Still in container mode!

NOVEMBER 27, 2019

Not a day goes by when the Dear Leader and his minions do not desperately try to prove that they are still in container mode. No doubt, the Great Khan was quite effective when he was in the opposition although he did make some unsavoury remarks about the National Assembly. Furthermore, he once shocked everyone by asking his followers to tear up their utility bills and even went to the extent of suggesting a novel way for overseas Pakistanis to make remittances to the country, which caused a lot of comment at the time. But why does he have to prove every now and then that he and his party are unfit to govern the country?

Take his latest on how the dollar could easily have shot up to Rs 300 or even more if appropriate action had not been taken. If his government succeeded to stop the steep rise in the value of the dollar, it can easily bring it back to where it was when he took over the reins of the country (Rs 124).

If stabilising the dollar has been done by lowering imports, the solution is to, of course, reduce imports to the bare minimum. One way of doing this is to allow imports only of those goods, which are not manufactured in Pakistan. There are many imported things available in retail stores, which are not needed, as they are made in the country.

I saw small packets of sea salt and so-called Himalayan salt sold at more than a thousand rupees a kilo (even though local salt is available at Rs 30 per kg). When I kept cats and dogs as pets, I didn’t need imported cat and dog food (I wasn’t even aware these were imported). Now you can see these items at all upscale retail stores. Why do we need to eat apples grown in New Zealand and South Africa? Unfortunately, since this government (like its predecessors) depends upon indirect taxes like customs duty, reducing imports will decrease taxes collected by the government. Of course, this problem can be solved simply by going all out against smugglers. Yet no government has done so, for the simple reason that the smuggler mafia is all-powerful.

The Dear Leader says he was amazed to see the ex-prime minister walking without assistance up the stairs to the aircraft, although he had been told that Nawaz Sharif was in danger of dying if not allowed to go abroad immediately for medical treatment.
He seems to be convinced there was a great conspiracy to make him agree to let the former prime minister leave. If that is the case, why doesn’t he take action against those who were part of the conspiracy? Among those would be the doctor or doctors he himself had appointed as well as the lady health minister of Punjab (Dr Yasmin Rashid).

Since most of his ministers have nothing to do most of the time, why not set up a committee to determine whether Nawaz really was sick or whether his medical reports were fake? Whatever happened, it’s clear the Great Khan is not in control, despite implying repeatedly that he is the only one in the country who can give the NRO to anyone accused of corruption (which is not true).
It’s not only the Great Khan whose utterances keep shocking us. He has ministers who continually say the most amazing things, like the chap who was caught with whisky bottles three years back in Bani Gala on his way to you know where. This miracle man (who should really be the minister of science, as he was reportedly able to convert the whisky into honey) has shocked everyone in the country by saying that inflation of the type we are seeing today is actually very good for the people, as it increases the income of farmers.

The great economist Keynes and others must be turning in their graves. If rampant inflation is good for farmers, it must be good for bus drivers, labourers and the eighty or ninety million Pakistanis who are struggling desperately to survive on a dollar a day.
So why are they complaining about the rising prices of all edibles? Doesn’t the learned minister know that inflation would drive up the costs of electricity, diesel, fertiliser and all other inputs, effectively reducing the real income of farmers? Perhaps Mr Asad Umar can explain this to him. In the meantime, please watch this space for more gaffes by those who are in charge of running the country.
The writer is an engineer, a former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College