economy of pakistan

Economic charter

Akhtar Ali

In his maiden address to the nation, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reiterated the importance of an economic charter to take the country out of the economic mess. 

A similar offer had been given by him as an opposition leader in the post-2018 election, but the then Prime Minister Imran Khan turned down the offer presumably slaved to his arrogance not to consult anything with his opponents as he believes them thief and looters of the country.

A close glance at the situation reveals that the country’s economic situation deteriorates day by day and there seems no solution with any political party to address the issues and put the country on the right track. Undoubtedly, no single party can undertake this mammoth task as it needs unity and national consensus.

Pakistan’s economy has structural issues. The successive governments only take cosmetic measures rather than address core issues. Tax collection, energy issues, the policies of wealth creation, and industrialization are the key problems Pakistan’s economy faces. Moreover, the issues related to the State Own Enterprises (SOE) and the low export also undermine the smooth and steady growth of economic development. As a result of these challenges fiscal and account deficits rise necessitating approaching the lender agencies. Unless core issues are addressed through drastic and comprehensive reforms, the country’s economy will continue to be in a quagmire.
Since its inception, Pakistan has never been able to establish a stable political system which undermined the very essence of economic development. The term of office, though, enshrines in the constitution but no Prime Minister has ever completed it. The propensity to collapse of government deters undertaking long-term economic policies.  The myopic economic policies keeping the view of the election further deepens the wounds of the already fragile economy.

Politics on the sensitive issues of the economy are another factor why the national economy plummeted. Our political elites, notwithstanding knowing the fact and sensitivity, burnish politics on the sensitive economic issues which have a consequential effect on the national economy. For instance, the former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statements before coming to power about the IMF program proved to be disastrous for his effort to stabilize the economy. Enslaved by his rhetoric, Imran Khan could not approach the lender agency for six months which further deepened the already ramshackle economy.  Likewise, the current ruling parties when in opposition have been criticizing Khan’s economic policies, particularly his deal with IMF. But now they, too, rush to the lender agencies to extend the facility program. Further, inconsistency in economic policies has been a mortal blow for the country’s economy as the successive governments launched their policies nullifying the formers.

Since the country has reached the verge of collapse, therefore, it is necessary to take some important steps to rescue the ailing economy. Pakistan’s political elites need to understand the gravity of the challenges and join hands for national development. Personal grudges, like, dislike, and personal interests require to be pushed back while the policy of principle to be adhered to promote the national interest. Pakistan has experienced a variety of governments from military to civilian and to hybrid. None of them gained the confidence of people owing to their bad governance and lack of clear policies. Perpetual power tussle among the varying forces has ruined the country. Now is the time to join hands and devise a mechanism to improve the condition of the country’s politics and economy.

Since, the charter of democracy, signed by Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, has to some extent deterred the way of military dictatorship as the post-2008 parliament has completed its two consecutive terms and the third term is about to complete. Likewise Economic Charter will be beneficial to stabilizing the economy and eradicating the financial woes of the country. All the stakeholders must agree with the policy of no politics on sensitive economic issues. Hard decisions to improve the economy must be accepted by all and no need to spread negative propaganda to the public. Moreover, the consistency of economic policies must be maintained. Shahbaz Sharif’s offer needs to be accepted by all. Consensus-oriented policies and national harmony can only lead this multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multicultural country. Dictatorship, whether civilian or military, is not feasible.  In sans of charter of economy, Pakistan will continue to face hardship.

 

(Akhtar Ali writer is freelance writer and can be reached at akhtar299@gmail.com)

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