People and the Pakistani economy
Pakistan recently underwent an election process, where they received both positive and negative coverage. Despite ongoing rigging claims- the new Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is adamant on its anti-corruption stance. While they want to restructure institutions in the long-run, for now they will surely be relying on individuals who can bring change or lay a necessary foundation for the coming change.
Pakistan has been in the international spotlight due to its political upheavals, after the Panama leaks. However, mostly coverage is regarding the depleting economic situation of this country. What these media outlets need to remember is that Pakistan is a staunch supporter of international law and the institutions which operates under these laws, and thus will always stand with the global community. There is not a single moment in Pakistan’s history where it has opted to tread a separate way, it has always engaged with the global community and has efficient representation on all available forums. Despite its heavy participation, Pakistan faces a rebuke and isolationist policies in the economic domain. The recent FATF debacle could have been averted.
While the security conditions in Pakistan are highlighted as the main reasons for the deteriorating economic conditions, this is not necessarily the case. Pakistan has and is working very hard, to rid itself of the demon of terrorism. Moreover, there is a lot of global business and trade that takes place in Pakistan across industries. However the economic disaster originates on a national level. The lethargic way in which the Ministry of Commerce and its sister institutes operate need an urgent revamp, Pakistani representation at all the economic forums, must be taken up in a way that reflects our eagerness to start the journey of economic revival. The Pakistani populace is well informed on security issues, whether through print, electronic or social media. However there is a huge difference when we see how the nation is made aware of the economic situation of this country. People only feel the downward trend in economy and lament over its abysmal state, without really understanding the dire situation. For example trade deficit, budget deficit, international loans are heavy concepts for the common people. Pakistan’s economic rating is best understood by officials and economic experts, but still they find it hard to proliferate an understanding of the situation to people. Moreover the space for such knowledge to be spread is narrow; take the example of Islamabad alone, where all the main universities and think tanks are crowded by security and foreign related seminars and conferences, while the economy and trade talks in the academia or universities are almost nil. Concepts like economic growth, economic development, and trade deficits trade strategy are only discussed on forums such as, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Also read: The Imran doctrine
The new Government needs to revamp the research potential of the Ministry of Commerce as well. Even their website lacks appeal to the potential investors, while their research lacks links to regional and global realities, and there is no simple and updated information available on the portal. The official response is that they are not liable to paste such information on a regular basis people have to wait and rely on the business section in daily newspapers. Pakistanis surely have tasted the blessings of globalization, but the cost is still too high for a common Pakistani, to have their share in it.
Smuggling woes, undocumented black economy, customs delays, are all the negative trends that add to the anxiety of a common man. Imran Khan’s call to revamp institutions is a good step towards the economic prosperity of Pakistan, a Prime Minister willing to reject all the luxuries of his office will focus on his work. Imran Khan’s decision to a public oath is indeed a step that will restore the people’s trust in the executive of this country. The Pakistani government should educate the public regarding the economic realities of Pakistan. And allow them to gauge government performance on their economic achievements. Then perhaps this will influence their voting behavior in the next general elections rather than ethnic religious or ideological issues.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.