On a wing and a prayer | Pakistan Today

On a wing and a prayer

  • Promise of economic revival in 2020

While delivering a speech at Davos Prime Minister Imran Khan maintained that his government had achieved an upward trajectory of the stock market, stabilisation of the value of the rupee and an increase in the country’s foreign reserves. What he failed to mention is that despite the stabilisation there is still no growth and therefore the promise of improvement in the common man’s life and creation of jobs is likely to remain a dream in 2020.

Few would disagree with Mr Khan that to put its economy on rails Pakistan needs peace in the region. Further that the country has suffered immensely by becoming a part of the USA’s anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan and needs to shun any alliance for waging war. Also that it is in Pakistan’s interest to have peace in Afghanistan to tap the benefits of energy-rich Central Asia. Similarly normalisation of relations with India is required for development and prosperity in South Asia.

What the PM fails to realise is that a conducive external environment alone cannot bring a country out of poverty. The principal role has to be played by internal factors. Foremost among these are a stable government enjoying the support of the vast majority, a consensus on the basics of the economic policy hammered out jointly by the government and the opposition, an independent bureaucracy, an exuberant Parliament that precludes the need on the part of the opposition to take differences to the streets, and a free media that points out mistakes, thus helping the government to correct its course on time.

Efforts made by the opposition soon after the elections to put life into Parliament and reach a consensus on economic policy were spurned by the PM. The opposition is now debating whether it should go for an in-house change, or formation of a national government or to demand fresh elections. Terrorised by NAB and constantly pressurised by the government, the bureaucracy is thoroughly demoralized. The media has been squeezed as never before. Under notice from its allies and facing dissensions in the ruling party, the government has lost in prestige. Unable to control prices of flour and sugar, many wonder how it will bring the country out of the economic doldrums.