Faulty crisis management?

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THE policies, programmes and actions so far initiated by the Shehbaz Sharif-led unity government has sent a loud and clear message that it has the capability and potential to respond to the woes of the general public and address the crippling economic and financial crisis that has gripped the country due to wrong policies of the previous Government.

However, there seems to be something seriously wrong with the crisis management as the new Government is embroiled in an artificially created constitutional crisis and threat of security and law and order situation by the aggressive opposition and lack of coherent support on the part of the coalition partners.

The Prime Minister and his economic team moved quickly to overcome immediate financial and economic challenges of the country as was evident from Sharif’s successful visit to Saudi Arabia and the talks that Finance Minister Miftah Ismail held with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington but further progress on the matter is frozen due to inability of the Government to take some tough political decisions and that too in the prevailing treacherous environment.

IMF had expressed willingness to enhance the amount of the bail-out package but it is in no mood even to revive the stalled programme until and unless the Government practically accepts the hard conditions of the Fund and latest reports also suggest the Kingdom has also tied its additional deposits worth $3 billion to the revival of the IMF programme.

The uncertain situation is having its toll on the economy as the stock exchange witnessed a steep slide on Monday (shedding over a massive three percent), rupee hit another low in months and foreign exchange reserves are depleting at a fast pace.

It would not be appropriate to say these are early symptoms of a Sri Lanka-like situation but if left unresolved the challenges and difficulties could pose serious threat to the economic and financial stability of the country and, therefore, the Government needs complete peace of mind to focus on priority issues.

It is, however, unfortunate that all attempts are being made to impede the otherwise famous ‘Shehbaz speed’ as is evident from the obstructionist role played by some constitutional offices at the Centre and in Punjab.

The province is suffering hugely as it resembles scenes of a football match during the process of election of a new leader of the house in the provincial assembly.

The issue was resolved with the directions of the Lahore High Court but the province was denied a prompt and smooth transfer of power due to collusion of the President and the Governor House.

This was again sorted out by the court but after a lapse of considerable time and now the province is without a cabinet.

The issue of removal of the incumbent Governor and appointment of a new one is quite simple if the Constitution is followed in letter and spirit but the President is bent upon interpreting the relevant provisions differently just to allow the incumbent PTI loyalist Governor to stay put in Governor House to make things murkier for PML(N) Government.

The issue might ultimately be addressed by the judiciary but it is quite obvious that it will take some time as it involves interpretation of some constitutional provisions and the time thus consumed might be used to create more problems for the provincial government.

Otherwise too, Hamza Government is likely to face the issue of its very survival during the next few days when the Election Commission decides the case of defecting MPAs.

The very fact that PML(N), in its zest to show more numbers, made all dissidents to vote during election of the leader of the house is itself an indication of lack of planning and foresight on the part of the party in managing things.

As the President and the Governor are openly obstructing the process of making appointments to key offices and might also do so with pieces of legislation, an answer to the problem will have to be found on a priority basis if we are serious to avert further economic slide down.

There is also uncertainty because of the planned long march and sit-in of PTI, especially when public statements are being made to turn them violent.

Coalition partners and other stakeholders will have to play their role in sorting out things before it is too late.

 

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