Pakistan marks I-Day amid uncertainty

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Experts said that though Islamabad is set to receive the much needed financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund and other countries by the end of the month…writes Mahua Venkatesh

At its 75th Independence Day, Pakistan finds itself in a bind amid deepening economic uncertainty with foreign exchange reserves dropping below the $8 billion level. The annual inflation in July stood at 24.9 per cent — the highest since 2008. In June it was 21.3 per cent.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during his address at the Jinnah Convention centre promised to transform the country’s economy.

He also underlined the need to initiate a national dialogue with the aim of transforming Pakistan into an economic power.

Experts said that though Islamabad is set to receive the much needed financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund and other countries by the end of the month, it now needs to reboot its economic structure and focus on development.

“Successive Pakistani leaders made the choice of depending on foreign aid while building military capacity, ignoring the fundamentals of economics,” Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to the US, who is currently the director for South and Central Asia at Hudson Institute, a Washington based think tank told Germany based news organisation DW.

Several economists have now started to compare Pakistan’s sitaution with the bankrupt Sri Lanka.

Preliminary findings of a nation-based study, conducted by Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) has recently revealed that more than 40 per cent of the Pakistanis were willing to leave the country. The number is highest among the youth. In 2021, Pakistan’s Bureau of Emigration Overseas Employment (BEOE) data showed that as many as 2,86,648 workers registered for overseas employment — a 27.6 per cent rise over the previous year.

“The country has always been successful in getting the required assistance and doles from multilateral lenders as well as its allies but it is imperative now to focus on putting things in order so that it doesn’t have to run for money to other countries from time to time,” an analyst who deals with South Asia told India Narrative. “The focus cannot remain on Kashmir and nothing else,” he added.

To mark the 75th Independence Day, the State Bank of Pakistan also introduced a new 75 rupee banknote. Islamabad must take pragmatic decisions to revive its economy. For instance, the country’s business community has pointed out the need to open up trade with India at the earliest, but Islamabad has remained unmoved.

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