For the first time in recent memory Pakistan’s private sector has stopped growing. For the first time in recent memory net borrowing of the private sector has been negative – Rs81 billion – indicative of a shrinking private sector. For the first time ever every Pakistani man, woman and child is indebted to the tune of Rs61000 while the Government of Pakistan (GOP) continues to borrow additional funds at the rate of Rs500 crore a day every calendar day of the year.
For the first time in recent memory four out of every 10 Pakistanis have fallen below the poverty line. On March 25, 2008, the day Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani was taking oath of office, there were an estimated 47.1 million Pakistanis living in extreme poverty. Over the past three years an average of 25,000 Pakistanis per day – every single day of the past three years – have been driven into extreme poverty. The total now stands at an estimated 72.9 million below the poverty line. Money, I have been told, cannot buy happiness; neither can poverty.
For the first time in recent memory Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has suffered such a drastic fall over such a short period of time – from $5.4 billion in 2008 to around a billion. Public Sector Enterprises are now losing Rs100 crore a day, every day of the year, and no one is worried. Pepco, just by itself, is losing Rs50 crore a day, every day of the year, and no one is worried. The Pakistan Railways is about to add a colossal $600 million to our national debt, and no one is worried. Life, they say, “wouldn’t be worth living if one worries over the future as well as the present.”
As per the 2011 Legatum Prosperity Index, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic are the only three countries worse off than Pakistan. As per their ‘Safety & Security Sub-Index’, Sudan is the only country worse off than Pakistan. As per their ‘Education Sub-Index’, the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan, Ethiopia and Nigeria are the only five countries worse off than Pakistan (http://www.prosperity.com/rankings.aspx).
In the 2011 Failed State Index, countries like Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Burma are now better off than Pakistan. In the not too distant future we will not be able to service our $60 billion external debt. In the not too distant future we will have to print, print and print to service our Rs6,000,000,000,000 internal debt. The ‘cost of living is going up and the chance of living is going down’. The meltdown has begun.
The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email: email@example.com