Inevitable Disaster

By Raza, Moosi | Economic Review, July 1996 | Go to article overview

Inevitable Disaster


Raza, Moosi, Economic Review


* Over and above the political confrontation the most potential threat ahead Benazir is the economic challenge. In view of the deteriorating balance of payment position and foreign exchange reserves, analysts predict complete collapse of economy by October this year.

* The value of the currency continued to fall. If the IMF demand of another 3 per cent devaluation is accepted the rupee will fall to 40 a dollar.

The situation is ripe for a final showdown. How long Benazir could resist is yet to be seen. Hectic developments are taking shape on political front. Opposition chalked out strategy that includes strikes, public meetings and an onslaught on Islamabad to bring down government on its knees. Jamaat Chief Qazi Hussain appears confident that over one million people will participate in the 'March to Islamabad' programme. The opposition is trying to capitalise on the unrest that is prevailing in various sections of the society. Benazir's decision to hold similar rallies, induction of 15 more federal ministers at the centre, and an invitation of dialogue to opposition are all indications of her concern. The opposition turned down the official invitation of Benazir.

Over and above the political confrontation the most potential threat ahead Benazir is the economic challenge. In view of the deteriorating balance of payment position and foreign exchange reserves, analysts predict complete collapse of economy by October this year. Debt servicing which is due in September/October this year and the likely release of foreign loan will reveal the factual position. IMF is reportedly unhappy over government's economic and financial mismanagement. Both economic crisis and rampant corruption are the issues that are said to be trigging off army's concern. Political analysts believe that if Benazir survives from opposition onslaught with the blessings of Presidency, army and the power that matters the economic depression may cause casualty.

Contrary to ground realities rulers apparently seem confident and rule out any possibility either of an in-house change, mid-term polls, army's interference or President Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari invoking Article 52(b) of the constitution to send Benazir Bhutto packing. They further believe that opposition cannot submit en-bloc resignations from assemblies since its own rank and file is in disarray and moreover, Mian Sahab is not acceptable to the establishment.

Despite government's optimism to complete tenure the fact remains that all is not well and writing on the wall is clear. Political polarisation, gloomy economy scenario, deteriorating law and order, rampant corruption and the government-judiciary tussle are the issues that loom large over the horizon. The budget has added fuel to the fire. The newly formed 14 parties United Opposition Front having divergent views appears hell-bent to remove Benazir. Some political analysts believe that Benazir, like her father, is a great fighter and will come clear out of the situation. Those dreaming her fall in near future would lick their wounds. But the dilemma is that both political parties are least concerned about the real issues with which the whole nation is confronted with.

The coming months are said to be crucial. On the external front Pakistan is under tremendous pressure on the issue of nuclear programme to sign CTBT and to find a workable solution of Kashmir problem more or less on the pattern of Camp David Accord. On the home front the hostile opposition is planning a final showdown. There are certain constitutional petitions pending in the court against the federation, whose judgements may upset the sitting government. In last couple of months the superior courts have given judgements which were unpleasant for the sitting incumbent. Local Bodies poll which are round the corner will demonstrate the popularity graph of leaders. PPP will have to prove its worth in the incoming Local Body polls. Moreover, the Senate election are due in March 1997, which too may be crucial. …

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