Impact of dharnas on economy and foreign relations


How far will we stretch our luck?



The current political situation of Pakistan in the wake of dharna tactics is bringing in a bad name for the country. Criticism pours in as the international community denounces such unconstitutional political ploys to hijack the legally elected political regime in the country. The US ambassador in Pakistan has had official and informal meetings with different political and religious leaders and has expressed concern over the rising chances of anarchy. Pakistan is being termed a ‘mess’, where the tactics of Imran Khan and Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri are considered nothing but part of “a shameless power grab.”

Britain supports continuation of democracy in Pakistan and has pressed upon the fact that the ongoing political crisis should be resolved democratically. British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Phillipe Hammond further urged political parties to resolve their political differences using democratic institutions. That, in these circumstances, is the best possible solution and as I see it, the only one that can actually achieve a concrete outcome.

The European Union too has expressed deep concern over the current political situation in the context of GSP Plus Status, saying, “We are deeply concerned by the current situation in Pakistan and are monitoring events closely. We reiterate our conviction that the current impasse should be resolved peacefully through dialogue within the framework of the constitution and we urge all parties to act responsibly and to refrain from using violence.” Further, the European Union’s statement hinted that Pakistan has failed to reap the benefits of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus Status yet, whereas the prevailing political crisis may lead the country to wash its hands of the advantages in case of any political setback. It is obvious that Pakistan will lose one of its biggest achievements of the decade due to the non seriousness of political parties.

Britain supports continuation of democracy in Pakistan and has pressed upon the fact that the ongoing political crisis should be resolved democratically

Through research, it has been observed that the monthly figures of August 2014 make for another sorry reading given Eid holidays as well as political instability gripping the country. Also, prices of cotton have continued their nosedive, in tandem with international prices, along with textiles. This serves as a great blow to the agrarian economy of the country.

According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), exports fell to $3.84 billion in July-August 2014 against four billion dollars last year — a decline of 5.8 per cent. This statistic should be a source of serious concern to those that are being held responsible for a decline in productivity and exports, namely the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, whose sit-ins in Islamabad compromised the exporters’ meetings with foreign clients for new contracts as well as transport of goods to upcountry areas. Other manufacturers declined from $3.9 billion to $3.58 billion (nine per cent decline) with gems and jewellery declining by 72 per cent and cement by 11.5 per cent.

It must be noted here that textile exporters in particular have expressed serious concerns lately. The dharnas compromised their capacity to meet with clients, who have begun to look at competing countries to fill their orders. Once a client is lost it is extremely difficult to get him back. In this context, there is an urgent need to reach an agreement and end the PTI dharna as soon as possible also. It is being felt by most people that the sit-in has stretched too far and that life is being compromised. Most people are against the unconstitutional tactics of protest. This displays how a small number of people are hijacking not only the capital, but the economy as well.

Through research, it has been observed that the monthly figures of August 2014 make for another sorry reading given Eid holidays as well as political instability gripping the country

According to Washington Post, “an extensive new survey of public sentiment in Pakistan reveals that the ongoing demonstrations are hardly reflective of the views of most Pakistanis.” Further, the annual Pew Research Center survey of Pakistan finds that 64 per cent of residents have a favorable view of Sharif, a solid rating that has essentially remained constant since Sharif’s returned to power last year.About four in ten residents now have confidence in Pakistan’s economy, compared to just 17 per cent who felt that way last year. Moreover, Pew notes that 36 per cent of residents are optimistic that the economy will improve over the next year, twice as many who felt that way compared to last year.

Sharif’s government has made improving Pakistan’s stagnant economy a top priority. He has authorised hundreds of millions of dollars in construction projects, sought international assistance to try to tackle the country’s chronic energy shortages and is working to increase trade with neighbouring countries.

We must agree that all political disputes should be settled politically. The trust that all political parties have in the prime minister has to be taken into consideration and that democracy should not be derailed at any cost. At this point in time it is demanded from us to be sensible and believe that the politics of disobedience will earn us no respect.

Pak-China relationship has always been of great significance to Pakistan. Both countries are working to take up huge economic projects, like the construction of the Lahore-Karachi motorway and two power plants at Port Qasim. Also, China terms Pakistan as its largest investment destination in South Asia and will remain so in the years to come. However, these relations were also on the verge of disaster as the postponement of the Chinese president’s visit cost the nation in both economic gains and time.

The Chinese president has expressed that we need to “work together to foil those attempts which are aimed at harming our relationship”. According to him, diplomatic channels and officials of the two countries had done a lot of preparation for a positive and concrete outcome to the visit. The Chinese hope that the expected fruits and outcome will be achieved in spite of the visit’s postponement, however it may not be the same in case of other countries. How far are we going to stretch our luck in issues of key significance? Surely this insanity must end to pave way for progress and peace.

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