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EDITORIAL: A recent survey by Gallop World Poll has only confirmed what most Pakistanis already understand pretty well: the country’s political paralysis is linked to its economic crises. Yet its quantitative breakdown of the facts is more alarming.

It turns out that only 16 percent of Pakistanis believe that their local economy is getting better, the lowest number in the region except for Afghanistan.

It must be acknowledged that the devastating floods of late 2022, which wiped off an estimated $15 billion from GDP, partly coincided with Gallop’s fieldwork, but the fact remains that the economy has continued to deteriorate and people’s perception that corruption has had a big role to play in the slump has incrementally strengthened.

A record 86 percent Pakistanis perceive corruption to be widespread in government and 80 percent believe corruption in the business sector has also reached record highs, according to the survey. With record inflation, unemployment, a historic collapse of the rupee and dwindling growth, it’s no surprise that most people are so pessimistic. But it’s much worse that very few, if any, feel anything is going to improve anytime soon.

It’s true that exogenous factors like the floods, the Covid hangover and the commodity super cycle triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine have fuelled the fire. Yet except for the floods all other countries faced all the other headwinds as well, and the fact that we’ve fallen to the bottom of the list in the whole region is a severe indictment of the ruling coalition.

It’s also very unfortunate that the political class is using the economic collapse and the people’s misery in all the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons.

PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) leveraged the weak economy to push the no-confidence motion against the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) government, after all, and it was their promise of economic revival that produced a brief sentiment-driven rally in currency and equity markets.

But it soon became clear that the only plan they had was to criticise the previous administration, and that sentiment duly petered out. And then PTI, in opposition, also used the economy to lash out at the ruling party; but, once again, without providing a roadmap out of the crunch.

Perhaps the unprecedented economic crash, financial crunch and a very real threat of sovereign default, while politicians remain clueless about the way out except taking the begging bowl to as many lenders and donors as possible, has also exposed the political elite’s selfish lust for power.

For, if they really cared about the country and the people, they would have been busy hammering out solutions, preferably working together instead of fighting on the streets and in the courts, before the country is forced into conditions for orderly default as the debt repayment schedule overwhelms the central bank’s reserves position. And this realisation has made the people lose faith in their leaders, which begins to explain why only 16 percent Pakistanis, according to Gallop, really believe that things are actually getting better.

Pakistani politicians tend to take surveys seriously only when they suit them, especially when they are in power. Therefore, if the past is any guide the Gallop poll will also find favour only in the opposition, which will be a shame. For the sake of the country and its suffering people, the government is advised to take these findings very seriously, lest we fall below Afghanistan as well.

There can be no doubt that Pakistan has never come this close to complete financial and political collapse. If our political leaders do not wake up even now, we’ll at least know who to blame if things really fall apart and Pakistan crashes into default.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

Comments

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KU May 27, 2023 12:06pm
When did history witness a politician really worried about the country or focused on the welfare of the people? The poor may not have education but they have common sense, and they gave up every kind of hope many decades ago, while leaders and power corridors celebrate themselves and their short-lived useless accomplishments at the cost of the country. The current political witch-hunt and operation party-clean-up is proof of the existing mindset and motives. But contrary to the foolish belief currently prevalent, there is a gradual change in the mindset and perception of the masses, especially in rural areas. The situation is very similar to the ‘’last straw on camel’s back’’ but short-sighted leaders saddle the journey and imminent failure.
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Tulukan Mairandi May 27, 2023 12:10pm
Pakistan is heading towards Balkanization
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HashBrown® May 27, 2023 02:24pm
@Tulukan Mairandi, "Pakistan is heading towards Balkanization" You send this same message in every other post; did you just learn the word "balkanisation" in your English class or something? Or is this the new phrase that's getting your hindustani anchors so excited nowadays?
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TimetoMoVVeOn May 28, 2023 02:27am
@Tulukan Mairandi, there are many that think that this is process for great pakistan..a process going for 75 years and will go on for another 75b years! 25 imf loans so far with a begging bowl. Yuck
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HashBrown® May 29, 2023 03:03am
@TimetoMoVVeOn, "25 imf loans so far with a begging bowl. Yuck" Over a billion people in a country living without adequate sanitation...yuck. Spiralling caste and religious prejudice, tacitly endorsed at state level, targeting Dalits, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, even within your immigrant communities in other countries...yuck. Exporting untested, third-rate vaccines while becoming a global Covid hotspot and ditching half your dead in the Ganges because you couldn't afford to cremate them...yuck. The largest standing occupation force in the world, brutalising a land that you've illegally occupied and subjecting its people to repeated rape, ethnic cleansing and mass killings...yuck. Using foreign military hardware and still managing only to blow up your own people during cross border conflicts that you deliberately provoked...yuck. Languishing near the bottom for almost all global wellbeing and health indices...yuck. Hindustan, folks - making Pakistan look good since 1947.
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