Pak: Elections, economy & FP | By Rizwan Ghani

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Pak: Elections, economy & FP

PUBLIC is waiting for clear decisions and it is expected that after London visit PMLN government in the Centre will give its action plan for elections, economy and foreign policy.

Four years of PTI government have shown that artificial economic measures have sunk Pakistan’s economy and undermined our foreign policy.

All political parties including PTI should come together to solve these issues even if elections have to be held on time in 2023 after electoral reforms and overcoming other challenges for its credibility. On economy, domestic consumption-based economy (DCBE) is the best approach.

China has adopted similar policy to avoid fallout of US-Asia Pacific Policy, country first and Covid slowdown.

It has given loans to public for household items (fridge, TV, washer dryer, vehicles etc) to expand industrial output, create jobs and increase tax income.

Beijing welcomes Foreign Direct Investment but is not relying on it in budgets. Biden is continuing with country first policy of last government.He has opened import control office in White House.

Tory Party has lost in the UK local government elections because it failed to control high cost of living. Boris Johnson failed to cut imports, revive local manufacturing and create jobs.

Europe’s public is also frustrated with leaders due to rising cost of living and failing to stop Russia-Ukraine war which is in Europe’s interest. We should drop IMF program.

Bring dollar, rupee exchange rate to Rs140 and accept $20bn as natural export targets based on history and capacity issues. Exports cannot be sustained due to geo-strategic constraints in the region.

Similarly, Beijing is using state owned enterprises to provide relief to public than privatization of national assets to create and keep jobs. It is better than food stamp programs.

Without returning State Bank under state control and restoring traditional banking system, government can’t fund public projects, break private bank mafia and avoid taking loans on high interest rate from the market.

Independent central bank is a myth, there is no such thing in the UK and America.

Restore National Saving Centres and their interest rates so that government can like past use its Rs 400bn to Rs 450bn free of cost for public sector development instead of taking loans on high interest rate.

Government should reform banking sector so that it plays its due role in sustaining and expanding country’s economy for industrialization, manufacturing (including SME) and value addition such as packaging of dairy, poultry, meat, produces and products.

Private Banks should ensure timely availability of loans on 3-5%, end of corruption and become transparent.

It is only possible if all political parties announce that the governments will not take loans from private banks.

Covid has shown that public sector healthcare systems were cheaper, efficient and reliable.

Health Card, insurance and private healthcare systems and foundations ultimately use tax money.

Government should therefore hire more doctors in public sector, expand/reinforce its basic health unit systems at grassroots and use public sector medical institutions and pharmacists to manufacture 90% generic drugs mostly needed for common use.

Big hospitals should also be downsized to maximum 200 beds and their copies be made in all cities to cut patient waiting time (WHO Europe report).

Education should improve in public sector. Scholarships, for profit education and private education are counterproductive.

The growing cost of education, living, and stagnant wages are costing American and British economies, jobs and global standing (US & UK not in top ten in PISA). Student debt in America ($1.7T) and UK can only be written off with tax money.

We should make quality education (vocational & technical) free/affordable in public sector as part of national defence, women empowerment and poverty alleviation.

On foreign policy, Islamabad wants to follow balanced approach. China, India, Iran and Russia are dealing in their local currencies since 1953.

Islamabad has right to buy cheap oil, gas and other items from local market for public welfare.

Bilateral and multilateral alliances, international financial and trade organizations (IMF, WB, FATF) should facilitate countries in the region for collective prosperity, more jobs and peace.

Pakistan should also have its trade alliances in the region just like the EU and USMCA. It is welcome that Pakistan and the United States had security dialogue ahead of Bilawal, Blinken scheduled May 18, 2022 meeting.

So is the media report of telephonic conversation between both on the “ongoing engagement on US-Pak economic ties, trade and investment, climate, energy, health and education.

” But public expects meaningful results in these areas including transfer of technology so that Pakistan becomes a strong equal friend in the region in new era than a mere dependent state. SCO anti-terror meeting in Delhi is equally positive.

However, keeping in view the history of India on terrorism, Afghanistan and Kashmir the onus lies on Washington to address them as per international laws.

Pakistan defeated USSR as US and West’s ally. Now it is their turn to compensate for its losses in last four decades.

Pak-Afghan corridor and international infrastructure development programs are important factors for Pakistan’s economy, jobs and national interests.

Bilawal is optimistic about CPEC so hopefully Beijing will use a balanced approach to make it a win-win for all.

—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.

 

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