“After order and liberty,

economy is one

of the highest essentials

of a free

government…….Economy

is always a

guarantee of peace.”

–Calvin Coolidge

Like every government, the present coalition setup has some very impressive economic figures to support its claim to turn around the country’s economy. While most of the data provided is correct, it has not helped improve the quality of people’s lives.

To begin with, the budget deficit that was 7.6 percent of the GDP in 2008 has been reduced to 6.6 percent in 2012. The government has claimed that it would be further cut down to 4.7 percent in the financial year 2012 -2013. The inflation rate that was recorded at 25 percent in 2008 has now declined to 11 percent; according to estimates,  it will be 9.5 percent in 2013.

Then subsidies have been reduced from 3.5 percent in 2007-2008 to about one percent in 2012-2013. Whereas foreign exchange remittances have grown from $7.8 billion in 2008 to $13.2 billion in 2012; it is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy and, hence, no credit can be claimed by the coalition government, except that strict policies have led the expatriates to adopt legal  rather than illegal channels to transfer their money.

Exports have increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $25.3 billion in 2011. Keeping this in view, the economy that crawled at 3.7 percent in 2012 is estimated to grow at 4 percent during 2013.

The government has also claimed that it has not only reinstated sacked employees, but has provided paid internships to 100,000 skilled workers and facilitated empowerment of 660,000 Pakistanis abroad. Besides, paying special attention to Balochistan; thus to fulfil its promise, it has increased the province’s share from 5.11 percent to 9.09 percent under the NFC Award. Approximately, 500,000 employees working in 80 state-owned enterprises have 12 percent shares, which has raised their output. According to estimates, Bait-ul-Mal distributed Rs 7 billion among the poor people and allocated Rs 52 for the flood-affectees.

Indeed, all this sound very impressive as far as Pakistan’s economy is concerned. Yet, these figures have not made any meaningful contribution to alleviate the sufferings of the poor. A lot more needs to be done, if the government wants to improve their lives.

The issues often discussed in the media and public at large are unemployment, inflation and lawlessness. When taken into account in economic terms, it forms a vicious circle that country has not been able to break away from since 1947.  Apart from these, what is the other factor that has retarded economic progress?

Pakistan is determined to fight extremism and acts of subversion and sabotage that are consuming a large part of its resources – people and money. It has suffered a loss of over $50 billion in the war on terror, besides losing nearly 40, 000 precious human lives. No other country has rendered such a huge sacrifice as Pakistan just to make the world a better and peaceful place for its inhabitants. While these are hard facts, it is true that certain policies formed by successive dictators, and followed by democratic governments, have also contributed to Pakistan’s stuttering economic growth. So, when will better times come for the people of Pakistan?

Nevertheless, the preparation of the federal and provincial governments during Muharram has established that where there is a will and honesty of purpose, in addition to a united effort on the part of  the political and democratic institutions, it is possible to defeat the objectives of those who are out to destroy the very fabric of this country. In case Pakistan wants to achieve its economic agenda, it will have to defeat the agenda of the terrorists. For this, it is important that all the political parties should put up a united front against the elements of evil.

As a final word, one hopes that the government will not only bank on releasing rosy economic figures, but would also take stock of ground realities and initiate policies that will help the common man to improve their daily lives. That can only happen, if more opportunities of employment are provided. It must be understood that without economic growth, there can be no peace and no prosperity in the country.

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television.

Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com