- Former PM says political parties need to act before people come out on the streets
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that conditions for anarchy are rife in Pakistan and it is high time that major stakeholders – Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Imran Khan, Chief Justice of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff – meet and mutually decide the direction for the country.
Speaking alongside former finance minister Miftah Ismail at a hotel on Friday night, he stressed that these six people should meet “before people start taking decisions and come out on the streets in the country”.
“The game of thrones will not go on forever. If there is no throne left, what will be the worth of fighting?”
He said the political crisis has taken such a bad direction in the country that people were looking forward to martial law “as it appears that all political parties, which are in power, have no solution.”
“But we need to learn from the past. Multiple martial laws in the past have also not been able to take the country out of the quagmire either,” he said.
Pakistan is facing a political crisis because there has been no leadership in the country and elections have always been rigged – either to make a party lose or win, he stressed.
“Accountability in the political system comes through balloting, but if the ballot boxes are stolen, how can there be accountability to bring about a large-scale change.”
According to him, three consecutive free and fair elections would help resolve the political crisis that Pakistan was witnessing.
Abbasi also said increasing exports by $20 billion would help the country escape the economic crisis.
He, however, admitted that the country had deep administrative structural flaws that needed to be rectified.
Abbasi said current high inflation in the country has no precedence “but there is no single cause of inflation. No single decision could miraculously solve inflation”.
He underlined that difficult decisions must be taken at the cost of political capital to help the country move forward.
Pakistan’s inflation soared to a record 35% last month with experts claiming this was the highest year-on-year increase since the date became available in July 1965. Food inflation in March was at 47.1% and 50.2% for urban and rural areas, respectively.
Over the past few days, a total of 16 people lost their lives, including 11 in Karachi, in stampedes that erupted during distribution of free flour in humble neighborhoods.
Abbasi was also critical of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and said indecisive officers and ministers were letting the country incur losses worth billions of rupees.
He emphasised that the number of provinces in Pakistan should increase so that they could be administered properly.
“One province should not be big enough to cause a crisis for the whole country,” Abbasi said and called for create new provinces or transferring powers to the local government.
Former finance minister Miftah Ismail said that the country could not run without social justice.
“In order to move towards economic improvement, the entire structure of the government needs to be changed,” he said.
Miftah questioned the results of the recent census in Karachi and said that “it is unbelievable that the population of Karachi has decreased as per the census”.
According to different reports, a large number of people in Karachi are claiming that officials conducting the census haven’t visited them at all.
The former IMF economist said Karachi’s population of 15 million in census “is incredible when NADRA data shows that 19.8 million new NICs and b-form were issued in the city.”
In the last census, the household size was 5.75 – and now it is 4.9, said Miftah.
“They have reduced (through census) one person from every house in Karachi. How is this possible?” questioned Miftah.
Abbasi also said that there are around 60,000 to 70,000 people working or living in Karachi from his constituency of Murree.
“Resources should be distributed according to the population living at a place in a given point in time,” he said referring to the fact that millions, who may not have permanent address of Karachi, are living in the city and using its resources but government ignores them.
Miftah also pointed out that the census shows the population has decreased in Karachi, however, one district – district Malir’s population has increased by 22%. Malir has a vast vote bank for Sindh’s ruling party – PPP.
Abbasi said issues with census mean that resources are not distributed equitably – leading to social injustice.
Abbasi further said that the government managed to pass a bill within hours and a few days, which is a good thing “however, it did that for itself and when it comes to common people, nothing is done no matter how urgent and important.”