In a challenging, complex situation, one can see consensus-building surfacing on how to resolve major issues, both by design as well as by independent actions of various stakeholders/institutions that tend to work in harmony.

A major issue on which near-consensus or consensus is so obvious is that elections should be held as scheduled on February 8. And that long-term policies can only be formulated by a representative government empowered by the electorate with a fresh mandate.

It is generally realised that public policies, including reforms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), need to have national ownership to ensure their effective implementation and improved governance.

After recent interaction with major political parties, the IMF officials said that their leaders acknowledged the need for continuing structural reforms agreed upon with the IMF.

If a common agenda is implemented, the next government may be able to fulfil its tenure

While happy with the interim government, the entire business community is of the unanimous view that timely elections and peaceful transfer of power to the next democratically elected government is necessary for ensuring stability and progress.

And the United States has repeatedly reiterated that it wants Pakistan to remain on the democratic path. Even Chinese investors are reported to be waiting for an elected government to assume office before committing to any long-term undertaking. The World Bank recently noted that there had been broad support for critical fiscal management and revenue reforms across the political spectrum.

Even those who advocate that Pakistan needs to develop its home-grown long-term economic strategy to resolve multiple crises recognise that any national strategy should provide space for the next longer-term IMF programme when the current Stand-By Agreement ends.

The above moves, creating a dent in political polarisation, may also be seen as a part of an emerging culture of transformational change. As an example, for the long-term, PTI has decided to contest the upcoming elections under the slogan ‘Change the System — Change Pakistan’.

Democracy works for the majority when pro-people policies are approved by the voters and implemented by their elected representatives.

Whether it is an ailing corporate entity, a dysfunctional institution or an unworkable economic model, the solution lies in the culture change that begins with the change of mindset of those involved in running them. The changing ground realities and interplay of social forces serve as catalysts.

For instance, there is a consensus that the increase in productivity, value-addition and product diversification cannot take place without prioritising human resource development.

The latest trend in foreign trade shows that Pakistan’s exports to the regional countries, particularly to the affluent oil-rich Middle East and China, with a huge market, are picking up fast while its exports to the US and some European countries have marginally declined. We are also moving towards some sort of consensus that we have to live within our means.

In his paper ‘Understanding Import Substitution in Theory and Practice’ presented at an event organised by the National Tariff Commission, Dr Safdar Sohail, Executive Director, Social Protection Resource Centre, recently shared insight into three megatrends. They evolved around new approaches, necessitating revision of import substitution strategies for global South nations like Pakistan with current development taking place in the global North.

Global cooperation, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), has declined by two per cent from 2020 to 2022. The Global Cooperation Baro­meter, developed in collaboration with McKinsey and Company and launched by WEF, uses 42 indicators to measure five pillars of global cooperation: trade and capital, innovation and technology, climate and natural capital, health and wellness, and peace and security.

Within Pakistan, no undemocratic and arbitrary move goes unchallenged, often yielding positive outcomes, notwithstanding some hiccups. The rejections of scores of nomination papers by the returning officers were set aside by the election tribunals. About 76pc appeals by PTI candidates were accepted.

Though the PTI leadership is under huge political pressure following the May 9 incident, media reports indicate that its popular support is intact.

The Supreme Court is also strengthening the role of parliament in national affairs. In a 6-1 majority verdict, it has squashed life disqualification for lawmakers under Article 62(1))f) of the Constitution, which effectively renders Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Tareen free to contest upcoming general elections.

The above trends indicate how things are taking shape, notwithstanding the historical baggage. Public pressure is also mounting on political parties not to delay announcing their manifestos for approval of voters.

In the case of a split electorate mandate, political rivals would need to work together on a common agenda to form a representative coalition government. Seat adjustments among various parties and PML-N and MQM-P agreement on empowering local bodies may be seen as a move in this direction.

If the common agenda, reflecting the aspirations of the people, is implemented sincerely, it may open up the opportunity for the next government to complete its mandate term.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, January 15th, 2024

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Emerging consensus

20 1
15.01.2024

In a challenging, complex situation, one can see consensus-building surfacing on how to resolve major issues, both by design as well as by independent actions of various stakeholders/institutions that tend to work in harmony.

A major issue on which near-consensus or consensus is so obvious is that elections should be held as scheduled on February 8. And that long-term policies can only be formulated by a representative government empowered by the electorate with a fresh mandate.

It is generally realised that public policies, including reforms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), need to have national ownership to ensure their effective implementation and improved governance.

After recent interaction with major political parties, the IMF officials said that their leaders acknowledged the need for continuing structural reforms agreed upon with the IMF.

If a common agenda is implemented, the next government may be able to fulfil its tenure

While happy with the interim government, the entire business community is of the unanimous view that timely elections and peaceful transfer of power to the next democratically elected government is necessary for ensuring stability and progress.

And the United States has repeatedly reiterated that it wants Pakistan to remain on the democratic path. Even Chinese investors are reported to be waiting for an........

© Dawn Business


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