The PTI debacle

Zahid Awan

The writer is an entrepreneur and a senior politician.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has completed three years of its tenure. Chairman Imran Khan founded the party on the slogan of accountability and justice and after a long political struggle come to power. There is no denying that no government has ever had such a calm political environment and level-playing field as the PTI.

In the past, we saw that the ministers were constantly under pressure from all sides and no one was willing to take any step fearing repercussions from state institutions. Despite the obstacles, previous governments still managed to take all possible steps for the betterment of the people. Today, there is no threat of suo motu notices or accountability for corruption. Still, the incumbent government is making lofting claims and bragging about its achievements.

The PTI government is fortunate that it has not faced any stiff resistance from the opposition nor can any political movement stand in their way. The critics do not even need to respond as the institutions today issue notice to political opponents and silence them.

During the past three years, inflation has increased manifold and this chronic problem still persists. In the past, the major causes of inflation were foreign loans and strict conditions of global institutions. Economic instability was also a major cause of inflation but the prices of flour, ghee, vegetable oil, and even petrol and the dollar was significantly lower.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing a ceremony celebrating three years of his government, claimed that $10bn are stolen every year and transferred abroad as black money. He maintained that in the past 18 years, NAB recovered Rs90bn but in the last three years, it had recovered Rs519bn. He said foreign exchange reserves were $16.4bn three years ago, which has now risen to $27bn. The current account deficit was $20bn and today was $1.8 billion. Three years ago Rs3,800 bn taxes were collected and today Rs4,700 bn taxes are being collected. Remittances were $19.9 bn which has now reached $29.4 billion while the growth rate of industries has increased by 18% in three years.

As far as the people are concerned, the present government can be termed as the worst. The federal ministers seem to be arrogant and are on the defensive instead of being admitting their failure to control inflation.

There is no institution in Pakistan that has developed in the past three years. The debt burden has also multiplied. There is no doubt that exports have increased significantly in the last few months, but it is not the government’s achievement but due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the exports from other countries dwindled, many foreign companies preferred to buy from Pakistan, which led to better exports. This situation is temporary and the situation will be back as the norms are restored.

The prime minister announced an amnesty scheme for the construction industry but it did not bode well for them. As construction activities intensified, the prices of related materials skyrocketed well. Cement and ceramics are many times more expensive and this amnesty is of no use.

The prices of food items and groceries have become many times more expensive. The government is more concerned about politics rather than the plight of the people. The PTI government has completed three years and is on course to complete its term. It is crystal clear that those who brought Imran Khan to power are worried about this horrible experiment. They may not find somebody who is more obedient than Imran Khan and might impose this debacle once again.

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