Pakistan has gone bankrupt.
No, no, Pakistan is not going bankrupt. Pakistan is not going bankrupt, but there are suggestions that it has met all the indicators, which declare it financially bankrupt.
The three sentences above remind us of former FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi’s statement which was reported to be saying that Pakistan is ‘bankrupt’ and not an ‘ongoing concern’.
However, later he pointed out that the media had cherry-picked words from his speech and that that is not all he said. I heard his speech and to some extent, Zaidi’s explanation is true. Although the former chairman did use these words, his speech was not limited to bashing the government and lamenting the economic situation.
In his speech, he talked about how the government keeps reiterating that everything is going smoothly when in reality it is not. He also suggested that instead of making false claims about the country being at its finest, the government should at least acknowledge that it is, in reality, in deep water. With this acknowledgment only can the country take the right course of action and get back on track. It is to be noted that Zaidi provided details of the foreign debt and the current account deficit as proof of a failing economy.
Though Zaidi never blamed the government of the day for the economic crisis, the coverage of his statement created this perception. To be honest, Pakistan has long been in an economic crisis, which, according to the government of the day, is the outcome of corruption and bad policies of their predecessors. The cycle goes on.
Zaidi must know the media has a tendency to (mis)report and cherry-pick certain parts of speeches and statements in order to create breaking news and this is what it did with his speech. However, upon further inspection, it can be seen that the rest of the speech aids the cherry-picked statements.
What the former FBR chairman spoke of is the imminent need for Pakistan to come up with solutions to the very real problems that are being completely and utterly ignored by the incumbent government and previous governments. Instead, everything is whitewashed by providing figures that mean little to nothing. The government must look after the citizens of the country and this can only be done by identifying the problems and rectifying the several mistakes that have been made in the past. Moreover, the former FBR chief talked about CPEC and how confusing it is to identify which project belongs to it and which doesn’t. The CPEC authorities have had some trouble in the country due to the instability of the government and therefore, there have been changes in plans which may disrupt the economy.
A suggestion was also given to set up industries near the coastal areas in order to cut costs and this was for obvious reasons not highlighted as the public craves controversy and the media loves to create some. The suggestion, if taken into account, can cut shoe leather costs and eventually add to the export surplus. There can be countless suggestions if there is someone in the right quarters ready to consider them. We have never been short of imagination and plan-making. The only thing, which we are short of, is action.
Zaidi, when he was the FBR chairman, was a model man of action. His actions, however, had political costs too, which the government could not afford to lose. So, he was shown the door.
Now, off the field, Zaidi is saying the right thing, and as the Pakistani economy is failing and whoever dares to say so is likely to be trolled and bashed.