New middle class | Pakistan Today

New middle class

It’s interesting that the most senior government functionaries should visibly posture towards a creating a ‘new middle class’ as elections draw near. And while the waseela-e-haq program that the president inaugurated relates to one province for the time being, the focus on providing self-employment opportunities to unemployed persons between ages 19 and 35 is arguably the best medicine for Pakistan’s suffering middle class in present times, and should be extended to other provinces sooner rather than later.
Granted, safeguarding the future is imperative. But often in times of imminent collapse relevant authorities tilt more towards creating environments that avoid repeat downtrends, while doing little to avert immediate bust. So while protecting the development budget, making education policy more realistic and spending more on vocational training are all essential to keep Pakistan from joining sub-Saharan nations in terms of economic profile, they do little to address the crisis building today – the insufficiently skilled millions adding to the unemployment burden with each passing year.
Bolstering the middle class is also essential to protect democratic institutions. By its very nature, democracy needs a vibrant middle class, one that is most responsive to perspective policy toggling. Simply put, the more people the self-employment program touches, and improves, the more votes for the incumbent administration from an otherwise disinterested chunk of the electorate. The initiative will not only ease the strain on employment, it will also stimulate essential consumer spending, and engineer the subsequent multiplier in the economy. It is a semi-isolated gain at best presently, but we have just gone from bad to better.

Babar Nizami

The writer is Chief Operating Officer, Pakistan Today. He tweets at @bnizami.



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