Pakistan Has Lost the Records For Calculating the Money Lost on The Lost Cause of War on Terror

So the express tribune newspaper reports (I will not treat it as the final word. When it comes to Express Tribune, each article is like a Man’s labor of love: Never quite done and subject to change)

Cost of war: Chapter on war on terror losses jettisoned

Why you ask? Well the usual reasons that make sense

Pakistan has formally abandoned the claim of suffering immensely from the ongoing war on terror, saying that this in fact “hurt the economy, rather than bringing about any benefit.” And therefore a section carrying details of losses the country has suffered due to the war on terror has been dropped from the latest edition of the Economic Survey of Pakistan.

“For how long will we highlight the impact of the war on terrorism on the country,” argued finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh while justifying the decision to drop the special section, “Cost of War on Terror for Pakistan Economy”. The repeated emphasis has hurt investor sentiments, he added.

Followed by the real reason

According to last year’s economic survey, Pakistan has suffered almost $68 billion in cumulative losses over the past decade due to the ongoing war on terrorism. Finance ministry officials, however, said the $68 billion figure proved to be wrong during this year’s initial assessments. “We did not want to drastically revise this figure downward, as it might have raised the issue of the credibility of the country’s statistics”, official said.

Notice the word “drastically”. I personally do not think the country’s credibility would have been affected in any manner, given that making up numbers is not totally alien for the finance ministry and I am not so sure that any credibility is left:

Double-counting: GDP overestimated, may be slashed by 10%

The size of the country’s economy will shrink by up to Rs2.5 trillion, or roughly 10%, after reports surfaced that the value of some goods and services were counted twice in calculation of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the last several years. The ‘correction’ has major implications, and places a question mark on authenticity of key economic indicators.

The interesting phrase here is “For the last several years”. And before that:

 Finance secretary changed in wake of IMF report

In its recent report on the state of the country’s economy, the IMF has unearthed that, in a bid to hide the real budget deficit, Pakistan’s expenditures were understated by Rs317 billion and revenues overstated by Rs215 billion.

It is interesting to see someone being charged for it. Which in Pakistan’s context means (0) It is not an innocent mistake (1) Higher ups were involved and Finance secretary was just an escaped goat. And even before that:

Lack of coordination costs Pakistan the IMF programme

Two different sets of statistics about flood damages to the economy irritated the IMF staff that negotiated with Pakistani delegation, headed by Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, in Washington. “The IMF staff was already perplexed by economic growth and inflation numbers in the aftermath of the floods, as different data came out of the finance ministry but the major blow came from none other than Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani,” a source said.

I find it interesting that it has been passed of as a “Lack of coordination” which presumably means “Two different people made up two sets of figures and everyone is shocked that they didnt agree”.  The urge to make up “ball park” figures is so irresistible that a sitting President has gone on to claim in an Op-ed:

Talk to, not at, Pakistan

We have hemorrhaged approximately $100 billion directly in the war effort and tens of billions more in lost foreign investment.

Amount of Money Lost by Pakistan in War on Terror

Turns out, that $100 billion was in fact not quite $100 billion but $68 billion and now it is not quite $68 billion. But one cannot blame the President for not being able to resist the urge to make up numbers. Yours truly’s fourth cousin too has fallen prey to that urge and over time has tweeted:

17 May: Pakistan has lost $200 Billion due to US not giving $200 Billion to Pakistan

1 May: Pakistan has lost $100 Billion due to Abbottabad raid because of money lost in not being able to charge US money for hunting Osama

26 Feb: Pakistan has lost 50.01billion $ in war on terror. The 0.01 Billion due to the cost of Sheikh Osama Shaheed house and its demolishun.

15 Nov 2011: Pakistan has lost more than 40 runs due to war on terror (comment on a Criket match)

Seems they did not heed the advice my fourth cousin was hinting at:

27 Feb: When complaining about war on terror expenses, please to stick to one figure! Dont quote different numbers like Veena Malik’s age!!


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