The existing situation presents a bleak outlook for Pakistan as the continuous governance crisis and rising prices, especially petroleum prices, have made the lives of ordinary men miserable. The growing political vendetta and intolerance have polarized politics to the extent that even positive criticism invites violence breaking all social and cultural norms and crossing all the limits of humanity. The deepening economic crisis has exposed the government’s efficiency within its two months’ tenure.
The IMF’s strict conditions asking for putting a levy on petroleum prices, raising gas and electricity tariffs costing heavy for common people but the government on the other hand seems non-serious on the inflation issue as within two months of their coalition regime, they have raised the petroleum prices over 100 per litre that has jolted the working-class especially public transport operators, rickshaw drivers and other market players such as Uber, Careem, InDriver and Bykea etc.
All the business operators are complaining that the rising inflation and petroleum prices have affected their businesses miserably. They have raised the prices of their rides and people have limited choices to travel from one place to another and have nothing than cursing the current coalition government with the inclusion of tested and tried corrupt politicians who have dynastic roots in politics. They have been facing corruption cases and some of them have remained behind the bars in corruption cases.
That is the main reason to have a clean chit, the government took the steps to curtail the NAB powers by amending the NAB ordinance and Electoral Reforms Bill, rejecting the use of EVMs in upcoming elections and depriving overseas Pakistanis of their right of casting votes. Unfortunately, the corrupt and criminal people amended the NAB laws to provide relief to Nawaz Sharif, his sons, Asif Zardari, Khursheed Shah and several other black sheep who have been looting the public money for decades and have not left any effort in making Pakistan a bankrupt country, unlike Sri Lanka.
The ouster of PTI’s government in center through the no-confidence motion has created a very uncertain situation where people are concerned about what will happen shortly as the current government has been tasked to keep dropping petrol, gas and electricity bombshells on the public having no sense or feeling regarding how the labourers, salaried persons and workers earn their livelihood to feed their family as daily use items’ prices are touching the sky. Even the average person cannot purchase a flour bag or ghee pouch.
On the other hand, the PTI leader adopted the narrative that there were foreign hands involved in the ouster of his PTI-led coalition government by waving the ‘letter’. The claim has not been proved with evidence. US involvement in Pakistan’s power politics is not new. The murder of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, PM Liaquat Ali Khan and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto are claimed to be examples of how the US silenced anti-US voices to maintain its hegemony in the region.
It has been our political norm that whoever comes into government always criticizes the previous regimes and holds them responsible for all the mess that we witness today. They never revisit their steps that have broken the backbone of common men. Whenever asked why the petrol, gas and electricity prices have been raised every week, the reply comes very irritatingly and insensibly that it was essential to raise the fuel prices since there was an agreement with IMF by the PTI government. Therefore, to get the stalled tranche from IMF, we are compelled to comply with the conditions to get the tranche released at the earliest to escape the shrinking balance of payments issue.
The inflation has hit the lower-income level people very badly. The purchasing power of an average person has dropped extensively, making their lives miserable. The state is like a mother but here, unfortunately, the mother is acting as a stepmother having no sense of love, care, feeling or sympathy. It can easily be inferred from the incumbent government’s tactics that they got the power to get rid of the cases registered during the PTI regime and make such electoral reforms that could favour them in the upcoming election for stopping the entry of a new political force, or PTI.
They are well aware that if the PTI or any other political force won the election and formed the government with a simple majority or with the help of allies, they will try to deliver and fix the economy to the point where they won’t need financial assistance from any state, including the IMF program. Pakistan needs visionary leadership and a team of professional economic experts to steer the country from the existing depreciation of the rupee against the dollar, rising fuel prices and daily use items so that it may progress.
Pakistan does not need the capitalists, feudal lords, Chaudhrys, Sardars, Peers and Mirs as legislators but it requires highly educated, sincere and honest elected representatives having leadership qualities who can restore its former grandeur. Today, we have to make the resolve that we have to liberate our country from foreign liability and external debts that have compromised our sovereignty. If we did not resolve the issue of external debt, IMF may put a condition to roll back the nuclear program that has been our biggest deterrence and balance of power tool against our enemies.
Being Pakistani, it hurts our sentiments when our enemy, India, criticises Pakistan if it begs for financial assistance from Saudi Arabia, China or UAE, raising the question that how will it demand Kashmir’s freedom. Pakistan needs to break this begging bowl as Almighty Allah has blessed it with all ingredients that can be found in any developed state i.e. sea ports, the best riverine system, minerals, gas, oil, agriculture etc., but it lacks the visionary leadership that can transform the country into a developed state. Pakistan should adopt the economic model that suits its income level. The country cannot be run on IMF programs. The government should focus on education, health, infrastructure, employment creation, and especially, the promotion of tourism.
Switzerland, Malaysia, UAE, Singapore, Indonesia and UK earn billions of dollars from the tourism industry and Pakistan needs to explore these sectors so that it can earn passive income. Dubai earns billions from the tourism industry as everybody knows Dubai is desert and tax-free but still earns from tourism and industries. The tax-free status will also help promote the setup of the automobile industry, textiles etc that will create jobs for youth. The skill development programs must be devised so that same may place talent in jobs. We love Pakistan as it is our homeland, we have to set aside all our differences and make serious efforts to take this country out of the crisis. As our parties, our designation, portfolios, and identity rest with our country so we have to put Pakistan first, than our priorities. Furthermore, the poor must be saved and fuel prices should be slashed by importing oil from Iran and Russia as these countries have abundant fuel reserves. All the institutions should work within their limits and don’t attempt to usurp or interfere in the affairs unless required in national interests. Pakistan should adopt a neutral or independent foreign policy and avoid playing any role in other countries since we have already paid a huge price for the so-called war on terror and have given sacrifices of our valiant soldiers, civilians and children.
Pakistan’s valiant forces should not be dragged into political affairs as they have played their pivotal role in maintaining peace and security, having given several sacrifices for the defence of the country. Finally, all the parties must display their political maturity and work together to get the country out of crisis, be it through PML-N, PPP or PTI. These three mainstream parties have a bigger role to play to find a lasting solution to water crisis, gas and electricity load shedding, overpriced petrol and making serious efforts to bring the daily food items prices down, even offering subsidies to facilitate the masses. Pakistan has great potential to become an Asian economic tiger given its resources and strategic importance provided that a positive, cooperative, collaborative and tolerant approach should be put forward to set the economy’s growth on track by bringing reforms.
If there is no political consensus possible then fresh general elections are the only option to resolve the existing issues as the right to vote will empower the people to elect the best political party to take the reins of the country and start the journey towards development. The big cities including Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Faisalabad, Multan, and Rawalpindi should be revamped and modern facilities should be provided so that tourism industry and job creation process may be expedited. It is hoped that all the parties and institutions will come on the same page and debate and discuss a possible solution to prevent the country from defaulting. The blame game should stop now. Let’s make Pakistan self-sustained and economically stable to develop by leaps and bounds. Let the institutions work in their domain without usurping or interfering in others’ domain.