New Delhi: Amid hydra-headed economic challenges and foreign debt, more and more voices in Pakistan are now demanding that the country bring in structural reforms at the earliest and focus on improving socio-economic indicators. “The country is in a dire need of structural reforms. The sooner we make this switch the better it will be. Otherwise, we will continue our downward trend in the socio-economic sector,” Abdul Jalil, Professor of Economics at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics has prescribed.
Fixing the country’s economy was one of the main thrust areas outlined by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan when he took charge in 2018. But the macroeconomic indicators have only worsened since then.
In an opinion piece published by the News International, Jalil said that despite having “better resources” and less population compared to India and Bangladesh, Islamabad with its misplaced priorities, is now lagging behind.
“These two countries invested in human capital and modernised their educational system. Indians are at the helm of technological innovations at the global scale. Until we change the nature of our state, we will continue to suffer,” he noted.
Consider this. In 1971 Pakistan was 70 per cent richer than Bangladesh — when the latter was just born, but today Dhaka is 45 per cent richer.
In 2019 Karachi based newspaper Dawn said that Bangladesh sees its future in human development and economic growth. While in Bangladesh goal posts are set at increasing exports, reducing unemployment, improving health, reducing dependence upon loans and aid for Pakistan, “human development comes a distant second.”
“The bulk of national energies remain focused upon check-mating India. Relations with Afghanistan and Iran are therefore troubled; Pakistan accuses both of being excessively close to India,” the article added.
Lack of governance, corruption, incompetence and nepotism have led to the rising challenges have added to the problem, many in Pakistan feel.
As geopolitical tension rises with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, chorus within Pakistan on early resumption of trade with India is also increasing.
Recently, Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production, and Investment pitched for resumption of trade with India. He said that this would be beneficial to both countries.
Earlier, Pakistani billionaire Mian Muhammad Mansha too came out openly in favour of the idea.
Foreign policy analysts told India Narrative that differences between the countries should not be allowed to come in the way of ironing out cross border economic contours, especially now with an uncertain future.
“The Covid pandemic has highlighted the need to expand regional cooperation, especially countries that share borders. It has given us a chance to revisit our regional strategy.. how effectively we fight back in the post pandemic phase will largely depend on our cooperation and even flexibility,” Nazneen Ahmed, Country Economist at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Bangladesh told India Narrative.