In the face of odds


Sajjad Ahmad Khan

Good governance is non-existent in almost all our departments. The essential principles of good governance must be put into practice

Ruling Pakistan is not a bed of roses. This is equivalent to chewing bricks or swimming through roaring choppy waters. The present government is facing many challenges. Pakistan is currently fighting on the economic and foreign policy front. Poverty and unemployment are rampant in Pakistan. The number of poor people living below the national poverty line has risen sharply due to PTI’s flawed policies and cosmetic economic measures. The country is mired in external debt and thus there is an urgent need to revive and implement macroeconomic policies, ensuring sustainable economic growth. Imran Khan’s pack of 200 economists (so-called) went up in smoke to shore up Pakistan’s economic boat across the river. Pakistan’s maimed economic constitution can be understood from the IMF’s report which says that only 4% improvement may occur in the economy by the end of this fiscal year. In fact, the situation is quite different from what the previous PTI government had portrayed. Now Mian Shahbaz Sharif has come into power and he has to take the country out of the economic malaise. The new government will have to ramp up its efforts to accost these challenges both intelligently and valorously. Unfortunately, we have not yet seen a government in Pakistan that has a long track record of implementing long-term governance and economic reforms. Our economic managers know how to inject a temporary painkiller into the broken muscles of the economy, rather than tackling the multifaceted dangers that lead to more perpetual pauperism. Though the said injection gives an instant relief, yet the disease is never remedied. That is why every year we are more debtors than the previous one. We need to focus on real resources and methods that can reduce poverty and control the galloping inflation. We are helpless to manage our current deficit account. And that’s a big economic alarm. We need to tone up the economy so that our country can compete with the years-old trade deficit. The current debate on economic recovery in Pakistan (parliament and quarters concerned) should be fruitful, rational and pragmatic. We must remember that superficial, short term and temporary policies wouldn’t help us grow economically.
Imran Khan and his allies will obstruct the work of the new government, but the PML-N will have to deal with this attitude in a positive way. In fact, it is an opportunity for the government to take concrete steps to move the economy towards sustainable development. Measures to alleviate poverty and create employment opportunities will add to the credibility of the day government. In the past, the PTI government was severely upbraided by PML(N) for its shortcomings and lackadaisical delivery. Now the PNL(N) being at the helm of affairs will have to keep itself away from the underlined gaps and vulnerabilities. I believe that the object of the no confidence motion was/is not to reach the seat of power, but to give the country the right economic direction and take it out of the mire of misery. The government has very little time because the elections are not far away, and the challenges are very serious. The government should have the capacity to prioritize the tasks or projects according to their urgency and importance. It would be better for the government to immediately embark upon developing a roadmap, the effects of which would begin before the upcoming elections.
So unfortunately, due to Pakistan’s internal political uncertainty, foreign investors are reluctant to invest in Pakistan. They are afraid that their capital will fall into the trap of political chaos. Foreign investors do not feel friendly with the day-to-day policy changes.
The growing flames of provincialism will have to be extinguished in the country. To this end, it is imperative that all provinces be given equal opportunities and rights for development. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s statement that PML-N will work on uniform development , not only for Punjab, but for the whole of Pakistan, is certainly commendable. In order to win public support outside the province of Punjab, the PML-N government should make the socio-economic development meant for smaller provinces, especially the former FATA and Baluchistan, a top priority. In addition, pay special attention to the issue of Baluchistan. The deprivations of Baluchistan should be addressed wholeheartedly. A comprehensive strategy should be adopted for resolving the conflicts and restoring peace in Baluchistan. Progress can be made towards resolving the deep-rooted insurgency in Baluchistan but only through political reconciliation, peace and economic prosperity.
Good governance is non-existent in almost all our departments. The essential principles of good governance must be put into practice. Good governance is essential to build the confidence of the stakeholders. It is good governance that will perpetuate transparency, provide equal opportunities and lead to pro poor economic growth.
PML (N) led coalition government is facing three major challenges, especially with regard to Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pakistan is finding it difficult to strike a balance between the Afghan Taliban and the United States. Both countries view Pakistan with suspicion. Pakistan’s political and economic relations both with China and the United States are already fraught with many problems. Both countries believe that Pakistan is forging friendship with them for its own interests. In addition, there are concerns about CPEC and its new phase. The Chinese are being targeted in Pakistan, which is very discouraging. Now government has yet to come up with a solution to this dilemma. Thirdly, India’s position on occupied Kashmir is more stubborn than ever. The leadership of the two countries have only a few months to mend the strained relations, as new elections are on the way in both countries. Therefore, before the upcoming elections, the effects of the improvement in relations between the two countries should be clearly palpable.