By Taha Amir
It is planned that Pakistan will convene general elections in the early stages of the subsequent year. During the pre-election period, political elites and their respective parties will be immersed in a fervent electoral campaign, striving to ascertain the ultimate custodian of governmental power. Undoubtedly, their objective will be the pursuit of public office.
However, the fundamental inquiry that necessitates contemplation is the following: What strategic approach and comprehensive proposals shall they proffer to the electorate in relation to the multifarious array of challenges that beset the nation? What contributions shall leaders, upon their election, endeavour to make to the public good within the realm of governance?
Pakistan finds itself in an unprecedented confluence of multifaceted challenges, necessitating the summoning of courage, ingenuity, and unwavering determination to surmount them. However, in recent years, the political landscape has witnessed a discernible shift towards an intensified preoccupation with power struggles, eclipsing the substantive issues that bear direct consequences for the welfare of the broader populace. Rather than engaging in the formulation and presentation of comprehensive policy frameworks, political leaders have devoted a considerable portion of their efforts to power dynamics and endeavours aimed at subjugating adversaries.
Owing to this prevailing circumstance, it has become increasingly difficult to discern any substantive differentiation between political parties with regard to their stances on issues of paramount public significance. The political discourse has been overwhelmingly characterised by conventional truisms and hackneyed phrases, with a conspicuous absence of novel policy proposals aimed at addressing the myriad challenges confronting the nation. In various instances, the substitution of substantive policy recommendations with vacuous rhetoric has been observed.
Undoubtedly, the preeminent impediment lies in the realm of the economy, which remains precariously poised on the precipice of calamity. All other endeavours shall be rendered futile if we are unable to attain a sustainable economic ecovery. The hypothesised proposition posits that the establishment of a stand-by agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will serve as a substantial stride in the pursuit of attaining economic stability. Nevertheless, it is imperative to acknowledge that this temporary respite is merely transitory in nature, and regardless, it must be firmly rooted within a holistic domestically originated economic framework encompassing multifaceted structural modifications that possess the potential to invigorate and rejuvenate the trajectory of economic advancement.
Given the prevailing circumstances, it is evident that the primary objective of economic policy has shifted towards averting a potential default on the nation’s debt. Remarkably, the attainment of this objective is now celebrated as a noteworthy accomplishment, owing to the relatively modest benchmarks that have been established. Despite serving as an indication of the nation’s precarious and tenuous economic situation, attaining eligibility for a programme proffered by the Fund is perceived as a noteworthy achievement.
The proliferation of International Monetary Fund (IMF) programmes, currently reaching an unprecedented count of 23, is indicative of suboptimal economic governance. It is axiomatic that the imperative of ensuring financial viability necessitates the implementation of financial bailouts; however, it is imperative to recognise that they should not and cannot assume the role of the principal focal point within the broader framework of economic strategy. The intricate analysis of the potential ramifications of excessive borrowing, whether on a domestic or international scale, presents a formidable challenge in discerning any conceivable advantages that may accrue to the nation.
Indeed, it is verifiable that the preceding coalition government initiated an “economic revitalization strategy” predicated upon the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council, with the primary objective of expediting investment from amicable Gulf Cooperation Council nations into ailing state-owned enterprises and underdeveloped sectors of the economy. Nevertheless, it is imperative to note that the Special Investment Facilitation Council has subsequently undergone dissolution.
In accordance with a strategic initiative aimed at generating revenue through the privatisation of state-owned assets, an official proclamation has been made regarding the forthcoming divestment and subsequent transfer of public assets and enterprises under state control to entities within the Gulf region. Nevertheless, it is imperative to acknowledge that the anticipation of fiscal allocation towards nascent sectors within the economy cannot be disentangled from the nation’s enduring macroeconomic predicament and the precarious nature of its economic landscape.
Furthermore, the influx of foreign investment, be it originating from nations within the Gulf region or extending beyond, requires a policy milieu characterised by unwavering consistency and predictability. Moreover, it necessitates an atmosphere that radiates political certainty and stability. In order to cultivate a sense of assurance among prospective investors, it is imperative to establish an equitable environment characterised by utmost transparency and reliable judicial enforcement mechanisms.
