Cricketer turned politician Imran Khan came to power in Pakistan on the poll plank of ‘Naya Pakistan.’ During the election campaign, he portrayed himself as the anti-corruption crusader, promised to improve the debt-ridden economy of Pakistan and also promised that he would initiate some serious changes to cut-down the government expenses. Imran Khan, after being elected as the PM of Pakistan, launched excoriate attack on the pompous lifestyle of the ruling elites of Pakistan. Imran Khan described the lifestyles of ruling elites as “colonial-era mindset.” He said that his government would launch an effective austerity drive.
As promised, cash-strapped government of Imran Khan auctioned off eight buffaloes for nearly Rs 23 lakh. The buffaloes were kept by former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif at the PM House to meet his “gastronomic requirements”. The buffaloes got auctioned within two hours and the bidders were allowed to pay only in cash. According to some reports, supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister-Nawaz Sharif- bought all the buffaloes in order to gift them back to Nawaz Sharif.
As per reports, under Imran Khan’s austerity drive, cash-starved Pakistan government would auction more than 102 surplus cars as well including bullet proof vehicles, and four helicopter used by the cabinet division.
Last week, Imran Khan Government auctioned off 61 luxury cars and raised about 200 million.
According to reports, Imran Khan Government also suggested auctioning off government-owned land in order to improve the finances of the country. He claimed that urban portion of the government-owned land is worth Rs 300 billion while Pakistan’s daily interest payment amounts to Rs 5 billion.
However, the move of Imran Khan government to sell buffaloes and vehicles has not gone down well with other leaders of Pakistan. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the auction of buffaloes and vehicles has turned Pakistan into a joke at global level. Speaking to media, Bhutto said, “The international media is saying that Pakistan is relying on buffaloes to sustain its economy. People need to compare the amount generated [by the austerity drive] and the money spent on advertising it. Everything will be clear then.”
To some extent, Bhutto is right. All these are populist measures which have been initiated in order to gain cheap publicity. His austerity drive has been more about rhetoric. Recently, Imran Khan received vehement criticism when it was revealed that he commutes by helicopter in order to avoid Islamabad’s traffic jam.
The moves taken by Imran Khan Government will give him media attention and popularity but they are not likely to yield any lasting results. By selling Buffaloes, he cannot make Pakistan a rich country. It also sends a very wrong message of vendetta politics and shows his incipient hatred for former PM Nawaz Sharif. The economy and public finance of Pakistan is in shambles and these auctions would not help in any way to fill Pakistan’s empty coffers. The amount generated by such an auction cannot increase GDP of Pakistan by two times or three times. It only indicates that these are desperate measures taken at desperate times.