Hot air rising.


Byline: Khurram Husain

NOW that the government has weathered the challenge posed by the maulana and his mob, the quagmire of a slowing economy and a brutal economic adjustment looms once again. And on that front the desperation of the government to deliver some type of good news has grown to the level where they have started to present the growth of the stock market as an indicator of the return of economic health.

One almost feels sorry for those few running things in this government. They are managing a situation they did not create. They are working in a place that has no central decision-maker or decision-making system. There is a prime minister who is not capable of much other than bluster, and for the real decisions, business and the civil service leaderships have been seen going directly to the army chief. A few months ago, people used to ask, even if rhetorically, who's calling the shots in this setup. Now that question is no longer heard, not even rhetorically.

But now there is no longer the option for them to say 'we have only just come to power, give us time'. Look at the way their ministers, those capable of it anyway, are trying to roll out some sort of narrative of the economy having improved under their watch, and you'll realise they are coming under increasing pressure to justify their months in power, all 13 of them. The pressure to show results, real ones and not just rhetorical ones, beyond politics, appears to be mounting.

There is one thing that all governments do whenever they come under this pressure. They start throwing about random data points that show an increase or a decrease (depending on the indicator) as evidence of some sort of improvement. Having seen this happen with three different governments already, there is a sense of weariness at witnessing it all over again.

There is one thing that all governments do when they come under pressure. They start throwing about random data points.

A good example of defending the government with random data points is the case of Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, who has lately been doing the rounds trying to build some sort of an economic case for the government. In the past, they used to argue over how bad the inherited situation was, but today the argument is swivelling around to whether the government has done an adequate job of commanding the situation.

Read: Economic indicators show previously ailing economy now on path of growth: Hammad Azhar

So towards...

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