Articles and letters may be edited for the purposes of clarity and space. They are published in good faith with a view to enlightening all the stakeholders. However, the contents of these writings may not necessarily match the views of the newspaper.
Politics dwarfs economy
Pakistan’s Tax Revenue, as a percentage of GDP was 5.7% in December 2021 and unless this increases, there is no chance to break shackles from IMF and attain economic sustainability, so essential to secure State Sovereignty. Mere political rhetoric, slogan mongering cannot achieve sovereignty, unless there is a political will to impose direct taxation on all sources of income, with no waivers for special interest groups that exercise influence over political parties and powerful segments within corridors of power.
While Europe embarked on a strategy to conserve energy bills, decades before the Ukraine crisis, by optimum use of daylight hours, closing shopping centers and malls before sunset, political point scoring in Pakistan is involved in doing the reverse. Recent announcement by the Punjab CM to reverse the Energy Conservation Policy by allowing shops to remain open till late in the night and also on Sundays is nothing but a political gimmick.
Pakistan was able to restrict and reduce its Oil Import Bill for the past two months to meet IMF demands to reduce expenditure and raise revenue, by adopting such policies. As a responsible State, this country should have embarked on most essential economic prerequisite to raise revenue by reducing import bills. Given World Economic Recession that haunts global economy, this is no time to embark on cheap political gimmickry.
Earlier PML-N withdrew limited direct taxation on retailers just because they were part of their constituency. Why should Import restrictions on dog food and luxury items be relaxed? Similarly, Cantonment Boards increased DC rates of real estate by mere 20% to benefit tax impact on real estate profits and instead increased Property Tax on self-owned houses of citizens by over 400% to meet targets and needless waste. It seems economic sanity will always be a casualty of special interest groups.
MALIK TARIQ ALI
A PTI leader Shahbaz Gill has been arrested on charges of sedition and inciting the public against the state institutions. There is a need to determine if others from his party were involved in what was stated.
The party officials and workers tried their best to spread misinformation around the arrest to make it appear as an “abduction”, the fact of the matter is that everything was captured on the CCTV footage.
Mr. Gill was arrested by the Islamabad police in accordance with the law on charges of sedition and inciting the public against state institutions, authorities have a right to arrest following the registration of an FIR and no one is deserving of special treatment. Furthermore, as the CCTV footage also shows, there was no physical violence involved whatsoever against Mr. Gill or his driver, and the car window was only broken after they continued to resist the arrest.
PTI’s pretence of unjust action does not hold water. As far as the seditious statements are concerned, it appears that the motive was to fan the flames of division in a prestigious and well disciplined institution (Pak Army).
This is unacceptable. However, a few top officers of the army were individually criticized but no top politician tried to create differences in rank and file of the Pak Army. The present narrative of leader of PTI and active supporters are threatening national unity and interest.
Making statements with the intention of triggering disunity and unrest is extremely problematic. Similarly, it is part of a larger trend where party officials, in particular PTI since its ouster from power, manufacture a narrative of conspiracies and perceived victimisation.
This has been witnessed in the case of the ECP, the judiciary, the defence forces. These harmful propaganda tactics must come to an end across the political spectrum.
Are we really independent?
As I drive on roads of Karachi, I see many children running at the traffic signals fluttering the flags and trying to persuade passersby to buy them (flags).
The windows of the car roll down, and someone gives them little change in lieu of purchasing the flags. This made me ponder on the eve of 75th Independence Day of Pakistan “Have we truly achieved our independence? While we have claimed our sovereignty from the foreign rule many years ago, but do we truly have freedom of living in a dignified manner?
Every day, we encounter this inconsistency closely, but we have become so immune to it that we turn a blind eye towards it. We need to ask ourselves what does independence truly mean. Even after so many years of independence women cannot travel out to pursue education or career due to the fear of their own safety. They are not free to express their opinions without being trolled whether online or offline. We call ourselves a free nation, but do not have freedom to choose what we eat, what we wear.
Independence Day doesn’t mean one day of nationalist pride, it means a faithfulness to serve the nation in a truly inclusive way. We have to suppress these social evils, intolerance and learn to accept difference and celebrate them. I hope that someday I will see those kids in schools unfurling the national flags instead of selling them on the traffic signals.