By Senator Rehman Malik
We all are responsible for pushing our country quickly to the point of no return on national issues and we all are responsible for creating the crises ourselves and we are failing to counter serious challenges. We have been handling this country carelessly and immaturely without proper requisite planning. The adhocism adopted by successive governments and now PTI has brought us to the present situation, where our rupee has dipped to Rs 160 to a dollar. Let us view the most recent issues and mega scandals. The main challenge is the economic debacle that could not be rectified in two-and-a-half years. Now FATF has once again decided that Pakistan will continue to stay on the grey list for another four months, until June despite significant progress and meeting 24 out of 27 points in the action plan. The decision is highly biased and seemed to be influenced by anti-Pakistan propaganda. Instead of removing Pakistan’s name, FATF announced “Pakistan remains under increased monitoring”. I ask Mr Marcus Pleyer, President FATF; what was the need to praise Pakistan when FATF failed to take Pakistan out of the grey list? It is a hypocritical statement by President FATF whereas Pakistan has already lost $38 billion because of being on the grey list. Will FATF cover our huge economic loss because of its discrimination? The government should not start praising FATF to reciprocate their hollow praises as it is a trap to block Pakistan from reacting to its decision. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs must not take any credit for praises or not being placed on the blacklist but should react over keeping Pakistan on the grey list till June as the fact is that we will be further hammered under increased monitoring.
Let us pick the first fall of the rupee as this is very important as the devaluation of our currency from 124 in July 2018 to Rs 160 today has badly affected our economy and still, no reforms or policies have been brought by our government to get hold of this constant decline. Currency Mafia from Karachi to Peshawar is fully active in minting money. Whereas Inflation has jumped from 5.8 percent in July 2018 to a record high of 14 percent in 2020 making the life of a common man miserable. It is likely to increase further this year. More price hike is likely to hit the common man. Pakistan will be forced for more price hikes at the cost of the already crushed common man by the Government and IMF. The new price hikes and the additional coronavirus burden will make our lives miserable. The second tranche of $6 Billion has not been released yet by the IMF and even if they do, it is retained under the garb of debt servicing, more taxes, and inflation. Our government is trying very hard to receive the second tranche of about $ 500 million which has been put on hold by the IMF for a second review and the second review means compliance with more strict conditions.
Additionally, the fall of the growth rate of our country started dropping from 5.8 percent to a record low of -0.4 percent in 2020 which had started dropping from 1.9 percent in 2019 and -1.55 percent at the beginning of year 2020. It is feared that this year will bring further decline to the growth rate and the common man will be in more trouble. Now foreign debts have become the real national issue and as of December 2020, our public debt and liabilities were estimated to be about Rs44.978 trillion/US$283 billion which is 98.7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Pakistan. Can the government now say that the economic indicators are improving; one can see these are declining on a daily basis.
Similarly, as of December 2020, the external debt of Pakistan has now skyrocketed to around US$115.7 billion. Pakistan owes US$11.3 billion to the Paris Club, US$33.1 billion to multilateral donors, US$7.4 billion to International Monetary Fund, and US$12 billion to international bonds such as Eurobond, and Sukuk bonds. About 15 percent of the external debt which is estimated at around US$17.1 billion (6.15 percent of GDP) is owed to China due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and it is going to increase and we are unable to pay to the Chinese CEPC companies despite the sovereign agreement.
I will expose those who are responsible and who are pushing to bring the Chinese power companies to a dead end. I draw the attention of the government to make sure this non-payment may not become a major irritant in CEPC. It is needed to examine how many American passport holders are working in CEPC and who has allowed Indian and Jewish companies for major supplies and how they are retrieving important data for enemies. We are already facing international isolation and daily we are having setbacks, as Pakistan’s enemies already have managed to isolate Pakistan internationally. Our government, on the other hand, is doing nothing in its capacity to strengthen and improve foreign relations with other countries.
With each passing day, the government is failing to improve ties not only with neighbouring countries but is also driving our allies away due to incompetency and inefficiencies. We are losing our Arab friends too as in August 2020, when Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi blasted the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, accusing the OIC of failing to support Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir. This infuriated officials in Saudi Arabia, which plays a key role in the OIC’s affairs and froze a $3.2 billion (€2.72 billion) oil credit facility and demanded that Pakistan repay part of a $3 billion loan. Similarly, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), chose India over Pakistan as the preferred guest at the OIC meeting. We have also failed to bring India under ICJ’s jurisdiction for its brutalities in Kashmir whereas India has time and again tried its best to allege us for terrorism which is evident from its successful orchestration of terrorist attacks in Uri and Pulwama which it blamed on Pakistan.
The European Union and the United States had already maintained a distance from Pakistan long ago. Our global condemnation and isolation are also visible today where the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has announced to keep Pakistan on the grey list. Where are the efforts of the foreign ministry to have avoided the further placement of Pakistan on FATF’s grey list and where is our foreign secretary hiding? We are encountered with growing Daesh presence, whereas I have been advocating the fact that Daesh has been chosen by anti-Pakistan designers to move their agenda of destabilising the country, particularly KP and Balochistan. Unfortunately, certain political quarters in Balochistan gave way to these anti-Pakistan moves, which was quite upsetting, as they did not foresee the consequences for the country. After the arrest of RAW agent Kulbhushan Yadav, there is no doubt left as to how India is involved in destabilising Pakistan. India is already using Daesh and RAW in Balochistan, KP, and other parts of Pakistan to achieve its objectives.
Every successive Indian government has been actively involved in attempts to destabilise Pakistan via Balochistan. India has been conducting acts of terrorism through RAW agent and has strengthened its terrorist network which is run by Daesh now. India has adopted the model of killing the Hazara community members to instigate Iran on the Shia killings; it wasn’t to create sectarian riots in Pakistan. We are suffering because of our internal political polarisation and have no unity within political ranks. Political parties are more interested in ditching each other and enhancing their vote bank but no attention is paid to national issues. There is growing internal political polarisation in our country affecting our credibility and image worldwide. Our politicians play a dirty role to undermine democracy and damage the image of our country. Our politics is nothing but a race of deals and self-serving interests to get power or to facilitate destroying the democratic system.
The dangerous elements of hypocrisy should come to end. There is no harmony among our government and opposition, not even on grave national interests. The democracy in our country is humiliated by petty arguments, horse-trading, dharnas (sit-in), long marches, and by allowing the foreign-funded proxy wars. Let us not forget the tragedy of breaking away of East Pakistan from us which was also a politically motivated affair and India took advantage of polarisation within the leadership and the element of tolerance had evaporated. We should not allow repeating these mistakes in small provinces.
Note: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of my party.
(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Standing Committee on Interior.)