TO be a stable economy is a long way to go, but at the very least, working towards it must be government’s primary objective. It is not only essential for the welfare of people but is also needed for country’s defence related and other expenses as Pakistan cannot and is not going to shift from being a security state to a welfare centric one, in the near future at least. The only available path the government will have to tread is to provide for both welfare and defence budget as the gigantic promises made to the deprived people are not going to be forgotten soon. And in order to provide for, and to achieve the goal of economic stability, a vision of economic growth and adequate policy-making are the pre-requisites, which the current government is obviously lacking, as it’s evident from the careless approach towards this task.
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It is more determined and focused towards seeming to be working on eradicating corruption and applying every mean at their disposal for short term cash generation, instead of working in a way that will have long term economic affects. For instance, some effort can be done in: (a) Creating of an atmosphere for inviting Foreign Direct Investment. (b) Promoting entrepreneurs to start new ventures (long-term increase in business activity). (c) Advancement in technology through ToT (short term) and promotion of STEM education (long term). (d) Industrialization of agricultural products. (e) Working on alternatives of dams (which are plenty) for solution of water crisis. (f) Devising a population control mechanism which is the need of time. As the more the population will grow, the faster the diminishing of resources will happen. (For administrative reasons, as well, population control is very important) (g) Moving towards renewable energy generation methods hence, lessening our consumption of fuel which is one of our main imports.
But for moving in the direction stated above, the objective must be to become a production based and self-reliant economy and a resolve to promote our exports from raw material and low paying products to finished and high paying products is necessary which seems to be non-existant in the government. In the speeches made at the foreign visits by the Premier, he clearly, without considering the outcomes of these words, expressed that Pakistan is a corrupt country which is going through a dynamic change because of change of leadership. Whether this self-derogratory statement makes states give him aid or not, it will definitely create fear of losing capital in the minds of potential investors, as, nobody would think of bringing their money to a country whose institutions are so unreliable that the country’s own Premier is denouncing and condemning its state machinery of indulgence in corrupt practices. The past treatment of foreign investors by previous governments is not of any help either, as we have treated businessman in the worst manner possible. And this government is just putting fuel to the fire. Moreover, the internal security situation we faced during the Khadim Rizvi Dharna and the government’s fragile response towards its handling depicts that although, we have, to a major extent, eradicated terrorism, the internal security condition of the country is not good for investment.
Political stability is directly related to economic stability which determines the social conditions and welfare of the populace. Welfare of people along with trust in state are key determinants of internal security condition which is an influencing ingredient for political stability. The conclusion is that, in this circle, even if one factor is allowed to become unstable, an adverse effect on the whole system is inevitable. And this effect is capable of turning a successful state in a failed one. Nothing more could be done to make the international business community reluctant and fearful of investing in Pakistan.
Coming back to government’s inclination towards eradication of corruption, focusing on the root causes and their solution is mandatory, if genuinely they want to the end the menace. Corruption or other financial crimes are usually done because of poverty, economic inequality, depravity of basic necessities, desire of elevation in social status, non-provision of fundamental rights, for all of which, the long term solution is economic stability. Only white collar financial crimes are done because of lust for money. Establishing of watch dogs is, undoubtedly, necessary for implementation of law and creating deterrence against future crime but until the causes of the act are uprooted, no good will come out of prosecuting people. Government tells us to wait and have faith and it’s understandable that it takes time to change an established system but for that steps need to be taken, which this government is taking none. economy
—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.
(This news/article originally appeared in Pakistan Observer on September 9th, 2019)