The further devaluation of Pakistan’s currency has exacerbated the economic turmoil plaguing the country. On Thursday, the US dollar hit an all-time high against the Pakistani rupee – Rs162.05 to $1.
There are indications that the rupee will lose more value against the US dollar because the recently agreed International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan package is conditional on a further decrease, as well as an interest rate hike. The circulation of capital has been stopped due to uncertainty in the currency and stock markets, and this has resulted in more unemployment. The economy of Pakistan is gradually sinking and it has been stuck in reverse gear since the incumbent government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) assumed power.
Surprisingly, the defense budget was not cut due to the economic turmoil; in fact, it has been increased since last year. The more surprising thing is that this budget was approved by parliament, which is an indication that even Shahbaz Sharif, the president of Pakistan Mulsim League Nawaz ( PML-N), and Asif Zardari of the Pakistan People Party (PPP) are both playing into the hands of the establishment.
There are indications that the rupee will lose more value against the US dollar
The united opposition called for an all-parties conference on June 26, but as per expectations, the event ended without any significant progress being made. In fact, mainly for the benefit of the media, a half-hearted announcement was made about all the opposition parties agreeing to bring about change in the Senate in the near future, and July 25 being observed as a black day to protest against rigging in the general elections, which were held on the same date last year.
So the invisible forces seem to have somehow survived the political onslaught of the opposition parties, such as Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and the faction of the PML-N that is supporting Maryam Nawaz’s narrative. However, the worsening condition of the economy and PTI’s inability to address the grave threat of an economic meltdown are not fully not appreciated by the powerful establishment.
After all, the doctrine of the establishment was to establish a setup that both acts as its puppet and helps to revive the economy. Since PTI lacks the capacity to govern the country or to address the problems faced by the economy of the country, the establishment doctrine of ruling through puppets is not going well.
In any case, the doctrine of the establishment will be the same and it will perhaps look for a new experiment to somehow keep the current political discourse intact. For the sake of appearances, an in-house change can be made – another puppet prime minister – with the help of the PML-N’s Shahbaz Sharif faction – and PPP and independent candidates can be introduced, so the masses can pin their hopes on a new face.
This has been Pakistan’s dilemma over the last few decades – the masses are hostage to the very strong propaganda of the deep state and they are made to believe that a change of faces means a change of system. In reality, the change of faces is not a change in the system as the current status quo is maintained by the establishment. Unless the establishment changes its doctrine and stops intervening in the political and social discourse of the country, the current status quo will likely prevail and, as a result, the dream of becoming a welfare state rather than a security-obsessed state will always remain unfulfilled. The problem with the current establishment doctrine is that it has created a very deep divide among the masses.
It is no longer just a political divide. It is now clearly becoming a battle of different political, social and intellectual ideologies. The masses are gradually becoming aware of the fact that the actual opponents of the current, artificial political discourse are not the PML-N of Shahbaz or the PPP of Asif Zardari. Nawaz Sharif is the only mainstream leader right now who is challenging this discourse, and he is being made to pay a very heavy price for this. How long he can resist is no longer a question, as it seems Sharif has decided to battle it out until the end.
The JUI-F of Maulana Fazlu-ur-Rehman is also posing challenges to the current political order, but given the history of this right-wing religious political party, one can predict that it will eventually align itself with the establishment after Prime Minister Imran Khan is replaced with another puppet such as Shahbaz Sharif or Asif Zardari. So, on the political chessboard, the positions are likely to change in a year or so, but the current rotten political and social disorders will still prevail as the establishment seems to be in no mood to take a back seat, or to at least replace this unsuccessful ruling doctrine from behind by engineering the political process.
The price of this unsuccessful doctrine is being paid by the masses in Pakistan, as they are feeling the heat of economic turmoil. Rising indirect taxes and stiff tariffs on electricity and petroleum products are diminishing the middle class in Pakistan, and yet the deep state and the incumbent government are busy capturing the minds of the masses through strong propaganda instead of trying to fix the economy. The one-liner of the propaganda is that both PML-N and PPP have brought this economic turmoil to the country. However, two questions remain: if this was the case, how was the PML-N able to keep the national GDP at around 6% and why was it able to attract foreign investment?
For many Pakistanis who are victims of deep state propaganda and cannot think critically, the establishment is actually saving their country and they wholeheartedly believe that this economic turmoil was caused by the PML-N as Sharif was a corrupt man. On the contrary, not even a single charge against Sharif has been proven. In fact, the accountability court verdict that disqualified him from politics was suspended by the Islamabad High Court. The invisible forces worked hard to file another case against Sharif so he cannot get out of jail and create havoc for them on the political battlefield. But how long will the establishment be able to keep him behind bars and how long will it be able to disguise people through its propaganda?
After all, economies are not run merely on propaganda and a failed doctrine cannot yield new results. American journalist Lawrence Kudlow once said, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results when, in fact, the results never change, is one definition of insanity. That goes for economics, too.” In Pakistan, this insane approach has been adopted by the establishment since the era of General Ayub Khan and it still expects a different result from this same rotten and unsuccessful approach. It takes no genius to understand a very simple fact: Unless the establishment stops intervening in the political discourse and stops inventing doctrines to undermine democracy, Pakistan will keep inflicting economic and political crises on itself.