Author: Dr Kashif Baloch
The umpires-led PTI’s puppet government has compounded the economic and social woes of Pakistan which has currently been passing through a serious economic turmoil – more and more people in Pakistsn are falling in the vicious trap of poverty. Inflation has exceeded 8% making basic commodities out of reach of overwhelming majority of the population. Therefore, suicides in society owing to economic hardships have increased. According to latest estimates over 87 million people live below poverty in Pakistan that makes around 40% of total population of 220 million people. The multi-lateral financial institutions are indicating further increase of poor people with each passing day. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed failure of so-called security State and all of its vital organs. On Monday 18th May, 2020, the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a SUO MOTU case issued directions to the Federal and provincial governments to open all shopping malls in the country and on the same day the confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached to 43,966 figures with more than 900 deaths, among them 500 are doctors and para-medic staff. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday condemned the verdict of apex court by calling it an attempt to endanger the lives of the people who are quickly being infected with the virus due to government’s non-serious response to combat the contagious infection. In the face of Covid-19, the healthcare system of Pakistan has collapsed. Thus, over 220 million population of country are at the risk of being infected with Corona virus without any hope of quality healthcare facilities.
Due to Covid-19 pandemic the GDP growth rate of Pakistan fell by -1.5%. The black economy of country reached to 36% of its overall economy. The currency of Pakistan depreciated record 30% vis-a-vis US Dollar and due to lockdown 18.5 million workers have lost their jobs but governments totally failed to provide them food security during lockdown imposed to contain Corona virus. Pakistan’s economy is semi-industrialized and mostly considered an agrarian economy. The main exports are only textiles, leather and sports goods, chemicals and carpets.
Pakistan has a huge trade deficit having only $24.217 billion exports as compared to $52.436 billion imports. This whopping trade deficit causes current account deficit and the economy is kept going to get more foreign loan from IMF and World Bank. The total foreign debt of Pakistan has reached all time $106 billion. Instead of increasing economic and GDP growth, the government of Pakistan is seeking debt relief from world. However, the response of world to grant any debt relief is pretty lukewarm because the multi-lateral financial institutions and rich countries want government of Pakistan to cut its huge military spending, eliminate appallingly widespread corruption and legislate to put in place strict system of accountability. The $62 billion infrastructure development project of CPEC is posing serious financial problems for Pakistan with tainted corruptions in collaboration with military and Chinese firms.
Amid Covid-19 pandemic, the military and its puppet governments are busy in loot and plunder and increasing military operations against their own citizens. It was revealed during Supreme Court hearing that the Government of Pakistan has raised Rs. 500 billion aid from different sources and this amount is being siphoned off by NDMA, which is under military control, and another $6 billion corruption case came into surface in energy projects under CPEC. The epidemics, wars and regional or international conflicts have always been good sources of revenue for military Generals in Pakistan. Now it is open secret that how Corona virus spread in Pakistan? The Ruling of Supreme Court over Lockdown is reflection of a serious differences within State organs in Pakistan.
In the beginning CPEC was presented as game changer for Pakistan’s economic development but in true sense, this project only proved a game changer for Generals and the burden of $62 billion Chinese debt will be borne by destitute masses of Pakistan who are deprived of even basic necessities of life to survive. Pakistan has highest infant and maternal mortality rate in the Asia. The sole country in the world that has still failed to eradicate Polio virus and TB is Pakistan. The foreign exchange reserves of Pakistan are $17.300 billion that are likely to reduce as Pakistani workers in all around the world are grappling with unemployment and financial hardships due to global pandemic.
It has been warned by health experts that the COVID-19 will hit very hard the underdeveloped countries like Pakistan, which does not have strong health infrastructure and secondly, Pakistan from very beginning of this pandemic could not enforce a complete lockdown. Now a strategy is under consideration in the government circles to go for herd immunity which is ridiculous and would be the deadliest if adopted by government. The ruling elite knows that the broken healthcare infrastructure in the country cannot protect people from Corona, therefore, they are going to make common people the scapegoats.
Moreover, amid such economic and social turmoil, the military in Pakistan remains the second largest economic burden on country’s weak economy. Additionally, the military has occupied all lucrative businesses in the country, and it has become a class than to be named as State institution. In order to maintain its massive economic interests, the military keeps on manipulating political, external, internal and economic affairs of State yet the opposition parties are so much emasculated to challenge the military empire in Pakistan. However, the working class in the country has direct clash of interest with military because the military spending and business interests have turned Pakistan’s Army a social and economic class to usurping the rights of working class in the country.
The emancipation of working class lies in to framing a political strategy to get rid of most powerful social and economic rival. It can be done by directing its struggle against this aristocratic armed gang, overthrow its hegemony over society like it was done by Iranian masses against SAWAK and Raza Shah Pehlvi regime in Iran. The aim should be to establish a socialist democracy in Pakistan with a socialist constitution that will guarantee the end of all kinds of social, political, economic exploitation of working class, peasants, students, women, minority nationalities and will ensure freedom from all kinds of religious extremism in the society.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Balochistan Post or any of its editors.