Pakistan: Breaking The Shackles Of Economic Collapse? – OpEd


It’s being heard even beyond Pakistan that the country is on the verge of collapse. Economic, political, social and strategic instability has really damaged Pakistan in the long run of development. When neighboring countries, like India are at the apex of their economic diplomacy, Pakistan needs a shrewd policy framework to first identify the actual problem and then answering it.

The current interim government along with Pakistan Army Chief Asim Munir looks confident in catering to this economic issue. Pakistan Army Chief on his own has also taken multiple initiatives to help the government in heading the country towards normalization. Recently, Munir held a meeting with fifty businessmen from across the country. The four-hour-long meeting has garnered significant attention due to its potential implications for the nation’s economic future. While interactions between the military and corporate sector are not unusual in Pakistan, this particular meeting has sparked hope for a transformative shift in the country’s economic trajectory.

The Pakistan government is taking measures against entities who have actually caused this economic lapse, ranging from smugglers to money launderers, to corrupt politicians. In Pakistan’s Balochistan, oil and weapon smuggling from Iran is conducted on such huge basis that government has been unable to identify the ways to curtail this issue. Not channelized, this illegal smuggling impacts the overall economy and rupee value in Pakistan. Moreover, after the meeting, the government announced a crackdown against money exchangers who had stored dollars. After the crackdown, the value of rupee has been gaining significance against dollar. Besides this internal policy contributions, visit of the Army Chief to China, Gulf countries, Iran and now Turkey depicts his commitment to do bring Pakistan’s economy back on the track.

It’s worth noting that the Chief of Army Staff frequently engages with business leaders, but this meeting has emerged as a potential turning point due to its potential impact on the nation’s economic landscape. General Asim Munir has offered a glimmer of hope by suggesting the infusion of substantial investments into Pakistan’s economy, potentially serving as a lifeline during these challenging times. While the specifics of the closed-door meeting have not been officially disclosed, insights shared by some attendees suggest that General Asim Munir is resolute and confident in his vision to revitalize Pakistan’s economy.

One attendee, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), disclosed on a Geo News program that General Asim aspires to attract nearly $100 billion in investments from countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Sheikh further revealed that the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, has committed to sending $25 billion to Pakistan, with $10 billion earmarked for the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to bolster the country’s reserves. General Asim purportedly conveyed that this sum would be repaid in Pakistani Rupees or goods, thus contributing to the expansion of foreign exchange reserves.

A central point of discussion during the meeting was the creation of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), which is intended to streamline bureaucratic hurdles for potential investors, as indicated by attendees. General Asim also reportedly mentioned the possibility of significant investments, around $25 billion each, from Qatar and Kuwait, a departure from the usual reliance on organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, CEO of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), who participated in the meeting, observed a change in General Asim’s demeanor compared to previous encounters. He noted the COAS’s commitment to addressing issues such as curbing Iranian oil smuggling into Karachi and combating corruption.

While acknowledging the financial strain caused by inefficient State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), General Asim expressed doubts that political governments would opt for wholesale privatization. The meeting also touched on several critical issues, including reducing dollarization, implementing power sector reforms, and addressing the repatriation of illegal immigrants, as reported by attendees. All eyes are now eagerly fixed on the forthcoming visit of Mohammad Bin Salman, with expectations running high for concrete developments on the horizon. The outcome of this meeting holds the potential to reshape Pakistan’s economic landscape in the coming years. These are the steps which the Pakistan government could have taken earlier. But however, it is time to not lose hope and to trust the country’s leadership until it is working hard to better the nation’s future. 

Shaimin Raja

Shaimin Raja is a student of Peace and Conflict Studies at National University of Modern Languages

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