Irresponsible politicking

Editorial Board
Friday, Feb 23, 2024

The PTI seems to have come full circle: back to using economic blackmailing as a political tactic. This would not be considered good politics anywhere or at any time but doing this particularly when Pakistan stands at a supremely vulnerable place in its economic history can only be called callous and unjustifiable. On Thursday, PTI leader Barrister Ali Zafar said that Imran Khan will be writing a letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), asking the lender of last resort to stop support for Pakistan due to “rigged elections”. The justification, per the PTI, is that the charter of the IMF, European Union, and other organizations stipulates that they can function or provide loans to a country only if there’s good governance. The PTI says that going to the IMF for a bailout package would be detrimental to the country without conducting an audit of the election results. We have been supportive of every party’s reservations regarding the electoral process – which has left much under question. But those questions can be answered by taking the legal route – not by asking the IMF to stop its programme just because the PTI has chosen to sit in the opposition and not form the government even when the PPP tried to engage them.

This seems to be a burn-the-place-down strategy – something the PTI has used previously as well. It seems the party has more regard for its own political agendas than the country’s interests. This move is not just irresponsible but extremely damaging to the party and Imran’s politics. Such actions give weightage to the view that the PTI is a party that thrives in chaos and wants anarchy in the country if it is not in power. This is not the first time the PTI has tried to disrupt and sabotage an IMF deal. In August 2022, audio leaks of the PTI’s former finance minister Shaukat Tarin ‘advising’ the then-Punjab finance minister Mohsin Leghari and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finance minister Taimur Jhagra to write letters to the federal government that they cannot comply with the IMF deal are a matter of public record now. This was after the PDM had ousted Imran Khan through a successful vote of no-confidence and the PTI had governments in both Punjab and KP. Many had said back then that the PTI has no stakes in the system until and unless it is in power. This perception is not without reason. During his 2014 dharna, Imran Khan called for civil disobedience, asked people not to pay their bills, and told them to send remittances through illegal means rather than the banking channels. And why? Because he was not in power.

Analysts and experts have pointed out that the 2018 elections were also quite controversial and there were serious allegations of rigging back then as well by the PML-N and other parties. Mian Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were in jail. The way the Panama verdict was given was no secret either. Yet, we did not see the PML-N or any other party trying to sabotage the PTI government’s IMF deal. In fact, Shehbaz Sharif offered the PTI government to sign a Charter of Economy for the betterment of the country. Does the PTI want the people to suffer if Pakistan defaults just because it believes it should be in power? This style of politics will damage both the PTI and Pakistan. Imran and his party need to introspect and decide whether they’re going to burn down the entire country for the sake of power. Surely, someone in the party can ensure better sense prevails?