Shall the esteemed political leaders of the nation proffer groundbreaking notions for novel policies in order to effectively tackle the multifarious challenges plaguing our great nation?
Regarding the revitalization of the economy, it is imperative to devise a credible strategy that is grounded in comprehensive structural reforms aimed at addressing the fundamental factors that give rise to Pakistan’s enduring external and internal financial imbalances. The aforementioned factors encompass a constricted tax and export foundation, an excessively large state sector, a financially unstable power sector, and a diminished rate of savings.
The efficacy of governance, in turn, ascertains the degree to which economic policy and reform achieve success. The paramount importance of the political milieu in ascertaining the triumph or fiasco of economic policy cannot be overemphasised. The efficacy of economic endeavours, no matter how meticulously devised, will remain futile in the absence of a government that is both adequate in its capacity and proficient in its execution. Indeed, it is imperative to acknowledge that the persistent economic crises that Pakistan has been grappling with can be attributed to a profound crisis within the nation’s governance apparatus.
In light of the aforementioned circumstances, it is pertinent to inquire whether the multitude of contenders contending for authority in the electoral process have duly contemplated the aforementioned subjects, alongside the myriad of other crucial facets that bear significance for the economic and political trajectory of Pakistan. Might they possess policy recommendations that they could proffer in order to manifest their government’s aspirations beyond the mere exertion of authority? Shall the forthcoming election solely revolve around the acquisition of public office, or shall it transcend to encompass the profound intentions of these candidates in utilising their bestowed authority to rectify the myriad challenges plaguing our nation?
One of the prevailing challenges lies in the gradual erosion of the capacity of governance institutions. The implementation of policies and the extent of authority that can be wielded are evidently delimited as a consequence of this phenomenon. Moreover, it is imperative to acknowledge that this phenomenon is responsible for the gradual erosion of public trust in governmental institutions, as substantiated by numerous polls and studies. The erosion of the state’s institutional capacity over time has led to a notable decline in the efficacy of public service delivery, thereby failing to meet the expectations of the populace.
The observed outcome can be attributed to two fundamental factors: firstly, the protracted execution of transformative measures, and secondly, the politicisation of the civil service. Following the attainment of independence, a compelling imperative emerged to modernise the administrative frameworks, which hitherto had been rooted in the colonial epoch, in order to align them with the exigencies of a burgeoning nation. Nevertheless, as a consequence of the dearth of comprehensive reforms, the administrative apparatus exhibited an inherent incapacity to effectively adapt to the incessantly evolving demands of contemporary governance and the swiftly metamorphosing societal landscape.
The protracted politicisation of the bureaucratic and police apparatus engendered a perturbation in the system’s operational dynamics, thereby precipitating a plethora of unfavourable consequences. These encompassed the dilution of morale, the attenuation of emphasis on meritocracy, the erosion of authoritative capacity, and the enfeeblement of operational efficacy.
Consequent to the amalgamation of these multifarious factors, the calibre of the public sector has been progressively deteriorating. In order to attain economic recovery and propel Pakistan towards a trajectory of growth and investment, it is imperative to enhance the institutional capacity of the nation. This enhancement will enable Pakistan to more efficiently mobilise resources, ensure the provision of suitable services, and establish a credible business-friendly environment.
Given the current circumstances, it is imperative that the reformation of the civil service assume an immediate and paramount position on the agenda. However, it remains unclear whether any of the prominent political parties possess the intention to embark upon said reforms. Have the individuals vested with political authority demonstrated any contemplation regarding the optimal approach to fundamentally reconfiguring the institutional frameworks constituting the apparatus of governance?
Once the election campaign commences in an official capacity and reaches its zenith, it is indisputable that we shall acquire the requisite elucidation to address the aforementioned inquiries. Subsequently, electors will possess the capacity to ascertain the presence of comprehensive agendas or policies among contenders seeking authority, surpassing the conventionally banal and indolent catchphrases that have been historically employed.
Citizens aspire to witness a governing body that transcends the mere pursuit of authority, instead conscientiously prioritising the welfare of the populace while simultaneously anticipating a departure from historical precedents.