Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan goes to IMF for bailout finally. And it could frustrate his supporters
Khan brought us the World Cup title in 1992. Then he turned to philanthropy as he announced hs obsession with building a cancer hospital in Lahore in his world cup speech. He finally built the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in Lahore and opened it for public in 1994.
As his mother Shaukat Khanum had died due to cancer, he used to say in his speeches that he knew the agonies of cancer patients and the financial constraints of their families. Thus, his hospitals offer tapered rates and free treatment to the deserving at the branches in three cities.
By 1997, Imran had formed his own political party “Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf” (Pakistan Justice Party) and contested the 1997 General Elections under its umbrella but failed to achieve much in politics for a long time.
Undeterred, he contested again in 2002 the general elections held under General Musharraf’s dictatorial rule, from another constituency of Mianwali, which consists of Isa Khel, Qamer Mushani, Kalabagh and other villages on the borders of Punjab and KP. Imran Khan was the only winner from his party PTI in 2002 elections and he chose to sit on the opposition benches.
He boycotted the 2008 election from APDM platform as the political alliance decided to refuse contesting elections under Musharraf. However, PML-N took a U-turn, contested the elections and formed the provincial government in Punjab.
Imran Khan continued his struggle with the catchy slogan of bringing back the national wealth allegedly looted by the leadership of Pakistan People’s Party and PML-N.
He, along with the leader of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Allama Tahir ul-Qadri, staged a dharna (sit-in) in front of the Parliament building of Pakistan for 126 days; it only ended when terrorists attacked the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014.
His slogan was responded to by the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and he succeeded in forming provincial government in KP from 2013 to 2018 and ruled through Pervez Khattak as the Chief Minister. He claims he brought basic social, structural and political changes through reforms in this terror-torn province.
During the 2018 election campaign, Imran focused and targeted the leadership of PML-N, which was in government in the center and Punjab from 2013 to 2018, and that of PPP as well. His slogans remained the same, as he vowed to bring back the looted money from foreign bank accounts and put corrupt leadership behind the bars, and promised he will never ask the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package as it compromised the country’s sovereignty. By raising such slogans, he not only played with the sentiments of the people of Pakistan but also promised the youth he will create ten million new jobs for the unemployed.
Imran Khan exaggerated the claims to the extent that at one point he announced he would commit suicide if the circumstances forced him to go for the IMF bailout package or for begging for aid from wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, or China.
He took the oath of the office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan on the 18th of August to be the 22nd Premier of a poverty, debt and terrorism ridden country. Since then the issues like inflation, currency devaluation, petroleum, gas and electricity prices have skyrocketed, and the decline in the stock market has seen a nosedive as PSX lost 1328 points in a single day trading on Monday.
“The market has maintained the downturn due to the government’s lack of clarity on the economic policy,” told Tahir Abbas, an analyst from Arif Habib Limited, to a media channel on Monday.
Finally, late during the V hours of Monday TV Networks aired the news that the government had decided to go to IMF for the bailout package, which may be now on the IMF’s terms.
The question that arises here is that when there was no other option available for running the state affairs then why did the government delay this decision, and created price hike and currency devaluation before asking for package which may be up to 10 to 12 billion dollars in size and may not be used for payments of CPEC projects as the condition was categorically announced by the US government a month back.
Wall Street Journal in its latest issue said “Pakistan becomes the latest country in China’s global infrastructure building program to hit the financial crisis, as Islamabad seeks bailout from IMF.”
We may see another price hike after the bailout package is announced with new terms and conditions and Imran Khan’s promises like provision of millions of new jobs and establishment of welfare state may see an undercut, leading to frustration of youth in particular.
A tsunami of problems is here much earlier than expected. Let’s see how Khan’s administration will tackle this flood.