Money dealers count Pakistani rupees and US dollars at an exchange in Islamabad. Photo: AFP/ Aamir Qureshi
Money dealers count Pakistani rupees and US dollars at an exchange in Islamabad. Photo: AFP/ Aamir Qureshi

Pakistan is going through financial turmoil. The Karachi Stock Exchange on Monday lost 1,200 points in early trade after the State Bank of Pakistan predicted a slow economic growth rate of 4% for the financial year 2019 and amid rumors of Prime Minister Imran Khan telling journalists that midterm elections could not be ruled out.

On Friday, the Pakistani currency saw its worst decline of the decade when it plunged 10 rupees against the US dollar to trade at 142 rupees against the greenback.

Since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came to power, the rupee has been devalued by around 10-12%. Growing inflation and price rises are  affecting the middle and lower middle classes badly.

Dwindling foreign reserves even with the injection of $1 billion from Saudi Arabia are ringing alarming bells for an economic crisis in the near future, and the question is whether anyone is listening.

The PTI government for sure is not listening, as its priorities are still focused on optics to please its support base. The prime minister is busy telling the world that he is the only holy man in the country who is pitted against corrupt politicians and a flawed system, while his cabinet members are still living in an imaginary world where they perceive that everything will be fine at the end with the help of Imran Khan’s celebrity status.

Finance Minister Asad Umar has no concrete plan to thwart the current financial crisis and like his predecessors, he is only depending on the International Monetary Fund and friendly countries like China and Saudi Arabia to bail Pakistan out. The whole PTI cabinet is busy leveling allegations and finding the mistakes of the previous governments in order to show the masses that they are busy day and night trying to get back the imaginary billions of dollars allegedly looted during the previous governments.

Because of the economic instability, foreign interests are not keen to bring investments into Pakistan. After all, no one invests in a country where the government has no plan to cope with its economic woes. According to Undersecretary of the US Treasury David Malpass, the prevailing uncertainty in Pakistan is not due to the indecision of the government on seeking an IMF bailout package but to the failure to announce a strategy focused on stabilization within 100 days after assuming power.

The inability to devise any strategy to address the economic woes and government adopting the approach of “look busy, do nothing” have deepened the crisis. All the government has to offer right now are success stories from the past about how Khan won the 1992 Cricket World Cup for Pakistan and how he rose to power beating his experienced opponents.

He is busy telling the masses that this is a tough time and they need to bear it for a bright future. However, he is still unable to present any solid policy that eventually will bring prosperity and growth to the country. His 100 days of governance has been the worst of any government in the country in the recent past, as other than making lofty claims and U-turns from his commitments, Khan has been unable to devise a proper plan and strategy to address the challenges faced by Pakistan.

The invisible forces who staged an undeclared coup to bring him into power with the help of all the state machinery perhaps are feeling the heat too. After all, Khan’s failure even to devise a plan and policy to thwart the economic crisis is leading the country to a position where the financial and economic losses will be beyond repair.

Some in the media can be silenced through pressure or by offering them monetary benefits, but it will not hide the fact that Khan is sinking the entire political system with his narcissist approach and inability to present solutions.

The propaganda of the invisible forces has created a generation that is not aware of the history behind the complex political landscape of the country, thus becoming easy prey to the narrative devised by the invisible forces to rule through Khan-led government from behind the curtains. But even this process of hijacking the minds cannot change the reality that Pakistan needs to address the economic crisis before it is too late, and that the current PTI government has no skill or capability to lead the country out of the prevailing crisis.

Imad Zafar is a journalist and columnist/commentator for newspapers. He is associated with TV channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, and political, policy and media related think-tanks.

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