of the night, where he was tortured and abducted. He was stripped naked, tortured and filmed through the ordeal. Later, he was blackmailed with a private video with his wife, which was illegally taped in the privacy of his bedroom. Illegal raids at homes in the middle of the night, threats, abductions, violence & vandalising and robbing of houses have become a norm over the past few months. There are over 10,000 PTI workers & supporters who are arbitrarily detained or jailed.
The government’s blatant disregard of court orders regarding the suspension of arbitrary detentions is further concerning. Despite the suspension of detention orders, PTI leaders and workers are repeatedly rearrested and held in arbitrary detention under different pretexts until they publicly disassociate from the PTI.

Furthermore, the PDM government has made a complete mockery of the justice system and the rule of law. Colonial laws are exploited to silence dissenting voices and undermine the opposition. Journalists & opposition leaders are charged in fabricated cases in an attempt to silence them. Imran Khan, the country’s most popular leader, is currently facing over 150 bogus cases, including sedition, blasphemy, terrorism, mutiny, contempt, and murder. The cases on their own are absurd and will be thrown out if heard on merit. For instance, Imran Khan is charged with the murder of Zille Shah. Zille was a special child brutally killed by the authorities. The autopsy report revealed the severe torture he was subjected to: fractured skull, ruptured livers, and crushed bones. Even his private parts were mutilated! The government’s first act was to shamelessly file murder charges against Imran Khan & the PTI leadership. Later, the government termed his death “a road accident.” No true investigation ever took place.
These sham cases will inevitably be dismissed when heard in Court. And, therefore, the government officials, particularly the PMLN leadership, have persistently maligned and intimidated the Supreme Court & High Court judges in desperate attempts to influence false verdicts against Imran Khan.

On the other hand, government officials have enjoyed impunity regarding their corruption cases, with acquittals handed out one after another. High-profile figures like Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza, Maryam Nawaz, and her husband Safdar were cleared of money laundering and corruption charges. Ishaq Dar, who had been declared a proclaimed offender by the National Accountability Bureau in 2017 and had been in exile since 2018, was reinstated as finance minister in September 2022. Even before his return, the accountability court removed his proclaimed offender status. These developments raise serious concerns about the integrity of the justice system in Pakistan.

The final nail was driven when the regime decided to subvert the Constitution and delay elections in the provinces of Punjab & KP. Free & fair elections are fundamental for any democratic setup; they are the foundation of the social contract between citizens and the State. Despite constitutionally mandated timelines and a Supreme Court ruling that set the election date for May 14, 2023, the government flagrantly defied these orders. As a result, over 180 million citizens are currently unrepresented, and fascist, illegal setups have been imposed upon them.

While the Constitution was eroded and human rights were brazenly violated, the PDM government wreaked havoc on the economy. It had inherited one of the fastest economies in Pakistan’s history; GDP growth was recorded at 6.1%, exports and remittances were at the highest level in Pakistan’s history, the large-scale manufacturing index posted the highest ever figures, jobs were being created, and the economic outlook seemed promising. Since taking over, the PDM government has driven the economy into a downward spiral. GDP growth shrinks from 6.1% in FY22 to 0.3% in FY23. Foreign exchange reserves plummeted to alarming levels, inflation soared to unprecedented levels, exports and remittances sharply declined, businesses shuttered, Pakistani rupee nosedived to historic lows, and over 80 million people became unemployed. Pakistan’s per capita income dropped 11% (from $1,765 to $1,568), and about 100 million people were pushed below the poverty line. The country now stands on the brink of default.

Pakistan under PDM: economic performance

Pakistan's economy under PDM

Pakistan’s descent under the PDM government is unparalleled. The fact that this has happened under a so-called “Democratic Movement” makes the situation all the more ironic. The only way to salvage the country from this catastrophic situation is by upholding the rule of law, and this starts with adhering to the Constitution and holding free and fair elections foremost.