Pakistan’s Hybrid Polity: A Rigged System and Public Frustration

Elections and Power Dynamics:

  • Recent elections led to a new government under Shehbaz Sharif, seen as compliant to the military.
  • Asif Zardari returns as President, while Maryam Nawaz takes a first stab at governance.
  • Imran Khan, the opposition leader, is sidelined and jailed, preventing his party’s potential win.
  • The military achieved its goal of a “minus Imran” and “minus Nawaz” political landscape.

History of Elections in Pakistan:

  • 1970: Free and fair elections led to the country’s break-up due to the Bengali majority vote.
  • 1977: Rigged elections by Bhutto resulted in a military coup by Zia ul-Haq.
  • 2018: The military allegedly engineered a “hybrid” regime with Imran Khan.
  • 2024: The military’s attempt at pre-poll manipulation failed due to public discontent.

The Military’s Influence:

  • The caretaker government system is seen as a tool for military manipulation.
  • The army asserts dominance through corps commander meetings and public statements.
  • They aim to control dissent and maintain power over security and foreign policy.

Corporate Analogy:

  • The army chief is like a CEO with corps commanders forming the board.
  • Shehbaz Sharif is the COO, Zardari the ceremonial MD, and IMF-approved banker is the CFO.
  • The public, the shareholders, have little say in the nation’s direction.

Economic Crisis and IMF Loan:

  • The new government faces a severe economic crisis and seeks a $6 billion IMF loan.
  • Reforms include energy price hikes, privatization, and controlling military’s economic role (a challenge for the IMF).
  • India cautions the IMF against funding the Pakistani military or Chinese debt.

India’s Response:

  • India avoids commenting on the flawed polls and focuses on internal elections.
  • PM Modi’s Kashmir visit prioritizes internal development and avoids mentioning Pakistan.
  • India separates its Kashmir policy from dealing with Pakistan as a foreign policy concern.




Financial Inclusion of Women in India: Progress and Pointers

Importance and Current Status:

  • Financial inclusion is crucial for development and achieving SDGs (8 out of 17).
  • India scores low in economic participation for women (Global Gender Gap Report 2023).
  • Financial inclusion can bridge this gap.
  • World Bank data (2011-2020) shows a global rise in account ownership (50%) and a significant increase in India (42%).
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) launched in 2014 has opened over 28 crore bank accounts for women (as of Jan 2024).

National Family Health Survey (NFHS) Findings:

  • Progress in multiple dimensions of financial inclusion for women.
  • Increased ownership of bank accounts, self-control over money, and micro-credit awareness.
  • NFHS-5 data (2019-21) identifies factors influencing financial inclusion:
    • Education (especially digital skills)
    • Occupation
    • Access to electronic media
    • Age

Education and Employment as Drivers:

  • Educated women are more aware of micro-credit schemes.
  • Working women are more likely to use these schemes.
  • Educated women with higher qualifications may use formal credit channels instead.

Digital Transactions and Socio-economic factors:

  • Educated, young, employed women with digital skills are more likely to use digital payments.
  • The head of household’s gender and wealth influence access to micro-credit.

Key Learnings and Recommendations:

  • Focus on women in non-female-headed households for financial inclusion programs.
  • Integrate financial awareness modules in education and skill development programs.
  • Regularly update financial literacy modules considering the evolving financial sector.
  • Raise awareness about cyber safety and digital banking practices due to rising cybercrimes.


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