THE consultation process with allies is ongoing. Yesterday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met with the head of MQM-P and the leaders of JUI-F and PPP. It remains to be seen how quickly decisions are made.
Since becoming the face of the government of national unity, the PML-N has rapidly lost the good will it took years to build in the opposition.
After Finance Minister Miftah Ismail’s press conference on Sunday, it is clear that while the Prime Minister and his kitchen cabinet are aware of the economic crisis, they are looking to their party leadership in London for ‘advice’ on political issues. Nawaz Sharif et al, on the other hand, seem to be making decisions that are more in the interest of the PML-N than the people.
Lily: Nawaz Sharif informed of the crises simmering at home
Internal divergences lead to serious delays in economic governance and create uncertainty in capital markets. Monday’s reaction to Mr. Ismail’s press conference took the form of a further sell-off in the stock market and the continued weakening of the rupee-dollar exchange rate.
It is difficult to sympathize with the PML-N, even if the party keeps reminding us that the economy is in good shape thanks to the decisions taken by the PTI in its last days in power. Yes, the unsustainable fuel and electricity subsidies that drain Pakistan’s national treasury were indeed introduced by the PTI, but what has this new government done about them?
It is strange to hear the top leaders of the PML-N deplore the subsidies, without even proposing a plan to rationalize the subsidies when it is in their power to do so. The truth is that while they can blame Mr Khan all they want, each day of their own indecision is costing the treasury billions of rupees and causing further destruction in the capital markets.
Lily: The Shehbaz government must take bold decisions and shake up the economy before it’s too late
The PML-N maintains that any difficult decision it has to make must first be approved by the other parties in its government. This betrays not only the PML-N’s lack of confidence in the parties with which it chose to ally to remove the PTI from power, but also its lack of foresight when forming the government.
If the PML-N so desperately wanted other parties to share the burden of economic decision-making, why didn’t it demand that the Ministry of Finance be led by a coalition partner?
It is obvious that the PML-N feels nothing but buyer’s remorse, and only the commitments it made to obtain the vote of no confidence prevent it from completely abdicating its responsibilities. If there is no decision in the next few days, the PML-N should withdraw and let a formation of goalkeepers take over.
Even that decision will likely have political costs – people will wonder what the vote of no confidence actually achieved. However, the way the power transition has been bungled, there is little other option.
Posted in Dawn, May 17, 2022