By the time I am writing this piece on Wednesday evening, there is no hint of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s promised address to the nation. Similarly, at this hour, I can see tickers flashing on the TV screen that the Pakistani rupee has kept plummeting against the US dollar. It is now one dollar for Rs200. Someone should stop the dollar flight here at this round figure for a while. The dollar flight and other galloping economic slumps are hitting the headlines while the government, led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, is acting as an onlooker, an unconcerned bystander. So far, not even a single definitive decision on the economy has come from the Prime Minister House.
The prime minister and his key cabinet members spent a good three days in London in lengthy consultations with the former prime minister and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif. I was expecting something extraordinary from these meetings as former finance leader Ishaq Dar was also there. Ishaq Dar is known for having learned the unique techniques to clip the wings of the dollar. It seems, I fear, that Ishaq Dar’s magic has become outdated in the face of the powerful dollar.
I am not an economist, but I know one thing that our undocumented and informal economy is multiple times bigger, and more stable than the documented and formal economy. The country has seen a devastating earthquake in 2005, a super flood in 2010 and a pandemic in 2021-22, but it weathered all storms and crises with a brave face. The country will also brace for the ongoing economic meltdown if the prime minister with the coalition partners leads the nation towards a dedicated goal.
We all hoped that as soon he returned home, the prime minister would address the nation and announce the decisions taken in consultation in London. So far, there has been no word or statement from him. This is quite no-Shehbaz Sharif style. When he was chief minister, Shehbaz Sharif enjoyed the reputation of a quick decision-maker. We see neither his quick decision nor his team’s homework, which it should have done when the Imran government was being sent home through the no-confidence motion.
His team should have worked for the upcoming days as they were well aware of the economic crisis. Shehbaz Sharif took over the government in the middle of the crisis. It cannot get away with the excuse that the economic troubles fell upon them out of the blue.
In this regard, the government of Imran Khan should be given full marks for combating the pandemic, which we can safely say, caught the government out of the blue.
When Imran Khan was in power, the opposition was not ready to give him space on inflation, despite his spokespersons’ explanations that inflation is an international trend, and that his government is providing oil to the public at the cheapest rates. Now, it is Imran Khan’s turn to grill the government’s ‘incompetence’ to tackle inflation. He is pulling record-making and record-breaking crowds city to city on a daily basis. The government should be thankful to Imran Khan that he is hell-bent on explaining the “American conspiracy” as the only reason for the removal of his government. The day he turns his guns towards inflation, the government will be in serious trouble.
Other than the American conspiracy, Imran Khan has opened up a new conspiracy chapter of a plot to assassinate him. The response to his claim from the government quarters was quite “non-political”. Most of the ministers mocked the conspiracy story. The government must take Imran Khan’s concerns seriously. May God protect Imran Khan from plots of murder. May God empower our prime minister to take aggressive steps to defeat the crises.