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A nuclear power with a begging bowl

"You cannot expect any country to take you seriously merely because of a nuclear status"

Pakistan was observing Youm-e-Takbir on May 28. The national television was bombarded with advertisements recollecting the nuclear tests.

In the midst of all this, an interview by the finance minister ruined the day.

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Finance Minister Miftah Ismail conducted a press conference on the same day when the nation was observing Youm-e-Takbir.

On one hand, citizens were being reminded we are invincible, but on the other hand, the finance minister was reminding all we successfully procured deals with Saudi Arabia, IMF and World bank securing debts over five billion dollars.

On one hand, we were being reminded how the great Nawaz Sharif did not buckle under pressure, but the finance minister was explaining that his government had no choice but to give up before the demands of IMF and increase the price of fuel.

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The advertisement (displayed by our tax money) claimed that it was Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz who made the country a nuclear power, and it will be PML-N who would make the nation economically independent. But what finance minister said in the interview contradicted with what the party said. The finance minister briefly showcased his plan for the economy, which consisted of debts.

The PML-N had a problem with PTI seeking financial help form IMF and submitting before its demand, but what is PMLN doing when it has the authority now? It is doing exactly what it did all these years: begging for money.

The voters had high expectations from PML-N this time. Firstly, because it passionately ousted the PTI government. Secondly, it claimed to be more experienced. Yet, it did not show any better performance.

Critics were already pessimistic about PML-N due to the party’s history of relying on IMF and also due to the laidback attitude of Shehbaz Sharif during his infamous “beggars cannot be choosers” interview. In an atmosphere when Imran Khan was rising to the top by selling the narrative of “independence”, the finance minister was supposed to give hope to the nation. He was supposed to tell the people he will work for the economic independence of Pakistan. But in such distressing times when a wide fan base of Imran Khan was scrutinising his every move, he decided to show the mirror to Pakistanis.

He clearly told them that Pakistan is not in a position to mess with other countries due to its financial position. He gave a submissive vibe throughout his interview that indicated that Pakistan is not likely to break the begging bowl any time soon. And the interview of finance minister is a reflection of that policy. The economic policy of PML-N and PPP revolves around debts. If you listen to any interview of Miftah Ismail, you are not likely to hear any concrete reforms other than IMF and World Bank.

The fundamental question is: What is the point of being a nuclear power when we beg others for money?

You cannot expect any country to take you seriously merely because of a nuclear status. Your nuclear weapons are useless for them. The only language that the world understands is the language of money. And we don’t have it. We wasted billions of dollars on defense but never bothered to fund breakthrough start-ups in Pakistan.

Pakistan has had enough. We need financial independence. Don’t expect us to bear inflation when you continue to take loans anyway. We are willing to bear inflation if you don’t go to IMF. Take hard decisions. Cut the subsidies and reduce the losses. Cut the luxuries of all parliamentarians, bureaucrats, judges and generals.

Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif recently took a flight to Lahore from Rawalpindi. He could have easily travelled to Lahore on a car within four hours.

Imran Khan was also fond of helicopters. PPP’s Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani also once said that it is alright if the expenditure of the prime minister is Rs1 million per day.

Why is it fine for people in power to have such a posh lifestyle when Pakistan is on the verge of recession? If prime minister ends all the luxuries of the first tier officials and adopts a simple lifestyle, people will willingly bear inflation.

Rather than bragging about making Pakistan a nuclear state, the government must show what it has done to fix the economy.

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