APROPOS the editorial ‘Politics of austerity’ (June 11). There is a need for leaders and the elites to set an example of austerity, before preaching the same to the public.

It is hypocritical that, despite such a hue and cry about economic crisis, we continue to live a lavish and luxurious life. At least that is what is depicted from the lifestyle of the people of Islamabad, and all this happening under the very nose of the people who are advocating austerity.

While moving around in the supermarkets situated in the posh areas of Islamabad, one can see shelves upon shelves stocked with foreign goods, such as confectioners, cheese, fruits, toiletries, dog and cat food etc. Obviously, the import of such items must have involved foreign exchange. The plea that they cater to the needs of the diplomats is not based on fact, as they have their own stores in the diplomatic enclave.

The stance that heavy duty on imports will dissuade the people from buying imported merchandise, and augment government revenues is a misplaced notion, as it hardly affects the rich and the wealthy. It is not only a drain on foreign exchange reserves it doesn’t help the local industry.

Like in all big cities, the day in Islamabad starts at midday and ends at midnight. Has any survey been conducted to assess the impact of these timings, in terms of energy consumption on utilities, viz a viz late closure of shops? The assumption that the customers are in the habit of waking up late, is not plausible. If the businesses can commence business at 9am in the West, where countries are not burdened by an economic crisis, why not in Pakistan?

I think instead of pushing the austerity drive, what we need is to move beyond drawing room discussions, and actively patronise local goods by buying them, and conserve on energy by utilising daylight hours. I am sure this will go a long way in our efforts towards austerity, provided there is a will.

Muhammad K. Sufi
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2019

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