A tsunami hit Pakistan in the last 40 days, and we are all still reeling from its impact. The political drama that occurred when former Prime Minister Imran Khan was to face his vote of no confidence and what happened subsequently has had us all glued to our TV screens, Youtube screens, Twitter, and reading forwarded messages on What’s App for weeks.
As this issue comes out, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is running a country under very difficult circumstances; load shedding is running at over 12 hours daily, Rupee has plunged close to 190, and Foreign Reserves have declined to below $10 billion. Miftah Ismail, the finance minister, has started re-negotiations with the IMF. Despite Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Saudi Arabia, we have received no help from our ‘usual’ friends. We hear stories that a request was made for loans and oil rollovers of close to $8 billion, but the Saudis, UAE, and China are asking us to get IMF approval on its program first. PTI, the opposition party, is calling for early elections and has taken to the streets – we have already seen major jalsas, with thousands attending, held in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Imran Khan has called for a long march to Islamabad at the end of May.
This issue looks at the political and economic challenges facing the country. Aadil Nakhoda looks at Pakistan’s balance of payments crisis and advises the government to focus on the country’s productivity challenges for long-term improvement. Shahid Sattar, executive director of APTMA, looks at exports from regional countries and concludes three key areas that the government must work on for a long-term increase in Pakistani exports, including undertaking power sector reforms and encouraging more women to go to work. Dr. Moeed Pirzada, the editor of Global Village Space, looks at the incoming government’s political challenges to keep the country stable and moving forward.
Our special feature this month looks at electoral reforms that have been passed by legislation but need implementation by the current government going into elections. The Election Act 2017 was enacted after an extensive process of political discussion; the parliamentary committee held over 70 meetings on electoral reforms, and finally, political parties came to an agreement. However, now the same political parties are at loggerheads over their implementation. Sarwar Bari, an election expert, queries why the political parties have now changed their minds on the electoral reforms approved in 2017 and enumerates further areas to reform to strengthen Pakistan’s political system. Dr. Taha Ali teaches at NUST and has worked extensively on electronic voting machines; he writes on the roadmap that the country must put in place before introducing EVMs. Salman Shabbir, a diaspora Pakistani, explains how the ECP has created hindrances for overseas Pakistanis to vote.
On the corporate front, we look at HBL, a pioneer in the digitalization of the financial sector, and what this means for the financial inclusion of many marginalized communities in the country. We also look at Nestlé Pakistan’s commendable role in society by taking strong initiatives driven towards creating a sustainable future for Pakistan.
These are just some of the articles. We hope you will share your feedback as ever.