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Boom or Bust?

by Newsweek Pakistan

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Why is it so hard for Pakistanis to believe their country’s economy might be improving?

No Pakistani will admit the country’s economy is doing well. Employing hate-speech, which is the new national idiom, most Pakistanis say the country is doomed because of corruption and hold Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif responsible after the infamous Panama Papers scandal broke last year. The Supreme Court, which has to decide whether he will stay in power or go, is talking in riddles laced with dark rebuke. But the world outside is sanguine about the $46 billion invested in Pakistan by China—only for infrastructure—which the Pakistanis have come to hate, alas!

The Economist began the trend of positive assessment in May 2015 noting the kudos the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had heaped on Islamabad for not being lax in macroeconomic discipline. The opposition dismissed all predictions of better days to come by denouncing the IMF as well.

The year 2016 passed in public protest against the roads, metros and highways being inaugurated by the prime minister. The nation wanted only schools and hospitals. Then The Wall Street Journal opened up on Feb. 1, 2017 with praise for Pakistan, to the dismay of the honest Pakistani citizen. It noted the rising middle class and gave tidings of poverty-reduction that no one believed.

As if by conspiracy, the well-reputed Bloomberg News noted on Feb. 6, 2017 the rise of the Pakistani stock market by 46 percent, calling it first in ranking among the world’s stock markets, predicting 5 percent growth rate in 2017. It said: “Since 2002, the rate of poverty has fallen by half and over the past three years the rate of terrorist deaths has declined by two-thirds.”

As Pakistanis mourned what they perceived as economic mayhem, Washington Post of Feb. 21, 2017, noted Pakistan “officially” graduating from its “frontier-market” category to the more prestigious—and well-capitalized—“emerging market” index. In fact Pakistan joined 23 other countries “on the index that represents 10 percent of world capitalization.” Not even Turkey, it said, was expected to do as well, given its current growth rate. Conclusion: All this has to be a Hindu-Jewish plot against Pakistan!

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