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Battle with ‘alternative facts’

91 16 9

ECONOMIC stabilisation through tough, unpopular measures such as withdrawal of the fuel subsidy or a cut in development expenditure, against the backdrop of public mobilisation by the Imran Khan-led PTI, seems a daunting challenge for a new coalition government with a wafer-thin majority.

The latest fuel subsidy was given early last month in a desperate gamble to remain in the saddle by a government facing a united opposition, desertion of allies and dissension in the ranks of its own parliamentarians as a no-confidence motion was around the corner.

Although when it announced the subsidy, instead of a regulator-recommended increase, the government said it would manage the cost of the nearly Rs400 billion subsidy till the summer from higher than expected revenues and savings in other areas.

But the widening deficit in less than two months since the subsidy was awarded is sounding alarm bells in the corridors of power as it is abundantly clear the gamble was meant to thwart a likely no-confidence move at the time, and would have been withdrawn as soon as the danger was averted.

Two things have happened since. One, the vote was successfully carried and the prime minister, despite trying every trick in the bag, including some constitutionally questionable ones, could not stay in office, and one of his arch rivals was elected and sworn into office.

Miftah Ismail’s credentials are not in doubt; how much elbow room he has is.

Second, the former prime minister has not taken kindly to his constitutional ouster from office........

© Dawn

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