LAHORE: If Egyptians, Tunisians and Jordanians have risen up against their oppressive rulers and have reached a stage of rebellion owing to injustice, repressive state machinery, ever-swelling inflationary pressures and dearth of job opportunities etc, Pakistan’s economy is far worse than these three Arab countries to ignite a likely state of uprising in not-so-distant future.
The combined population of Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan is 99.5 million, which thus means that it is about 71.1 million less than Pakistan’s 170.6 million who hail from diverse ethnic, linguistic and sectarian backgrounds.
Statistics collected from the latest 2010 American CIA’s World Factbook, which provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military and transnational issues for 267 world entities to the senior US policymakers, reveal that inflation rests at 12.8 per cent in Egypt, 4.5 per cent in Tunisia and just 4.4 per cent in Jordan, which is far less than Pakistan’s ‘official’ figures of 13.5 per cent.
It goes without saying that there already has been an unending debate among the Pakistani economists about the calculation of inflation figures in the country.
Independent Pakistani economists have long been of the view that the State Bank’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket formula does not reflect the actual inflationary pressures which the end consumers actually have to face when they go out buying essential kitchen items in the market.
Even if the CIA World Factbook figures about inflation in Pakistan are deemed to be absolutely accurate and error-free, the dearness levels in this country are much higher as compared to Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan.
The comparison of inflation has been drawn to understand the fact that if there is any uprising in Pakistan at any time in future, the anger and frustration of the Pakistanis will be far more lethal as compared to what has been displayed by the Egyptians, Tunisians and the Jordanians.
A look at the Per Capita GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) statistics divulges the reality that Egypt stands at 137th position in the world with a Per Capita GDP of $6,200, Tunisia rests at 114th rank with figures of $9,500 and Jordan is ranked at 142nd number with figures of $5,300. Pakistan, unsurprisingly, is languishing at 182nd position in the world with a Per Capita GDP of just $2,400.
These GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) statistics and data, which also take into account the relative cost of living and the inflation rates of the countries, rather than using just exchange rates which may distort the real differences in income, explicitly signify the generalized differences in the living standards of the residents of Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan.
A visitor to any of these countries can also confirm this verity and he does not necessarily have to be a London School of Economics graduate to do so.
In other words, as these afore-quoted figures reflect, the quality of life being enjoyed by the Egyptians, Tunisians and Jordanians is far superior to that of the Pakistanis. This method is also used by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to compare the living standards of the citizens of different nations.
Having a combined area of 1,259,750 square kilometers, which is about 58 per cent more than Pakistan’s 796,095 square kilometers, the combined GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) of Egypt (500.9 billion), Tunisia ($100.3 billion) and Jordan ($33.79 billion) stands at $634.99 billion or about 40.73 pc more than Pakistan’s total GDP of $451.2 billion.
The truth that the Egyptians, Tunisians and Jordanians are much better off than the Pakistanis when it comes to life standards, can also be proved if one takes into account the poverty and unemployment figures of these three Arab countries under review. While 20 per cent Egyptians are currently living below the Poverty Line, some 24 per cent Pakistanis are ‘officially’ rotting below the Subsistence Line at present.
Hardly 3.8 per cent Tunisians and about 13.4 per cent Jordanians are finding it difficult to make both ends meet. While the unemployment rate is 9.7 per cent in Egypt, it is a whopping 15 per cent in Pakistan. The unemployment figures of Tunisia and Jordan are 14.2 per cent and 13.4 per cent respectively, but still lower than Pakistan’s 15 per cent. In terms of FOREX and Gold Reserves in their possession, Egypt has a healthy figure of $35.72 billion (world ranking:32), Pakistan has $16.1 billion (world ranking:46), Tunisia has $11.23 billion (world ranking:51) and Jordan stands at 50th position with $12.64 billion FOREX and Gold Reserves in its coffers.
As far as the external debt liabilities are concerned, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan are much more comfortable than Pakistan.
The total external debt of Egypt is $30.61 billion, Pakistan’s foreign loan obligations rest at $57.21 billion, Tunisia just owes $18.76 billion to its creditors and Jordan has to pay back a relatively paltry amount of $5.52 billion to the sources from where it has borrowed.
In other words, the combined external debt of Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan is $54.89 billion, which is still less than Pakistan’s $57.21 billion.
These external debt figures also explicitly explain that the Egyptians, Tunisians and Jordanians enjoy a lot more respect among the comity of nations, as compared to the Pakistanis.
Again, these heart-throbbing figures bear ample testimony to the fact that Pakistani regimes are not in an ideal position to even pay heed to the genuine demands of their voters and considering the dismal amount of progress made in the country, these alarming foreign debt figures reflect extremely poor governance levels, unprecedented corruption by those at the helm of affairs and apathy of the successive rulers towards their compatriots. Poverty-stricken masses in Pakistan, therefore, are nothing less than an explosive-laden bunch and all they need is a spark to trigger a revolt and insurgency.
The Egyptian exports rest at $20.29 billion, while its imports stand at $46.52 billion. The budgetary revenues of this country with a 5.3 per cent real GDP growth rate are $46.82 billion against its expenditures of $64.19 billion.
The Pakistani exports stand at $25.34 billion, while its imports stand at $32.71 billion. The budgetary revenues of this country are $25.33 billion against its expenditures of $36.24 billion. The real GDP growth rate of Pakistan is just 2.7 per cent.
Having registered a 3.4 per cent real GDP growth rate, Tunisia helped its exports soar to $16.11 billion this year, while its imports stand at $20.02 billion.
The budgetary revenues of this country are $9.81 billion against its expenditures of $11.76 billion. Similarly, the current Jordanian exports value is $7.33 billion, while its imports have been calculated at $12.97 billion. The budgetary revenues of this country are $7.33 billion against its expenditures of $6.37 billion.