KARACHI: Political activist and academic Ammar Ali Jan said on Sunday that an artificial crisis had emerged in the country owing to “self-centred” and corrupt policies of the political and social elites; and that crisis was affecting just the poor, leaving the rich unharmed.

Delivering a lecture on ‘IMF’s agenda: Reform or recipe for disaster?’, organised by the National Trade Union Federation at its office, Dr Jan said the crisis existed not only because of ruling “Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s incompetent government, but also because of the past government’s policies”.

He said the “establishment and its cohorts” had been running a campaign in the country to crush the people’s movement since the era of Gen Ziaul Haq and their goal is to eliminate the agendas that differed with theirs.

“One of the aspects of their policies is to free the market and abolish the workers’ unity so they cannot stand up for their rights.”

He said the International Monetary Fund from which the current and the past governments had been taking loans wanted to privatise everything from the education to health sectors so that the state should not take responsibility of its people. He added that due to such conditions, the rich were getting richer while the poor had reached the brink of food insecurity.

He said the situation was so bad that if someone got a bed in a public hospital, one took it as a blessing because the public hospitals had become pathetically overcrowded and the facilities there were pitiable. He said it was happening because of incompetence of the authorities and “rampant corruption that does not let the due rights reaching the people”.

He said the government claimed that inflation was there because dollar’s rate to rupee had gone up but it did not offer a satisfactory explanation to its real causes.

Dr Jan said even in the current crisis when making both ends meet had turned extremely hard for the common man, the elite were living in luxury as they were before because the present circumstances suited them or they were designed by themselves.

Referring to the wheat shortages, he said: “The mafia that sits with the government is so powerful that it muzzled the reports that the country could face a crisis to achieve their agenda of sending wheat to Afghanistan as the so-called goodwill gesture”.

He added while government was sending wheat to the world, its own people were hungry.

“The power sector is also looting the people,” he said mentioning an incident from Lahore in which a woman from a lower-middle class committed suicide after a bill of Rs27,000 landed at her house. He said the woman decided to take her life because her mother-in-law would blame her for the inflated bill.

Dr Ammar Jan said students were also suffering from depression and committing suicides because they did not see a future for themselves in the current situation of the country.

“Despite all these alarms, those at the helm are wary if someone questions their incompetence and they persecute those who dare to question them.”

He said it was necessary to have a comparative analysis of the current crisis. He said: “Has this crisis affected the lifestyle of the likes of Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Jahangir Tareen and retired generals”.

He said only public was rendering sacrifices in such crisis because it was meant to affect them only.

Dr Jan said the government was putting more and more taxes on the people on the demand of the IMF to repay the loans that never reached them. He said nearly all governments took loans and after six to seven years they took even more. He said the money coming in loans never reached the people, yet they were forced to pay them back.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2020