As the World is euphoric ushering in New Year with possible new dreams, new hopes, and a better world to live in, something looms large over the happiness of people of Pakistan, the Economy, which continues on its nonstop southwards path. The situation seems to be so grave that the recent utterances of PML-N leader and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal, has set the bell ringing. As per him, Prime Minister Imran Khan is a “major security threat to the country”. Some compliment on the eve of the New Year.

Commenting on constant taunts by PTI blaming PML-N to ruin the economy, he said that “No one can stop value of rupee for four years artificially. The rupee is receiving kicks like football today. And PM says he does not know how the rupee value fell. Such PM is a threat to national security”. Well, he may not be entirely correct but seems that he is not entirely wrong either. Prime Minister of a country openly admitting about his ignorance about the devaluation of his own currency, did sound alarm bells which were intensified after the statement of his Finance Minister revealing that the Prime Minister was informed before the devaluation was executed. Well, no comments on who is right and who is wrong.

It is on the records that not so long ago, Pakistan’s economy was on the right path it was supposed to be. The path to a high, sustainable, growth-oriented economy. It was even celebrated for being dynamic and resilient too after almost a decade of economic struggle. Even numerous international journals and newspapers carried the news about the prospects for Pakistan’s economy. Moreover, the statistics placed growth of Pakistan’s GDP at the highest, during the last fiscal year, which ended in June 2018, just before the general election. As per reports, it was the highest GDP growth in 13 years.  I am sure that this fact cannot be refuted by either Imran Khan or his worthy Finance Minister Asad Umar.

Many economists in Pakistan hold the finance minister the sole responsible for this so-called crisis. Others to blame are the finance and economic team managing the economy since August 2018, the team whose selection was marred by appointment of an Ahmadi, Dr. Atif R Mian. Under pressure, The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had to ask Princeton University economist Dr. Atif R. Mian to step down from the Economic Advisory Council (EAC). It will not be wrong to say the new government failed to draw a clear-cut, non-ambiguous plan to provide right impetus to the economy which had seen constant growth till 2018, all due to the lack of right decisions and correct guidance.

This is what which has changed the picture of Pakistan’s economy with the expected growth rate for the current fiscal year lowered to a level which is lowest in past ten years. It is now anybody’s guess where this level will stop in the next few years. Inflation too has started rising again to levels never seen for the last few years with a value of rupee nose-diving to a third less in the international market compared to what it was just a year or so ago. As per the experts, this fiasco is not because of the empty coffers but because of the complacency, incompetence, and total mismanagement by the incumbent government.

According to a Pakistani economist, “The PTI government inherited an economy with the highest growth rate in 13 years, albeit strains were more than evident, especially regarding the current account and fiscal deficits. The rupee had been linked to a former finance minister’s irrational ego for far too long and would have had to give at some point. Moreover, it was also fairly clear that if the previous government of the PML-N was re-elected, it would most certainly have gone to the IMF within days of taking office”. He even feels that the achievements of PTI’s economic planning in the last few months have been continued uncertainty and ambiguity. It seems the government has no clue about what to do about the economy, and hence, the current economic picture.

With money loaned from various countries, Pakistan may look good for now but not to forget that loan has to be returned too. Ever increasing debt burden on the country is not a secret anymore. If not going to IMF is an option to the PTI government then what is the option they have to stop this roller coaster ride of Pakistani economy? If there is one then it’s high time to chose the correct road.

02 Jan 2018/Wednesday                          Written by Azadazraq