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Thursday, February 15, 2024

The man behind Pakistan’s economic malaise

According to Fahad Qureshi, the economic damage done by Pakistan's ex-finance minister has been so severe that it took the PTI government three years just to stabilize the economy.

Pakistani politics have always been in the news since the country came into existence. Pakistan has seen many political characters that have created a significant amount of impact in Pakistan, be it negative or positive.

Ishaq Dar, the ex-finance minister is one of those personalities who has always been in the news for his actions, whether it’s about laundering money, economic decisions, making properties in Dubai, or getting grilled on Hard talk.

Read more: Love letter to Ishaq Dar from a fan

The term “Stockholm Syndrome” is used when a hostage develops a psychological bond with a captor during captivity. This is exactly what the people of Pakistan and some portion of our media are going through. Talking about media first, why did everyone have to wait for Stephen Sackur’s hard talk to see how badly Ishaq Dar is getting exposed?

Have you ever seen a Pakistani anchor/journalist/host asking questions like this to Ishaq Dar? Were they even allowed to do that? We have developed this relationship with personalities that have damaged Pakistan greatly but still out of our love for them, and because they’ve been in the power of domination since forever, we don’t challenge them.

No one in the media asked how Ishaq Dar flew away from Pakistan overnight in the PM’s plane making excuses for his health and then never came back. We don’t think it’s important to question their dominance and corruption. We don’t feel it’s a big issue until we are getting a little of what we want. Our love affair with the captor continues.

Read more: BBC Anchor leaves Ishaq Dar speechless on questions of property & his Illness

What reflects in our media screens is exactly what some people in Pakistan think, the love affair with PML-N or personalities like Ishaq Dar still exists, you can walk into a city like Lahore and you will hear many saying how the accountability process against Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar was politically desired.

No one would actually question them about properties they have built, companies they have built, how their wealth has significantly grown after coming into power, how their children became billionaires when they were just students.

People don’t see how badly they are living because of corruption done by their leaders in the past. They are happy because they’ve been trained to fall in love with the oppressor.

Read more: Has Sharif family abandoned Ishaq Dar?

The economic fiasco

The economic policies of ex-finance minister Ishaq Dar are the reason that even after changing 3 finance ministers, the current PTI government is still trying hard to stabilize things in every possible section.

The damage is so hard done that the first three years of the PTI government was only about ‘clearing the damage’ done by Ishaq Dar, and forget about development or investing in mega projects.

Ishaq Dar, during his tenure, handled all economic ministries, divisions, and policies. He was known to not ask for any recommendations from relevant authorities. He was also blamed for the artificial management of the economy and data manipulation to show the best image of Pakistan’s economy. His figures of GDP above 5% were not sustainable and it was a matter of time before this balloon was going to burst.

Read more: Ishaq Dar hid financial matters from PML-N leadership

A member of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) and ex-chairman of the processing industry categorically mentioned how the textile industry in Faisalabad was through immense crisis and Ishaq Dar was not giving us time when finally we went onto meet him.

During the meeting, he said, “You only have 3 minutes to mention your issues.” This was the level of seriousness Mr. Ishaq Dar had, the man who was in charge of almost every sector–basically working as a PM.

Putting an end to the affair

Ishaq Dar overvalued the rupee artificially and burned billions of dollars that were borrowed. He kept the dollar rate at 100 rupees when its actual value was around 140 or 145 rupees. This gap was getting covered by the subsidies given by the government at that time. He managed the economy artificially to show the economic success of the PML-N government.

His numbers were based on pleasing the popular factor of media and analysts on TV. Every economist that writes about economic policies or talks about the lack of sustainability of Ishaq Dar’s number very much knows the kind of mess Pakistan can get into in terms of returning the borrowed money.

Read more: Ishaq Dar: Difficult times ahead..?

After these disastrous decisions, Ishaq Dar was first seen on Hardtalk getting grilled and then sitting as an expert or savior of the economy on a forum created by PML-N to discuss economic policies of the PTI government.

Bringing back the ex-finance minister of the country is more important than bringing back Nawaz Sharif or any other person. He has damaged the economy to a level that it took 3 years for others to get the basics right and as I’ve mentioned above, the Stockholm Syndrome must end if we ever want to end the tale of corruption in Pakistan.

The love affair must end for this country to progress. We need to stop portraying oppressors as heroes.

Read more: Why Pakistan desperately needs strong leaders

Fahad Qureshi is an MPhil scholar, analyst, and journalist. He has expertise in national and international politics. The writer can be reached at thefahadqureshi@gmail.com.The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.