Pakistan's continuing miseries
‘Naya Pakistan’ is nothing new as far as its economic crisis is concerned
'Naya Pakistan' is nothing new as far as its economic crisis is concerned. Prime Minister, Imran Khan, promised to deliver a new Pakistan to the people once in power and if there is anything new in it, it is in the increased misery of the country. In fact, people have stopped even thinking about or exploring reasons for Pakistan's economy being in doldrums. Imran Khan can blame Covid-19 in addition to his predecessors now and would never dare enough to point a finger at his own administration or at the Army that is looting the country uninterruptedly in the last few decades.
Being a puppet of the Army, Imran cannot defy his puppeteers and can only seek alibis for his failures. Mounting debt crisis, falling exports, un-checked and spiralling government expenditure, absence of effective price mechanism to control everyday food items are not only ringing alarm bells but have put the country on a rough and bumpy road.
The country's media constantly points out that the malice is far deeper. Yet, no one bothers to care for the common man, in the country. However, it seems Pakistan is beyond repair. All the energies of the country go into pushing terrorists into the neighbouring countries to disturb the peace there. This is the primary reason the Opposition is getting stronger by the day. What is most irritating for the people of Pakistan is the consistent claim of Khan that the economy has made a turnaround.
Yes, agreed that the pandemic did play a key role in slamming the country's economy that contracted "for the first time in seven decades'. Economists recall that the downward trend has begun in 2018 itself. The next year the economy grew by only 1.9 per cent from 5.8 per cent in the year the Khan came to power. Opinion pieces in the Pakistan's national media suggest that "whenever you hear the government proclaim triumph about rising exports, keep in mind that the trade deficit has grown even faster than exports in the same July to December period." No one seems to be ready to buy Khan's argument.
Besides, Pakistan is also struggling to contain inflation that shot up to 10.7% in 2020, up from 6.8% in 2019 and 4.7% in 2018 when the Imran Khan government came to power. A recent spike in food prices indicates that the rising trend is likely to continue. The food situation in the country is so bad that Karachi Port was recently jammed with imports, foreign media reports pointed out. Rising debt stocks are playing havoc with the economy.
By the end of September 2020, Pakistan's total debt and liabilities stood at Pakistani Rupee 44,801 billion ($280 billion), an increase of PKR 245 billion over a three-month period. There is a twist to the debt story of Pakistan. Around 30 per cent of it is sourced through external borrowings and the country needs to pay PKR 1,200 billion rupees towards debt servicing and liabilities. One could easily understand the predicament of Imran Khan. After all he is living under the shadow of the Army. That only means that he is having a Damocles' sword hanging over his head!