- The MBS effect
There are no easy choices, really, for Pakistan at the moment. Such is the cash strapped position of the government that even the measures it is patting itself on the back about are only likely to bring very little relief at the end of the day. Let’s not forget that failure to reconcile the deficit in the immediate term might well push the country into economic default. And, even if there weren’t any friendly loans – whatever their intrinsic benefit – it’s not as if you just enter a Fund program and everything falls into place immediately. All decisions, whether they pertain to taking the begging bowl to friends or the IMF itself, will have some sort of traumatic effect on the economy and the people.
That is why investments like the ones the Saudi crown prince is bringing ought to be more welcome. Sure, nobody in their right mind would object to such hefty, long term financial commitments. Not only do they do the economy a world of good, spread over many years of course, they also bind mutual investors in very long term pacts. And even if the government had not gone out of its way to make the event a spectacle – lining up the entire federal cabinet to welcome the prince, bring normal life to a halt, etc, each of which has a sizeable negative financial fallout – the Saudis would have been just has happy with their investment. They are time tested friends, indeed, but that does not mean they will offer loans or investments that will leave themselves worse off than before just for our benefit.
The government should be mindful that welcome as such deals are, they will not amount to much if the economy is not turned around quickly. What good is celebrating these breakthroughs, after all, if we have to come up with similar solutions periodically? Then there’s the thing about ridiculing the opposition. Perhaps it’s too much to expect the information minister to be civil about the opposition, but the government should not at least insult people’s votes. If anybody in the opposition is convicted in corruption cases, the government can call them all they want. But by behaving in such a manner the government only brings the House into disrepute with friends who are trying to keep us afloat and surviving.