The PML-N government believes that trade and the economy are their forte, and both have always been the cornerstone of all the policies undertaken in their regimes. This time it was no different, and one of the government’s primary aims has been to attempt to lift the economy out of the stagnant pool it currently finds itself in. Bolstering trade and export capabilities are seen as instrumental in the growth of an economy, and Mamnoon Hussain’s words recommending increasing trade with OIC seems to fall in with this train of thought. However, these words are still not giving exactly what was promised when the government came into power in 2013. Trade was a main concern but priority was to be given to other countries in the region and not those we feel are on a similar mental wavelength. That points towards India, China, Iran and Afghanistan as our major trading partners and not our friends in the Middle East.

The OIC is a committee of Muslim countries, not reflecting the geographical proximity of the member states. The main argument for a trade union and increased cooperation on trade is geographical mobility and being able to grant easy access to member states. The OIC does not satisfy these conditions. The fact that so many of the member states are countries that are politically unstable and rife with turmoil is another reason as to why Pakistan should look to other avenues for trade. The Iran-Saudi nexus is the perfect example of this. Pakistan’s shifting stance between the two countries is reflective of the rancor both countries hold against the other and the constant to and fro between them is costing us more than either Iran or Saudi Arabia.

The recent favourable approach to the OIC is undoubtedly linked to the recent visits of dignitaries from the Middle East and this is being done at the expense of trade with the nations that surround us. It is good to be optimistic, but a touch of realism must also be accepted by the government. In an ideal scenario, if Pakistan did have the capability, our country would not have hesitated in exporting as much as possible. But currently, that is not a realistic possibility. A flood of imports is more likely considering the decrepit state of our industries, and the crippling energy and water crisis are not really going to add to the production of commodities in this country. So while it is easy to make lofty plans that look good on paper, the President and the rest of the government need to be pragmatic and look to the countries around us and perhaps benefit from easy access.