InternationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 19

Influenced by India, world media gangs up against Pakistan

The international media, influenced by India and its writers, has started a smear campaign against Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan. The campaign intensified after Pakistan hosted a session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad. Their main contention was that Pakistan was hosting the meeting, but its “economy was failing.” They also welcomed the no-confidence motion of the opposition against Prime Minister Imran Khan on the pretext that his ouster will save Pakistan from an “economic collapse.” The views expressed in the international media are biased, against reality and based on a propaganda campaign against Pakistan. The country’s economic indicators are improving and even international financial institutions, like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, have recognised Pakistan’s impressive performance, at a time when the whole world was reeling under the adverse effects of the pandemic.

The international media’s other point to support the opposition’s no-confidence motion is that Pakistan is facing the worst inflation. It is a fact that prices are high in Pakistan, but what about inflation in the West and India? At the same time, they were also critical of Prime Minister Imran Khan when he reduced prices of petroleum products recently. Their views expose their lies about Pakistan’s economy and express their deep desire to create political unrest in the country.

A British newspaper reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan was facing a no-confidence vote in the parliament at a time when crippling inflation is battering his country’s economy hard. “During Khan’s four years in office, he has struggled to meet enormous expectations that accompany his rise to power. He has been accused of economic mismanagement. Imran Khan has been using the slogan of anti-corruption to hound rivals and critics besides taking impulsive U-turns that have undermined his agenda,” it claimed. Then the newspaper included the versions of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders, who painted a rosy picture of Pakistan’s economy during their tenures. Its bias was clear when it did not bother to take a viewpoint of the government.

Another foreign media outlet reported, “Opposition parties in Pakistan’s parliament are set to topple the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, as critics charge his policies are stoking inflation and amount to selling out Pakistan’s sovereignty to the International Monetary Fund in exchange for loans.” It is contrary to the fact that Imran Khan’s policies are behind rising prices in the country. Everybody knows that the whole world is facing the worst inflation after the onset of the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. The PPP and the PML-N also availed IMF bailout packages in their governments, but it is strange that only the PTI “sold out Pakistan’s sovereignty to the IMF in exchange for loans.” What an argument.

However, the fact is that Pakistan faced default when the PML-N government completed its term in 2018. Its current account deficit had crossed over $18b and its foreign reverses plunged to $6.6b. The PTI government had to seek loans from China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the IMF to save the country from default. Pakistan’s current account remained surplus in the last fiscal year. It started rising again to the joy of the opposition parties and critics of Pakistan but their happiness was short-lived and there are indications the deficit will remain in the limits. Pakistan’s current account deficit shrank by 78.46pc to $545 million in February, from $2.531 billion in January, mainly on account of a sharp decline in imports. The State Bank of Pakistan’s data showed the deficit had widened to $12.099b in 8MFY22 against a surplus of $994m in the same period of the last fiscal year.

Pakistan’s exports reached $100 million per day in February, which is a record for the economy. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), exports from Pakistan during February grew by 7.9pc to $2.820 billion as compared to $2.614 billion in January. They increased by 36.4pc as compared to $2.068 billion in February 2021. The imports in February decreased by 2.14pc to $5.907 billion as compared to $6.036 million in January.

According to the provisional data released by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the revenue collection target of Rs3.53 trillion exceeded by Rs268 billion as it collected Rs3.79 trillion for the first eight months of the current fiscal year. The revenue collection in February stood at Rs443.3 billion, which is Rs2.3 billion higher than the target of Rs441 billion. In comparison to the last year, tax collection increased by 29pc cent in February from Rs345 billion to Rs443 billion.

Even international financial institutions have acknowledged Pakistan’s impressive recovery. In its latest report, the IMF said Pakistan’s economy was set to keep on recovering in fiscal year 2022, with real GDP growth projected at four per cent. It also announced that inflation in the country would gradually slow down. “The government’s continued commitment to a market-determined exchange rate and a prudent macroeconomic policy mix will help reduce the current account deficit, and ease external pressures over the medium term,” it said and urged Pakistan to make extra efforts to revitalise its economy, noting that recent policy adjustments in Pakistan were appropriate to address these challenges and maintain economic stability. “Further ambitious efforts to remove structural impediments and facilitate the structural transformation of the economy will help unlock sustainable and resilient growth,” it observed. The IMF pointed out that making those extra efforts would also foster job creation and improve social outcomes for the benefit of all Pakistani citizens.

It is clear that international forces and media are portraying a wrong picture of Pakistan’s economy, like the opposition parties, while the truth is that the economy is improving fast, but it does not suit their agenda. They are supporting the opposition parties to create unrest in Pakistan to derail its economy.