By Akhtar Ali
At the very important juncture as the IMF team’s visit is expected in last week of this month to finalize an aid program and the annual budget is to be presented probably next month, the dramatic reshuffling of cabinet raises eyebrows.
For some, termination of Asad Umar is the result of the country’s perpetual dwindling economy as dollar continuously surges, inflation is about to reach to double figures, interest rate is unprecedentedly high, stock exchange unstoppably melts down and unemployment increases day by day.
On the other hand, many of the view that Umar’s expulsion is more political than his performances. Factions within the fold of the party have been manifested as senior leaders have repeatedly public the internal differences. Asad’s termination is also believed to be the result of internal power tussle. It is not the denying fact that the country’s economy is passing through tumultuous period of its history.
Asad’s economic policies, unequivocally, failed to build the business community’s confidence and give relief to the people of the country. Particularly, his indecisiveness in policy formation and lack of clear roadmap led the country’s economy stagnation. Nevertheless, single minister cannot be held responsible to the recent crisis rather the entire government’s position presents the picture of apathy and indifferences.
In civilized democracies, clear and comprehensive programs are given by political parties during the election campaign. After assessing the manifestos of different parties,’ public give their verdict to power. After election, the winning party without any delay promulgates its program. First hundred days of government’s performance is assessed whether the direction is in line with the program or not. Unfortunately same is not practicable in Pakistan.
PTI has long been deemed a party having comprehensive social political, judicial and economic programs because it has long waited for power. Moreover, the party leader continuously raised populist slogan and emphasized institutional building through structural reforms. What we saw after come to power is that of the establishment of infinite technocrats based task force to delineate the program of good governance and economic development, but after nine month to power no tangible result of that task force has so far been yielded. Razak Dawood has been appointed special adviser to prime minister on export. But noticeable increase in export cannot be seen despite dollar is record high.
Isharat Hussain has been given charge of adviser to the prime minister on institutional reform. But significant development in this field has not been recorded either. Even after nine month lapse since the party is in power, any institutional reform bill is yet to be presented in parliament even though it was the first and most principle motives of party’s supremo.
Pakistan is a country having poor and inefficient institutions. Plethora of challenges are directly or indirectly stemmed out from the lack of effective institutions in the country. In sans of ensuring efficiency in the state institutions, economic and social development just remains a dream. For instance, FBR is financial institution and structural reform in this institution is inevitable to widen the tax base and maximize revenue generation. Failure to do widens the gap between revenue and expenditure leading to increase the account deficit. Likewise judicial reform is needed for the dispensation of speedy justice and establish of tranquil society.
Last but not least political stability is linchpin for the economic development of any society. Political turmoil and chaos take the business community’s confidence away eventually fleeing the investments from the country. Contrary to the track record opposition this time remains calm and placid, notwithstanding political victimization. Interestingly it is the government itself which deliberately creates political turmoil in the name of so-called accountability.
The irresponsible statement of Prime Minister and ministers are enough to create uncertainty in the country which eventually affects the market pushing the stock exchange down. Political turmoil and economic development cannot run side by side. In this situation it is beyond for the single minister to bring out the country from the recession. If the situation is to tackle, immediate step will have to be taken without any delay so that people plight could be lessened.
Opposition leader has sincerely offered his cooperation to the charter of economy. It is prerequisite in country like Pakistan where absence of policy consistency frightens the business community which impedes the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
To take away the apprehension, it is incumbent to make a charter of economy consensus by all the stakeholders which could ensure whether government change or not economic policies remain unchanged. But this offer was rejected by our prime minister lest its credit should share with opposition. For the sake of betterment of the people of the country, prime minister ought to change his ego, stubbornness, like and dislike and acknowledge the numerical strength of opposition in parliament.
Opposition’s support is required to the government in order to pass reforms bill from the parliament. Pakistan is democratic country. Democracy cannot flourish with one men show and pushing political opponent to the wall. Opposition is the beauty of democracy. In sans of opposition democracy remain no democracy rather it is fascism. Imran Khan, instead to make some member of his team escape goat and stifle opposition, should focus on governance lest gross negligence may send him back to home. Such situation would have far reaching consequences for the country generally and the people particularly.