The ‘curse’ of the PPP
Akbar Zaidi, one of the country’s foremost political economists, in his magnum opus ‘Issues in Pakistan’s economy’, discussed at length the Bhutto government of the 1970s.
The writer brought in a new side by delineating the causes for that government’s failure with regard to various aspects of policy making, including the legendary “bad luck” factor. The bad luck dynamic, in Zaidi’s analysis, comprised of some salient factors, both international and domestic, that contributed to the unwrapping of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) socialist economic agenda. These were the oil crisis of 1973 that led to high inflation and balance of payments problems in many third world countries, the floods of the same year, jute revenue lost after Bangladesh’s creation, as well as depleted foreign exchange after a colossal cotton crop failure.
The PPP-led coalition government of today seems to face a multitude of problems as well: terrorism, a severe energy crisis, fleeting investment channels and a year of massive deluge followed by another one with never-ending rains. However, even if one concedes that the regime does indeed seem to be hampered by the ‘bad luck’ factor today, its apologists would still need to dig hard to find evidence of any appropriate response by the government to the many challenges that it is facing.
Take, for instance, the response to this year’s rains. Yes, one wouldn’t expect an otherwise desert oasis getting over a thousand millimetres of rain. However, was the disaster so overwhelming that even ministers and members of parliament from the affected areas could not make it to their constituencies to help out in the rescue and relief effort?
Were no lessons learnt from the previous year’s experience? The weakened embankments on either side of the Indus River suggest that this indeed was the case. The absence of even logistical supplies in towns such as Nawabshah, Khairpur and Larkana — places with a solid PPP vote-bank — is difficult to comprehend.
All in all, Zaidi’s bad luck factor seems to be ‘enforced’ this time around by the government itself.
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