- Negative factors pile up
The most prominent challenges Pakistan faces today are the country’s economic recovery, containment of Covid-19, improving internal security, managing threats from across the LoC and PTI government’s self-created political turmoil. Efforts made by the government to deal with these challenges have produced mixed results.
Headlines like ‘Record remittances depict trust in government’ might enthuse PTI votaries, independent observers attribute the phenomenon to two new factors. One, Pakistanis living abroad, especially in western countries, did not undertake pilgrimages and avoided foreign travels, sending larger savings to suffering relatives. The factor will disappear with air traffic becoming normal. Two, choking of havala channels under international pressure leading overseas workers to remit funds through legal channels. Claims about an uptick in the pace of industrial activity and exports would have been welcome had these been achieved through improvements in competitiveness and reforms in the power sector. On the contrary the results have been achieved through subsidies on interest rates, power and fuel, coupled with tax and duty exemptions, which make the achievements unsustainable. When their economies are faring well, governments do not go to IMF.
The PTI government’s performance in dealing with Covid-19 is no doubt better than that of many countries. But while India is already conducting a dry run of the coronavirus vaccine, Pakistan is waiting for the United Nation’s Covax mechanism to receive around 45 million free vaccine doses that will cover the country’s 20 per cent population only.
Internal security threats are on the increase. The day Machh carnage victim’s families were promised relief, a sepoy was martyred in North Waziristan while a day later five people were injured in a grenade attack in Turbat. Foreign hand cannot be ruled out in these cases but every successful attack underlines the government’s failure.
India continues to implement its plan to spread dismay in AJK through attacks on civilian population. On Sunday a couple was injured in AJK due to unprovoked ceasefire violation by the Indian army, marking the first civilian casualties of 2021.
Imran Khan’s ego and stubbornness first stood in the way of developing working relations with the opposition. Later the tendencies forced the opposition to take to the streets. With other negative factors intensifying, the confrontation may eventually turn out to be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.