Meet­ing the challenge

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

PTI's fi­nance min­is­ter Asad Umar has said in a state­ment that the econ­omy is over­bur­dened with debt and it is not pos­si­ble to make re­pay­ment with­out procur­ing more debts. The fis­cal deficit and gap be­tween im­ports and ex­ports has reached a historic high, around $35 billion. The tax-to-GDP ra­tio at about 8.5 per cent is one of the low­est in the world that con­tin­u­ously forces the gov­ern­ments to bor­row do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­nally.On the other hand, state run en­ti­ties like PIA, the PSM and power dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies cause around an es­ti­mated Rs3 tril­lion of losses be­cause of over­staffing, in­ef­fi­cien­cies and sys­temic cor­rup­tions.

Our public ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is in the worst shape com­pared to other South Asian coun­tries. So is our lower rate of hu­man de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion. No coun­try in the world has ever pro­gressed with­out a ro­bust, uni­form and uni­ver­sally ac­ces­si­ble public ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. Pak­istan with a mas­sive youth bulge could have trans­formed it­self into a knowl­edge econ­omy by re­form­ing the public ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. But it has failed to do so. Sim­i­larly the health ser­vices have bro­ken down and there is se­vere wa­ter cri­sis fac­ing the coun­try.

Over the decades, the cor­rupt po­lit­i­cal class has sub­verted the state in­sti­tu­tions-the bu­reau­cracy-to serve its po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests. Its au­ton­omy, re­spect and ef­fi­ciency in de­liv­er­ing public ser­vices have never been so bad as dur­ing the past 10 years of two tenures of the PPP and the PML-N. The per­va­sive cor­rup­tion and in­ef­fi­ciency we see at all lev­els of gover­nance is be­cause of wil­ful and sys­tem­atic plun­der of na­tional wealth by the rul­ing par­ties and their al­lies. They couldn't do it with­out un­der­min­ing the rule of law norms, ru­in­ing in­sti­tu­tions and pro­mot­ing a cul­ture of graft.

The PPP and the PML-N now to­gether in a 'united' op­po­si­tion to a gov­ern­ment that has yet to take of­fice have to an­swer for where Pak­istan stands to­day. The clever tongues they have hired and gen­tri­fied as mem­bers of the as­sem­blies and the Se­nate to de­fend the dy­nas­ties in the me­dia have no moral strength or any ar­gu­ment. For decades, the 'spokesper­sons' have been par­rot­ing two phrases: their bosses have done no wrong and no case has been proven against them. When a case has been proved, they at­tack the courts, the jus­tice sys­tem, ac­count­abil­ity process and in­ves­ti­gat­ing agen­cies.

There is lit­tle doubt that Pak­istan is fac­ing se­vere and mul­ti­ple crises. It is a pop­u­lar man­date that gives much po­lit­i­cal space to the PTI to take bold and far reach­ing de­ci­sions. The bit­ter po­lit­i­cal truth that the PTI and the peo­ple of Pak­istan must face is this: we will have to take un­pop­u­lar de­ci­sions, like pri­vatis­ing loss-mak­ing public en­ter­prises, en­sur­ing ac­count­abil­ity and re­forms that may not go well with the vested in­ter­ests. Un­sur­pris­ingly, we may find the op­po­si­tion par­ties stand­ing in the way of re­forms, dis­rupt­ing re­forms.

Im­ran Khan will have to prove him­self a true re­former, po­lit­i­cal risk taker, bold and as de­ter­mined to change Pak­istan as he has been in con­fronting the two cor­rupt po­lit­i­cal dy­nas­ties. His life his­tory, record, po­lit­i­cal strug­gle and so­cial work shows, he is a fighter to the end, re­lent­less, un­de­feat­able for a cause. In his­tory, strong­willed re­formist lead­ers have suc­ceeded against the strong­est of op­po­si­tion. The dif­fer­ence be­tween him and other po­lit­i­cal lead­ers is in­tegrity, sense of pur­pose and public trust. He has proved be­fore that he can de­liver. One can be sure that now in the high­est seat of power, he can de­liver more.

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