It’s 2013 all over again

"Back then, we were looking up to IMF, we are still looking up to it"

Ever since Shehbaz Sharif took oath as the prime minister, we have been experiencing a feeling of political deja vu. People have been having flashbacks from 2013.

If you open the archives of newspapers from May 2013, they are so relevant today that you cannot even tell they were written 9 years ago. Load shedding, poor economy, political rifts, PTI’s nationwide protests, and PML-N + PPP against PTI are still the same. Except for the date, nothing has changed.

In May 2013, load shedding was the highlight of newspapers. The newly formed government of PML-N had load shedding as a major challenge. On May 20 2013, Jang newspaper’s main header was “Prime minister Nawaz Sharif announces to end load shedding in one month”. Load shedding was a major problem at that time.

Many power plants were out of service at that time which increased the shortfall. At that time PML-N had decided to produce the electricity by coal, but critics were not buying it. Many believed that the load shedding in that era was not real and was a self-created problem. Then Chief Justice Muhammad Iftikhar Choudhary remarked that the ongoing load shedding seems like a self-created problem. His remark was the banner head of Jang newspaper on May 22, 2013. And if you ponder, the situation is not so different today as well.

Load shedding, a problem that PML-N had successfully ended towards the mid of its tenure, is back all over again. Despite being massive power projects, load shedding is once again becoming a pressing issue. There was a minor shortfall but ever since Shehbaz Sharif took the oath, the problem has gotten worse, as if there was never a single project in the power sector for 2 decades. Supporters of PTI firmly believe that the ongoing load shedding in the country is a temporary problem to distract people from the rising inflation.

In May 2013, then Prime minister Nawaz Sharif gave a statement that people need to calm down. They shouldn’t expect that we can end load shedding within a few days as it will take time. Loadshedding was being given an emergency priority. Prime Minister was continuously talking about it. Then Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif also said that even though he is a chief Minister, Loadshedding is still on his checklist.

At that time, it made sense because the shortfall was due to a lack of projects in the power sector, however, today they cannot refer to load shedding as such a problem. There were massive power projects in PML-N tenure but PML-N is treating Loadshedding exactly like 2013, which seems ridiculous. Loadshedding is not the kind of problem that they can market today. You just need to pay the oil companies and make some repairs and electricity production will be started.

The other interesting thing was the economy. After assuming the office, then Prime minister Nawaz Sharif promised in May 2013, that he will make Pakistan financially independent. 9 years later today, his brother is saying the same. If you read the newspapers from September 2013, IMF gave a warning to Pakistan about the economic iceberg ahead 9 years ago. But PML-N instead of finding new income sources was busy securing a deal with IMF. From 2013 to 2018, the sole strategy of PML-N was IMF. They just took the money and ran the country putting a burden on us. Cut to 2022, they are still doing the same. They learned nothing. From 2013 to 2022, we failed to have any breakthrough startups that could help our economy.

Pakistani politicians are living in 2013. They did not update themselves at all. In 2013, load shedding was getting on our nerves, and it’s the same today despite having power projects.

Back in 2013, we were looking up to IMF, we are still looking up to IMF. PTI was busy in nationwide protests because Nawaz Sharif had become the prime minister. Nine years later, it is still cringing over Shehbaz Sharif assuming the office. PPP loathed PTI and supported PML-N in 2013, and it is still the same. The only thing that has changed is the power dynamic. In 2013, PML-N had a massive majority, today it is heavily relying on allies. The point is, if PML-N did not make Pakistan despite having a massive majority in five years, then do not expect that it can do it this time when it has very limited authority.