Hassan Azam Shibbli
RECENTLY one of my friends shared a video. In the clip an Indian Administrative Services official was talking about the use of generic medicines ie medicines being sold under original salt names. These medicines are far cheaper than those that are being sold under trade names mostly by multinationals and leading local pharmaceutical companies. According to the Indian official their generic medicine policy is paying rich dividends and people at large are getting benefits of cheap yet effective medicines. As a result, health standards in his area have improved significantly. The video clip reminded me of late Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s era when generic medicines were first introduced in Pakistan. But this noble idea failed miserably due to the flooding of markets with fake medicines.
Government was unable to control this menace and the whole programme was rolled back. As a result, poor people were left with no alternative except to buy expensive branded medicines which policy still continues unabated much to their distress and economic woes and miseries. One must understand that Pakistan having large population is not producing even a single pharmaceutical salt and all such salts are imported from China and India. The country is having insufficient exchange reserves that have made its currency highly vulnerable against the basket of foreign currencies. Pak Rupee has depreciated by almost 50% in the last three years and as a consequence prices of all medicines have increased drastically if not many which is hurting the masses adversely. Under the given situation need for generic medicines is imperative and PTI Government is required to urgently formulate and implement it under strict administrative control to avoid failure of Bhutto’s era. The Government must also encourage and support production of various pharma salts to take care of adverse exchange fluctuations and price hikes.
Unfortunately as a nation we are corrupt right from the day one. At the time of independence countless fake claims for evacuee properties were filled both by the refugees and locals besides hundreds and thousands of evacuee properties and other valuable assets were forcibly occupied by the corrupt and powerful mafia. These people became billionionare over a short period of time and now hold every important position or assignment in the country and it is all due to these mafias that the country find itself high in the list of most corrupt and least developed nations of the world. It is a pity that this situation still remains so and God knows will stay for how many years decades or centuries. Our Prophet (P.B.U.H) has said, “Momin aik surakh sai 2 dafa dasa nahin ja sakta”. However, in our case this number is countless. This saying of Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) cannot be wrong but it was for momins not for Muslims and we have dearth of momins in a country of well over 200 million Muslims.
Today looters, plunderers and absconders are once again united in holding rallies and demonstrations against the sitting government by defying COVID SOPs court orders. This present scenario is similar to 1977 conditions when PNA was pledging to bring back the prices of 1970. This time the same forces are back under the name of PDM and assuring the poor people that they will be able to control price hike. In reality, the price hike is mainly due to massive devaluation of rupee, hike in power tariffs and increase in cost of doing business due to PML-N’s poor economic policies and its eagerness to utilize borrowed money in so-called mega projects like highways, roads, bridges, costly and ill conceived power plants and metro trains. It’s a pity that in its 5 year regime, exports of the country did not increase by a single Dollar rather plunged by 5% and imports shot up by about 100%. This resulted in current account deficit of 20 billion dollars and by the time they left and their much hyped Finance Minister fled the country by using PM’s special plane the country was practically bankrupt. Mafias belonging to PML-N and PPP who had made billions of rupees in sugar and wheat are now blaming PTI Government for corruption and failed economic policies. The main argument here is that why the companies of PPP and PML N party members were selling sugar and wheat at high prices? At least they should have sold these 2 items on realistic prices or should have admitted that it was all due to crops shortfall, increase in support prices and necessary inputs.
The saddest part of the story is the PPP which was victim of the PNA Movement in 1977 is now a part of the PDM. The sole reason behind this paradigm shift is to secure ill gotten wealth by getting the NAB defunct. Their leaders vociferously claims that Bhutto still lives in the hearts of the people but his ideas, thoughts and philosophy have been killed at the hands of Zardari and Bilawal eversince they took over charges of the PPP on this basis of a forged ill drafted document. The case of PML-N leadership is not different at all as they are also trying desperately to save their enormous wealth and precious properties both in Pakistan and abroad. Their leadership has claimed the status of proclaimed offenders and did not have the courage to attend the funeral of their mother and grandmother. The Jews remained in wilderness for 40 years but Pakistani nation is in wilderness for more than 73 years and yet it is not learning any lessons. Large majority of people are still chanting old political slogans like, “Zinda hai Bhutto zinda hai”, “Mian dai narai wajjan gai” and “Maulana aa raha ha” on the tunes orchestrated by Bilawal, Maryum, Fazlur Rehman and their accomplices like Mehmood Achakzai, descendents of Bacha Khan dynasty and Akhtar Mengal. Allah Pak in Surah AL-Baqara has said that he has created evidences for people who can understand. Is the current political alliance not a sign for us?
—The author is an Islamabad-based analyst and occasionally contributes to the national Press.