KARACHI - “Recent economic and financial measures taken by government of Pakistan don’t give a promising picture of country’s economic future. Government’s reluctance in taking drastic and revolutionary steps is the major hurdle in the way of improving economy”. These views were expressed by renowned economist Dr. Shahid Hasan Siddiqui, while addressing a seminar on “How Pakistan can successfully deal with its economic challenges?” held on Thursday, organised by Department of International Relations, University of Karachi.

He said that the level of economic problems Pakistan is facing currently requires courageous actions on the part of govt.

He shared with the audience some shocking statistics about Pakistan’s economic growth in past 5 years and said that it was among the worst growth rates in the developing world. While pointing out the huge budget deficit of Pakistan, he asserted that if government would be able to collect even 50 percent of the tax potential of this country then our major economic problems could easily be solved.

He further said that the roots of current economic malaise are not only bad economic policies but it has much to do with the political culture of the country. This elitist political culture is the main reason behind all the socio-economic problems. He predicted that this current IMF package is bound to fail like the previous packages. That is because of unwillingness of government to bring substantive changes in fiscal and monetary policy.

He mentioned the election manifesto of PML (N) and said that none of the promises were fulfilled in this year’s budget. Salaried class was further burdened by increase in indirect taxes. He criticised IMF for implementing imperialist agenda of the US in developing countries. Those policies are meant for weakening domestic sector by imposing unreasonable conditions, which don’t reflect the socio-economic realities of the target country.

He recommended dealing with energy crisis on emergency basis by relying on indigenous resources. He suggested using Zakat fund for micro financing to empower economically downtrodden people.

 He demanded to invest heavily in education sector to actualise the potential of youth of this country.

Prof Dr Moonis Ahmar, Department of International Relations said in his concluding remarks that our politicians should get rid of VVIP culture and lead the nation by example. He said that our political culture is marred with contradiction, corruption and nepotism. He suggested economic challenges of Pakistan must be understood in a larger context that these are not only politicians, generals or bureaucrats who are responsible but common people should be blamed for it too.

The seminar was followed by a lively question and answer session in which students and participants raised many thought-provoking questions.