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, according to many media news report, the Imran Khan government plans to auction eight buffaloes kept by former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif at the PM House to meet his “gastronomic requirements”. As per reports about Imran Khan’s austerity drive, cash-starved Pakistan government would auction more than 80 luxury cars as well.
Naeem-ul-Haq, the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant for Political Affairs, tweeted that four surplus helicopters will be also sold which are lying unused with the cabinet division.
After the surplus car auction , 4 surplus helicopters will be sold which are lying unused with the cabinet division. Plus , now listen to this, 8 buffaloes which Nawaz kept at the PM house for his gastronomic requirements. So all potential buyers please get ready.
— Naeem ul Haque (@naeemul_haque) September 10, 2018
Many other luxury cars parked at the PM House will also be auctioned. According to Samaa TV news report, the PM House will auction off 33 cars and one bus from Prime Minister House on the orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The auction will be held on September 17. New and unnecessary vehicles from PM House will be auctioned off including, eight BMWs, four Mercedes, 16 Toyota Corollas, one Honda, three Suzukis and one bus.
According to a News 18 report, 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.
These are desperate measures taken at desperate times. The economy and public finance of Pakistan is in shambles. For the last four years, the imports of the country have far exceeded the exports and this resulted in the Balance of Payments (BoP) crisis. Now it is left with going to IMF for bailout or to China for support, the IMF is not likely to provide bailout due to opposition from member countries like the United States. A group of United State senators have maintained that Pakistan is at risk of debt distress.
No relief for Pakistan is coming from anywhere. Very recently, US Defense Department announced that it has suspended $300 million in aid to Islamabad over its failure to take any sort of actions against the terrorists. This is not the first time that US has cancelled financial aid to Pakistan. In his first tweet of 2018, president Trump had slammed the terrorist nation saying that it had rewarded the U.S. aid with “nothing but lies and deceit”. This was followed by a punitive aid cut by the Trump administration against the US. It was reported that there was a 62 per cent decline in security aid from the US to Pakistan over last five years according to data released by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS). Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations then confirmed that Trump administration has withheld $255 million in security aid for Pakistan. Similarly, economic and humanitarian aid to the country declined 77 percent from $1.1 billion in financial year 2012 to $246 million in financial year 2016. The US budget this year also displayed this tendency of the US administration. The overall assistance to Pakistan was “down about $10 million” to $351 million.
Steps taken by Imran Khan to improve finances and economy of the country are populist in nature. It 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. However, a government auctioning buffaloes is a unique case in itself. The amount generated by such an auction cannot increase GDP of Pakistan by two times or three times. It only indicates that bad days for buffaloes are ahead. It also sends a very wrong message of vendetta politics and incipient hatred for former PM Nawaz Sharif. Instead of selling buffaloes, Pakistan PM should try to make good relations with the international community and should also stop exporting terrorists to other nations.