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There is an environment of free-for-all in state politics, economy and governance for the last two months. The scene, as remembered from our childhood, is that of a rowdy classroom when the teacher walks out of the room for a while and leaves the pupils on their own.

As the teacher walks back wangling the cane, all pupils go to their seats, amid pin-drop silence. In the prevailing scenario what is unknown is the return of the teacher for discipline. What is known is that the classroom will not settle down unless the teacher walks in and restores order.

The high offices of the institutions of the country are equally stressed. ISPR, the military’s media wing, is repeatedly urging politicians and media to keep the armed forces out of their political discount. The judiciary is upset with criticism on it from time to time, the President’s writ is being challenged and the claimant to governorship of Punjab is locked out of the Governor’s House. A reference is likely to be filed against the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for allegedly showing bias against it.

This all brings home a chilling reality how erratic and fragile the country’s political fabric is and how vulnerable are our state institutions and high offices. The country is far from the benchmark of being classified as a responsible democracy with a stable economy. All hands in politics are working under a single-point agenda: grab a piece of the pie for themselves. The formation of the new government hasn’t satisfied all coalition partners and consensus to work out solutions is cumbersome. Meanwhile, PTI has rolled up its sleeves for an all-out ‘assault’ with a view to stepping up pressure on the government to go for early election. Indeed, the ailing economy is of little importance in terms of politicians’ priorities. There is utter confusion whichever way you look.

An insider informant has indicated that Pakistan Muslim League’s London huddle is considering not to have early elections. An official statement is however awaited. Maryam Nawaz, however, has categorically stated that the government would not carry the burden of the last government. According to her, the incumbent government will walk out.

The ousted Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema termed the PML-N led government’s move to notify his replacement as unconstitutional. Punjab Assembly speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has declined his nomination as the acting governor, terming the act as unconstitutional. President Arif Alvi while referring to clause 3 of Article 101 of the Constitution has conveyed to the PM that Governor Punjab cannot be removed without his approval.

While the current political strife is deepening, the state economy is weakening by the day. All the major economic indicators are in a terribly bad shape. The rupee plunged this week to an historic all-time low (above Rs190 against the US dollar). The PSX meltdown this week signalled the market’s growing concerns over worsening economic fundamentals and a disturbing near-term outlook due to the government’s indecision on economic challenges.

The PSX index shed 1,447 points in a day and the trend continues. Pakistan’s trade deficit crossed $39 billion in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year as the pace of imports was twice the growth in exports. “Trade deficit has already reached alarming levels and is poised to touch $50 billion by the end of this fiscal year, which will plunge the economy in deep trouble,” remarked Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Muhammad Shakeel Munir in a statement.

So far, apparently the incumbent Finance Minister has not been able to fathom the gravity of the economic sensitivity and lay his hands to set it on course. The implementation of preconditions set by the IMF to revive the programme is still not in sight. The consequences of withdrawal of subsidies are being carefully weighed by the government.

Loans from China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are linked to the revival of the IMF programme. So the much-needed financial inflows are not expected anytime soon. The downward trend in currency market and stock exchange is likely to persist. A dreadful but a realistic outlook.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

Farhat Ali

The writer is a former President, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Comments

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MALIK DAOUD KHAN May 14, 2022 04:56pm
Fazl Rehman claimed 170rs per litre of petrol was killing people, untold poverty. Now he is expected to vote for 250rs per litre of petrol. Never. They don't think before they open their mouths, Miftah Ismail is right up there with nonsense talkers.
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