Last days of October will be difficult ones for this government. On the one hand, Moulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is adamant about holding a sit-in against the government’s poor performance. On the other hand, the traders have given a call of a countrywide strike against the government’s reforms. Will the government stand its ground against the traders’ strike? Or will it succumb to the demands of the traders to avoid the possibility of a collective front of the traders and Moulana’s followers? Considering the track record of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, fears are that the government may capitulate to the demands of the traders. While some may say that the rest of the state is backing the government in its resolve to stabilise the economy, such assertions did not work out in government’s favour in the past.

But why are the traders in the mood of agitation against the condition of presenting computerised national identity card (CNIC) for buying and selling goods? The reason for their protest is nothing but an attempt to conceal their income. However, the government believes that until the informal sector of the economy is not brought into the record of the Federal Board of Revenue, the country will remain in economic crisis. The rationale behind the CNIC requirement is to control, prevent and monitor unverified, fake and fictitious transactions and deals. This is a step taken in the right direction.

But it is not only targeting of the traders. According to the FBR, this requirement also applies to the export-oriented sector. The government’s decision to ask the traders for CNIC on buying and selling of goods is an aggressive but a much-needed step to document the trade and service sector. If the government remains steadfast against the pressure of the traders, it can be the first government to break new ground in this effort. The present government can absorb the political fallout as it finds support from the establishment. Therefore, the government should not compromise on the tax measure that it has introduced.