The current Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has relentlessly blamed previous governments for the current economic crisis in the country, so much so, that in the debate surrounding the budget, treasury lawmakers have spent more time berating the previous government than actually discussing the budget and working on ways to improve it. Monday’s session in the National Assembly saw the Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar repeat his party’s allegations of the PML-N government failing the country economically, by not utilizing $66 billion worth of fiscal space to stabilise the economy.

This fixation with playing the blame game reflects a lack of ideas in the ruling party’s leadership cadre in finding realistic fixes to economic problems in the country, and instead deflecting by putting the onus on the previous government, thereby relieving themselves of the pressure to deliver on the promise made to improve the economic situation of the country.

This tactic also works as a means to shatter the common perception of the PML-N’s ability to bring about economic prosperity during their time in power. The PML-N’s election campaign has always been centred around what it can do for the country’s economy when it takes office, which is why engaging in this constant blame-game serves PTI well politically; diminishing their biggest rival’s most viable election promise only serves to increase the support base of the ruling party.

However, playing politics and blaming previous government at any other moment was a mere shortcoming of the PTI on other occasions, but at a time when the country is virtually on the edge an economic catastrophe this play is not only highly irresponsible and problematic, it is almost criminal during the budget session. There are real concerns that the opposition has raised during speeches regarding issues such as the indirect taxation of staple food items and the PTI has only responded by saying that none of this is their fault. At this point the blame is not important, the economic crisis is everyone’s problem, for the PTI even more so, because the next five years will be spent following the party’s economic decisions.

Engaging the opposition in looking for permanent solutions to the problem of economic stability should be prioritised by the government over this incessant need to discuss past tenures and mistakes made. Minister Bakhtiar’s suggestion of signing an economic charter with the opposition to not approach the IMF for bailout plans in the future is more sensible than the constant bickering we have become used to seeing in parliament. However, this agreement to not borrow money can only be fully realised if the government manages to pull us out of the economic quagmire the country is trapped in. Focusing on that, instead of the past is the only way the PTI government’s hope of the country not going to the IMF in the future can be realised.

This fixation was a shortcoming during regular government operations but during this budget session it is criminal. The gov should engage with the Opp’s suggestions - a resolution forbidding Pakistan from future IMF loans is a constructive proposal that needs to be considered.