The maiden speech by the third time prime minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, was no different from the ones we have heard from the rulers of this tragic land ever since its creation.
Every time a prime minister or a dictator addresses the poor nation on assuming the power, we are informed of the following: the country is in danger, we are facing gigantic problems, the nation has to offer more sacrifices, we are passing through the most critical phase of our national life/history, and we have to make painful decisions.
Nawaz Sharif’s speech on August 19th was hardly different in content. Perhaps the only difference was the degree of pessimism. His narrative was indeed gloomy. Lacking substance, it was a speech devoid of any promises.
Even when he made hollow promises, conviction was lacking. Far from being an inspiration for the masses it only added to their desperation and disillusionment. In analysing this speech a dialogue of Shakespeare’s Hamlet comes to mind.
“Lord Polonius: what do you read, my Lord?
Hamlet: words, words, words.
Lord Polonius: what is the matter, my lord?
Hamlet: between who?
Lord Polonius: I mean, the matter you read my Lord.”
This is the first regime that has been forced to skip its honeymoon. The jury is still out on the authenticity of Sharif’s mandate but even those masses who voted for the PML (N) did so out of utter despair and disillusionment with the other incumbent parties, in particular the Zardari outfit, rather than having any high hopes in this right wing party representing the corrupt and the reactionary ruling classes of Pakistan.
The crisis of the economy, price hikes and the terrorism of the past five years has been even more intensified during the first few weeks of the present regime. The price hikes in petroleum products, electricity and other basic necessities of life has been rising with an unrelenting rapidity. The budget presented just days after Sharif took power was unashamedly and outrageously anti poor with full benefits to corporate capital and the ruling elites. They are in such a grim state of crisis that this regime did not have any room for mere small cosmetic measures such as opening YouTube or the installation of a 3G network.
The macroeconomic indicators have worsened and the depreciation of the rupee is sharply moving towards a free fall. All those boasts and proclamations of breaking the begging bowl and defying the IMF have proved to be quixotic gimmicks. The new loans of the imperialist institutions would only increase the burden of debt upon the shoulders of the toiling masses further increasing the costs of debt and interest servicing resulting in further reductions in the GDP expenditures on health, education and other basic needs.
The recipes of the IMF such as privatisation, down sizing, liberalisation, restructuring and deregulation will be carried out with greater ferocity. However, it would not be possible to privatize large- scale state enterprises as a whole in a climate of world capitalist recession whose recovery is far fetched to say the least. They will dissect these enterprises into various components in exactly the same manner as a butcher dissects a lamb or a cow into individual pieces and displays the best pieces by tying them up in his shop front.
But this privatisation will end up throwing lakhs (100,000s) of workers onto the scrapheap of already massive unemployment that is perilously aggravating social tensions and turbulence in society. The obscene borrowing for the circular debt has further added to the fiscal and the GDP deficits. The economic default that has been delayed temporarily by the IMF tranche will boomerang catastrophically.
The main corporate bosses are now sitting in at the crucial meetings of the economic planners and the policy makers of this government with crucial powers of veto. The government is taking up debt to pay for power usage and thus creating profit for the enterprise bosses. The imperialist owners of the IPPs and other sectors where this money is being stashed are having their hay day.
The deafening mantra of Chinese investment to kick start the economy and develop the infrastructure is farcical. The current clique in power in China is not here to solve the problems of Pakistan with its friendship ‘higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the deepest sea.’ Their main concern is to prop up a falling rate of growth in China. Moreover the Gawadar Xinxiang railway line and the highway running to China are pipe dreams. The path of these projects is riddled with terrorism, bloodshed, crime and proxy wars. The Chinese are also blundering into these projects in their lusts for profits.
“Negotiations and the use of force to combat terrorism”. Is this anything new? Has this not disastrously failed in the last decade? With whom and with which faction of the ‘terrorists’ are they going to negotiate and which ones would be destroyed with the use of force. What if this force is found to be complicit with those groupings that it is supposed to decimate? The terrorist attacks and violence have sharply increased since the inauguration of this government. The bloodshed and the proxy wars in Baluchistan have intensified. What administrative or state structural changes can end this harrowing conflagration? There is not much chance of reforming and improving the state institutions that have rotted to an irretrievable extent due to the crisis of the catastrophic socio- economic system they were built to protect.
The reality is that there is not much room for even minimal reforms that could benefit the masses. What they call reforms are ironically the policies devised to enhance the rates of profits for the capitalists and imperialist corporate capital. The rich will become richer with the further accumulation of the obscene wealth, the black economy will spread its tentacles deeper and the already impoverished masses will be thrust further into the black pit of poverty, misery and deprivation.
Crime and bloodshed will go unabated. This right wing regime is destined to fail. But how and when is the question? Either the country will descend into an even greater chaos or the masses will arise for a revolutionary transformation of this rotten system. A majority right wing government is a provocation for the oppressed masses that are being tormented with this avalanche of socio-economic onslaught. Now the barricades are drawn and the classes are confronting each other without the buffers of social democracy and reformism. This class war has to be fought to the finish. The victorious outcome for the toiling masses is the only way for the salvation and emancipation of society.