Thursday May 23, 2024

The IMF drone and potential political turmoil

By Senator Rehman Malik
February 22, 2019

Sitara -e -Shujat, Nashan-e-Imtiaz

Let us have overview of the present politics in our pure land where every coming day brings more political noise and price hike for a common man.

The expression of a poor man can neither be heard in any TV channel nor in the Parliament. The voice of common man is getting weaker and weaker and gets suppressed in political noise made by our political elite and media anchoring and rating syndrome.

The IMF drone has been launched and it is going to have multiple hits on our economy and especially the daily utilities of common man having effects on every faction of our society. This drone has been especially designed by the IMF experts to ensure that a poor becomes poorer and at the same time the government will start feeling the heat of this price hike more than common man.

Pakistani public is now in confused state of affairs where the public was expecting to have relief via big promises of tabdeeli but unfortunately neither any positive tabdeeli witnessed as yet nor any relief in price hike could be seen at the end of the tunnel. People are genuinely worried as to why PTI first creates a problem and then present itself through social media campaigns as if it was truly trying to resolve it.

I was wondering as to why the government has started to touch few settled issues like appointment of Leader of the Opposition, Shahbaz Sharif as the Chairman of PAC (Public Accounts Committee) on 22nd December 2018, with the consent of the government. Now all of a sudden, the ruling party and its ministers have started agitating the question of his appointment as the chairman claiming that it could frustrate the purpose of detaining him and he can come to Islamabad any day as Chairman of PAC. The ministers do not want to follow him since Shahbaz Sharif can issue order for his production for committee meetings for any number of days and every members of PAC have to abide by the orders issued by him.

Now the PTI leaders including the PM himself are finding legal ways to replace him. In fact, the replacement of Shahbaz Sharif may pave the way for the replacement of PTI government, and any such foolish action would cripple the Parliament and shorten the life of democratic system. I fear that the PTI government is fast advancing to limit the age of democratic system in the country.

It is sad to note that instead of taking measures to improve the economy, the new government itself is being the biggest critic of its own economy. We cannot expect the economy to flourish when the leaders of PTI are wasting their energies on non-issues instead of improving the governance and economy.

The lack of interest and ineffective monitoring has resulted into sharp depreciating of rupees and the stock market is plunging because investors are losing confidence as the government still has not provided a clear national direction to where they are heading to or what are their goals. The nation is still in shock in terms of sudden unprecedented depreciation in the value of rupee. The government seems to be trying to keep everyone in dark about how the value of rupee stooped for 3 times low in a row. This consecutive depreciation of rupee and escalating value of dollar has further hit our economy. Adding insult to the injury, the PM and the Finance Minister even claimed that they were not aware of the decline which comes as a huge failure of the government.

The government has done almost nothing to stabilize the depleting economy. In fact, after borrowing more money from China, Saudi Arabia and UAE, the debt servicing has gotten even worse and that’s why the chances of being able to borrow from the IMF for the desperately needed infrastructure without penal interest rates and hard conditions are nil.

Instead of enforcing tax collection, the government has been constantly introducing new taxes on basic necessities of life making the lives of common people more miserable. The people are suspecting unprecedented economic downfall by the end of 2019 if not controlled properly by the government. Further adjustments in increased energy prices, expansion in revenues, reduction in losses of public sector entities, further autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan, market-based currency exchange rate and deep-rooted structural reforms are key areas under the future assistance package from the IMF.

Apart from the economic instability, the internal political situations are also not in government’s favour. On the accountability front, the government has country’s three times PM Nawaz Sharif in prison, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif is in the custody of nab and former President Asif Ali Zardari has also been put on queue for further victimization. The ongoing accountability drive seems likely to bring more political uncertainty. Most of the uncertainty is also coming from a perception that the accountability exercise is selective and politically motivated as the government fears severe opposition from the main political parties. It is challenging for PTI to demonstrate a fair and transparent accountability process. If the government fails to do so, it will likely intensify the political turmoil.

It is very clear that the NAB does not function under him and if all actions taken by the NAB are not under his government’s rule then as to why to take its credit or discredit by the government. Let the accountability take its normal and legal course.

PM must concentrate on the Parliament and get maximum enactments passed to improve the legislation in order to improve the rule of law.

Pak-Afghan issue and developing new potential changes as a result of withdrawal of USA troops would also attract new challenge for the government as it is yet to see who will form government in Afghanistan as a result of negotiations between Taliban and USA and how would it impact on Pakistan.

The PM needs to handle the political situation very carefully with reference to the developing regional and global changes. Country’s polarized political divide situation is not in favour of the government in particular and in general for the country. The PM needs to handle the situation vigilantly keeping his personal likes and dislike aside. He needs to build national consensus and should sense a political trap in coming months, which will cripple his political ambitions.

Nobody will remember the number of speeches you or your cabinet delivered in the public. Mr. Prime Minister, rather you will be judged by the amount of relief you and your cabinet gave to the public. Under the current international legal procedures, no government is in position to get the money back from other countries; hence let us not give false hopes of getting the ‘stolen’ money back from abroad.

The writer is Chairman of think tank "global eye" & former Interior Minister of Pakistan.

@Email: rmalik1212@gmail .com

Twitter @Senrehmanmalik, @GlobalEye_GSA

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