Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
We are passing through a series of conflicts, contradictions and confrontation internally, regionally and internationally. New government, new hopes, new rhetoric and new ways of squeezing revenues/taxes from the people and public servants at large are being implemented at every level. New cronyism, compromises, and concessions are being institutionalized throughout the country which has already shaken the confidence of people and potential businessmen alike. The current regime is consuming its every day like a pregnant woman, hoping for the best after nine months, perhaps.
Many mega national institutions do not have any corporate leadership. Corporate cleansing is widespread, diminishing rays of hopes, ratios of profitability and levels of efficacy in every corporation, business entity and financial institutions in the country. New alleged Nandipur scam report, hybrid cars scandal, circular debt payment miracle and unduly projection of a specific corporate house would bring nothing but bad name to government. Sanctioning of IMF loan has already brought series of tough economic conditions, damaging the basic socio-economic fabric in the country. Moreover, recent increase in power tariff up by Rs2 to Rs6.59 per unit would bring unstoppable inflationary trends, making the lives more miserable.
At national level, the country recently saw itself gripped in a wave of widespread terrorism incidents and sabotage activities in many parts of the country. From Damadola to Hamzola, Karachi to Islamabad, Peshawar to Punjab, the horrible incidents broke the basic fabric of our society and economy alike. Unsuccessful suicide attempt in Abi Talib Masjid, Bhara Kahu unearthed a frightening aspect i.e. involvement of youth in terror. In the latest plot of conspiracy and confusion, a lone gunman identified as Sikandar, kept the federal capital hostage for over five hours, exposing the lack of preparedness of the Islamabad Police against terror attacks.
Lyari, where eleven people, including several children, were killed and 24 others were injured from a bomb blast. Thirty-eight people, including 21 police officials, were also killed and 40 others were injured in a suicide blast at a funeral in the Police Lines in Quetta. Militants armed with heavy weapons stormed the Central Prison Dera Ismail Khan, one of the main jails of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). These horrible incidents are achieving nothing but instead are seriously negating the diversified but integrated efforts of the government especially of prime minister of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar towards promoting a “soft image of Pakistan”.
In fact, both are making sincere efforts to attract more foreign direct investment volumes, foreign portfolio investment deposits, infrastructure, exports, free trade agreements, regional trade agreements and above all joint ventures in the country.
Today, survival of any nation depends on economic prosperity, political stability and regional/provincial harmony. Tolerance and belief in humanity also plays an important part. And these inhuman acts of suicide attacks, bomb blasts, sectarian glorification and above all deteriorating law and order are the main hurdles in achieving the desired socio-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic goals in the days to come. It is imperative that all political parties and especially religious parties realize the sensitivity of the matter and say no to all these anti-development, anti-humanity and anti-prosperity and above all anti-Islam activities once for all.
It is a fact the government has achieved some meaningful space in shape of further strengthening of bilateral relations i.e. energy based cooperation with China, Saudi Arabia and resumption of strategic dialogue with USA that would enhance our GDP, GNP, FDI, FPI, industrial production, role in regional and international world trade but there is a long way to go.
These integrated economic/commercial diplomacy endeavors are also expected to create lots of job opportunities which would be instrumental in reducing the widening ratios of poverty and high levels of unemployment. Unfortunately one bomb blast, one incident of killing a foreigner engineer, worker or dignitary, one act of religious intolerance, one barbaric phenomena of violent street power and continuation of strikes puts the economy on a back track and all efforts of the government come dashing to the ground.
According to many latest research-oriented studies of the World Bank, IMF, IFC, and ADB, there is direct correlation between a stable law and order situation and economic prosperity. The prime examples are Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, former Yugoslavia and many countries of Eastern Europe and even Bangladesh. All these countries saw the paradigm drastically shift from prosperity to poverty and plunged into economic turmoil.
The ongoing activities of terrorism, religious intolerance, target and ruthless killings, disguised struggle for power political survival in the name of religion and democracy are badly damaging the soft image of Pakistan. Exports to Afghanistan, Iran and some CIS have gone down due to anti-economic activities and anti-development elements and it is likely that other projects might suffer as well if these damaging activities continue.
Manpower exports to Gulf and the Middle East region is on the rise. The levels of FDIs, FPIs from the Gulf and Middle East region are going up. The chances of joint ventures have increased manifold from Far East, EU, UK, and many other countries.
Widening of tax base, export oriented policies, diversification of economy and trade and institutionalization of healthy and fair competition among the local businessmen and investors would be useful in the future.
We must confess that we do not have skilled human resources as of Cuba or Brazil (doctors, agriculturalists, food technologists or engineers). The country does not have any international event like of World Football (Brazil & Qatar) to boost its sinking economy. Again, we are not blessed with the natural reservoirs i.e. oil & gas. Even we do not have any attractive tourism points right now due to deteriorating law and order situation. So, what we must follow? Rigorous commercial diplomacy, regional reconciliation and elimination of proxy war with in the country would pay dividends in the days to come, surely.
Let us say no to all these anti-development activities because our present and future socio-economic survival, geo-political strength and geo-strategic cushion heavily depend on our macro-economic growth. The top political leadership should think beyond their personal monetary goals and hot pursuit of power and work for the betterment of the country.