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Quagmire of politics and economics

Akhtar Ali

It has been more than seven decades since Pakistan’s independence and the country is in no way getting rid of chaos and disturbances. The entire life period of Pakistan has been turbulent given power tussles between civilian and military; secular and religious forces. 

For about half of the country’s life, the military directly ruled the country followed by political meddling in the civilian governments’ affairs. It can be named a colonial mentality or an attempt to subjugate their competitors, the civilian leadership, when in power, has left no stone unturned to damage democratic culture by trying to establish civilian dictatorial rule. The perpetual power tussles among various forces have brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy and collapse. The current political crisis is also the result of such power tussles coupled with the inefficiency and ineptitude of civilian political leadership to handle the political situation peacefully and amicably.

We are repeatedly hearing our politicians uttering a famous phrase that “Pakistan is going through a critical phase of its history”.  A close look at the current situation reveals that Pakistan is passing through a very tough and tumultuous period given the deep economic crisis and political instability. The total debt of the country exceeded 53.2 trillion rupees, the current account deficit is likely to be more than $21 billion by the end of this fiscal year, and the budgetary deficit stood at the history’s highest of more than two trillion rupees. Moreover, energy circular debt crossed 2.6 trillion rupees from 0.8 trillion in 2018, inflation rose and the unemployment ratio also poses grimy pictures. On the external side, Pakistan faces multiple security and foreign policy challenges.

Since the country is besieged by countless internal and external challenges, political leadership and other stakeholders are in no mood to find out its solution peacefully, instead, all are busy with dirty politics. Frustrated by his unceremonious ousted, former Prime Minister Imran Khan took to the street threatening a bloody storm in the capital. His mass mobilization has escalated political temperature affecting the already fragile and plummeting economy. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is in ambivalence concerning handling the economy and political instability.  On the one hand, he vows to control economic meltdown and tries to approach IMF and on the other he is reluctant to increase fuel prices in fear of political cost. The economy has reached the point of collapse; cosmetic approaches may further exacerbate the situation. Where are we head-on?

The world has seen numerous conflicts, turbulences, and crises. War and conflict never have been a solution to any problem in any part of the world. Even after the war, the settlements are made through dialogue. World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945) were the greatest wars in mankind’s history that both ended up the two important agreements through consultation: The League of Nations and The United Nations respectively.  The political and economic crisis in Pakistan can also be settled through negotiation and consultation. But who will initiate?

It is a great tragedy for our nation that our political leadership always shows immaturity in dealing the national issues. Political opposition turns to personal grudges. Neither opposition nor government is ready to acknowledge each other’s, let alone finding the solution of problems through dialogue and creating national consensus. This is a worrisome situation given the current grim scenario. Pakistan is a heterogeneous country having people from different backgrounds. Disregarding each other’s is not amount to doing well for the well-being of the country; rather such tendencies will lead to further aggravate the situation leading to a widespread schism.

Economic crisis and political instability are to wrap up, political leadership will have to come forward and join hands to draft an economic and political charter. The charters need to draw a line for politics, code of conduct, and vows to strengthen democracy. Whereas, the charter of the economy requires an economic plan including short, medium, and long terms policies. Politics in the sensitive areas of the economy are required to be end up and consistency of economic policies to be ensured.

The political leadership also need to work for strengthening democracy and avoid undemocratic activities or being part of an intrigue undertaken by undemocratic forces against the sitting democratic government. Time and again changing governments and politics on the sensitive financial issues amount to heightening politically unstable environment as well as weakening the economy. Therefore, a charter on political and economic issues is the linchpin for well being of the country. In sans of these understanding, Pakistan will continue to face the challenges and the people of the country face hardship more.

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