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Fast forward to October, or November – or whenever the government calls the general election – and, ceteris paribus, behold the spectacle of PTI’s (Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf’s) tsunami delivering “haqeeqi azadi” to a country on the brink of ruin.

That’ll teach everybody who conspired against Imran Khan a good lesson; from Donald Lu, the face of US President Joe Biden’s plot, to “neutrals” who brought back “corrupt thieves” and all the “traitors” and “infidels” who didn’t vote for him and “lotas” who took bags of money to ditch him, especially “do takay kay sahafi”, the “lifafa” journalists who were paid by their masters to ask for evidence every time he told them who was out to kill him.

But, what then?

Will the economy, the country’s number-one problem, bounce back because Imran will be back in control? He seemed to think so when I had the opportunity to ask him about his party’s solution to the mess when he hosted foreign correspondents in Lahore’s Zaman Park in mid-December.

There will be a legitimate government and an end to political uncertainty, he said once he had taken Gen Bajwa, foreign conspirators, the government and also the media to the cleaners. And then expats, who only trust him, will flood the exchequer with foreign exchange, and institutional lenders will not take long to follow, and that’ll be that.

But what if the market rallies and rupee strengthens, just like in April when the “cabal of crooks” replaced him, and then the sentiment peters out in the absence of solid reforms? You can bet that Moody’s will not revise its Caa1 rating with negative outlook, effectively junk, no matter how many legions of PTI’s social media trolls are unleashed on it.

Nor will Fitch be impressed enough to revise its deep negative outlook for the rupee. And what if rich Pakistanis living abroad, too, decide to wait for reserves to bloat a little, at least the threat of default to pass, before they throw their hard earned dollars and euros into Pakistani bonds?

The PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) government isn’t likely to play ball with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) beyond the 9th review in an election year, so the main choice, in the best case scenario, would still be between striking a deal with the Fund and accepting its harsh upfront conditions or nosediving into default.

Imran Khan has said before that he’d rather die than go to the IMF, then he came to power and promptly went to the IMF, and even though he’s attacking the present setup for going back to the IMF, he’ll have no choice but to do the same as soon as he comes back to office. At least he won’t have to worry about public backlash, because even if his decisions stoke hyperinflation and eat into his supporters’ savings, crooked politicians pushed into the opposition, or preferably jail cells, will still be to blame.

It’s also going to take a lot more than just willingness to sign on the dotted line to revive the bailout programme. The Fund would remember how his administration torpedoed the EFF (Extended Fund Facility) at least two times in the last fiscal year.

First right at the beginning, when Shaukat Tarin’s expansionary budget violated already agreed upon conditions, and later had to be abandoned. And then when Imran cut and froze petrol and electricity prices in the face of the no-confidence motion, effectively booby trapping the economy for the next administration. Or maybe his landslide win and high public approval will put the IMF in its place and dilute its conditions.

Time will tell.

There’s more.

No doubt he commands unflinching support in all segments of Pakistani society – young and old, men and women, teenagers all the way to octogenarians. And, let’s not forget, a big bulk of his voters also come from the extreme right, including the fringe that supports outfits bent upon spreading sharia with bombs and bullets, like TTP (Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan). That brings us to Pakistan’s number-two problem: the resurgence of terrorism.

Even as (almost) all Pakistanis were blaming the decision to negotiate peace with TTP for its latest putsch, and mourners were still burying the 100 or so dead from the Peshawar mosque attack, Imran said TTP was angry because the present government broke pledges that his government made with the terror outfit.

It’s public knowledge, after all, that he offered to house thousands of TTP fighters in South Waziristan, to “mainstream them”, wanted them to open a formal office in KP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), and even released many hundreds of their prisoners, tried and convicted enemies of the state, as a “goodwill gesture”.

But since they didn’t budge from their demands of releasing more prisoners, reversing the FATA-KP merger and handing South Waziristan over to their control lock, stock and barrel, what “broken pledges” was he exactly talking about?

And if Imran comes back to power and gives them what they want, and the bloodshed ceases for a while, will it be a victory for him or TTP?

None of that matters in the PTI universe, of course. What does matter is that Imran will be prime minister again, even if he is forced to do the same things to rescue the economy that his opponents are doing right now, and those opponents will be in jail, even if TTP’s terrorists are out of it.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

Comments are closed.

