All eyes on PTI

When the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf won the 2013 elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), all eyes were on Imran Khan. He had come to power on the promise of improving the economic and security situation in the province. The people of K-P have once again elected the PTI — now in more numbers. The party made strides in improving things at the economic front. It reorganised the Board of Investment and formed the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Oil and Gas Company (KPOGCL) among other steps. The K-P government also organised roadshows to boost investment. Former finance minister Hafeez Pasha has stated in his book that K-P has grown at the fastest pace among the four provinces during the last four years, registering an average growth of 5.1%. The economy was mostly driven by a large inflow of remittances per capita.

But if the PTI can successfully implement its vision at the Centre as well remains to be seen. Although K-P was experiencing security concerns in 2013 and the situation was far from perfect, the turmoil in the country at present is more daunting. Pakistan is facing heightened vulnerability risks, it has been grey-listed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and downgraded by Moody’s Investor Service from stable to negative outlook. Amidst all this, the PTI has made tall claims in its manifesto, where it promises creation of 10 million jobs, construction of five million low-cost houses, hike in subsidy for farmers and increase in revenue collection.

Asad Umar, the man tipped to be the finance minister, has said that the crisis is severe and no option will be ruled out. With the recent Moody’s report hinting at Pakistan’s return to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout, it does not seem far-fetched that the new government will soon be initiating talks. Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have been on a downward path and have reached an alarming level. In a major development, China announced that it will lend $2 billion to Pakistan. Although this will help us in the short term, Pakistan needs a sustainable long-term policy.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2018.

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