Creating Crises out of Thin Air


Moazzam Ishaq

Despite Imran Khan’s vows in the opposition, Pakistan remains firmly in the clutches of the IMF

Pakistan’s economy has always been in turmoil. Although Pakistan inherited only a handful of institutions at the time of its birth, there was a viable administration that helped the Pakistani economy reach a stable level by 1950. In the Korean War, Pakistani cotton, Patsun earned a lot of foreign exchange. But the country’s economy changed after 1958.
Pakistan’s second five-year plan ended in 1965. At that time, the Pakistani economy was a model for developing countries. According to the World Bank, Pakistan was among the countries that could have achieved First World (developed countries) status at that time. After the Indo-Pak war of 1965, the economy deteriorated but was soon overcome and by 1968, the growth rate had again exceeded seven per cent.
After that, the situation started deteriorating. When the new government came to power in 1972, it tried to implement many reforms in the country, but their reaction was negative. Large industries were nationalised. Thus, many of the major industrialists in Pakistan had to leave the country.
This process slowed down the growth rate of industries in the country and had an impact on the general national product. The depreciation of the rupee pushed up inflation. However, many people had the opportunity to go to the Middle East. In this way, artificial prosperity began to be seen in the country.
Political stability prevailed in the country in the 1980s, so the rate of growth began to rise again, but the Afghan crisis continued to create an internal crisis in the country. Subsequent governments since 1988 have sought to appease the people with temporary measures rather than sustainable development. But the fact is that the Pakistani economy could never stand on its feet again.
The rupee continued to depreciate against the dollar. Dams were not built in the country due to which the electricity tariff continues to rise. The country was caught in the clutches of IPPs, which not only made energy more expensive but also increased revolving credit.
After 9/11, international sanctions on Pakistan were lifted, and the government in power until 2008 seriously tried to improve the situation. The growth rate increased during this period. In 2006, GDP grew by 8.5 per cent, but, unfortunately, after that, the GDP started falling again and the rupee was devalued. This series continues to this day.
The incumbent government led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has failed to perform on almost every front as per the aspirations of the people of Pakistan.
Again, Pakistan’s economy has always been in crisis with every new government accusing the previous government of burying the economy. The same thing has been done by the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The PTI government has failed to achieve a major milestone in the economic arena.
Even if the trade deficit has narrowed, that’s because imports have declined in synchrony with the halting of CPEC. Meanwhile, the balance of payments has exacerbated, production is declining and the industries are shrinking.
Despite Imran Khan’s vows in the opposition, Pakistan remains firmly in the clutches of the IMF, which finally revived its plan this week. Everyone from the financial advisor to the SBP governor is linked to the IMF, which the PTI’s election manifesto loudly denounces. Pakistan’s history shows that whenever we have gone to this institution, there have been difficulties for our economy.
Our prime minister makes claims as though he has visited different prosperous countries to research to know the secret of their development and prosperity. Why doesn’t anyone tell our Prime Minister that neither our economy nor our society is similar to them? Our culture is not like theirs, our problems are not like theirs and our resources are not like theirs. How can we apply the solution offered by them to our nation?
On the political front, the PTI supporters say that Imran Khan brought the looters to justice and told powerful families ruling the PPP and the PML-N that the law is not for the protection of the powerful. However, what has actually happened is that the PTI has pursued a policy of revenge. The media has been suffocated. Parliamentary political discourse is in tatters. Attempts are being made to weaken the federation:
The establishment has brought this gang to the helm and now they want to promote centralism at their behest. They are conspiring against the 18th Amendment and the NFC, which will damage the federation.
Even so, Imran Khan’s government and his supporters rigidly reject facts and continue to claim that the PTI has worked hard to get the country out of the crisis. The reality is that whatever crises that Imran Khan inherited have been aggravated manifold under his government, with new predicaments exclusive to this rule displayed as regular offerings to the financially crippled and politically marginalised masses.