A scapegoat is “any group or individual that innocently bears the blame of others.” A group or individual “upon whose head is symbolically placed the sins of others.” In the Yom Kippur ritual a goat is “ritually burdened with the sins of the Jewish people.”
The ancient Athenians used human scapegoats to “mitigate a plague or other calamity.” Our governments have become experts in the use of scapegoats-placing their own sins on to others.
Scapegoat number 1: The previous government. In 2018, when the PTI formed the government, Pakistan’s debt and liabilities stood at Rs30,000 billion.
Pakistan’s debt and liabilities have since crossed Rs50,000 billion. The PPP government from 2008 till 2013 took on an additional debt of Rs5 billion a day, every day. The PML-N government from 2013 till 2018 took on an additional debt of Rs8 billion a day, every day.
The PTI government from 2018 till 2022 has been taking on an additional debt of Rs17 billion a day, every day. Question: Why is the PTI government taking on so much debt? The government’s answer is that it is because of the previous government.
The government’s answer is that it is paying off debts of the previous government. Logically, if the PTI government was paying off debts of the previous government then the net debt figure should have fallen below Rs30,000 billion-it has instead gone from Rs30,000 billion to over Rs50,000 billion.
Obviously, the PTI government has taken on Rs20,000 billion worth of additional debt. Let us blame it on the previous government-a perfect scapegoat; sins of the PTI government being placed on to the previous government.
Scapegoat number 2: The international market. In 2014, the price of petrol in Pakistan was Rs82 per liter. The price of petrol has since shot up to Rs160 per liter.
Question: Why has the price of petrol in Pakistan gone up from Rs82 per liter to Rs160 per liter? The government will tell us that the price of petrol in the international market has gone up. The international market is a perfect scapegoat-sins of the current government being placed on to the international market.
The fact is that in 2014 the price of Brent crude in the international market was $96 a barrel. Lo and behold, the price of Brent crude today is also $96 a barrel.
The fact is that the price of Brent crude in the international market is the same as it was 7 years ago. The fact is that the price of petrol in Pakistan has gone up by 100 percent over the past 7 years. Yes, the international market is a scapegoat.
The truth is that our rupee has fallen from Rs101 to-a-dollar to Rs177 to-a-dollar-and that is the real reason behind the price of petrol going from Rs82 per liter to Rs160 per liter. Scapegoat number 3: The domestic mafias. The price of wheat flour has shot up from Rs35 a kilogram to Rs70 per kilogram over the past 3 years. The government tells us ‘it is the mafia’.
The price of sugar has shot up from Rs55 a kilogram to Rs110 per kilogram over the past 3 years. The government tells us ‘it is the mafia’. The price of electricity has shot up from Rs11 a unit to Rs28 a unit over the past 4 years. The government tells us ‘it is the mafia’.
‘Mafia’ is the perfect scapegoat. The real problem is the lack of government policy. The real sin is that the government does not have a policy-and the burden of this sin must be placed on to a scapegoat which is the ‘mafia’. The golden rule is: When things go wrong look for a scapegoat.