Pakistan has formally abandoned the claim of suffering immensely from the ongoing war on terror, saying that this in fact “hurt the economy, rather than bringing about any benefit.” And therefore a section carrying details of losses the country has suffered due to the war on terror has been dropped from the latest edition of the Economic Survey of Pakistan.
“For how long will we highlight the impact of the war on terrorism on the country,” argued finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh while justifying the decision to drop the special section, “Cost of War on Terror for Pakistan Economy”. The repeated emphasis has hurt investor sentiments, he added.
Investment in the country in 2011-12 fell to 12.5% of Gross Domestic Product, the lowest in the country’s history, while foreign direct investment stood at $666 million, almost half of what it was in corresponding period the preceding year.
Independent experts, however, say the biggest reason for falling investment is the chronic and worsening energy crisis that kept foreign investors at bay. Moreover, half of the country’s existing industrial capacity remains idle due to energy shortages, according to the survey.
Shaikh also shifted the responsibility on the Foreign Office, saying it calculates the losses and did not provide fresh details this year.
According to last year’s economic survey, Pakistan has suffered almost $68 billion in cumulative losses over the past decade due to the ongoing war on terrorism.
Finance ministry officials, however, said the $68 billion figure proved to be wrong during this year’s initial assessments.
“We did not want to drastically revise this figure downward, as it might have raised the issue of the credibility of the country’s statistics”, official said.
The figures had been compiled by an inter-ministerial committee of the ministries of foreign affairs, finance, interior, commerce and representatives of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa – the worst hit federating units.
The incumbent government had added the special chapter in the economic survey hoping it would help convince international players to pour more aid. Aid, however, was not forthcoming, primarily due to strained ties between Pakistan and the United States.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2012.