While the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been trying his best to internationalise the Kashmir issue in the wake of the abrogation of article 370, the Pakistani masses have thrown in a bouncer his way. Despite PM Khan proclaiming himself as the “ambassador of Kashmir” and vowing to raise the issue at every international forum, the electorate of his country has served him a cold reminder. According to a survey conducted in the four provinces of Pakistan by Gallup-Gilani Pakistan, it has been found that 53 per cent of Pakistanis are worried about inflation, 23 per cent said unemployment was a major problem, while four per cent of the people identified corruption as the major problem, the survey said. Only 8 per cent considered Kashmir as the biggest issue of Pakistan. The survey took place over a period of two weeks from October 7 to October 20 and the sample size of the survey comprised men and women in urban and rural areas in all four provinces of Pakistan – Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and North-West Frontier Province.
Contrary to Khan’s rhetoric of Pakistani’s worry about Kashmir, it has been found that people are more concerned about their bread and butter. It would not be wrong to say that the Pakistani Government backed by ISI and run by its army from Rawalpindi are the ones that have been using Kashmir as a shield to astray its people of the real issues like poverty, inflation, etc. The road to political power in Pakistan is through Kashmir and the political parties seem to be using it for their advantage since the time Pakistan came into being.
Since Imran Khan assumed the office, he has spelled doom for his country as the situation on the economic front has been terrible for Pakistan. The currency has shed more than quarter of its value, inflation is near double-digit, economic growth is at a decade low, the private, as well as public investment, has fallen, the foreign debt is all-time high and almost equal to GDP, the exports have fallen and the imports have risen.
Thousands of protesters have already marched to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, demanding the prime minister’s resignation amid a worsening economic crisis.
In July, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had said that Pakistan is facing “significant economic challenges” due to weak and unbalanced growth and that its economy is at a critical juncture where it needs an ambitious and bold set of reforms. At the time, Pakistan had a currency reserve of less than USD 8 billion, enough only to cover 1.7 months of imports.
As per the data from provisional estimates of National Accounts Committee (NAC) for the fiscal year 2018-19, the per capita income shrunk by 8.2 per cent to 1,516 dollars which is the lowest in the last three years. This means the average person in Pakistan is earning as much as s/he earned three years back. The Imran Khan government has not been able to solve two structural issues of low investment and savings which kept the country off track in the last few years. The investment to GDP ratio and savings to GDP ratio of Pakistan is the lowest among the major economies around the world.
As per forecast by the annual Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2019, Pakistan’s GDP growth is going to remain lowest in the region. Its GDP will grow at a rate of 4.2 per cent. Pakistan’s GDP growth rate has now fallen much behind the GDP growth rate of countries like Maldives and Nepal, which in itself should be a warning sign. The terrorist nation has so far received billions in financial aid packages from countries like China, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE during the disastrous current fiscal year. In short, the Pakistan economy is in a free fall and its government has not been able to revive it.
At the end of the day, Imran has to face its electorate for the votes and answer them, yet very conveniently Khan has been ignoring albeit intently, the real issues plaguing his country and instead focusing on an issue which people are not even considering important in their lives. If nothing, it shows how much of cynicism prevails in the Pakistani political setup where they have become stooges of the army and their propaganda which continues to fill its coffers by peddling lies about Kashmir.