The austerity drive | Pakistan Today

The austerity drive

  • A bane or boon for economic progression?

In an aberration to the associated U-turns, for now, the PTI led government apparently seems more than committed in staying true to at least one of their pledges made to the public. One that is aimed at abolition of sensationalised government protocols, and VIP spending while resorting to austerity across the board. Although even in that certain anomalies have raised their head, giving birth to criticism aimed at proclaimed austerity measures by the government. Subject to clarification cum justification coming from governmental authorities, however, the benefit of the doubt must be given to the newly sworn in government as a measure of acting responsibly, and lending the due support.

The austerity drive initiated though is aimed at going beyond the supposed obvious, instead of remaining restricted to certain entities of the state. In other words, while the austerity measures at government level are more self-imposed, the country leadership wants to extend its circle of influence to the public, and the common man as well. Hence, the efforts to educate, and create awareness among the public to morally adopt austerity as a way of life, and incorporate the same in every aspect.

PM Khan’s pledge to make Pakistan a welfare state on grounds of state of Medina remains the primary foundation that gives rise to the ongoing austerity drive, of course followed by the intent and attempt to revive the country’s ailing economy. Whether the austerity measures are relevant, and single handedly sufficient to economic revival, is a separate debate.

Just to quote, out of some austerity measures undertaken by the federal cabinet so far, one that seems more appropriate to relieving the burden on economy as compared to the rest is dissolution of discretionary funds at the PM’s disposal amounting to approximately 51 billion rupees. Rest remain nominal in their impact. Nonetheless, an abatement in government spending will be contributing in some way to the economic relief which is appraisable.

Whereas it makes all the sense in the world to bring about an abatement in government’s expenses, passing on the austerity lesson to the general public provokes ones thought, and calls for an insight into the possible pros and cons of the move. Particularly, in light of our national aspiration to emerge as an economically sovereign, and progressive country.

It is, therefore, critical for the government to stress the importance of going beyond individuality, and pursuing satisfaction via helping, contributing, and improving other people’s lives

While on one side, considering the amount of spending, government’s austerity based conduct will make some, if not much, contribution to the economic uplift, adoption of the same conduct by the nation is less likely to help achieve the desired progress. With its vast majority comprising of either the underprivileged, or the middle class sections, the nation is perhaps already accustomed to live a rather simple life. A forced version of austerity is already there. This leaves less room for any further saving on part of majority of the population. Yes, it can certainly apply to appropriate utilisation of natural resources like water, gas, electricity, etc, in wake of the existing, and possible future scarcity. As for the privileged few, even if austerity prevails, there won’t be much of a difference to the overall picture of the economy.

In fact, preaching austerity to the nation in itself alone might very well apply brakes to the desired economic progression.

One might ask how, so let us attempt to explore.

Modern day economic progression owes its prevalence greatly to materialism, and persuasion of a life that journeys from good to better, and better to best. The urge to improve quality of life goes beyond the mere fulfilment of basic needs, and is more focused on the acquisition of individual wants, and demands that can further add comfort, and luxury to the everyday life. This urge triggers the individual, and collectively the national drive to thrive economically by going the extra mile, and negates the concept of austerity all together.

Satisfaction with what is leaves less room for the possibility of what can be! This is a general rule of thumb. However, exceptions do, and can make their way. For it is on us to figure out how.

With austerity being the order of our day, we just need a befitting replacement for materialism, and the urge to merely improve quality of our own life, as being the ultimate drive to thrive.

There is, and can be no two opinions on the significance of leading an austerity based life in Islam. Upon studying the historical evolution of the Islamic empire through caliphate, what is important to note is the economic sovereignty achieved at state level, as well as that of the public. Our ancestors built a society where people were willing to donate but none was there to take it. And this went hand in hand with prevalence of austerity as a way of life.

Leaders, and people of that time, were well versed with not only Islam’s lesson on austerity, but on being economically sovereign as well. Islam teaches us to focus on, and prefer becoming one that gives, rather than takes, whether at state or individual level. Now this is a clear indication of the significance of being economically sovereign. And this very significance was pitched as the idea that triggered the drive to thrive and prosper in the people. Hence, austerity, and economic progression go hand in hand in Islam.

Aiming to make Pakistan a Medina like welfare state, it is imperative for PM Khan and his team to not just preach austerity to the nation, but along with it emphasise on the significance of being economically sovereign as a nation, and as individuals. Focusing on austerity alone might give birth to economic indifference which can very well apply brakes to the persuasion of our national will to thrive economically. Because if people are satisfied with what they have, there remains no reason for them to go the extra mile.

It is, therefore, critical for the government to stress the importance of going beyond individuality, and pursuing satisfaction via helping, contributing, and improving other people’s lives, and the state’s economic standing at large. It is imperative to pitch this idea, originating from the very Islamic teachings, as the ultimate drive to thrive.

Austerity is a way of life rather than a means to economic relief or uplift. For economic uplift, the drive to thrive is a must have alongside austerity! Without it, austerity might very well be a boon to our economic progression.