Political activist and academic Dr Ammar Ali Jan said on Sunday that due to self-centric and corrupt policies of the political and social elites, an artificial crisis has emerged in Pakistan that is affecting only the poor while sparing the rich.
Addressing a talk titled ‘IMF’s Agenda: Reform or Recipe for Disaster?’ that was organised by the National Trade Union Federation at its office, Jan said that this crisis is persisting not only because of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s incompetent government but also because of the past government’s policies.
He said a campaign is being run in the country since the era of Gen Ziaul Haq to crush the people’s movement, adding that the goal is to eliminate all opposition.
He explained that one of the aspects of their policies is to free the market and abolish the workers’ unity so they cannot stand up for their rights.
The academic said the International Monetary Fund (IMF), from which the current and past governments have been taking loans, wants everything from education to health to be privatised and to free the state from taking the responsibility of its people.
He said that due to these conditions, on the one hand the rich are getting richer while on the other, the poor have reached the brink of food insecurity.
He lamented that the situation has turned so bad that if someone gets a bed at a public hospital, they think of it as a blessing because government health care centres have become overcrowded, while the facilities there are pathetic.
He also said that all of this is happening because of the incompetence of the authorities and the rampant corruption that does not let the due rights of the people reach them.
Jan said the government believes that inflation is occurring because the dollar-to-rupee rate has gone up, but it does not explain why it happened in the first place.
He said that even in this crisis, when making both ends meet has become extremely difficult for an ordinary citizen, the rich are living luxuriously as before because the circumstances especially suit them or are designed by themselves.
Referring to the wheat scarcity issue, the activist claimed that the mafia that sits with the government is so powerful that it has muzzled all reports about the possibility of the country facing a crisis.
He said they are doing this because they want to achieve their agenda of sending wheat to Afghanistan as a so-called goodwill gesture, adding that while the government has been sending wheat to the world, their own people are going hungry.
Jan said the power sector is also looting the people. He mentioned an incident of Lahore, where a woman from a lower-middle-class household committed suicide after she was sent an electricity bill of Rs27,000. He said the woman decided to take her own life because she feared her mother-in-law would blame her for the excessive bill.
The academic said students are suffering from depression and committing suicides because they do not see a future for themselves in the current situation of the country.
He said that it is necessary to have a comparative analysis of this crisis. He asked if this crisis has affected the lifestyle of the likes of Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Jahangir Tareen.
He also said that only the public has been making sacrifices in this crisis because it is meant to affect only them, adding that on the IMF’s demand the government has been levying more and more taxes on the people to repay the loans that have never reached them.
Jan said that nearly all the governments took loans, and after six to seven years declared bankruptcy to take more, adding that the money coming in through the loans never reached the public, yet they were forced to pay them back.
He said that this is happening because the political, social and business elites, despite all their artificial differences, are on the same page to make more for themselves while the public is divided on ethnic, racial, religious and so many other lines.
He stressed that the country will head in the direction of progress only when the ordinary citizens set aside all their differences and unite for their own rights.