Misplaced Priorities Of Pakistani Elites Led To Economic Downfall Of Country – OpEd


Myopic mindsets, conflicts of interest, and conventional and nonconventional factors impacted the boomers’ policy-making priorities, leading the country to its downfall on all fronts.

Developed nations have some qualities and norms that place them ahead in the global economic and developmental race compared to second- or third-world states. Such cases arise due to digitized media, but we, as a country, have nothing to learn from them.

The Indian boycott of Malaysian palm oil or Turkey’s boycott of the dollar to boost the value of their currency are examples of this trend. Every glimpse has its own charm and a hidden lesson for Desi Gora (typical Pakistanis). For me, former Greek President Karolos Papoilias is an inspiration on such occasions. At the time when Greece was in an intense economic crisis back in 2012, German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble commented that “he was not yet sure that all political parties in Greece are aware of their responsibility for the difficult situation their country is in.”

Mr. Karolos, who had fought the Nazis, answered that he could not accept Mr. Schauble insulting his country. Furthermore, he emphasized that we were always proud to defend our country, freedom, and Europe during the Second World War. Pakistan, on the other hand, is not the same. The boomers controlling this state have a special affection for the West. This raises questions and concerns about independence’s purpose. Though Muslims of the Sub-Continent got independence from the British in 1947, the real case was Hitler’s rise and the post-World War II situation in Europe. However, since its inception, it has been believed that Muslim leaders forced the British government to split the Indian subcontinent and liberate Pakistan. History is not as glorious as it is portrayed if we look at the facts.

Pakistan and India both gained independence at the same time. In order to achieve growth, Indian policymakers and leaders formulated their rules, constitution, and road map for the future. During its early years, Islamabad struggled to have a clearly devised constitution. It was formulated later, but for a very short period of time. Constitutional crises aside, Pakistan also struggled on the foreign policy front. Migrant and Western-born leaders were more comfortable with the US rather than focusing on their own hurdles.

Even Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, more like today’s boomers, tilted towards the US. By joining the bloc, he requested the assistance of the Western alliance. At the time of independence, Russia (the former Soviet Union) invited him to officially visit Moscow. Islamabad prioritized Washington over Moscow. Pakistan joined Western defense groups, such as SEATO and CENTO, to strengthen itself against hostile enemies. These practices proved futile, as the United States left Pakistan in all major conflicts against India.

Likewise, the boomer generation’s influence on Pakistan’s foreign policy choices cannot be overlooked. Because of their conventional mindset and conservative strategy, many ruling elites hold outdated perspectives on international relations. They are reluctant to switch to changing global dynamics, unwilling to forge solid relations with emerging nations, and unwilling to explore new avenues for economic cooperation. Apart from foreign policy, Pakistan faced and still faces multiple challenges on other fronts.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, while addressing the armed forces, said civilians must formulate laws and govern the state. This advice turned out to be useless a few years after independence. Pakistan appointed a British general as its first military chief. Secondly, Ayub Khan, a former military leader, tried to have close ties with China. His tenure is considered the era of the industrial revolution and development in Pakistan’s political history. However, Pakistan was given the cold shoulder by the US in the 1965 war.

Citing the past and present, one must be confused about the strategy our boomers adopt. Pakistan’s international relations are shaped by Track II diplomacy, military diplomacy, and peacekeeping missions. Even when civilian rule reigns, the military maintains a significant influence on decision-making processes, even after decades of direct military control. National security, foreign policy, and strategic issues are influenced by the military. Its opinions and recommendations carry considerable weight and shape key policies and initiatives. Here is the concern: unlike Pakistan, other regional countries have flourishing democratic histories. Whether it is India, Bangladesh, or others, all are ruled democratically. And so, the results are across the board.

At the time of partition, Pakistan faced a massive economic burden. This newly-born state has to take strict decisions to ensure its development. Pakistan, since its inception, has depended on others’ shoulders. The geographical location of the country has helped it gain foreign aid at different times. At certain times, boomers boasted of economic success. However, that era relied heavily on Western aid. The US used to supply plenty of dollars to the Pakistani market to meet its goals in the Afghan Jihad.

Secondly, an older generation introduced nationalization after the 1971 crisis. The Nationalization Policy, as per investors: “The nationalization policy impacted the economy in an adverse manner, thus propelling investors to be reluctant while investing in any sector.” China, which considers itself a communist country, has free trade and investment policies. It became a world powerhouse because of these policies.

Other cases include India and Vietnam. There was a time when both countries struggled with their economies. Policymakers and boomers should be praised for envisioning the future roadmap. India, in particular, decided to lift all existing investment laws. They implemented investment-friendly policies. Actions speak louder than words. Their economy is sound at the moment.

Pakistan has no farsighted economic and diplomatic experts up-to-date. Currently, they have no plans for road mapping policies and strategies. An example of this failure can be found in the incumbent government’s economic policies. Their honorable finance minister leads the country for a third term. In 1998, the economy was crippled by this setup for the first time. In 2017–18, they left a historic and all-time high trade deficit of more than $35 billion. In addition, they gifted the nation almost $12.6 billion in current account deficits. For the third time, the current setup is on the verge of defaulting on the country. Strangely, they have nothing to do with it as they are too busy plundering.


Asfandiyar works as a journalist based in Islamabad.

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