- Existing on false impressions
While on the campaign trail, Imran Khan remarked at numerous rallies that he would always speak the truth on national issues, a somewhat tall claim for any politician, if not outright far-fetched, considering the essentially devious nature of the vocation of winning and retaining power. The absolute truth, in politics, as indeed anywhere else, is often reduced to an abstract, vague and elastic concept, with everyone concerned eventually clamouring, ‘the truth is what I say it is’ and the ordinary citizen no more the wiser about the real facts. Media managers, press spokesmen, ‘embedded’ journalists and self-important information ministers keep a keen, watchful eye over political events, moving swiftly to lessen the impact of an embarrassing situation, or wading in with some well-directed media hype. As a character in one of Oscar Wilde’s plays ironically but rightly remarks, ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple’.
It is not easy to deliberately distort the truth about the sorry state of our economy, considering that most citizens not only know its principal parasites but are also painfully living it daily, in the form of runaway inflation. But to gloss over the pathetic fiscal reality or paint a rosy picture is tantamount to adding insult to injury for that eternal ‘toad beneath the harrow’, the common man. Unfortunately, casual, unrealistic and thoughtless comments on the national economy have recently emanated from the highest quarters, including the PM and his economic czar. Panic and fear lurk just beneath financial markets and economic matters, and their major causes can also include the executive’s needless dabbling or outpourings and perceived uncertainty of direction. The buck stops at the PM and finance minister’s doorstep, and blaming State Bank autonomy, its ‘independent’ monetary policy, possible harsh IMF conditions, or explaining away the epidemic of stock market crashes, will not stabilise the plummeting currency, bring down the cost of living and adequate food within reach of the down-trodden. The SBP and allied economic departments should keep the nation abreast of the real state of the economy on a regular basis. People’s (also future voters’) hopes and expectations, raised so high, can be dashed only at the government’s cost and peril. So, deliver or be hissed.