As we were about to go to print in June, Pakistan’s combined opposition had threated a massive agitation on the streets to bring down the government and had promised that they would never allow the ‘anti-poor’ June budget to pass. The All Parties Conference (APC) was held, but while the opposition huffed and puffed there was no denouement to the event.
The budget went ahead, and the government is still in place. Now they have announced that they intend to remove the Chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Sadiq Sanjrani – since it’s a numbers game, which is in the opposition’s favor – they have a chance. However, if they do so it will be a hollow pyrrhic victory; Imran Khan’s government is not relying on any legislation in the National Assembly, given its slight majority, and are not expected to do any significant legislation going forward either.
There is no doubt that PTI has changed rules of the game and the real tension between the government and opposition is over this. The government has made it clear it will not accept public office corruption – earlier political governments have always compromised on the opposition’s corruption – this ruling party is in no mood to give reprieves.
The government’s real challenge in Pakistan is not the opposition, but rather the economic crisis which they inherited, and many would say were not able to manage. The debate is still out; we have two brilliant pieces that present divergent points of view.
Chairman NAVTTC Javed Hassan, former investment banker, argues that the PML-N’s epic incompetence has left the population drinking from a poisoned chalice and having to bear steep energy price hikes, rising inflation, high-interest rates, and low economic growth.
However, Muhammad Zubair former Sindh Governor and PML-N’s Privatization Minister takes umbrage at the suggestion that it is all a PML-N created mess, he reminds that the PTI team were in all important economic committees even before they were elected and knew exactly what the condition was.
He blames the economic mess on poor decision making by the PM, both over the choice of his economic team and having no understanding of the economy. Dr. Omer Javed looks at Pakistan’s stagflationary situation and urges policymakers to move away from neo-liberal economics to tackle the country’s inflation and growth issues.
July’s special feature: Pakistan’s economy on the Precipice attempts to breakdown some of these issues. The government amnesty scheme has fetched less than Rs50bn in tax, but Rs3000bn assets were declared, and significant additional numbers have filed their tax returns as the government announced that it had over 100,000 new filers.
The $6bn IMF program has been signed and agreed. However, to make good on its promises to the electorate to create 10m jobs in five years; the government needs to change its exclusive emphasis on tax collection, under the IMF program, and gear up its thinking on generating economic growth. It needs to give confidence and win the trust of the business community in Karachi. Enjoy reading and do give us your feedback.