Amid Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s euphoric assertion and chest thumping that his country’s economy was performing better than several others in the region especially India, Lahore based think tank, Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR) has debunked such claims.
Even as the Economist’s global normalcy index that tracks activities of countries in relation to their recovery and activities amid Covid 19 pandemic, placed Pakistan at the second slot after Egypt, policymakers are not impressed.
While the Khan government has been quick to win brownie points by showcasing the findings of the index, the IPR in a fact sheet released on Monday said that “with news all bad, it makes sense for government to clutch at the weakest straw that brings it pretences of glory.”
It also noted that the index is an indication that compares activities of countries with the pre-pandemic phase but not “a measure of economic dynamism or performance.”
One of the biggest sore points is the country’s rising inflation.
In December, Pakistan’s annual inflation rate surged to 12.3 per cent from 11.5 per cent in November -- the highest since February 2020.
According to data, Pakistan's inflation rate is among the highest in the world.
“Sugar. Wheat. Petrol. Price hikes one after the other. Pakistanis have acutely felt the effects as the country's inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), increased to its highest level in 20 months this November,” the Dawn said in a report published during the end of the December.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has come under attacks from various corners for mismanaging its economy, one of the thrust areas for Khan. Multiple rallies and demonstrations have. been carried out and many more are expected through the year which were attended by many professionals too.
The IPR supported by PTI’s former minister for investment and commerce Humayun Akhtar Khan also noted that the country’s economy “was already at a snail’s pace before the pandemic. A number of mishaps from poor decision-making and lack of judgment had brought it to a halt.”
Islamabad’s move to resume negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $6 billion bailout package has also left many policymakers and citizens even more discontented.
The News International said that the PTI government’s surrender-like agreement with the IMF has pushed Pakistan’s citizens into more misery.
“The agreement to the conditionalities of the IMF has been signed by the rulers in Islamabad, on behalf of Pakistani citizens. And they are being enforced with all the burdens of this agreement. The unbearable cost of food and basic needs for survival is being paid by citizens without knowing why,” the news organization said.
“The economic situation is so bad in Pakistan that it has been borrowing from multiple sources, the recent tranche coming from Saudi Arabia. The conditions for all these loans have been very stringent,” Anil Trigunayat former ambassador and Distinguished Fellow at Vivekananda International Foundation told India Narrative. “Typically strategic autonomy does tend to get squeezed when a country borrows large amounts from multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and IMF,” Trigunayat said.
Last month, Islamabad received a $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia.