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Friday May 24, 2024

Pak socio-economic time bombs

By Senator Rehman Malik
October 22, 2018

Pakistan has been going through turmoil due to the isolation and stumbling of economy since long and we have not yet been able to get our economy back to the right track. I will attribute to the failure of successive governments which failed to keep watch on the leakage and destruction of the economy because of their bad fiscal policies. Let us not hesitate in terming this as national failure. Our main problem remained as lack of political wisdom to move the country as the country had fallen prey in the hands of own complexes rather the rulers worked more to save their rule against the internal and external political compulsion rather run the country on merit and the economy remained as the last priority.

The weak economy in fact forced the rulers to beg from US, IMF and the World Bank. All of these international aiding institutions have their own geo political agenda and we continued getting trapped in their hands. We are now in a tight grip of this octopus in the form of a non-ending web of debt trap. The weak dictatorships and fragile governance have always been under their pressure and unable to play in the greater national interest. What could be the fate of a nation whose President House is offered to CIA Director William J Casey to make war plans and make it a battle ground for world powers at the cost of national interest?

Let me confess that the terrorism is a created warfare by West in Pakistan in order to achieve the following:

1. To get a control over Afghanistan and to ensure that USA policies are implemented till the time USA wants. On December 25, 1991, the once-mighty Soviet Union had fallen, largely due to the great number of radical reforms that Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev had implemented during his six years as the leader of the USSR. Gorbachev also resigned from his job as he was disappointed, leaving Boris Yeltsin as president of Afghanistan in 1979, Mikhail Gorbachev, replaced the ineffectual Karmalas president of Afghanistan with Muhammad Najibullah. But after almost a decade of war, Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan in February 1989. By the end of Afghan war, Afghanistan erupted into a violent civil war that was to last until 1996 and was more intense in its violence than anything witnessed during the Soviet-Afghan War. As the Afghan Civil War progressed and Soviet aid diminished, Najibullah’s position became increasingly vulnerable as the Soviet back had also been cut. On 26th of September 1996 in the UN compound in Kabul city, Dr Mohammad Najibullah and his brother Shahpur Ahmadzai were tortured and killed publically by Afghan Taliban. He wanted to flee from Kabul and so he planned a secret flight to India along with Benon Sevan, head of the UN’s humanitarian aid division to Afghanistan. The Kabul airport was under the control of his friend Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Afghan of Uzbek heritage and not just Dostum, most of his partymen had also abandoned Najibullah in this plan. Foreign minister Abdul Wakil and army Chief General Mohammad Nabi Azimi, keen on their own political and physical survival, wanted to offer Najibullah as a prisoner to the Mujahideen forces. They had rushed to the airport on getting news of Najibullah’s escape attempt, and asked Sevan to disembark the plane to avoid further embarrassment and potential violence as they wanted Sevan alive and safe given his UN connection. Najibullah was hated because of his connections with Soviets but was a true preacher of peace and laid down his life for the unity of his country. Execution of Najibullah is one of those many reasons of rift between Pakistan and Afghanistan as General Zia had trained Gulbudin Hekmatyar and other such warlords who destabilised Afghan government.

3. During the Afghan-USSR war, Pakistan got very close to Afghanistan as USA was channeling everything through Pakistan. During the rule of Taliban in Afghanistan, the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan was very close. It all changed after the 9/11 in 2001 attacks and Taliban was denounced by everyone including Pakistan. Pakistan basically toed the line of USA reluctantly because George Bush said, “Either you are with us, or with them”. In one stroke Pakistan lost their best Afghan ally. Taliban had Osama bin Laden as their state guest and they indulged in global terrorism.

Both attacks brought economic crunch in Pakistan with increase in production/consumption of drugs and culture of gun running.

Let us examine how these war strokes hit our economy, developments and contributed to the destruction of peace in Pakistan. We lost our developments progress which can be judged by the following indicators and we started losing our economic foot hold.

Let’s see how gradually we lost in terms of sliding rupee:

Priority of dollar to Rupee

1972 Z.A Bhutto 4.7- 9.9

1983 Zia-ul-Haq 13.1 - 17.7

1990 Benazir Bhutto 24.0

1991 Nawaz Sharif 25.0

1994 Benazir Bhutto 30.6 - 40.3

1997-99 Nawaz Sharif 53.0

1999-2008 Pervez Musharraf 62.0

2008 – 2013 Asif Ali Zardari 67.9 – 98.3

2013 – 2018 Nawaz Sharif 100.75 – 128.50

2018 Imran Khan 134

If you examine the corresponding timings you will see our destruction started during the Afghan war followed by unstable successive governments.

The downward slide shows that our socio-economic structure was badly destroyed with neighbouring Afghan giving rise to engineered terrorism which engulfed the peace as well as the law & order situation of our country. The situation has scared the investors resulting into the flight of capital from Pakistan to alternate locations chosen by rich businessman.

The above indicators show how badly the Afghan wars have affected our economy. The successive decline in rupee and other indicators are the testimony of socio-economic bogging down. We did not learn the lesson and could not understand the long terms of war against Pakistan. The West created forces like al-Qaeda, Taliban and now Daesh making peace in Pakistan to be at risk all the time. The Daesh is playing on its master’s voice in Middle East and it is being felt that next targets of Daesh will be Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and China and it is written on the walls that Daesh will operate worse than al-Qaeda.

The above data shows that the value of our rupee slid down because of these proxy wars/ Afghan war. Similarly our investments went low because of insecurities by investors.

The war on terror by the USA has been very damaging for Pakistan and it is not stopping and continuing on daily basis. The impact of Afghan refugees is huge on our fragile economy. It has also negative impact on our social fiber and country remained hostage in the hands of terrorism and the refugee’s camps remained hub of terrorist activities as they have served as nurseries for terrorists.

We need to build our national institutions by some good doable policies to improve our socio-economic sector and accountability processes to control corruption.

The negative propaganda must end now and let there be collective national approach to get out of the economic crunch and other grave crises. We are sitting on time bomb with this deteriorating economy which may lead us to international bankruptcy and serious internal crises as the rupee has gone under serious pressure.

Let us be honest in acceptance of the fact that this government has no option except to get further loan from IMF on their conditions whose impact in the shape of price hike is visible and it is going to be seen more. The government needs to focus on their own economic policies now to overcome these growing crises and to avoid these tiny and bigger time bombs from blowing in the form of bouts of price hike for a common man. It would be better for PM Imran Khan and his team to overcome these growing economic crises in time.

Now is the time that the government needs to drastically reduce the imports and allow the incentive based exports. Recovery of billions of dollars defaulted by business community and State Bank was unable to recover it. It will help towards retirements of foreign debt.

The Government must act without discrimination against the business community which has taken trillions of dollars out of Pakistan to Canada/Malaysia and Sri lanka but unfortunately the authorities have turned blind eye towards this illegal flight of capital from Pakistan. Pakistan suffered in the hands of corrupt business community and their supporters from banks. It is important to the core to get rid of these small time bombs of bursting economy everyday.

I appeal to everybody who matters to stop propagating about corruption in Pakistan without proofs as it is destroying our image and international rating for Pakistan economy and investment.

I would like to conclude by advising the ruling party that it is not the time to create unwise negative atmosphere in the Parliament rather take both the houses into confidence and place your government’s vision, policies and proposals on fiscal, foreign and internal security policies before the joint session of the Parliament to get collective vision for long term strategies and to take the country out of the crises with common vision.

The writer is Chairman of think tank "global eye" & former interior minister of Pakistan. @Email: rmalik1212@gmail.com, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik, @GlobalEye_GSA, WhatsApp +923325559393