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Lie has many legs to stand upon

Published in the daily News on 04.09.2003 and Nation 09.09.2003,Statesman 11.09.2003  DailyTimes 03.09.2003

Nadeem Yousaf

 

It is a famous proverb that a lie has no legs to stand upon but in politics and public administration a lie can stand upon, at least, on the legs of statistics. It is a quality of statistics that they can easily be used to mislead people especially by manipulating mode of data collection, sampling techniques or simply reporting half of the data. In our country, army as well as civil rulers, and, public bureaucrats as well as politicians are experts in using statistics to mislead people.

 

All governments in Pakistan have always played with the statistics and tell the nation that we are better off under their regime than the previous ones. Following the tradition of previous governments, Musharraf and his team have also been boosting off the news of economic growth and progress. The government reports shows that total revenue has increased form 300 billion to 400 billion, exports has increased from 8 billion to 10 billion, current foreign exchange reserves are around 11 billion, stock exchange index is touching the point of 4500 and other indicators of economic growth are also going upwards. The constant claim of the claims is that poverty and corruption have decreased and we are on the path of good governance. On the contrary, the World Bank recent reports tell the opposite story. The reports show that even high profile poverty reduction programs such as eight billion dollars Social Action program (SAP) have not improved conditions of the poor. The World Bank Report also tells corruption has also increased in Pakistan.

 

Without going into statistical debate, the ground reality is that prices of commodities, unemployment and poverty have increased manifold. The current pathetic state of people’s economic situation leads us to believe either the government statistics are manipulated to paint a rosy picture of the economic growth or the indexes of economic growth such as GDP, stock exchange or foreign currency reserves are poor indicators to indicate desperate poverty condition of masses. The harsh fact is that poorer is getting poorer and richer is getting richer but policy makers are unmoved. Unfortunately, instead of trying to improve the economic conditions of the masses they are busy in finding legs to stand upon their lies as truth.

 

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