NOTWITHSTANDING the unrelenting barrage of allegations of corruption against the ruling party PML (N) by its political opponents, particularly PTI, the International Transparency International in its fourth consecutive annual reports on corruption perception index (CPI) has corroborated the fact that corruption in the public sector of Pakistan has been continuously on the decline. That surely is something to rejoice at. Transparency is a credible international agency whose reports are considered to be beyond reproach.
The index for Pakistan according to the reliable sources is based on data from eight most credible sources including World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessment, World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey, Global Insight Country Risk Ratings, Economist Intelligence Unit County Risk Ratings, Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index, World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, Political Risk Services International Country Risk Guide and Varieties of Democracy Project. The nosedive in corruption did not come about itself and undoubtedly was the result of the targeted policy interventions by the PML (N) government, particularly the technology-based interventions that helped in enhancing transparency and efficiency.
There is also verifiable and irrefutable evidence of the fact that the PML (N) government in spite of egregious circumstances, resource constraints, huge expenditure on the fight against terrorism and political instability fomented by its opponents worked with unruffled focus in reviving the economy which was almost on the verge of collapse and even faced the prospect of default on IMF loans. When the PML (N) government assumed power the economy was almost stagnant at 3% GDP growth rate and the budgetary deficit which is the mother of all economic ills stood at 8.8%. The GDP growth rate has been enhanced to 5.3% and the budgetary deficit pulled down to 4.4% though it has gone slightly above beyond 5% recently. And above all the energy crisis which badly affected the industrial as well as agricultural sectors and caused inconvenience to millions of house-holds across the country, has been surmounted to a great extent.
The list of emerging economies issued by the World Economic Forum ranked Pakistan far above the Indian economy with former occupying 47th position as against 62nd place earmarked to the latter. The IMF in its update on world economic outlook issued on the eve of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos acknowledged that Pakistan attained a growth rate of 5.3% during 2016-17 which would continue its upward swing during 2018 and 2019. The economic revival has repeatedly been endorsed by the international lending and rating agencies. That revival surely occurred due to prudent economic management by the government. The foregoing are irrefutable ground realities.
The country is heading for next general elections and the incumbent government would be completing its mandated tenure in May, after three months. Non-partisan and independent political analysts believe that the performance of the PML (N) has surely paid dividends in the form of ever growing confidence and support for it, which was amply reflected in the wins in the by-elections. According to the statistics the PML (N) won 54 by-elections including seventeen NA and 37 Provincial seats since 2013. It even snatched NA-182 (Sahiwal) NA-154 (Lodhran) and PP-7 from PTI which it had won in the general elections. These developments amply demonstrate that the people of Pakistan had rejected the politics of violence, chaos and sit-ins on which the PTI remained focused instead of delivering to the masses and contributing positively to the process of legislation designed to introduce reforms in the system of governance. It also indicates the damage that the PTI has inflicted on itself because of its negative brand of politics mired in impulsive propensity of its leader to churn out unsubstantiated allegations on political opponents and the state institutions obsessed with the syndrome of self-righteousness.
The majority of the political analysts and surveys conducted by credible poll agencies maintain that the PML (N) is likely to win the next general elections if they are held on schedule.The performance of the party during the last almost five years, according to the political analysts have enhanced the chances of the PML (N) to win the ensuing general elections. They believe that even if Nawaz Sharif and his family members were convicted in the NAB cases being tried in the Ehtsab court, it would have no adverse impact on the fortunes of the party and it may even get a boost from such a scenario. Another factor going in the favour of PML (N) is that in spite of overt and covert efforts to foment desertions from the party it stands united behind Nawaz Sharif. PML (N) win in senate elections also testifies to this reality as the party has won according to its expectations.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.