Pakistan sliding down rapidly | By Tariq Aqil


Pakistan sliding down rapidly

PAKISTANI electronic media is a plethora of news channels and woefully short of entertainment channels.

It appears that the Pakistani public has an obsession about politics and this is evident from the thousands of hours of TV programmes, Youtube channels and many social media platforms completely devoted to politics and politics only.

During the last few weeks the main topic for discussion and analysis has been if and when will the Kaptaan of the PTI dissolve the provincial assemblies of the Punjab and KP?

The objective of the PTI leaders is to trigger a chain reaction by dissolving the two Provincial Assemblies resulting in the end of the PDM government fresh elections and the triumphant return to power of Imran Khan.

On the other side of the political divide the coalition partners of the PDM occupying the seat of power in Islamabad are determined to continue in power until August next year and will do their best to prevent the dissolution of the Provincial Assemblies as this might result in the fall of the government Imran Khan has now realized that he no longer enjoys the support of the powerful establishment that enabled him to grab power in 2018 and he now believes that his political rhetoric and narrative can do the magic to ensure a comfortable electoral victory for him.

Imran Khan’s unsubstantiated and untrue claims of a foreign conspiracy may or may not get him a landslide victory in the coming elections but the economic crisis engulfing the country has truly inflicted severe and unbearable pain and hardships on the common man of Pakistan.

The economic crisis of Pakistan is in many ways due to the impact of the Ukraine War and its effects on global food and energy prices and now the average citizen is reeling under the impact and trying desperately to make both ends meet.

The common man is angry frustrated and desperate. For sheer political survival the government of the day is hoping against hope that their Finance Minister Ishaq Dar can somehow mend the situation and deliver the desired results while the national economy is on the verge of collapse.

Pakistan is fast approaching the point of no return. Time for the country is running out. For the last many decades the economy has been dependent on constant external help and assistance in the form of loans and grants.

The economic managers of the country have not been able to deliver any level of prosperity to the common man and only a small elite has benefitted from the national economy.

Per capita income has remained stuck, exports have declined and savings are nothing to brag about.

The frightening aspect of population increase is a genuine reason for alarm. The country is changing fast, population is bursting at the seams and in the next 25 years there will be an additional 132 million more mouths to feed and even today the economic system that drives the country shows no sign of change or improvement.

The changing economic and political paradigm is in immediate need of sustained economic growth and progress.

The country’s import bill is spiraling upwards and taking the country into a crisis of balance of payments, Pakistan’s growth model has been badly stunted and we now need a total break from the present economic management strategy nothing short of a completely new and revolutionary strategy will do the trick.

Today we are once again on the brink. We may not be heading for a sovereign default but there is no denying the fact that our economic survival is totally dependent on the aid of our foreign allies, friends and international donor agencies like the World Bank and the IMF.

Generosity and largesse of foreign agencies may still be available for a short while to enable our survival now but what about our long-term future?

What about a year later? When we will need ready cash to service our debts and to pay for imports. Radical initiatives are the need of the hour. The present economic model does not achieve growth nor is it stable enough.

The present system is not sustainable what we need is a growth orientated system that can ensure rapid growth in the productive capacity of the country.

Terrorism and religious extremism stalks the land once again. The security forces are once again facing the brunt of attacks by militants in the border regions with Afghanistan.

Our valiant soldiers are once again defending the motherland with their blood and even civilians in the border areas are caught in the bloody vortex of violence and terror.

With the grave external and domestic challenges facing us today it was expected that the top political leaders of the country will try to chart a safe course through these choppy and stormy waters but the disregard and damn care attitude of our political leadership is definitely troubling and mind boggling.

The PTI is attempting to recreate the culture of no red lines among politicians, in turn to only safeguard ones’ own party and political interests.

Most unfortunate and dangerous, however, is the party’s outright insistence that non-democratic interference is welcomed (as long as it favours them) to keep a rival out of power. Even if the long-term result is stalling democracy and weakening civilian rule.

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