At a time when the country is at the crossroads of political and economic turmoil, the need for a broad-based dialogue is a jiff of fresh air. Ensuing uncertainty in the wake of economic crunch, primarily owing to skyrocketing oil and food prices, as well as a plummeting rupee, the call for an out-of-the-box solution is the need of the hour. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s desire to kick-start a national dialogue is well within the realm, and should walk the talk. His submission that all stakeholders of the state must be on board in fomenting a consensual approach to the ills of the country is appreciated. This is where a grand huddle is required, and all sections of the society must be part of the new social contract. A policy that should spell out economic and strategic hallmarks for the next decade or so, and one that should not be influenced or hampered with the change of political guard cannot be delayed any further.
Shehbaz and the ruling coalition are here. Their thrust to rewrite a new Charter of Democracy and a grand consensus on economic reforms is public discourse. Pakistan has suffered at the hands of ad hoc policies, and one that was inconsistent in approach and lacked nation-building objectives. With a ballooning public debt and an ever growing budget deficit, no economy can sustain for long. So is the case with Pakistan. It is locked in an unending debt-servicing, leaving little for developmental expenditures. This is despite the fact that the country has immense potential, and is rich in natural resources as well as a buoying entrepreneurship. Information technology, textiles, agriculture and tourism are some of its cardinal strengths and are in need of a national strategy.
It’s high time politicians across the board united and chalked out a road map for survival. The armed forces, judiciary, the media and the executive must come up with their input in an attempt to harness a civil approach towards the daunting challenges for times to come. This is how we can come up with a united response to some of the untenable demands of the donor agencies, as well as the great powers, who are out to subjugate the country. This call for dialogue is part of One Nation, One Policy; and must go ahead in all humility.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2022.