Nisar A. Memon
10-February- 2020 – Pakistan Observer
Will 2020 be an year of crises, both international and national? Or, will it be an year of hope with successful handling of challenges?
The year inherited the legacy crises brought forward from 2019. The crises in diplomatic relations between US and North Korea, US and Iran, US and China, US and Mexico were outcome of US administration’s engagement with these countries. These crises were result of failed policy initiatives of President Trump on the nuclear issues with North Korea and Iran that brought in the crises and not the expected peace in the world. With China it is trade issues to contain China’s growing economy challenging USA as the sole super power. The crises with Mexico is on further raising of border wall by US to safeguard jobs of US citizens as against the Mexican migrants.
All the regions of the world witnessed several international crises carried forward into 2020. In the Arab world; Yemen is under fire from Saudi Arabia – a close ally of US; Iraq where the US forces continue to remain for regional control; Syria where powerful ISIS brought cut to size and their leader al-Baghdadi eliminated by the US Army’s elite Delta Force and claimed by President Trump as his achievement; although ISIS succumbed but the Kurdish national problem remains with Turkey, Iraq, and Syria.
In France about half a million continue to protest against President Macron’s proposed pension reforms resulting in use of tear gas by police to disperse demonstrators in Paris on France’s CGT trade unions numbering 370,000. The striking transport unions creating crisis crippling the city of Paris. In Hong Kong, ‘one country and two systems’ came under attack from political forces opposed to it launching violent protests triggered by introduction of extradition bill which was met with equal force by HK administration. It is described as ‘worst crisis in Hong Kong’.
In Afghanistan, the US agreement with Taliban yet to see the light of the day with continued impact on Pakistan’s security. In South Asia, brutal human rights violation of Rohingya’s at the hands of Myanmar military junta resulted in 500,000 fleeing to Bangladesh causing socio-economic challenges.
In India, on 5th August 2019, Hindutva regime of PM Modi has broken all records of civilized behavior by taking most condemnable steps against people in occupied Jammu and Kashmir suppressed by Indian armed forces, subjugating further the Kashmiris who have been living in the hope since 1948 that the UN resolutions shall be implemented to give them their freedom by holding a free and fair plebiscite.
At home, the PTI government which came to office in mid 2019 brought in crisis of unprecedented economic hardships to all segments of society. The socio-political crisis is the cause of concern to the people of Pakistan, its diaspora, its foreign friends and Kashmiris who on 5th February once again heard the solidarity of the nation with them. The hope, however, is that the wisdom of its vigilant and resilient people will bring them out of crises to protect its sovereignty.
Novel Coronavirus, is singular crisis which was first reported on 31st December, 2019 from Wuhan, China but is spreading its deadly tentacles throughout the world. It causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and has taken a death toll of over 500 victims and China’s Health Commission has reported over 24,000 have been infected and tens of thousands quarantined while millions affected by restriction on movement.
Billions of dollar losses being incurred due to this virus. It has assumed the proportion of biological weapon hitherto unknown. Whether it was planted by some people, a nation or it is nature’s phenomenon is yet to be ascertained.
Crisis caused by Coronavirus is the most significant and dangerous whose complete impact will be known in due course but one thing is crystal clear that the way Chinese President Xi Jinping responded to it with his top leadership and putting in place action programs, without any financial consideration, is monumental and gives us the hope that with scientific research this virus will be controlled. Pakistan government’s actions to protect its people are what should have been and Pakistanis like the people of the world stand together to face this challenge.
2020 appears to be year of crises, both international and national, but China and world’s response to Coronavirus led us to believe that the year 2020 will be an year of hope with successful handling of challenges.
—Nisar A. Memon, former: federal minister and senator