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Today nobody is ready to take onus of difficult economic decisions. PMLN and some of its partners do not want to relinquish their political capital by taking necessary decisions that have nothing as such to do with performance and competence. The fact that the sitting government fixes prices of energy products that are reliant on international prices was never appreciated amongst economic circles. But the new government has failed to revert that decision resulting in a deep policy inaction that has settled in.

One of the reasons for being at such crossroads is the negative role played by the mass media. The supposedly media role is to do the fact checking – both on government and opposition. It’s the job of politicians to do politics. That is not the job of media houses or journalists. There is growing polarization of media houses as well as journalists with a clear tilt towards one party or the other with majority of main-stream journalists siding with the current government which was in opposition not too long ago.

Politicians in opposition benches (and their spokespersons) always shout the word ‘petrol bomb’ whenever and under whatever circumstances petroleum prices were increased. They always criticized the currency depreciation and rising interest rates while sitting in the opposition benches – no matter what they said in private chats and behind closed doors. It is their job description in a country where majority of the population falls in lower or lower-middle class (with lack of education) to support populism in parliamentary system where every human vote is equal. They are doing their job. While those in government, always find way to defend government decisions.

But the question is what the role of journalists. They are supposed to neutralize the situation by narrating facts. However, lately, many of these are shirking their responsibilities and indulging in politics. Some have been rewarded in the past — as well as in the current regime — by the political party they favored placed at important positions within the party.

There are plenty of blatant examples where a number of journalists took U-turn on certain issues in a matter of months. For example, there were some who used to say ‘petrol bomb’ a few months ago when the PTI was increasing prices of petroleum are now coming up with all thejustifications for the increase. They didn’t care about fiscal and external account implication then, and now these are the very arguments they are using.

Another example is of expensive buying of LNG by government while PTI was in power. There are numerous examples where PTI was criticized for buying expensive LNG and opportunity loss of traders was portrayed as the loss of the country. Today, in May-22 to be monthly LNG bill is coming at around $750 million which would be more than double of last 12 months average bill of $358 million. No one is crying foul for government buying expensive LNG in days when the country’s import cover in terms of central bank reserves is not even two months.

The media used to say that the previous government was selected Naahil (Incompetent).But nobody now seems to be talking about the cost of indecision of the past few weeks. No one is questioning the government why they arenot ready to lose their political capital by increasing oil prices. What did they come into power for but to do their job?

Meanwhile, the backlash of the media is costing the economy. No one is passing on the oil prices to consumers. No one is taking any other decisions. The currency is in a free fall and the stock market is tanking. But politicians only care about their political capital. What about media?

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F Nawaz May 18, 2022 01:13am
Yes! Good one!
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