When leaders fault the country defaults

Time To Learn Lessons
Mukhtar Ahmed Butt : The writer is a freelance journalist and defence Analyst.

There was a proverb, “When Rome was burning, Nero was playing flute” Will that be proved right when country is sinking and heading towards default.
Country is facing worst crisis of economy in the history of Pakistan but no one is taking it seriously. The top economists and experts of the country have divergent views about the real state of economy that has resulted in an unending debate majority feels Pakistan is in deep problem. But if one glances at the economic indicators it gives horrible picture of economy. If we compare economic indicators prior to regime change the economic indicators were certainly much better and no one talked about Pakistan heading towards default. To get out of this difficult situation government has accepted all terms and conditions of IMF even then we have not been able to satisfy them. At present the former finance minister Miftah Ismail and current finance minister Ishaq Dar specially brought from self-exile are busy in accusing each other on the poor state of economy. Interestingly both belong to PML N but Ishaq Dar is preferred due to close relationship with Nawaz Sharif, Miftah continues to criticise Dar for further deepening economic crisis that has brought country to virtual default. Ishaq Dar came with a bang and for few days we saw dollar going down but now dollars have disappeared and not available even in Rs 250 against official rate of Rs 225.Unfortunately our government has failed to understand the dangers looming over our heads due to clouds of uncertainties and unending confrontation between government and PTI. Accusations allegations and counter allegations against each other is the only agenda of our politicians without realizing its consequences. This is termed as beauty of democracy Oh my God. No one is ashamed of all time low deposit of foreign exchange and external debt our control, coupled with all time high inflation, unemployment has made life difficult. It has resulted in increase in crime rate and day light robberies. Media is busy in airing sponsored programs and no one is interested to take care of people who find it extremely difficult to get two time meals. With all what is happening in Pakistan we have cabinet of 76 ministers and special assistants with no control over ever rising expenditure on administration.
If we scan newspapers, watch talk shows the number one issue that has been given highest priority is Toshakhana watch. Before we move ahead let us first find out what is Toshakhana. Toshakhana is a government owned department under the control of Cabinet Division of Pakistan formed in 1974. Its main purpose is to keep gifts which are received by members of parliament, ministers, foreign secretaries, the President, and the Prime Minister. There is a provision that gifts can be taken by paying price fixed for personal use and becomes your property. Most of the past rulers have availed this facility and former Prime Minister also purchased gifted to him as per SOP that include Watch, golden pen, and other assorted items. Since after purchase it becomes your property IK sold these purchased items in the market and spent the money on the construction of road etc. The government has made number of cases on account of these gifts alleged that these were not disclosed in time and did not pay tax. This has now become hot topic in media because IK is in opposition. It has become the top and priority issue when the country is sinking. In all probabilities he will be disqualified without realizing its far reaching consequences. Here is summary of question raised in different issues the reply is very interesting.
Is IK enemy of Pakistan, answer Toshakhana. Is he betraying people of Pakistan answer Toshakhana. Is it true if IK had not sold his gifted watch Pakistan would have been in happy position answer is Toshakhana. Is it not true that we could have avoided going to IMF the answer is Toshakhana? There is unemployment in Pakistan answer it is due to Toshakhana. Is it not true due selling of watch inflation rising each day answer is Toshakhana. Is it true high cost of power is on account of selling watch by IK answer is Toshakhana. While this debate is going on IK has announced dissolution of Punjab and KPK assemblies on 23 December and all MNA’s resigning from national assembly seats. The ball is again in the court of government. This one week time was for the government to understand the volatile situation and not threat because IK wants to move as per constitution that unfortunately is being interpreted suiting to individual, it is strange SC has yet to move against such interpretations. Our present worry is to stabilize the economy that can only be achieved by stabilizing rupee. Do we have any roadmap or strategy in place to achieve our goals? The answer is no; it is not seen anywhere. Foreign companies cannot repatriate their earnings because we have no dollars that means investors losing confidence and closing down their businesses. Same is true for foreign airlines non repatriation is forcing them not to fly to Pakistan. Clearance of 417 containers on terminal with onion, garlic and ginger held up for clearance due to non-availability of foreign exchange. The government is hiding behind Toshakhana. Government options are limited best option is to go for elections, rhetoric’s, putting IK in jail, and disqualifying him to contest elections shall not help at all. PTI is bound to get overwhelming majority in the coming elections. We all must read the minds of the people, see the direction of the wind. People have virtually stopped watching TV because now truth is available on Mobile screens. Paid programs are adding to IK popularity. While taking such steps always keep in mind Shaheed Bhutto whose popularity with passage of time has increased and not diminished. It is high time that we take right decision at the right time before it is too late.

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