Inflation crushing Pakistanis; Financial collapse, FATF blacklisting could be next

New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS)
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the price of wheat has touched Rs 2,400 per 40kg. As higher food prices continue to push inflation up, the country is staring at a massive wheat and flour crisis.
Data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) last week confirmed that inflation has gone up from 8.2 per cent in August to 9 per cent in September. The circular debt in the power sector too has gone up to Rs 2.1 trillion while the prices of as many as 94 life-saving drugs have been increased (yes, during the times of Covid-19 pandemic). An acute shortage of gas during the winter is also a certainty.
However, instead of controlling the inflation, panic buying, the wheat and sugar hoarders, the cost of medicines and giving some relief to the countrymen, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is busy targeting India-possibly, the only thing it has done during its rule in spite of failing repeatedly.
Pakistan’s obsession with India is incurable. While briefing the media about the decisions taken in yesterday’s federal cabinet meeting on concern over rising prices of edible items, Shibli Faraz, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, ended up accusing India for the mess Pakistan finds itself in right now. “He said India is trying its best to push Pakistan to the black list of the Financial Action Task Force. The Minister said Pakistan’s adversaries are attempting to weaken our institutions to create a situation prevailing in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He said they want to create chaos, political instability and economic unrest in Pakistan,” said a report in The Nation while quoting the minister from the presser.
Faraz’s other colleagues in the cabinet are no different. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is discussing “India’s belligerence” on various platforms every day, while the motormouth Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed continues to become the butt of all jokes for relentlessly, pointlessly, chugging anti-India rant. Their boss, Prime Minister Imran Khan, meanwhile is recommending the country’s youth to read Elif Shafak’s Forty Rules of Love, in order to bring them closer to Islam.
All this while, the Pakistani awaam, a majority of them lower middle class, is desperately trying to figure out where do they exactly fit in their government’s scheme of things? The opposition too is asking the whereabouts of the ‘naya Pakistan’ promised to the citizens of the country.
In a requisition notice submitted to the National Assembly (NA) Secretariat Monday, 125 Opposition party members have asked to summon a lower house session within 14 days to discuss, besides the arrest of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president (PML-N) Shahbaz Sharif, the “rising inflation in the country, increasing cases of violence against women, including rape, massive increase in prices of life-saving medicines, simultaneous extortionate rise in electricity prices and increase in circular debt beyond Rs 2,300 billion and continuing collapse in Pakistan’s foreign relations endangering national security.”
After former PM Nawaz Sharif questioned the legitimacy of the 2018 elections in a much-publicized speech last month, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued an order, prohibiting news channels from broadcasting interviews and public addresses by “proclaimed offenders and absconders” on national television, a step which the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said not only violated the citizens’ right to freedom but also impinged on people’s right to know.
“Registering treason cases against politicians cannot hide the ineptitude of the government. Instead of addressing unemployment, inflation and poverty, the government is using state machinery to suppress the opposition,” said PML-N leader Zafar Iqbal.
The burgeoning crisis at home means that the next few weeks could well turn out to be the most challenging ones for the cricketer-turned-politician Khan. With the grace period ending, the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meets later this month to review Pakistan’s performance on more than a dozen outstanding benchmarks for foolproof arrangements against money laundering and terror financing. As reported by, the fear of getting blacklisted by the global terror-financing watchdog has been giving the Pakistani PM sleepless nights for long now.
“People talk about inflation now. If we are placed on the blacklist, we will experience inflation that would ruin our economy, the country would face destruction,” Khan had feared a couple of months ago.
We are rather reminded of what Khan had said at a community event at Washington’s Capital One Arena, last year.
“People ask ‘Where is Naya Pakistan?’ — it is being created in front of your eyes.”
Blink and you miss it!

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