It seems the next few months are not going to be too pleasant for the average Pakistani, especially that big bulk of the population that struggles to make ends meet every day of the week. On top of all the news that really puts people from this particular section off quite badly, like the opposition gearing up to unseat the government and the government using all its resources to crack down on the opposition, etc, now they must also contend with the prospect of higher inflation all over again. And since the fact that they are poor implies that they cannot easily afford most necessities of life, it shouldn’t really take too much imagination to figure out just how they feel about governments that are unable to keep a lid on prices, especially when it comes to items of everyday use.
The high inflation in the country has again given rise to flour and sugar crises. These basic commodities have vanished from utility stores of the country as well. And there has been no action so far from district administrations. Instead of acting as the Prime Minister, Imran Khan is acting as the opposition and has fielded his Tiger Force to check the prices of flour and sugar in their respective areas.
The decision of using Tiger Force raises two questions. One, it implies that the government machinery has failed. If that is the case and Prime Minister Imran Khan seems to accept that, then he should relieve the people from their duty who are supposed to bring the produce from agricultural lands to markets and then send them to other stores. Local price control committee and other administrative officers are aware of the laws. Tiger Force has no such training. By using the force, Imran Khan is creating an avenue for corruption.
What is the job of the government? It should ensure the availability of essential commodities. Secondly, it should keep the prices of these items in check. The current regime has failed in both these tasks. In the past five-six months, the flour and sugar crisis have been going up. According to the investigation carried out by the government itself, all the mafia responsible for the crises are present in the government or in the assemblies. Imran has claimed that he would put all mafias in jail but has taken U-turn on that. He sits with them. The reality is that inflation is because of the policies of the government.
The entire focus of the government has been to delegitimize the opposition. Also, following the diktats of the IMF and other institutions and accommodating their members in the government are also wrong. Imran Khan should accept the failure of the government machinery openly. He should not use tiger force for the elections. He should not take steps that would cause troubles in society.
Alas, it was not so and now not only is inflation making a rather discomforting comeback but it is doing so at a time when growth is barely above zero per cent. That, of course, means that we are quite literally flirting with stagflation when low growth and high unemployment coincide with high prices and make everybody’s lives miserable. And going by how this particular phenomenon has ravaged economies in the past, one like Pakistan’s can easily take a pretty steep fall and take about a decade just to get back to previous growth levels.