WHERE is Pakistan headed? What lies ahead for our beloved homeland amidst the labyrinth of challenges that beset us? These are critical questions, indeed. As we grapple with the persistent tempest of skyrocketing inflation and the unsettling recurrence of petrol price hikes, we are confronted with the possibility that there may well be mass unemployment in the days ahead.
The intricate tapestry of political instability casts a shadow of uncertainty over our nation’s path. As these tumultuous tides churn, the shackles of debt remain unbroken, our fundamental human rights continue to teeter on the edge of disregard, and the security of our women remains elusive. The very fabric of our society is marred by the menace of minority oppression, the pall of sectarian violence, and the corroding threads of corruption, crime and poverty.
Unbridled inflation soaring to unprecedented heights is but a harbinger of further economic crisis that is quite likely to grip Pakistan even tighter. The burdensome trade deficit, reminiscent of a juggernaut, ensnares our nation in a web of fiscal predicament. Protracted negotiation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) only amplifies our woes, underscoring the urgency of fiscal recalibration.
Yet, it is the surge in fuel prices that threatens a cascading chain reaction, potentially unravelling the delicate balance of economy. As petrol and diesel prices ascend, a grim spectre of mass unemployment looms. Fear ripples through the corridors of businesses, trade bodies quiver with apprehension, and industries confront the unsettling possibility of pulling their shutters down, rendering thousands without livelihood. The very essence of our economy trembles under the weight of decision-makers’ choices.
Amid all this turmoil, a recent conference unveiled an undercurrent of hope for Pakistan’s economic potential. Central Asia, with its promise of wheat, gas and oil holds the potential to alleviate the pangs of rampant inflation and energy price hikes. Yet, bridging the divide between Pakistan and these resource-rich nations is no trivial feat. The Himalayas, both a geographical barrier and a metaphor for centuries of estrangement, stand as a monumental testament to the challenges that lie ahead of us.
Central Asia’s gaze — fixed northwards towards Russia and eastwards towards China — leaves us at a crossroads. While historic projects like the railway connecting Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, bear promise, the need for profound political will and strategic alignment remains undeniable.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) evokes visions of connectivity, heralding prospects for trade, investment and transfer of maltifaceted technology.
Beyond the fog of uncertainty, a glimmer of inspiration emerges from Singapore’s history. A crucible of East-West dynamics, Singapore showcases the transformative power of political stability.
Today, as Pakistan stands at its own crossroads, the imperative to emulate Singapore’s trajectory becomes evident. Our ability to navigate the present turbulence hinges on cultivating an environment that fosters investors’ confidence, mirroring the ‘benevolent autocracy’ that paved Singapore’s path to prosperity.
As our nation contends with its myriad challenges, the solution emerges from within. A clarion call for stability, innovation and the harnessing of our economic potential reverberates through the halls of industry and commerce. A collaborative effort, anchored in political wisdom and prudent governance, can pave the way for a Pakistan that transcends the present morass.
On the crossroads of crisis, hope unfurls its wings. It is in our hands to navigate the turbulent seas, to draw inspiration from history, and to forge ahead as a beacon of transformation.
Let us not be immobilised by the present, but propelled by the promise of a better tomorrow. Through unity, resolve and a collective commitment to progress, Pakistan and Pakistanis can rise anew, defying the odds to become a testament to resilience and renewal.
Syeda Saman Fatima
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2023