By Shaukat M Zafar
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan lacks any political stability and long term strategy: the poor are getting poorer and the rich are flourishing with an unprecedented rapid pace. On some measures the country is going backward in time. At the same time the country is barely kept afloat through IMF, World Bank and ADB loans and almost dictatorial supervision by external powers. In this situation, time stands still in Pakistan: unemployment levels are extremely high, corruption thrives, and criminal privatisation plans have killed almost every public company.
All this has been encouraged by a general environment of impunity: politicians and bureaucrats implicated in major corruption scandals have mostly been temporarily removed from the forefront scene, but they are not otherwise been held legally accountable. Pakistan’s economic problems have gone from bad to worse. Today, the people of Pakistan feel betrayed and cheated. They have suffered a lot for the only reason that the corrupt and dishonest rulers have never been made accountable for their misdeeds.
The corrupt leaders made their personal fortune at the cost of poor people or the public exchequer. The so called civilian governments have created more problems than solutions: the Nawaz Sharif government is still hell-bent on imposing more draconian policies, all in the interests of rich minority. The class struggle is corroding the artificial national divisions that have been imposed on the people by our politicians. It is a class of few who have amassed enormous wealth while the majority remains in miserable conditions. They have been denied even the basic amenities like food, shelter, education and health. A picture of utter hopelessness, disillusionment and decay is prevailing in almost every field.
Both the PML (N) and the PPP brutal and oppressive governments have made the country pass through a furnace of afflictions. Every successive so called civilian government simply brought more miseries to already suffering under the unbearable burdens of poverty, State oppression, and the worst kind of exploitation at the hands of those whom they voted into power. The faces changed, the people’s lot is the same even worse. Today, the situation has reached a point of no return. The major political parties like PML (N), PPP as well as some other political parties in Parliament, instead of providing relief to masses and addressing their problems, are protecting corruption of each other done during their respective tenures in power.
Pakistan is now a highly debt-ridden country and has to pay heavy debts taken from the World Bank, IMF and ADB. The country lies as a hostage in the hands of these agencies who dictate their terms and conditions at will. All growth has been based on foreign & domestic loans and privatisation of the national assets. At the same time, inequality has been rising. The various policies of the IMF and World Bank have failed woefully. Pakistan is now worse off than when it started implementing neoliberal policies and the things are getting worse day by day. These policies have only benefited an extreme minority of individuals and companies who are mainly parasites of this country.
The conduct of our elites is simply shocking; and tension and anger among the masses is rising. The ruling elite are not interested in building the economy or to improve other things like direct taxation, education and health projects, and reforms in bureaucracy etc.; they have no faith in Pakistan. They have no stakes here. They are only interested in amassing more loot for themselves at the expense of the overwhelming majority. They never care about the negative consequences of their actions.
The government is also reluctant to empower the FIA and NAB to freely take action against politicians and bureaucrats across the board. As long as economic terrorists are not brought to justice, it is not possible to eliminate injustice, exploitation and radicalism from the country.
— The writer is former banker based in Islamabad.