Pakistan: Economic take-off

Pakistan: Economic take-off

Forbes, Bloomberg and the Economist in their recent reports observed that with a fast-improving security dynamics Pakistan can be a global turnaround success story

Having witnessed death and destruction at the hands of anti-state elements for more than a decade, Pakistan, being virtually ruled by two Sharifs, is on the verge economic-take-off. The one having a privilege to be third-time premier is Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the statesman of par-excellence poised to make Pakistan an Asian tiger.

Next one, General Raheel Sharif the army chief of Pakistan, arguably the most prominent personality of the country with a strong and splendid military background, who for all practical purposes, has been calling shots on the ground.   

The two gentlemen at the top having developed a good understanding and an excellent working relationship over the past two years have been struggling hard, within their respective dominions, to steer the nation out of murky situation the state has been facing since 9/11 episode.   

General Sharif widely hailed as a perfect professional soldier, with no political ambitions, played a significant role in diffusing the tension during last year's long march and Dharna (sit-in) by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistani Awami League against incumbent regime.

The gentleman demonstrated highest degree of maturity by remaining apolitical at a very crucial time when every tom, dick and Harry in the Pakistani politics was hell bent to drag army in.

Instead of involving army into politics the COAS stuck to his constitutional duties, advised the politicians to deal the issue politically. The landmark decision by the top general is seen as a historic move towards strengthening democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan. 

Having learned a lot from his experiences, Prime Minister Sharif, on the other hand too, acted very wisely and dealt his political opponents with absolute patience, besides addressing the military's core concerns regarding peace and security.

Rather than pursuing the agenda to gain absolute power Sharif preferably embarked on an exciting mission to seek a broad-based consensus on important national issues, stakeholders were taken onboard and on all the issues of national importance. It is in fact incumbent regime's policy of non-confrontation that ultimately paved a way for PTI chief Imran Khan and his associates to return back to the parliament that was termed by them as fake and a bunch of corrupt people.   

The return of PTI to the parliament may to some extent benefit the party in power but it would by and large benefit the country that has been worst victim of political instability.

For PTI, it is time for introspection; in the light of Judicial Commission report the party needs to revisit its policy and instead of playing the role of an angry young-man on the streets the PTI chief, now a major stakeholder, should use the highest forum to the best of his advantage and play a powerful role as a vibrant opposition in the National Assembly.

The political forces whatsoever, should acknowledge the bitter reality that at a time when security forces are engaged in a decisive war against terrorism the country can not afford political turmoil of any sorts.   

A number of very significant and all-encompassing developments occurred in Pakistan during the last two years, 

(a) a successful operation by Pak armed forces in South Waziristan and other tribal belts, once known as safe heavens for terrorists, has entirely changed the security dynamics of the country and since then the graph of terrorist activities has declined dramatically. It is for the first time that the operation Zarb-e-Azab enabled the government of Pakistan to establish its writ in the region. 

(b) The government signed a land mark agreement with the government of China promising Pakistan all time high 46 billion US dollar investment, the mega-project, termed as a game changer in the region, will connect Gawadar Port in Balochistan to China's Xinjiang, through a network of highways, railways and pipelines.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), having tremendous potential to generate massive economic activity and employment opportunities will lead to greater investment and rapid industrialization in Pakistan.   

(c) Dozens of power projects worth billions of dollars have been initiated to overcome the growing energy needs of the country. Out of 46 billion dollar investment promised by China under CPEC agreement $20 billion will be spent in power sector which will generate 20,000 MW of electricity. 

(d) Under National Action Plan a comprehensive operation is under way to rid the country of miscreants, extortionists, criminals, gangsters and target killers who had wreaked havoc in the port city (Karachi), the economic backbone of Pakistan.

Since the paramilitary forces' operation backed by all the political forces violence and crime rate in the city is all time low. It was after many years that hustle and bustle was seen in Karachi on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr, Karachiits are reported to have spent a hefty amount of Rs. 70 billion on the festive occasion. 

(e) An accountability drive, intended to hold accountable all those who misused authority and extorted national wealth, has been set forth. Pakistan Army recently sentenced its two former generals, involved in NLC (National Logistic Cell) scam.

Perhaps a signal to those who have been crying about political victimization and selective accountability, the initiative, appreciated by all and sundry, would certainly pave a way for across the board accountability, broadening the scope of merit and transparency within the government institutions.   

(d|) Economic indicators showing a positive upward trend, the country's foreign exchange reserves have swelled to 18 billion dollars, inflation rate has reduced considerably. As per the state Bank of Pakistan a record low of 4.60 percent inflation rate was recorded in June of 2015. 

(e) Good reports are pouring in from the restive Balochistan province, with security situation improving gradually; efforts are afoot to bring back the warring Baloochs in the national fold.   

The international media that until yesterday was projecting Pakistan as a failed state now acknowledges the country's potential to emerge as one of the strong economies.

 Forbes, Bloomberg and the Economist in their recent reports observed that with a fast-improving security dynamics Pakistan has the potential to become a global turnaround success story. 

If these indicators are any guide, today's Pakistan, in terms of peace and socio-economic development, is much better than that of 2007, and even 2010 when chaos, fear and uncertainty loomed large on the country's horizons.   

As overall situation in the country is improving rapidly, and economy showing a steady growth, it is yet to see whether the incumbent leadership is fully geared up to transform it into a reality. Political stability and internal peace, however, remain the key driving force for sustained  economic growth and development. 

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