It has roughly been a year since the PTI stole its way into power in this corridor. After a year of looking back at all that has been and perhaps all that could have been, had the elections not been stolen, one cannot help but feel a sense of tragedy. This tragedy is slowly getting replaced with dread as one looks at the prospects of the PTI continuing to tear the foundations of our beloved country in the days and months ahead.
It is only fair to start with the country’s economy, as only a few days ago, we were inundated with reports of how–given the enormous amount of debt that this government has taken in its first year of governance–Pakistan’s total debt has now officially surpassed the size of the country’s economy. For a party that claimed to prefer suicide over “begging for aid,” this is perhaps the biggest U-turn that Imran Khan has made. Although to be fair, the man has made taking U-turns an art form.
This government started harassing those in the opposition. Very soon, it also included in its crosshairs those who kept the economic engine chugging along. The result of its overzealous so-called tax reform is that traders in the country have simply refused to talk to the government while industrialists are already talking of the inevitable closures they fear. Perhaps the best example of this is the auto industry, which has been a mainstay of employment and FDI in the country and is now ringing the alarm bells with year-on-year drops in sales and revenues; making for a dismal outlook. Only this week, it was reported that the PTI had booked the highest budget deficit in the country’s history at 3.45 trillion. I guess those claims of austerity are now officially out with the window along with every principle that this party has ever claimed to hold.
The very first move a fascist government makes is to stifle freedom of speech
On the political front, the government, over the course of its first year in power, has essentially declared open season on all democratic norms and foundations, which we have sacrificed and struggled to build.
The government pressurised and influenced, and when needed outrightly coerced, NAB into arresting every influential voice of dissent they saw.
What started with Mian Nawaz Sharif and his brother quickly spread to other members of their family, eventually culminating in the arrest of Maryam Nawaz. She had clearly had emerged as the figure around which the masses of our country were converging to be the voice of their discontent. Every time a leader within the opposition PMLN spoke out against what the PTI was doing to Pakistan, they were arrested. Former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Miftah Ismail are proof of this.
When the government realised that the opposition was not alone in pointing out the obvious path of destruction that the PTI was adamant on putting the country on, it turned its aim towards the media. From the onset of its tenure, it was very clear that the PTI was focused on clipping the media’s wings of freedom because the very first move a fascist government makes is to stifle freedom of speech. It started by refusing to pay critical media outlets for advertisements already printed, which led to unprecedented layoffs and salary cuts in the media, to now simply taking off the ait any channel or anchor that dares challenge the official narrative of the government.
The most recent debacle by the government was tragically on the issue of Kashmir. Imran Khan overplayed his hand after his meeting with US President Donald Trump. Now that Modi has unleashed his hate on the people of Kashmir, every regional and global leader has thrown in their support for Modi and exposed just how internationally isolated this government is. In this one instance, it is not just the people of Pakistan who suffer but sadly the people of Kashmir who suffer. After suffering decade after decade from Indian occupation and aggression, at the time when they needed Pakistan and its government the most, sadly it is Khan who is in power and who continues to let down any and all.
This one year has easily been the toughest most disastrous in the memory, and as bad as that sounds, what is worse is that this government and this man, in particular, seem hell-bent on not acknowledging or learning from their mistakes. It seems these 365 days may not have been the worst of what this government has to offer. The question is, how many more days of PTI can the people of this country take?