Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, informed the media that Pakistan’s GDP growth rate has increased to 5.1%, and the government is on its way to achieve the set target of 7% by the end of the fiscal year. The statement was received with much skepticism as any ‘good news’ from the Finance Minister. It must be pointed out that the encouraging statistic in question only reflects the last 5 months of the economy, and where this figure will exactly stand at the end of the fiscal year in July 2014 remains to be seen. In Pakistan or anywhere else for that matter, the graph depicting the GDP growth rate keeps fluctuating. Therefore, it is not wise to view the peak in isolation, and draw conclusions.

But, even if this rise is temporary, it is indeed a good development. The country is not exactly in an ideal state to facilitate vigorous economic activity. For starters, there is an abundant presence of militant groups, such as the TTP. The image of religious fundamentalists running lose in the country, blowing up buildings and targeting citizens indiscriminately surely acts as a major disincentive for both local and international businesses. A credible threat to personal safety can easily outweigh any business friendly incentives the government may have to offer. Then, there is the massive energy crisis. It has single handedly caused industries to shut down, leaving several unemployed. The government has been working towards increasing the production of electricity to meet the ever-growing demand. The payment of circular debt has allowed electricity to return to households as well as the industry. But the debt is back too — just five months later. Persisting problems such as lack of infrastructure, mismanagement and corruption still haunt the country, and efficiently continue to drive investment out and away.

Despite all the aforementioned obstacles in the way of growth of economy, statistics reveal that there has been a downfall in inflation rates, and an increase in fuel consumption. A minute decrease in the trade deficit has also been observed. And, the stock market has positively responded to the provision of the GSP Plus status to Pakistan by the European Union. Whatever magical or fantastical means are being employed, they seem to be stemming the decline – albeit temporarily. It is hoped that the PM still has reason to be as pleased with his economic team by July next year; although, we wouldn’t bet on it, looking at Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s befuddling statements on the dollar.