Pakistan fails to adopt simple solutions to complex issues

Needs national resolve, capable political forces and suitable environment

IKRAM HOTI October 30, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Of course, managing the economy and preparing the budget are the most complex issues for a country. Modern states are looking for simpler solutions and trying to get rid of traditional quick fixes.

Pakistan’s economy and budget plans have also drawn the attention of outsiders. This is reflected in remarks made by the International Monetary Fund managing director last week about the reluctance of Pakistan to mend its ways in running the state and the economy.

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This article will focus on how Pakistan falters on the path of restructuring the economy and addressing the challenges coming in the way. The difficulties that need to be dealt with include inequitable application of tax laws, ignoring misdeeds of a certain political class, bureaucratic attitude and inability to deal with waywardness in the handling of state and economy.

When Pakistan faced the question in the 1970s of whether to embrace a socialist or a capitalist style of economy, the system imposed on the country led to failure of the state-economy relationship.

Not much has changed in the socio-economic orientation over the past five years, though a military operation has been conducted against the terrorists.

Does a meaningful change in the orientation in the offing? If you hold a national referendum on this question and hopes for the future, the people’s view will be that nothing concrete is being done to this end.

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Why? Because Pakistan does not go for simple solutions. The defeatist and wayward style of those handling the state and the economy is obvious to the common man. It does not take extraordinary political sense to judge that.

Now the question is: what are the simple solutions and why Pakistan is reluctant to opt for them?

The solutions include more funds for development and less for running the state apparatus; more taxes from the high-income group and less burden on the middle and low-income groups; removing frictions between the arms of state and political forces; priority to support the social sector; seeking economic support from all countries and suspension of hostilities; and restructuring the laws, the apparatus and the procedures.


The change for the better has three prerequisites for all nations facing the issues of disorientation and waywardness. These are national resolve, capable political forces and suitability of regional and international environment. The regional and international forces complain that Pakistan is not abandoning dangerous policies. Capable political forces are nowhere on the horizon and the civil society continues to fail to generate the national resolve to beat the cycle of failure.

That is why Pakistan is reluctant to go for the simple solutions. Is this a government policy to prevent such a resolve and avoid taking advantage of the suitable regional and international environment?

I don’t think so. Political forces, the establishment and the civil society are too antiquated to steer the country out of troubles. There is little chance that they will develop the capacity, despite apparent intent to take Pakistan away from the traditional waywardness.

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How can such a capacity be developed? This is a big question but who will answer? Who will respond meaningfully and come up with a plausible answer?

The handling of the state and the economy is a complex issue. Nations take decades and even centuries in coming to terms with simple solutions. Pakistan is no exception. But how many more decades and centuries this country will take to find a path out of this quagmire?

The writer has worked with major newspapers and specialises in the analysis of public finance and geo-economics of terrorism

Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2016.

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Umeed | 5 years ago | Reply I don't think Pakistan possesses experts that are capable of going by the light shown in this article
karachi 3 | 5 years ago | Reply The key for any countries progress is tax revenues. In Pakistan FBR has become dysfunctional and has failed the nation.Unless FBR is reformed urgently and the countries tax revenues triple in three years,Pakistan will not be on path of progress and the citizens will not get public services that 21st century demands
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