25th July is getting important with every passing day. Let us see what would be our treatment to this prime day of our history. Will all the voters show respect to this prime day by coming out of their houses to vote, instead of planning holiday and going for picnic?
Let us hope that this day will be considered as a day to secure the future of our generation as more participation means casting of more votes which mean increasing the numerical strength of votes for the contesting candidates.
This would mean increase of average turnout of 45% of past three general elections to at least more than 90 %. This increase in numerical number will bring more collective wisdom to elect a more suitable candidate who can perform their national duties in the most befitting manners and to the expectation of the entire nation.
The present challenges facing Pakistan post 25th July are not likely to tend towards improvements but likely to further deteriorate unless we elect honest and educated capable members for both NA and PAs. It would happen only if the voters make fair choice based on merit on 25th and not to vote under the tutored influence.
Now why I say that we need legislators with high leadership qualities is because they are the one who are going to be policy makers which will drive our country from the challenges briefly discussed below.
Economic challenge: Pakistan is currently confronting multiple challenges which vary in intensity. Some of the challenges are seemingly multi-dimensional and complex in nature which certainly will take many years to overcome. The ever-rising inflation, increasing unemployment, shrinking GDP and diminishing exports level are the major obstacles which restrict the ability of Pakistan to have a well-developed and flourishing economy. The biggest challenge to be encountered by the new government is Pakistan’s external debt and liabilities which have soared to a record $91.8 billion plus $67Billion from China for CPEC showing an increase of over 50% or nearly $31 billion in the past four years and nine months. Our national assets have gone under combined loss of Rs. 705 billion from 2013 – 2016 with PIA under Rs. 45 billion, PSM (Pakistan steel Mills) under Rs. 177 billion and Pakistan Railway with Rs. 60 billion of loss annually.
The external debt and liabilities of $91.8 billion plus $67 billion as of March-end suggest that the figure may touch $170 billion very soon as the country faces grave challenges in meeting growing external financing requirements. Pakistan is scheduled to make some bullet debt and interest payments in the last quarter (April-June) of the current fiscal year. With a population of over 190 million, around a mere 1 percent of the Pakistani citizens are tax payers.
The other big challenges are the loss-making public sector enterprises (PSEs) that continue to bleed. These have suffered a cumulative loss of Rs 3.746 trillion over the last five years. The challenge for the new government is to work on the shortfalls left behind by its predecessors.
Internal Security: The new Government must be prepared for even bigger internal security challenges this year after elections as Daesh, has raised new serious security challenge for Pakistan. The emergence of Daesh in close proximity to Pakistan has raised new internal security challenges. TTP militants have relocated themselves in Afghanistan and Daesh is establishing a footprint in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border, which can be seen as a real potential of spill over into parts of Pakistan.
Foreign policy: Pakistan is being isolated because of its poor foreign policy that has resulted in the current situation. We have failed to score allies even though there was huge opportunity to do so. Foreign policy cannot be seen in isolation, for it is only a reflection of a country’s domestic policy and we have been really unfortunate to have been deprived of a logical foreign policy as well as a foreign minister for the past 5years.
Kashmir issue: Today India and Pakistan are two independent countries on the map of the world but Kashmir issue is still unresolved. Kashmir is the unresolved agenda of partition and till today the people of Kashmir lack freedom. The paradise on earth is every day tainted with bloodshed and the voice of innocent people is being suppressed through bullets and pellets of Indian Army. The new government, through an appropriate foreign policy, is supposed to be smart enough to get resolve the Kashmir issue. It’s a way forward for the new Government at this point to allocate more manpower and resources to enhance its diplomatic efforts through a comprehensive Kashmir policy.
Energy Crises: Energy crisis has been haunting our country for past many years but unfortunately no Government has ever come up with a reasonable and constructive plan to cope with it. It would be a bigger challenge for the new Government to take out the country from this prolonged and poorly managed crisis. We have now reached to 7000 MW electricity shortfall which now is triggering extra unscheduled load shedding in several parts of the country.
Water crises: Water is another major challenge for the upcoming government and it cannot be ignored. According to a recent report by IMF, Pakistan is ranked third among the countries facing intense water crisis and might run dry by 2025.
The main reason behind this acute shortfall is that India has recently blocked water flow from India to Pakistan putting it under survival challenge.
The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar has done a great service to Pakistan by ordering and supervising early construction of Bhasha dam to save the country going dry. I had written an article upon this on-going crisis issue on 9th June 2018, in which I had proposed three suggestions and I hope the next government will follow my advices and the solution given in the said article
FATF grey list: India in its efforts to isolate Pakistan has not even abstained from lobbying with US as, in November 2017 India lodged a complaint with FATF to put Pakistan name on FATF’s blacklist upon baseless and false charges. It sent a Secretary-level delegation to Moscow on Jan 31 not to support Pakistan. The Indian media reported that in his recent visits to Gulf countries, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also asked them not to support Pakistan at the FATF. Our incompetent government could not safeguard the position of our country in front of the world as it has been grey listed as a corrupt and terrorist state with FATF. The new government is supposed to make every possible effort to remove the charges of corruption and terrorism off our country.
The above challenges are real threat to our country as the economic situation is inching us towards the bankruptcy. We need able and educated and honest leadership to deal with these challenges.
The casual attitude towards 25th July by the voters would not be able to block the dishonest politician hence every voter has to dedicate this day for the national cause to see a prosperous Pakistan beyond 25th July.
The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Body on Interior and Narcotics.