This is a time for mourning, for allowing ourselves to be brainwashed by subterfuge and lies to the extent that when confronted with the stark truth and hardship that comes with it, we fail the test that makes a people great. Mourning, because in our sheer stupidity, a part of the nation led by corrupt politicians refuses to understand that their land has been rendered bankrupt by a corrupt government and one that left no stone unturned to accomplish, what our enemies couldn’t, since our independence. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is a saying that precisely sums up, what we are increasingly incapable of doing.

Whatever Imran Khan and his associates may have said during their twenty two year struggle, was a matter of rhetoric that became irrelevant when the PTI Government gained access to real numbers and an empty treasury. Exploiting this rhetoric as leverage against the two months old government and its tough decision making (thanks to the mess left behind by predecessors) designed to stage a recovery or in the least, take the first hard steps in the right direction, is nothing short of doing the enemy’s dirty work. I can understand the venom being spewed by PML N to this end for this is all they can do to entertain their deaf and blind voters, but I am disappointed with Bilawal, who in my reckoning is a well-groomed and principled individual, who was pushed unwillingly into the murky world of politics. Now that he is (hopefully) at the helm of PPP affairs, he is expected not to let go of the grace and acumen inherited from his maternal lineage. I haven’t lost all hope in him though and am looking forward to the day, when he breaks free of the cocoon imprisoning him and joins hands with Imran Khan to pull us out of the ‘tar pit’.

The segment of the public, who have boarded the critics’ bandwagon, must for a moment recollect the events of 1947. It was a time, when our capital was in Karachi and the infant state of Pakistan had been short-changed as far as division of resources were concerned. This was a period when ‘going was tough and the tough did in fact get going’. Government officials used packing cases as office furniture and thorns in place of pins to hold papers together. Everywhere one went, one saw the spirit of “we shall overcome”.

Ours is a nation with a short, selective memory. We have therefore forgotten the historic statement issued so passionately by (Bilawal to please take note) Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in the face of global opposition and even threat of sanctions, to the effect that Pakistanis would eat grass but take their nuclear program to its logical conclusion. This statement was met with resolve and not immature criticism that we see and hear today. Further away in time the Great US Depression that lasted from 1929 to 1942 was a test of resilience, faith and fortitude for the American people. They persevered in the face of unbelievable economic hardships and prevailed to re-emerge as a great world power.

With empty coffers, a huge trade deficit, nightmarish balance of payments, there was undoubtedly no alternative, but to obtain a onetime bailout package from IMF and also generate revenue internally so that a bare minimum was borrowed from International sources. Domestic revenue generation involves increase in taxation and tariffs and the most sensible way to go about is to take more from the rich and recover bare minimum from those with meagre resources. This is what has been done and this is what the iconic Bhutto meant when he spoke about ‘eating grass’.

The current adverse stock market condition provided yet another opportunity for finger pointing at the PTI government. What the ‘finger pointers’ did not say was the fact that plunging Pakistani stock markets had nothing to do with the government, but was in reaction to a global phenomenon. The US media summed up the situation in a matter of fact manner, “Long-suffering Chinese stocks fell nearly 6 percent in U.S. stock market decline. The Dow dropped 832 points, or 3.2 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 4.1 percent — its worst decline since June 2016 — including Netflix taking an 8 percent hit. Early trading in Europe was also lower”. The ripples caused by these drops were felt in Indian and South East Asian markets, which also demonstrated a downward slide.

What matters now is how effectively the government girdles itself and tells the nation to do likewise in as forthright a manner as possible. Like it or not, we are now reaping what has been sown earlier. This is a time to sacrifice and persevere, for therein lies the hope of a prosperous future.

 

The writer is a freelance columnist.