While Islamabad has hinted at a tougher crackdown on Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and stressed the continuation of counter-terrorism operations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, Pakistan-based terrorist organizations Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e – Taiba (LeT) have stepped up efforts to push cadres to India.
The JeM also urges youth to join the terror group’s district-level gyms in Karachi, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Peshawar, Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Narowal, Shakargarh, etc. to get physically fit and flexible. It regularly organizes visits to the Border/Line of Control (LoC) areas by youth who go to the gym to familiarize themselves with them in order to use them in future infiltrations.
Between August 5 and 11, the JeM organized a seven-day training camp “Daura Tarbiya” in Ganga Choti, Bagh district of Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, senior LeT leaders actively participated in Friday sermons in Jamaat-ud-Dawas Marakiz and Madrasahs, spewing venom against India and the West. As part of its ongoing jihadi training activities, the LeT has resumed its basic Daura-e-Sufa training course in the guise of “self-defense courses.” LeT officials have launched fundraisers in the name of the recent floods. While helping the people in the flood-hit areas, they spread the ideology and opportunistically exploit the crisis to discover raw talent and recruits for the terror group.
Although the number of terrorism-related deaths remained about the same, the overall security situation in Pakistan deteriorated as terrorists appeared to be gaining ground in August. As talks with TTP continue with no sign of rapprochement, unease reigns among the organization’s grassroots, even as other terrorist groups strengthen their position.
The ceaseless cycle of political vendetta continued last month, with the Pakistani government and the TTP unforgiving, and the confrontation does not bode well for the country and will have a negative impact on the economy, which is already in the doldrums.
Although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and friendly countries have come to the rescue, things will get worse for the common man because of the conditionality imposed and prices of essential goods will skyrocket.
The economic situation remains precarious
On August 29, the IMF’s Executive Board approved the release of a US$1.17 billion tranche to Pakistan. It also approved an extension of the External Funds Facility until June 2023 and increased Special Drawing Rights (SDR) support by $720 million (about $950 million), bringing the total support package to about $6.5 billion. The clearance provided much-needed budgetary support to address fiscal and balance of payments deficits, essentially by accelerating additional financing from bilateral and multilateral partners.
Despite the disbursement of the IMF tranche, the economic situation in Pakistan will remain precarious, since the depleted foreign exchange reserves amounted to only around 7.7 billion US dollars as of August 24 economic downturn is expected, including a possible decline in textile exports in the coming months. Notwithstanding around US$500 million in aid pledged by multilateral and bilateral partners, the situation has put additional strain on Pakistan’s already scarce resources. The Pakistani government has estimated over $10 billion in damage to the economy from the floods.
The political situation remains fluid
The government has imposed a series of court cases on Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan Niazi. These include a case filed on August 20 under the Anti-Terrorism Act for threatening senior police officers and a judge for additional sessions in Islamabad. The Electoral Commission of Pakistan has separately notified Khan and other senior party leaders for making inappropriate and contemptuous remarks against the commission. The commission is also hearing the Toshakhana reference filed against Khan for embezzling official gifts.
Khan, meanwhile, has stepped up his anti-establishment rants in public rallies, particularly targeting army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and is urging the military establishment to review its policies in support of the ruling coalition government.