NationalVOLUME 14 ISSUE # 20

Who are real culprits?

Nothing is going well in Pakistan. The country is facing many colossal challenges both on the internal and external fronts. Internally, the PTI’s government has, so far, disappointed the people of Pakistan very badly.

 

Imran Khan, who is considered to be an honest man and Sufism lover, has accommodated corrupt politicians and members of corrupt mafias in his government. He has taken U-turns from all his slogans and promises, which he made to the poor and innocent people, after becoming the PM. His PTI government is incompetent and does not have any vision and plan to solve problems, like corruption, soaring prices, rapid increase in the US dollar’s value against the rupee, wilting economy, increasing debt burden, rising unemployment and population etc.

 

On the other hand, the PML-N and the PPP are using every method to save their corrupt leaders Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. It is an established truth that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari and many members of their parties have plundered the country and its poor people. Now, both parties are trying to destabilise the government and the state for gaining relief in the cases of corruption which their leaders are facing. The opposition parties, including the PML-N, the PPP and the JUI-F, have announced launching protests against the PTI government and hold an All Parties Conference (APC) to “chalk out a joint strategy on how to tackle the problems facing Pakistan” after Eidul Fitr.

 

To earn the support of the people, the parties are highlighting the issues and problems which they have themselves created during their rule. The sole purpose of the campaign is not to support the people and save democracy, rather to protect the corruption of their leaders.

 

It is a fact that Pakistan’s economy is in a very fragile and disastrous situation. PM Imran Khan and Asad Umar, former finance minister, have acknowledged the bitter truth, publicly. The prime minister, again and again, is stressing for patience and requesting for more time to overcome the mighty economic problems. But, apart from removing Asad Umar as finance minister, so far, Imran Khan’s PTI government has failed to introduce any revolutionary reforms for tackling the situation.  Rather, by introducing a tax amnesty scheme, Imran Khan has incentivised the corrupt ruling mafia. He has given a death blow to his philosophy of “justice for everyone” and a corruption-free Pakistan.

 

Pakistan’s current account deficit is $18 billion. While, its current external debt stands at nearly $100 billion — the bulk of it borrowed from the IMF, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, the US, China, France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.

 

To solve this problem, like the previous governments, the PTI government has also gone to the IMF for $6 billion bailout deal. Interestingly, since 1988, it will be the IMF’s 13th structural adjustment programme for Pakistan. Many economists are of the views that the programme will not achieve “stabilisation amid sacrificed growth”. “The basic focus of this programme (in line with previous programmes) is stabilisation now and growth later. But history tells us that at the end of these programmes, Pakistan’s average growth rate remained the lowest in South Asia since 1988,” Shahid Hasan Siddiqui, a Karachi-based economist, told Anadolu Agency. “This is because of the artificial stabilisations that eventually disturbed the growth rate,” Siddiqui said. According to Kaiser Bengali, a former government economic adviser, “the IMF package means nothing more than some time to fill the balance-of-payments gap. It’s just breathing space.”

 

So, in the coming days, Pakistan’s economy is going to slow down. Inflation, lower growth and unemployment will be increased over the next few years. Resultantly, the burden on the working class will also be increased many times in the coming years. After Hafeez Shaikh and Raza Baqir’s appointments, the PML-N and the PPP are blaming the government for making the country a colony of the IMF. Many other analysts are of the views that the IMF has brought Pakistan’s economy to this tumbling situation for protecting American interests in the country and region.

 

There is no doubt about it that America uses the IMF, World Bank and WTO to achieve its own partisan interests in the world. On January 29, 2019, Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks published documents titled “US coup manual FM3-05.130, US Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) Unconventional Warfare (UW)”. Appendix A of the manual states: “Of particular interest politically are the World Bank (WB), the IMF, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).”

 

“The Treasury’s Office of International Affairs and Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) and its components, together with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), provide financially mission-focused channels for identifying opportunities to employ the financial weapon.”

 

Kaiser Bengali also told Anadolu Agency: “I believe the IMF has brought Pakistan to this stage deliberately. Now both the IMF and FATF will force Pakistan to carry out multiple drastic structural economic reforms, mainly related to terrorism financing.” Farrukh Saleem, an Islamabad-based economist, also collaborates this view. He says, “this package is yet to be approved. It will only be approved if Pakistan meets some key IMF conditions, mainly related to cooperation with the FATF and the forthcoming budget.”

 

All these views and facts clearly show that America wants to stop the CPEC project at every cost. It is using the IMF to achieve the goal in Balochistan.

 

On the other hand, there are some analysts who believe that the IMF should not be blamed for the fragile Pakistani economy. They put the blame on the corrupt ruling elite for the prevailing mess.

  1. Akbar Zaidi, a political economist, aptly writes: “From the Musharraf military dictatorship, to the elected governments of Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari, and now to the Imran Khan government, all have gone to the IMF seeking a “bailout” and assistance to stop the country’s deteriorating economic condition. Yet all these governments, along with their allies and vested interests, have been the ones to have caused a situation where they have been forced to go to the IMF in the first place. They only need the IMF because they fail and refuse to undertake economic reforms since these would hurt their own interest. The beginning and end of the problem and its solution is simply this: tax the Pakistani elite and the rich. What has the IMF got to do with this gross negligence and failure of Pakistan’s ruling elite? Because the government refuses to raise resources, it has to borrow from the IMF. The IMF is not responsible for the budget deficit ending up near 7.5 per cent of the GDP this year. Since the government has signed an agreement with the IMF, and as the economy deteriorates noticeably over the next two to three years, we can expect those in office and the rest of the elite to blame the IMF for Pakistan’s economic disaster. Yet, it is not the IMF that is to be held responsible, but our own elite, elected, unelected, and those who continue to lead Pakistan down the IMF path, yet again. Accountability must begin and end with our elite, not with the IMF”.

 

Moreover, terror attacks have increased in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan. On May 13, around four police personnel were martyred and 12 others, including some policemen, were injured in a blast in Quetta’s Satellite Town market. On May 14, unidentified gunmen killed three labourers and injured another in Naseerabad district of Balochistan. On May 11, three terrorists, disguised as security forces personnel, attacked the PC hotel in Gwadar. The terrorists killed five persons, four hotel employees, including three security guards who tried to stop them. Around six people were wounded. The terrorists were killed by the security forces in an operation that lasted 12 hours. The banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has claimed responsibility for the attack. On April 12, terrorists killed 20 people, belonging to Shia Hazaras, in the Hazarganji area of Quetta. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. On April 18, terrorists offloaded 14 passengers from a bus and shot them dead in Ormara. Terrorists killed five policemen in a suicide bombing in Lahore on May 8. On the same day, terrorists killed three people, including a tribal leader, Wali Khan Achakzai, in Killa Abdullah. Then, according to the Voice of America, Islamic State has announced “Pakistan Province”. All the facts clearly manifest that Pakistan is under an “unconventional war” attack. The external enemies of the country, including India, America and Afghanistan, are using terrorism and financial weapons to destabilise Pakistan. But, it is also a hard fact that the ruling elite, including politicians, businessmen, feudal lords and religious leaders are a real culprit in weakening the Pakistani economy and providing an opportunity to the enemy for exploitation.

The state should implement the NAP fully and introduce revolutionary financial policies and reforms by putting taxes on the elite.

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