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Sunday, June 2, 2024

No end in sight to Pakistan’s foundational issues

The country – in its polity and its population – remains a confused entity. For a state to become a state, its nation has to be progressive, demanding, competitive, and innovative.

Pakistan has been in a vitriolic tornado for quite some time now. Though the country has been dependent upon International Financial Institutions (IFIs), friendly countries, and strategic-war-aided pouring of finances for the past three decades, the unprecedented turmoil we are seeing today is rock bottom, if not a complete catastrophe.

The country has negatively broken the records on the dashboard and has topped in nearly all the human developmental indicators (topped from the bottom as we are lowest in Corruption, Justice, Health, Press, etc. indexes). From each segment of an individual’s life to another, our guilty conscience is ever-satiated for what we have done to this nation, let alone the country. Today, while the Bretton Woods delegation is giving tough time to the decision-makers, we have the devil-may-care attitude for downturn trajectory in political, social, and economic sectors.

So why are these crises? Let’s talk about the political sphere first. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is referred to as a state. In political theory, states are made up of four main uncompromised components including the constitution, population, territory, and sovereignty. In Pakistan’s case, all of the state ingredients are troubled today as (i) Constitution – being subverted and not-paid-heed, (ii) Population (most important, often titled as Nation) – being confused and running away as seen around 800,000 people left the country in the past year, (iii) Territory – being in a tug-of-war with its neighbor (iv) Sovereignty – being defined mystical and misused by the delegated individuals, if not by the international powers.

Read more: Pakistani Pretense: Keeping the Youth in Delusion

Adding embarrassment, the country’s overall management is unforeseeable due to the pulling of the strings from behind the curtain, making real democracy a mere puppet phenomenon. Thus, from a political standpoint, the state itself is completely conceded.

Economic woes

What is wrong with the economy? To be clear, we have defaulted in actual, if not on paper. When a country defaults, the incoming and outgoing monetary fund stop, and the trust deficit in the international community prevails. Quoting the economic experts from Miftah to Asim, Pakistan has preposterous fiscal policy issues, troubled fiscal federalism, imbalance of payments and trade – all these complemented by an ever-lacking quality of human-capital, hack-headed economy, irrational governmental subsidies, and an uncompetitive market.

In the past four decades, Pakistan has been on the verge of IMF’s mercy thirteen times (twenty-two times since its inception). This means we have to cajole the Bretton Woods sisters every three years or so. Similarly, Pakistan has the least exporting power as a developing country. Our exports are dependent on our imports.

Even our most important sector of agriculture, for what we are proud to be an agrarian economy, is dependent upon imports. How on earth this hell broke out? Simple – our lack of management. Adjoined with these, instead of putting the market in competition, our governmental policies tend to subsidies them, pushing them back into their comfort zone.

Read more: Pakistan’s economy in ‘collapse’ as IMF visits

Furthermore, our human capital lacks the motivation of doing anything. Pakistan may land in the top ten of the world’s labor force by quantity, we land in the least ten when it comes to quality. Delaying harsh economic reforms is becoming a proactive poison that is rupturing the whole country.

Failure of Pakistan as a society

As a society, the country has ingrained procrastination, confusion, lack of motivation, and the urge to bare minimum effort. The country – in its polity and its population – remains a confused entity. As mentioned above, for a state to become a state, its nation has to be progressive, demanding, competitive, and innovative. Instead of demanding, that too in negative terms, we as a nation lack progressiveness, and competitiveness, and let’s not talk about innovation.

The people in Pakistan hardly have the long-term approach, far-fetched realistic expectations, and patience for a return. Government and the elite-captured sectors are unable to provide opportunities to young people, and these brilliant minds escape in herds. Meanwhile, the minds left in Pakistan are either busy finding a rugged way for quick money or tend to engage in deviant activities. It goes back to the state’s responsibility to provide at least something to the young. To tap the so-called youth potential, the government, civil society, and various sectors have done the bare minimum (being habitual). This unleashing of power would never work with insanity prevailing to serve the one percent.

Read more: The unrest in Pakistani society

With saying all the above, we have to do the exact opposite of what we are doing now. For the prevailing of this country in political, economic, and social sectors, the country has to go through foundational surgery and reformatory physiotherapy. Only by doing this, the country would be able to walk, if not run. The country has gone through various experiments in the past, then why not one more – this time, only by the common people themselves?

The writer is an Islamabad-based political commentator and social critic with keen interests in the political-economic sphere, social order, and philosophy. He can be reached at @Sarmadshahbaz01. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy.