Performance, not mere rhetoric  | By Zaheer Bhatti


Performance, not mere rhetoric

GOVERNMENT is aware of impact of inflation upon the poor” but will do nothing to arrest it by raising competitive productivity; “Pakistan is rated as the top country in the world with tourism potential” and yet nothing has been done even in the tenure of the present government to raise tourist destinations and add to national income; “stashing monies abroad by a few, eats up into national wealth” but not a dime has been recovered from those being proceeded against.

With all the resources at the government command, it indicates that either the charges were trumped up or as invariably argued, the prosecution wilfully or incompetently dragged its feet to press charges.

Conversely, if the charges were trumped up or fake and the accused were clean, they ought to have proceeded against the Government and NAB for defamation, and in the absence of punitive libel laws, at least extracted an unqualified apology from both to vindicate their honour. Surely therefore, there is something between the lip and the cup.

“Corruption is the root cause of the dwindling Pakistan economy,” says Prime Minister Imran Khan, but again does nothing to arrest leave alone eliminate it, as the menace during his tenure has in fact increased.

How self-conceited can one get when the apex leader of the ruling party says that rising prices are a worldwide phenomenon but the common man needs to be told that price-hikes were lesser in Pakistan.

Imran Khan cannot be unaware that if prices were increasing elsewhere, their per capita income also increased, whereas the Pakistani income levels and buying capacity were constantly decreasing with the battering allowed to the Pakistani rupee due to lack of intervention by the State Bank, and almost zero level National productivity.

But a major reason of Pakistan’s economic predicament has been its inability to arrest population growth, because no matter how much you invest in development, it will all come to naught if you cannot prevent the population bomb from exploding. China and Bangladesh have done it. Why not Pakistan!

The rulers have no qualms of conscience to at least admit that the government has no explanation as to why the Pakistani rupee which was better valued than the Indian rupee in the seventies last century, is today half its price, as well as that of the Bangladesh Takka; a country which when part of the whole of Pakistan was considered a basket case, and an Afghani which was not worth the paper it is written on, was today double the value of Pak Rupee despite destruction of its infrastructure in the 40 years of foreign intervention.

And whereas the nation was awaiting the trickle-down effect of any productive venture, the effect of corruption for sure has trickled down to the common man, permeating all ranks across the board in the Pakistani society today in total frustration, be they the salaried, small shopkeepers, the labourer roadside vendors, under relentless price hikes as they are forced into graft, overcharging, adulteration, smuggling and hoarding.

The remorseless industrialists and businessmen on the other hand instead of rationalizing their prices are reducing the weight of their commodity and continuing to raise prices without any check; be they a soap cake, toothpaste, tea, milk, detergents and what have you.

On top of it, despite the dollar becoming scarce after tumbling of the Pak rupee, a record import of vehicles and luxury items by the private sector has been registered this year whereas the Punjab government is reportedly importing vehicles and aircraft; legalizing flight of foreign exchange in the cash-starved Pakistani economy, which makes a mockery of a supposedly Islamic Welfare State, more so when a Federal Minister suggests to the people to reduce consumption by 9% to combat prices; an abysmal suggestion which should shame the rulers.

One has time and again stressed that cosmetics such as Shelter Homes and Free-Kitchens (Langars) were the job of philanthropists who could afford them and still do out of their own pockets.

Such phony Government initiatives on borrowed money, were no substitute to raising productivity demonstrating Government ability to pay off, stand on its own, and developing self-respect among individual Pakistanis.

As for the ‘Kamyab Naujawan’ and ‘Ehsaas’ Programmes, Kisan Card or Health Card, one often wonders what these were delivering even to the select few who have been given one out of tens of unemployed millions.

Government hospitals are so dismally provided and under-staffed that protests by doctors and paramedics are a common sight, besides the fact that all Govt.

OPD facilities which normally cater to the bulk of outdoor patients have been shut due to Corona for almost two years now, but the Govt.

brags about having given a health package worth lacs of rupees to every individual; I for one at 81, do not have it yet.

This scribe as also scores of others have warned the sitting government of its inability to arrest prices which could be done by removing the middleman called the ‘Arhati,’ and itself assuming the role and responsibility of reaching the produce from farm to the market.

The government is wilfully falling into the IMF debt trap which thrives on dictation; its latest demand being further increase in Regulatory Duties and Sales Tax, despite incessant increase in petroleum and energy prices by Imran Khan’s Government, impacting every commodity under the sun.

This is not mere hearsay but a reality that IMF being the front of the imperialists, has no mercy for the poor.

But the callous attitude of successive governments to keep borrowing without building the capacity to pay back and further burdening the coming generations, has rendered Pakistan dysfunctional.

Imran Khan who is generally seen as a clean person is granted the right to dream, but anyone assuming power with a little self-respect and unable to deliver for whatever reasons, should step down. This unfortunately, has not been the tradition in this sham democracy of Pakistan.

For all one knows, when a government begins to bugle its presumed achievements instead of letting them speak for themselves if true, it only signals its own departure as did Ayab Khan’s ‘Decade of Reforms’.

—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.

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