The sinking ship

It seems as if everything is going wrong. The deal with the IMF still eludes the government, even though it has taken the prior actions it was told to. The rupee continues to sink, dropping Rs 4.61 to Rs 261.50 per dollar on the interbank market, reversing a recent trend of appreciation. The rupee is trading at Rs 285 to the dollar in the black market, and has reached Rs 295 in Kabul, thus making its crossing 300 more a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. Inflation set an new record, with the Consumer Price Index making its single highest jump, of 31.6 percent, in February, the highest recorded since records started being kept in 1965. As the federal government sees inflation ascites worst enemy, that news would cause it the greatest pain, and would make the Supreme Court’s decision on provincial assembly polls all the more unpalatable. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the situation is that the government does not seem to have any idea about what to do. Rather than putting a firm hand at the helm, it is almost as if the ship of state has been put on autopilot, while the government has gone off no one knows where.

The Prime Minister keeps on going through the motions, behaving like a Prime Minister whose country is not in the throes of a full-blown crisis It is true that the Finance Minister has been imposed upon him, but he was imposed because the country was facing an economic crisis, and PML(N) Supremo Nawaz Sharif felt that the party was taking too much flak for comfort. Incumbent Miftah Ismail was ousted, and replaced by Ishaq Dar, who had the relatively narrow mandate of repairing the economy. He did not. Even more recently, when newly anointed Chief Organizer Mariam Nawaz returned to the country, she exhorted everyone to have more faith in Senator Dar. The results are in.