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Political Instability in Sri Lanka and Pakistan

The Indian Sub-Continent has had its turbulent shake-up since its major powers got their independence from the waning British Empire post World War II. Pakistan went through multiple military coup d'tats, and Bangladesh went through a gory independence war as well as its coup d''tats. Sri Lanka went through a civil war that ravaged the island nation for a quarter-century. India went through religious, political, and economic hiccups, yet it became one of the largest economies in the world (alongside Bangladesh)[1].

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic changed the world as we know it. It shut down businesses, schools, economic institutions, and vice versa[2]. Although countries are now recovering from the pandemic, it is not the same for countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka. As of now, the Pakistani government is going through political instability, whereas Sri Lanka is going through an economic crisis[3][4].

Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka[5][6][7][8][9][10]

Sri Lanka is experiencing its worst economic recession since independence. It is most likely the most difficult period for the island country since the climatic end of its civil war in 2009. In February, the country's inflation rate rose to 15.1%. The rate of food inflation has risen to 25.7 percent. A 400-gram pack of milk, for example, increased to $0.90 in less than a weekend. (Sri Lanka's second-largest gas supplier has increased the cost of the gas cylinders by 1359 Sri Lankan Rupees.

To top it off, it owes a significant amount of money to China, India, and Japan. The country owes China $5 billion, which many opponents claim was the starting point of the crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic impacted Sri Lanka's tourism industry, which accounts for 10% of the country's GDP.

Another significant contributor to the crisis was the countrywide shift from chemical farming to organic farming. Since Gotabaya Rajapaksha took office in 2019, the country's foreign reserves have plummeted from $7.5 billion to just $1.58 billion. The alleged stockpiling of food supplies such as rice and sugar by the food mafia has exacerbated an already dire situation.

Many Sri Lankan people blame the Rajapaksha family for the economic crisis. They have to stand in line for hours at the petrol pumps, where 4 people have reportedly died waiting in the lines. The government even deployed the army to handle the situation. The Rajapakshas are the most powerful family in Sri Lanka. They hold most of Sri Lanka's key positions in the Government. Credit where credit is due, the Rajapakshas also played a key role in not only defeating the LTTE but also ending the long-gory civil war in Sri Lanka in 2009.

Mahinda Rajapaksha is the current Prime Minister, his brother Gotabaya is the president, and lastly the third brother, Basil is the finance minister. Other family members hold positions of power in the Sri Lankan government, the mentioned three are the most important ones. They are already criticized for their human rights violations during and after the Sri Lankan Civil War. Many people believe that the family's constant dependence on Beijing has put the country in economic turmoil.

As of now, India has provided a $1 billion credit line to Sri Lanka. Since their overall debt is $51 billion, they are now seeking the IMF for a bailout. Sadly, the damage has already been done. A couple of days ago, protestors had tried to storm the Sri Lankan president's home because of their anger. As of now many protestors were injured and/or arrested. What will happen next, is up for debate.

Political Apocalypse in Pakistan [11][12][13]

While Sri Lanka is facing its economic Ragnarok, Pakistan, India's angry western neighbor is going through its political demons. The country that lectures India over human rights in Kashmir yet is silent on its ally, China's atrocities against the Uighur Muslims are now facing a huge political cold war. Prime Minister Imran Khan's administration is in jeopardy when the opposition has brought the no-confidence motion in the Pakistani Parliament.

The following are the reasons for the outpouring of rage directed at the former cricketer turned Prime Minister:
  • The administration's poor economic and foreign policy management.
  • Corruption is on the rise in government institutions.
  • Pakistan's application for something like an IMF bailout has indeed been halted because it did not meet the IMF's criteria. Despite its revival at the expense of higher oil prices and electricity tariff barriers, it only complicated the problem.
  • Since Imran Khan was elected in 2018, there has been a constant turnover of finance ministers and secretaries.

Pakistan's two major opposition parties, Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan Peoples Party, which are once arch-enemies, have joined hands to topple the Imran Khan government. The Pakistani Army and the ISI are also withdrawing their support from the ruling government. Their members of the Cabinet, like Shahzain Bugti, have resigned. The Pakistani Lower House requires 172 votes to attain a majority.

As of this writing, the opposition has 163 votes. The opposition parties are trying to woo more parties to join their cause. No one knows what happens next, but it is highly unlikely that the Imran Khan Administration will survive the no-confidence motion.

Conclusion
As previously stated, India provided monetary aid to Sri Lanka. The aid could help the Sri Lankan economy to some extent. It is unknown whether Sri Lanka would get out of this crisis pretty soon. The Sri Lankan government needs to do something which could prevent them from losing the hearts and minds of their people. They need to sort out their economic problems, while at the same time bringing better policies that could help the people of Sri Lanka.

As for Pakistan, they need to sort out their priorities once the no-confidence motion is done. They also need to improve their economy and their foreign policy. They need to focus on bettering the lives of people rather than lecturing India on its domestic policies[14]. They also need to sort their things with China, otherwise, they'll nothing more than Beijing's poking stick to piss off India[15].

