THE ‘one-percenters’ have reportedly stepped in to attempt to resolve the continuing impasse in the corridors of power. A fresh attempt is being made to jump-start negotiations between key stakeholders, this time led by some of the country’s most influential industrialists and tycoons.
The latter seem to be deeply concerned, and understandably so — there are significant investments at stake. With the economy imploding due to the government’s indecision and mismanagement, unceasing political instability, and seemingly untameable stagflation, the majority of business owners are having to reckon with severe to very severe threats to their profitability.
In many cases, even the continuity of entire enterprises is at stake. Against this backdrop, several influential representatives of the business community have been tasked with reaching out to various political stakeholders, seemingly to cajole them towards breaking the political deadlock.
It is unclear, however, what they may be able to offer the various stakeholders apart from some good sense, which, it must be said, has lately been in short supply. With each player in the game fighting for survival, none of the parties seems to have had the time to think about what is really in the national interest.
The PDM government’s failure to talk straight to the IMF and secure a desperately needed bailout package has made Pakistan’s polycrisis significantly worse. It would have been a very different picture had corrective measures to right the listing economy been taken in time.
An IMF programme revival now seems near impossible and the country faces an almost inevitable default. Pakistan has only managed to survive so far by massively curtailing imports, thereby choking a vast segment of the economy and significantly throttling growth.
A formal default could unleash further catastrophe. Therefore, while the effort to get political parties and the establishment back to the table is commendable, it is unlikely to yield fruit till each of them realises that what they are fighting over could quickly prove to be a poisoned prize.
None of the current players has the expertise to rule a broken economy, nor can they afford the political cost of doing so. The government, military and PTI leaderships have diverted too much of their mental faculties to fighting each other, letting the economic time bomb tick closer and closer to zero. It is time they snapped back to reality and defused it.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2023
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