Politics, the economy and security

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Political stability follows from good governance which implies rule of law in the country and state institutions operating within the ambit of their role prescribed in the constitution. Judged on this touchstone, regrettably, there is very little to rejoice as far as good governance in the country is concerned.

 

 

 

Needless to emphasise that political upheavals, instability and an ambience of uncertainty invariably have a debilitating impact on the economy and even the best orchestrated strategies and growth models fail to produce desired results or in case of a sagging economy to rejuvenate it. Similarly the security and defence of a country are heavily dependent on the health and strength of the economy, which generates resources to meet the security needs of the country. No person in his right mind can deny these linkages. The political stability, however, is the most important factor in this equation. It is like a well prepared land to grow productive crops.

Political stability follows from good governance which implies rule of law in the country and state institutions operating within the ambit of their role prescribed in the constitution. Judged on this touchstone, regrettably, there is very little to rejoice as far as good governance in the country is concerned. Democracy, the recipe suggested by its founding father, has remained an elusive dream because the forces inimical to the ascendency of the people have not allowed it to take roots. The country has repeatedly been under the rule of military dictators who in their lust for power and giving longevity to their illegitimate and unconstitutional rule not only mutilated the constitution but also destroyed the state institutions, leading to irreparable damage to the economic fabric of the country. Pakistan instead of being a normal state has turned into a security state. The result is that there is now a very strong lobby within the country, comprising those elements which have had their vested interests served during the military regimes, always has been on the look out to malign the democratic set-ups during the interludes between martial laws. They have been faithfully supporting and promoting the narrative of the anti-democratic forces in connivance with the disgruntled political elements which also saw their chance of entering the corridors of powers through the back door.

Those who thought that with the restoration of the representative rule in the country in 2008 and consequent transfer of power through ballot in 2013, had changed the course of history and the people were regaining their lost sovereignty have been utterly disappointed. The PPP regime was effectively neutralised through frequent covert and overt interventions in which the restored judiciary led by former CJ Iftikhar Cgaudhry also played a leading role. It was forced to fight for its survival rather than focusing on governance and dealing with the challenges confronting the country. A hand-cuffed government failed to deliver. The scenario after the 2013 elections more or less has been the same. Right from the installation of the PML-N government after winning the franchise of the people, relentless efforts have been made to either destabilise the civilian set up or to keep the civilian leadership under the thumb and disdainful patronage of the praetorian powers. Imran Khan and disgruntled and rejected political carpet baggers, have been unleashed to do the dirty job and they have done it with remarkable tenacity and meanness. This group supported by some apologists of the anti-democratic forces, section of an essentially hostile media and the vested interests have been trying to create chaotic conditions and an ambience of political uncertainty in the country. To some extent they have been successful in their mission.

The exit of Nawaz Sharif unfortunately had all the trappings of a conspiracy. That is what the commoners believe and no amount of soothsaying and denials by the traditional players would be enough to erase this perception. The country surely has been pushed into yet another whirlpool of uncertainty. Rumours are abuzz about installation of a technocrat government or early elections. An atmosphere is also being created through conscious and deliberate efforts to denigrate the achievements of the PML-N government, particularly the economic policies pursued by it.

Some elements are even demanding imposition of the financial emergency and others are hell bent to orchestrate the view that the PML-N government has brought the economy to the brink of disaster. That is absolutely unfair. The facts belie their contention. The reality is that the economy has witnessed a remarkable turnaround during the last four years. The GDP growth which was 3.7% in 2013 has been raised to 5.3% during 2016-17, the budget deficit has been brought down from 8.8 % in 2013 to 4.8 % through it has gone up by 1% to 5.8%. The foreign exchange reserves which were $ 6 billion in 2013 increased to record $ 21 billion, though they have now plummeted to $ 14 billion. Nobody in his right mind can refute these verifiable achievements which have repeatedly been acknowledged and endorsed by the world lending and rating agencies. The country is lot better economically today than in 2013.

Managing an economy like Pakistan hit by resource constraints and other debilitating circumstances like terrorism is not an easy task. People talk of increased debt but fail to mention the proper context and the reasons for it. They completely neglect the fact that the country sustained a loss of $ 120 billion in the war against terrorism, a shock that had to be endured by the economy. Debts worth 16 billion were paid back and the government had to finance the military operations against the terrorists while making sure that the economy was kept on the right track. The squeeze on Coalition Support fund by US further put strains on the economy. The government perforce had to seek loans to meet all these requirements.

But the scenario is not as bleak as the detractors of the government are trying to portray. There are certain areas where a lot needs to be done. Current account deficit and increased debt are not a welcome development but are manageable and do not warrant financial emergency in the country. All that the country needs is political stability to deal with these issues. The removal of Nawaz Sharif from power has created difficulties for the country as also pointed out by the World Bank in its latest report.

The PML-N government apart from improving the economy can also rightly boast of having tackled the phenomenon of burgeoning terrorism in the country, restoring normalcy in Karachi and breaking the back of the insurgents in Balochistan and above all managing the energy crisis which is almost over and hopefully by the end of next year it would become a forgotten history. The implementation of CPEC is another worth rejoicing feat of the PML-N government. All this has been done under almost unfavourable economic and political conditions. Had there been complete political stability in the country, the economic scenario would have been much more enviable. The country surely needs continuity of the representative rule uninterrupted and without interference in matters relating to governance. It is also imperative for strengthening security of the country.

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