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Coronavirus
LOW Source: covid.gov.pk
Pakistan Deaths
28,728
1024hr
Pakistan Cases
1,284,840
47524hr
1.12% positivity
Sindh
475,616
Punjab
443,094
Balochistan
33,479
Islamabad
107,689
KPK
179,995

EDITORIAL: Surveys are important even when they are limited in scope, as is often the case in countries like ours, because they still provide important insight into how people feel about certain things. And since, it is the people that bring politicians to power and keep them there, or boot them out, knowing their pulse at all times is important for political leaders.

Therefore, if the findings of the latest quarterly survey of Pulse Consultants, which solicited responses from a sample size of 1,800 people during October 4-11, have not caused considerable anxiety in Islamabad, then our leaders just aren’t looking at the right indicators. It claims that 57 percent of the people surveyed have lost confidence in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s claim that all will be well, especially on the economic front, up from 38 percent just one quarter ago. And the number of people who think that the country is being dragged in the wrong direction by the government’s economic policies has also increased by 19 percent, from 56 percent in July to 75 percent now.

Government spokespersons who are in the habit of rubbishing such findings as if out of reflex action do their party no favours. Because even if people haven’t exactly got their facts right, as PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) apologists claim, it does not matter at the end of the day since they are going to vote based on their own experiences and how they feel about policies that gave them those experiences.

Besides, not many people, even from the ruling party, would want to fight the revelation that 98 percent respondents complained about inflation and 77 percent considered it the country’s biggest problem, followed by corruption (35pc), unemployment (25pc), energy load shedding (11pc), etc. It’s also no surprise that the discontent was highest in Punjab at 79 percent, where confidence in the Buzdar administration has been stuck at rock bottom practically since the day he took over, followed by Sindh (73pc), KP (67pc) and Balochistan (59pc).

Let’s not forget that this survey was conducted just when the government was forced to go back on yet another of its hyped promises and finally caved in to the IMF’s (International Monetary Fund’s) demand of raising tariffs and cutting subsidies.

But the fact that negotiations to revive the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) still failed just after it means that these numbers should be even worse, from the government’s point of view, in the next quarterly report. And rather than invest precious time and energy and trying to refute this survey, the government should go right back to the drawing board, figure out why things are not working, and at least try to put better policies and programmes in place. So far, even some of its best plans have not turned out to be well thought out.

The Kamyab Pakistan Programme, for example, which put smiles on millions of faces when it was launched, is already running into trouble because the country just doesn’t have the kind of money that it is going to need and there’s a good chance of it being sacrificed altogether to stay on the right side of the IMF. Similar problems are befalling businesses who took loans and placed orders based on the incentives announced in the unexpectedly expansionary budget, only to find out that some of those incentives might be rolled back just to please the Fund; leaving them high, dry and very bitter.

There isn’t much time before the next election and all policies involve considerable time lags before they even begin to show results, so the ruling party does not have the luxury of time anymore. But it can still do enough to engineer a change of sentiment by the time Pulse Consultants release their next survey report around the end of the year. First, though, it will have to do something about its own preferred policy of burying its head in the sand and tossing blame around whenever something uncomfortable dominates the headlines.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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