On the same day when Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin made a fiery winding-up speech of the ongoing National Assembly budget session, lambasting the PML(N) for leaving behind a disaster of an economy necessitating the steps taken by the PTI government such as going to the IMF, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak went a step further, terming the prevalent poverty, joblessness and inflation in the country ‘propaganda’ by opposition parties. While Mr Tarin’s speech was based on facts and figures, such as Pakistan having 13 per cent food inflation and having become a net importer of food, Mr Khattak’s remarks were devoid of any such basis, bordering on the delusional. He went on to claim that in KP, where he was CM for five years, there was “not a single poor or unemployed person”, a comment so preposterous that not only did it get a round of laughter from his own party members, one lawmaker from theTtreasury benches was compelled to point out that there was poverty in his district of Karak. KP happens to be one of the poorest provinces in Pakistan and perhaps with the exception of some key cities like Peshawar and Mardan, it largely remains poor and underdeveloped with little progress made during the PTI’s eight-year tenure to lift its people out of crippling poverty. Mr Khattak did not stop there and attempted to explain the advantages of inflation, which is a perfectly valid economic argument to make, but better left to someone with a better grasp on basic concepts of economics. Additionally, trying to sell rising prices as a ‘good thing’ for the prosperity of a country while people are losing jobs and having trouble making ends meet, is not the best way to approach the problem.
High inflation erodes the value of money, and unless disposable incomes are rising simultaneously due to increased economic activity, it is an undesirable phenomenon. Pakistan’s economy has not grown sufficiently over the past three years to explain or justify the level of inflation that it has been experiencing, hovering between 10–13 percent year-on-year. Perhaps it is because of this casual, nonchalant and ignorant attitude towards the plight of the people that the government has failed to control rising prices, provide jobs and eliminate poverty. The Defense Minister’s speech only adds to the misery of the common man and it has no place in the domain of constructive discourse based on facts and logic.