IF classical economist Adam Smith had been a Pakistani, he would have opposed his own statement that self-interest turns into social interest. In the local context, it is this very self-interest that has never allowed Pakistan to grow beyond the prosperous achievements that it had managed till the late 1960s.

This brings me to the point I am trying to make. Despite several socio-economic issues besetting the country, the government continues to tell all and sundry about achieving a surplus current account while negating the real economic and social issues, like human development, inequality in opportunities, unemployment, a non-productive and obsolete educational system and almost negative business growth in the country.

The current account surplus is a misleading variable for judging the expansion of economy. If the government of the day insists upon taking credit for this current account surplus, it is the responsibility of the opposition and independent experts and analysts to ask questions and point out the real issues afflicting the national economy. It is unfortunate that this is being done neither in parliament nor in media the way it should have been done.

The question is that, if without prosperity, the state has a current account surplus, then it is due to political self-interest which is nothing but selfishness. If all our focus is on political point-scoring the basis of which are baseless indicators of development, the socio-economic issues afflicting the country will never get addressed. The only solution is for political parties to set aside their self-interest and focus on socio-economic development of the country.

Syed Ali Raza Shah

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2020