The Indian Subcontinent is going through a tough turmoil since the Covid-19 Pandemic showed up. It is only a matter of time before its countries realize that the pandemic isn't going anytime soon. So they must take precedents from the political and economic crisis in both Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and it should serve as what and what not to do in economic and political policies.

References:
  • Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka
  • Pakistan Political Crisis: Political Turmoil In Pakistan
  • South Asian Countries: The New Face of Emerging Economies
  • Socio-Economic Implications of COVID-19 Pandemic in South Asia: Emerging Risks and Growing Challenges
  • Sri Lanka Economic Crisis Explained: What Is Happening In Sri Lanka? All You Need To Know
  • Sri Lanka economic crisis: The all-powerful Rajapaksas under fire
  • Sri Lanka facing worst economic crisis, asks for IMF bailout
  • Dozens arrested in Sri Lanka amid protests over the worsening economy
  • Crisis-hit Sri Lanka seeks further $1 bln credit line from India
  • China One, But Not The Only Reason Behind Sri Lanka's Economic Collapse
  • Explained: Why things don't look good for Pakistan's Imran Khan as he faces biggest political crisis
  • Pakistan's hypocrisy exposed on China's genocide of Uyghurs as Imran 'stands with Beijing's version'
  • Explainer: Pakistan PM Khan faces difficult no confidence vote
  • India & Pakistan - A continuing Story

End-Notes:
  1. South Asian Countries: The New Face of Emerging Economies 17 Mar. 2020, www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/022316/south-asia-new-face-emerging-economies.asp. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  2. Socio-Economic Implications of COVID-19 Pandemic in South Asia: Emerging Risks and Growing Challenges 15 Jan. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8022444/. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  3. Pakistan Political Crisis: Political Turmoil In Pakistan, Imran Khan Calls It, 'Foreign Conspiracy' 1 Apr. 2022, www.timesnownews.com/videos/mirror-now/society/pakistan-political-crisis-political-turmoil-in-pakistan-imran-khan-calls-it-foreign-conspiracy-video-90585204. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  4. Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka Radiant News, 26 Mar. 2022, news.radiantreach.co.uk/2022/03/economic-crisis-in-sri-lanka.html. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  5. Shandilya, Aparna. Sri Lanka economic crisis explained: What is happening in Sri Lanka? All you need to know 23 Mar. 2022, www.republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/sri-lanka-economic-crisis-explained-what-is-happening-in-sri-lanka-all-you-need-to-know-articleshow.html. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  6. Jazeera, Al. Sri Lanka economic crisis: The all-powerful Rajapaksas under fire Al Jazeera, 1 Apr. 2022, www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/1/sri-lanka-economic-crisis-the-all-powerful-rajapaksas-under-fire. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  7. Sri Lanka facing worst economic crisis, asks for IMF bailout Economy and finance news from a German perspective, www.dw.com/en/sri-lanka-facing-worst-economic-crisis-asks-for-imf-bailout/av-61304179. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  8. Jazeera, Al. Dozens arrested in Sri Lanka amid protests over worsening economy Al Jazeera, 31 Mar. 2022, www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/31/tear-gas-as-sri-lanka-protesters-try-to-storm-presidents-house. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022
  9. Just a moment... 28 Mar. 2022, www.newsfirst.lk/2022/03/28/crisis-hit-sri-lanka-seeks-further-1-bln-credit-line-from-india-reuters/. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  10. China One, But Not The Only Reason Behind Sri Lankas Economic Collapse 1 Apr. 2022, www.news18.com/news/world/china-one-but-not-the-only-reason-behind-sri-lankas-economic-collapse-4933343.html. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  11. Explained: Why things dont look good for Pakistan's Imran Khan as he faces biggest political crisis 28 Mar. 2022, www.firstpost.com/world/explained-why-things-dont-look-good-for-pakistans-imran-khan-as-he-faces-biggest-political-crisis-10495041.html. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  12. Pakistan's hypocrisy exposed on China's genocide of Uyghurs as Imran 'stands with Beijing's version 7 Jan. 2021, www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/pakistan-s-hypocrisy-exposed-on-china-s-genocide-of-uyghurs-as-imran-stands-with-beijing-s-version/ar-AALFDff. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  13. Explainer: Pakistan PM Khan faces difficult no confidence vote Reuters, 30 Mar. 2022, www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/pakistan-pm-khan-faces-difficult-no-confidence-vote-2022-03-30/. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  14. Pakistan's hypocrisy exposed on China's genocide of Uyghurs as Imran 'stands with Beijing's version' 7 Jan. 2021, www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/pakistan-s-hypocrisy-exposed-on-china-s-genocide-of-uyghurs-as-imran-stands-with-beijing-s-version/ar-AALFDff. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.
  15. India & Pakistan - A continuing Story. YouTube, uploaded by Kraut, 30 December 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kJf4krMY4A.

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