Tag Archives: IFI

Pakistan’s economy: Hard times

by Raza Rumi

Two years after the civilian government took office, there are few signs of economic recovery and this does not augur well for the fate of democratic governance in Pakistan. We are somehow doomed to bear the brunt of authoritarian regimes in social and economic terms. By the time a civilian government puts its house in order, the long and short marchers are ready to take over. The story this time has been no exception. Following the trends of the 1960s and the 1980s during the Musharrafian decade, unsustainable growth rates were touted as the raison d’etre for the apparent efficiency of a military regime. It is true that the Musharraf era inducted Pakistan into the globalized economic system, boosted domestic demand for consumer products and attracted huge doses of foreign assistance shortly after the military decided to ditch their erstwhile strategic allies, i.e. the Afghan Taliban. But it left the country in dire straits – bankrupt, politically polarised and mired in the worst inflation of our times.

The signs of economic fatigue and food inflation had appeared during Musharraf’s last year in power. An unprecedented energy crisis also plunged the nation into literal and metaphorical darkness and the global recession caused an economic slowdown all around. Consequently, from the high growth-rate of 6 percent, we were in the lowest growth category, even in the poor South Asia region. A 2.2 percent growth rate implies that our current population increase per annum is untenable. Similarly, the highest ever recorded inflation of nearly 25 percent in 2007-2008 also hit the fixed-income citizenry and the millions of poor, depriving them of basic sustenance. Continue reading

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Defending the IMF

I had posted my piece on the forthcoming (?) IMF programme and expressed fears as a citizen. The op-ed that was published in the NEWS has evoked a hard-hitting response by a former IMF staffer. I am happy that a debate has ensued – this is why his scathing attack on my argument is more than welcome. Any noise is better than the silence of complacency. Raza Rumi (ed.)
by Dr Meekal Aziz Ahmed

Raza Rumi wrote a nice article entitled “Debating the aid plan,” in your newspaper of Nov 1. I agree with a lot of what he says. Things in our land are pretty grim these days. But just as Mr Rumi’s article was engaging me, there came the usual blast against everyone’s favourite whipping boy and scapegoat, the IMF.

Let me recall a timeless phrase so that Mr Rumi knows “where I am coming from,” as they say, and then move on to the substance of his critique. ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Mr Rumi, who must have read his Shakespeare, surely is familiar with these words. How well that quote describes our hapless country which seems to be going nowhere, while we insist it is everyone else’s fault? Continue reading

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Filed under Economy, Multinational Corporations, Politics

Pakistan: IMF Programme needs to be debated

by Raza Rumi

The not-so-inevitable is about to happen. After weeks of groping in the darkness of global financial mess, the Pakistani government is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund. Admittedly, Pakistan’s options are limited, given its intractable dependence on oil imports for survival. The civilian government moving from one crisis to another has elevated indecision to a policy status. This does not imply that we start echoing the unwise cacophony of impatience with an elected and far more legitimate government than the eight-year-long authoritarian regime. But then who cares: if recent history is a guide, PPP governments come with a brand or at least get branded as incompetent comprising coteries of cronies, as if the rest of the country is a fair, rule-based haven.

The plain truth is that the power-wielders of Pakistan have been following a set of disastrous policies for decades that have now put the survival of the state, or as we knew it, in question. From the great hunts for strategic depth and Jihad, and from nurturing domestic oligarchies and pampering a delinquent industrial sector at the expense of land tillers and equitable irrigation, we are now paying the price for policy making by the elites for the sustenance of the elites. Continue reading

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Filed under Economy, Pakistan, Politics, public policy