Mansoor Feb 02, 2023 09:47am
Given the current situation, what's your economic advice to the general population?
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Jawad Shuaib Feb 02, 2023 10:02am
Of course, Imran Khan coming back to power won't cure the plague. The structural and societal problems that have infected Pakistan are deep rooted, and may take generations to reroot. But what is the alternative to Imran Khan? I can speak for many overseas Pakistani's who would only trust their money in Pakistan if there was an honest man at its helm. You can say whatever you like about him, but during his tenure was the first time we overseas Pakistani got to hear some good things about our country on the news; exports drastically went up, nicop became easier, oversseas Pakistani's got a voice, cross-border banking became easier, covid was diligently navigated, and a highly volatile confrontation with India was successfully diffused. So why should we not vote for him? What is your alternative?
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Texas Feb 02, 2023 10:48am
In other words, you are towing the top brass line. But sir, the mess these guys created for Pakistan will take at least a decade if not more to be fixed. Stop supporting these thugs.
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Qasim Khwaja Feb 02, 2023 02:05pm
Well what we are looking for is a leader who comes with a strong mandate. Only then can that person make the difficult decisions needed without worrying about keeping whatever coalition from splitting apart. The present government doesn't have it, nor did the previous government but maybe this time, IK will get it. There also needs to be some serious thought in the system itself which has corruption built into it. How can anyone expect an honest person to spends millions on an election campaign and still expect him and his government to stay honest.
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Maulanaa Feb 02, 2023 02:22pm
@Mansoor , Five times prayer ,
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Maulanaa Feb 02, 2023 02:28pm
Pakistan is in shock both economic and climate related. Countries take quite a while to recover from the shock even if everything is going well behind the door still will take a long time for results to be visible. Expect no good news any time soon. Return for good news maybe ten years later.
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BK Feb 02, 2023 02:41pm
Pretty biased article! I appreciate honest and open discussion which is constructive, but this article is just bashing IK and PTI, as if there is a much better alternative available. How can you not see the follies of the current government and the Neutrals, a journalist having such narrow mindedness is disturbing to see. Do Pakistan a service and open up your mind to unbiased reporting!
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Usman Feb 02, 2023 03:27pm
Reality check for a large segment of society supporting IK. Neither IK nor PDM have what is required in current situation. Whoever come is doomed to fail. Its time to get the results of 75 years of mismanagement, corruption, dishonesty at all levels of society. Everyone is guilty from a street man to those living in mansions.
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TimeToMovveOn Feb 02, 2023 06:04pm
PDM vs PTI, it is like choosing between the devil and the deep sea. During Imrans time, his ego pissed off everyone in the foreign policy side from east to west with his hubris. He projected himself as some kind of messaia to deliver the umma to a promised land. But the bloke was empty. Pakistan was going empty. The world economic climiate was much better when he came to power, this time around, that will not be the case. On the other hand, the PDM is visionless leaderless and clueless. Running a country from UK is a joke. But I would prefer IK at the end as in the end, there was more comedy looking at his actions.
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Anonymous Feb 02, 2023 06:14pm
For PDM's supporters, PDM came in power to close their legal cases and now enjoying liberty at the cost of poverty, inflation, rising doubts on Pakistan's solvency and increased corruption numbers. For PTI's supporters, PTI is social media giant political party whoever go against IK, his personal life is finished, Social media team will malign that person to the extent that the person ultimately back out from his stance. This kind of "Haqeeqi Azadi" has been given to the nation. The choice between PTI and PDM is a question with no definite answer. So what is the solution then? Leave the things as going. There is over night solution to the economy of Pakistan and unfortunately the time required for corrective measures is not available. But this is sure that there is a toughest time ahead to the next leading political party.
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dr.fahad Feb 02, 2023 10:16pm
@Usman, it's not corruption, it's population boom from 30 million to 240 million.
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Faisal Feb 03, 2023 03:48am
@Jawad Shuaib, mashallah well said
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Kamran Feb 03, 2023 07:05am
You stated that “he’s attacking the present setup for going back to the IMF” can u justify this statement? He’s been incredibly conservative with his attacks on for example petrol bomb etc. Unlike the dynast who’s put Dar the terrible as FM with fixed exchange rate. IK was able to increase reserves while increasing goods exports and IT. He did iniate the RDA with more going in it in 2 yrs than our reserves. Many excellent reforms done. Which other PM pushed through track and trace? Which PM put a free float exchange rate with REER under 95? This was at significant political cost in terms of inflation. He did make a stupid move in response to stupid VONC of fixing petrol prices, but PDM gave about 80% of the subsidy. If he had been successful at preventing VONC with that stunt, undoubtedly we would be in a much better position now than we are. Lastly, articles such as yours, which should definitely criticize the multitude of mistakes IK made, are necessary and valuable. But unless you have a true comparison between IK and PMLN, they are the reason for people thinking that somehow IK and SS are comparable.
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AJ Feb 03, 2023 10:48am
A catchy heading to enable maximum reads.
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Basit Feb 03, 2023 05:51pm
Unrealistic and false claims are all that these power-hungry parties can offer including PTI.. Can you please ask the party that you support on the clear economic roadmap for 5 years.. I am sure you will receive none.. The possible solution is to let go of oversized egos and sit together to chalk out an economic charter / roadmap prior to going into elections.. They all have made economic blunders in the past, we cannot afford more.. Maybe we can legislate to include independent technical members (top economists) in the Economic Coordination Committee so that the political government cannot take politically motivated decisions disastrous for the economy. This chor chor mantra should stop and rejected by the common citizens of Pakistan..
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Muhammad Waleed Feb 03, 2023 07:49pm
@Jawad Shuaib, but how about the economic catastrophes of Imran's policies? Could you please tell me what has been done during Imran's tenure to contain the resurgence of terrorism specifically in the province where he rule for two consecutive terms? More importantly, Remittances had gone up in all the developing economies so what's the contribution of Imran to it?
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Shah Feb 05, 2023 04:32am
Pakistan should not have a conservative leadership until we have lessened the effect of the retarded ideologies that plague the minds of the people.
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zaheer kazim Feb 06, 2023 08:46pm
What a pathetic, pathological article that clearly is loaded with sarcasm instead of stating the facts as they exist today. Tell me Old chap! do you think that this Cabal of Thieves actually came to fix the economy? Can't you see the Royal Muck in every walk of life _from Freedoms to the Economy to terrorism? Of course, there was no Terrorism on a large scale during the last nine years. I can't see any objectivity in this article. Why don't you get it printed as a satirical piece ?
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