Imran’s warning

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FORMER Prime Minister and Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan has warned that inflation is set to rise further and the country is headed towards becoming the next Sri Lanka which is witnessing its worst economic crisis since independence.

Addressing party workers across the country through video link from his Bani Gala residence, he also asked the Government to hold elections or face anarchy, telling his supporters that he would soon give a call for peaceful agitation which would end only with the announcement of an election date.

PTI workers, at the call of Imran Khan, staged peaceful protest demonstrations in almost all major cities against the rising inflation but Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed that people have rejected the call for protest by frustrated elements.

Irrespective of the kind of response that the call evoked, political parties and politicians should not ignore ground realities and their statements and comments must take into account facts and impact of their careless remarks on national economy and interests of the country.

There can hardly be two opinions that the recent decisions of the Government to jack up prices of petroleum products massively and closing of eyes towards free fall of rupee have triggered a fresh but intensive cycle of price-hike but one has to understand the factors behind the prevailing situation.

What the present Government is trying to do is to restore the stalled programme of the IMF which was signed by the PTI Government with conditions that have pushed the country to the present state of affairs.

It is also known to all and even confirmed by a key minister of the PTI cabinet (Sheikh Rashid Ahmad) that the Imran Khan Government laid mines for the next Government by violating the accord with the IMF and freezing prices of POL products in the face of a rise in prices in the international market.

The new Government is trying to undo the harm that the previous government inflicted on the economy which is the main factor behind fears that the country was moving towards a Sri Lanka-type situation.

It is also a fact that the unprecedented inflation, caused by repeated surge in the prices of petroleum products and electricity and gas tariff besides record devaluation of rupee, remained the main concern of the masses during the entire period of PTI and the party miserably failed to take corrective measures.

In the prevailing situation, flow of external assistance has become the number one priority of the Government and, therefore, the government is trying to sort out differences with the IMF to unblock the crucial aid.

It is not time to score points at the cost of the national economy and instead every party and segment of the society should contribute its share in addressing the ills of the economy.

It is also regrettable that the PTI leader is seeing chaos if elections were not held as per his demand, forgetting that constitutionally the elections were due to be held in August 2023.

He should accept the reality that his Government has been removed through a constitutional move (vote of no-confidence) and the new Government was mandated to implement its agenda in the remaining period of the present Assembly.

Otherwise too, the Government has started implementing hard and tough measures to stabilize the economy and it needs time to allow these measures to bear fruits.

Delay of a few months in holding the general election would not make any difference and instead all parties should do their homework to prepare for the poll.

There is also no substance in the allegations of the PTI Chairman that the general election might not be free and fair.

In fact, it was the PTI Government which introduced unilateral amendments in the election laws prompting allegations from the then Opposition that preparations were being made to rig the poll.

The way the PTI Government moved hastily to implement a half-baked plan of using electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the general election strengthened apprehensions of the Opposition that ground was being prepared to steal the election through manipulation of technology.

Instead of indulging in rhetoric, there is sufficient time for all parties to sit together and introduce consensus electoral reforms to bring to an end the tendency of levelling allegations of rigging after every election.

 

 

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