Pakistan losing out due to own inaction – Yasmeen Aftab Ali

Robert I. Rotberg in his book “Transformative Political Leadership” states, “Accomplished political leaders have a clear strategy for turning political visions into reality. Through well-honed analytical, political, and emotional intelligence, leaders chart paths to promising futures that include economic growth, material prosperity, and human well-being. Alas, such leaders are rare in the developing world, where often institutions are weak and greed and corruption strong…”

Pakistan is facing is a similar predicament.

The growing concern regarding lawlessness in our country has led to sharp decline in economic growth and investors wary of investing in Pakistan. Pakistan has become a playground for proxy wars in garb of sectarian violence so on and so forth. A lot has been done by the army but a lot more needs to be done. Production fall has created an environment that has led the government to balance its books by imposing greater taxes on those already paying taxes. One thing leads to the other. This leads to a situation that can be summed up in one word: Mess.

It is an unfortunate trait that Pakistan’s policies are mostly reactive, rather than well thought out and in line with national interests. The decision by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to place Pakistan on nations funding terror is a result of our inactiveness to timely address the issue. Even China did not support Pakistan. Being placed on a terror funding watch list will have serious repercussions of its own. Such an act will cut through the few banking links Pakistan has in the world. This is not just about “arranging funds from friend states” but about the image of Pakistan worldwide and the dignity of every Pakistani.

That is not all. The domestic policies are in shambles. Exports, agricultural, providing facilities to industrialists, law and order, from needs of small farmers, to quality of seed provision and their affordability, to upgrading of marketing of goods from producer to market where middleman walks away with major chunk of profits, old and dated methods of farming, low yield per hectare; the issues are widespread and need urgent attention. The focus has been on propping up one family in continuation to rule in name of democracy. Confrontation with the army and then the judiciary is making a laughing stock of us in the international arena. Our system seems to be in a state of paralysis.

There is no long term planning either to analyze development of need based industries, fields and areas over time to then develop manpower in line with the nation’s need. The result is young people with degrees in a field that are over saturated and not enough quality people in areas where needed.

Pakistan needs an honest leadership. The country’s post-independence leadership has suffered from lack of vision, planning, strategy and breakfast buns! Pakistan is not the only country which has been stigmatized by corruption. However, Pakistan is one of the countries where lack of accountability at many levels rules supreme. Countries like Pakistan must target towards strengthening institutions, going strictly by the formal rules, inculcate accountability and develop long term sustainable policies geared to support economic and social development. The government needs policies that co-relate with the needs of the citizens.

The entire push for an economically stable Pakistan is focused on CPEC. The loans taken for CPEC are huge. Will Pakistan be able to sustain timely return at the interest rates given? Pakistan’s economy is soft with reduction in exports, fall in production and other related issues. This places Pakistan in a position of greater economic dependency on China leading to agreements that may offer lesser advantages to Pakistan.

Economic experts believe that despite the economic projections and expected competitiveness of the Pakistani economy, the CPEC related projects will further deplete country’s stocks of foreign currency, urgently required to pay the contractors and suppliers. It must be noted that these projects require investment and they are not producing anything yet to support Pakistani economy. Also, there is very serious doubt if the Pakistani economy will be able to compete with the cheap Chinese products. (Financial Express May 9, 2017)

Gawadar Town, writes Imtiaz Gul, is struggling with acute electricity and water shortages. “It is an alarming situation that requires all institutions to sit together for a coordinated, smarter and visionary way forward to beat the odds that are increasing by the day.”, argues Gul. The Chinese government allocated $259 million for a new airport, work on which has not even started. The buck is being passed between the provincial and federal governments for the woes faced by the residents. Therefore, the situation on this front is also concerning.

It is all a cumulative failure of Pakistan’s leadership to develop strategies and implement them for an economically stronger Pakistan. A weak economic country cannot develop strongly independent foreign policies as both go hand in hand.

Pakistan must wake up, before she misses the bus.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: yasmeenali62@gmail.comand tweets at @yasmeen_9.






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