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The Looming Storm

by Newsweek Pakistan

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Dire portents for the state of Pakistan’s economy

Allama Tahirul Qadri of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) has threatened to besiege Lahore on Jan. 17 if Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his law minister Rana Sanaullah don’t resign as penance for the killing of 14 PAT workers during protests in 2014. He has as his partners Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Pakistan Peoples Party, who will come out and strengthen his latest attempt at unseating the government. Lesser parties like the Quaid-e-Azam Muslim League and countless devotees of Punjab’s other Barelvi strongman of Punjab, Hamiduddin Sialwi, have also decided to give the last push to the government that has faced nothing but trouble since the 2013 elections.

Pakistan has never been stable. Therefore, none of its prime ministers has been able to complete his term in office. Its elected governments are frequently pulled down by military dictators, who then precipitate more disaster by being revisionist toward India and losing wars against it. Pakistan’s economy, undermined by instability and foreign policy adventurism, has performed badly and constantly needs foreign exchange injections while the nation pays virtually no income tax.

India on the other hand has been stable through its 70 years of existence and has the highest growth rate in the world in recent years. Its aggressive posture toward Pakistan under Prime Minister Modi is based on preemptive diplomacy in a world where Pakistan stands isolated. Instead of Pakistan bothering India across the Line of Control (LoC) on the eastern border it is India that is challenging it militarily.

The economic outlook for Pakistan is bleak despite the Chinese One Belt One Road project aimed at infrastructure development that Pakistan has ignored. It is isolated at the global and regional levels at a time when India is reaching out and communicating with its neighbors including China. It is no longer enough for Pakistan to fly on the ballast of doubtful nationalism. Its internal disorder has reached a point where it is no longer possible for any economic analyst to be optimistic about its future.

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