Economic bnkruptcy of a failed state | By Tariq Aqil

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Economic bnkruptcy of a failed state

PAKISTAN today stands at a decisive crossroads in its short history. Due to the long and unfortunate history of massive corruption, religious extremism, ethnic violence, sectarian conflict and elitist politics today the country is nearing economic bankruptcy.

According to the buzz in the trade and industries circles most Pakistani banks are now refusing to open letters of credit or LCs, raw material cannot be imported and industries are facing a total collapse.

Centres of trade and industry such as Faisalabad, Sialkot, Gujranwala and even Karachi are now a sad picture of their former selves.

The country is sinking rapidly and the vultures are circling overhead to move in for the kill. This unfortunate and disastrous scenario has been made possible by the corrupt political system in which bureaucrats, politicians and guardians of our borders who are involved in mega corruption are never held accountable and they manage to go scot-free.

The present sad state of affairs is due to basically corrupt elements. If Pakistan has to avoid the fate of being cast on the dust heap of history and become a failed state it must have an honest, clean, patriotic and competent political leadership.

Only and only if the right leadership takes charge and gives the highest priority to education, science and technology and a knowledge based economy can this country survive and be counted as a responsible member of the world community.

Pakistan today can learn from the experiences of a small Asian country called Singapore with a small population of only 5.5 million.

It was the clean and honest leadership and the vision of Lee Kuan Yew that transformed Singapore into a truly advanced and prosperous nation from a sleepy little backward society.

We have a young population and about 70 percent of our people are below the age of 30 and they are the future hopes of the nation.

When Lee Kuan Yew took charge of Singapore in 1959, Singapore was a poor, backward country with just struggling to survive.

The very first cabinet handpicked by Lee Kuan Yew was honest, patriotic, educated and competent.

This team worked ceaselessly to create a highly trained workforce, achieve hundred per cent literacy, ensure honesty and rule of law and truly conducive conditions were created to attract foreign investment and state-of-the-art technology.

The small state of Singapore with no oil or any mineral resources rose like a phoenix from the ashes of poverty and today the standard of living in Singapore is better than many countries of Europe.

The present economic turmoil and hardship has put tremendous pressure on the new coalition Government of the PDM that took charge after the ouster of the PTI regime headed by Imran Khan.

The economic managers of the present regime are engaged in long running negotiations with the IMF on a bailout package or deal to avoid the indignity of a disastrous default on foreign debt.

Our economy is running on IMF bail-out packages for a long time. The state has altogether failed to manage its economic affairs independently.

The political situation is also worsening day by day. Since independence, the state has not seen one decade of political stability.

It has been a victim of civil-military tussle, populism and corrupt practices by politicians. Currently, a coalition of thirteen parties is ruling the federal government.

The ousted party of Imran Khan is on the rampage and bent upon destabilizing the system even at the cost of killing democracy in the country.

Political polarization is historically high and there is no chance of institutional forbearance in near future.

Our political elite has failed in organizing the political affairs of the state. Elevating from the individual level to the national; unfortunately, the state has failed in economic, social and political spheres of life.

At present, Pakistan’s economy is on the way to default. There are no signs of recovery from the ongoing imbroglio.

Inflation is at a historically high rate of 42 percent. Foreign exchange reserves are depleting to 8.2 billion dollars.

Devaluation of local currency is rampant as 1 dollar is purchased at Rs 234. Exports are declining and Pakistan does not have sufficient foreign exchange reserves to pay for its imports.

According to resources, imports of basic commodities from Afghanistan and Iran are slowed down because we don’t have dollars to pay.

The present parliamentary system limits the membership of parliament to only the super-rich and affluent people of the country.

Anyone wishing to become a member of the National Assembly has to spend 20 to 30 crore rupees to gain entry.

A new approach and a fresh start is needed for our survival. The national parliament must have more and more young educated and middle class members because in this era of knowledge-driven economies education and specialization are a must for progress and survival.

—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.