Fighting on the thin crust of the volcano

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  • Need for a national consensus

 

Speaking at the National Defence University COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa recognised that the country was going through a difficult economic situation caused by fiscal mismanagement. He also said the government has gone for difficult but quintessential decisions for long-term benefits. The General underlined the need to fulfil our responsibilities in this regard so that these difficult initiatives meet with success. There is a danger that the army’s support could add to the PTI government’s bullheadedness.

Not only the political parties, but also noted economists and prominent leaders of the business community have criticised the government’s economic policies like raising the discount rate and letting the rupee fall to unprecedented depths. This they maintain would harm agriculture, stifle industry, generate mass unemployment and lead to an intolerable hike in prices. The highly difficult economic situation faced by the people is to further deteriorate in months to come and could take a few years to normalise. There are also initial signs of public unrest.

Unmindful of the social consequences, a headstrong PTI government continues to ignore positive suggestions presented by the economists, businessmen and opposition parties. On Friday it shot down all amendments in the Finance Bill suggested by the opposition.

Early this month the opposition proposed a joint charter of economy but withdrew the proposal when the PM failed to respond properly and some of the PTI leaders dubbed it as yet another attempt to seek an NRO. There is a need to persuade the PTI leadership to come off its high horse before things go out of everyone’s control. This time the Prime Minister himself has to approach the opposition to seek its help, address its genuine complaints and offer it adequate representation on the recently formed National Development Council.

One couldn’t agree more with the COAS that countries cannot develop individually and that it is the region which develops. One also takes note of the efforts made by General Bajwa to improve relations with Iran. There is a dire need to develop trade and economic relations with all neighbouring countries. Keeping in view the sensitivities involved, diplomacy combined with projection of soft power should be given priority for getting the job done.