There is no denying the fact that we are confronted with an uproar in the public sphere about putting the economy on track. The size of the economy has naturally grown to a point where the issues of governance need to be taken seriously. Any decision taken today would continue to reverberate in the socio-political territory of economy for a long time to come. The coming elections in the history of Pakistan bear an urgency whose importance probably cannot be expressed in words. Prior to partition, the 1945 elections determined the future of the map of the sub-continent. The 1970 elections again resulted in proving themselves as a watershed of events; bringing massive alterations in the mode of governance.
In the last forty years, every kind of political and administrative model has been followed and tried, with results that are there for all to examine. The contours of a public policy are not difficult to define but they are the mechanisms that implement effective economic policies. It is not just Pakistan Steel, PIA, Pakistan Railways or other institutions that are on the brink of disaster. These entities can be turned around in a matter of few months, if not days. The real concern about the national economy is its ability to perform many other very important functions that it has failed to do so. Take the example of Mr Berlusconi and his mishandling of the national economy during the last ten years of his rein. The Italian economy arrived at this extremely difficult stage due to the policy of political expediency that stopped him from bringing the necessary economic reforms that should have been introduced years ago. The parliament had to finally put through the much needed economic austerity measures leading to the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi.
The upsurge of political activity here is sure to sharpen the issues that the national economy is facing. With political players of different credentials and experiences, the concerns about the national economy are going to matter the most. With all the noises or political rant of throwing blames or mudslinging; the economic issues are going to stay right in the forefront of all politicking. The information revolution is bringing in a silent transference and a sort of maturity in the electorate that was not witnessed before. We are living in an inter-dependent world and to avoid a traumatic entry into the international economy, it is necessary to streamline the economy. As we go closer to the election time, the choices that are made now would no doubt affect the outcome of the elections whenever they are held. The mode of politicking is very gradually giving space to a modern consciousness of economic issues that matter most to the people of Pakistan.
All the protagonists and players in the political economy are aware of the significance of tackling the crisis of governing an economy that has been subjected to jolts and shaking. The confidence of the marketplace to continue to perform and perform well is a sine qua non for all efforts leading to govern the same. A repeated enhancement in energy tariffs under the pressure of IMF is definitely no solution to put the economy on track; a far greater imagination and will are required to think of solutions. There is no dearth of think tanks in the country that do give honest opinions of running an economy in a more effective style of governance.
The writer has served as consultant to the United Nations and other developing economies on the issues of trade and development and can be reached at [email protected]