PML-N government has passed through the mill and met challenges coming its way one after the other with unprecedented perseverance, sagacity, political will and determination with the result that the country has made strides on all the important fronts including counter-terrorism, economic revival, inflow of substantial foreign investment, energy sufficiency etc.
The government inherited formidable challenges after winning the general elections 2013. The challenges included an existentialist threat from terrorism and religious extremism. In addition to that, the revival of the economy was a remote possibility and the egregious energy crisis, with all the accompanying debilitating manifestations, had assumed alarming proportions. Even the nascent democracy needed to be reinforced on a permanent footing and there was also the dire need for improving the overall security situation in the country besides redefining relations with our neighbours which were marred by conflict and animosity.
In the war against extremism, the government showed a rare commitment and courage to deal with terrorism, which no previous government had the will to undertake. Operation Zarb-e-Azb, National Action Plan (NAP) and targeted operation in Karachi are some of the enviable outcomes of the policy of national consensus and reconciliation dedicatedly pursued by Nawaz Sharif government.
Consequent upon the successful implementation of these initiatives, the terrorists’ back has been broken and their entire infrastructure in North Waziristan dismantled. Terrorists, their supporters and sleeping cells throughout the country have been effectively neutralised and Karachi is fast returning to normalcy as a result of the targeted operation by the Rangers and the federal government and the military leadership are determined to take it to its logical conclusion, notwithstanding sporadic hiccups.
In Balochistan, the insurgency has been contained and now the prospects of reconciliation with the estranged and exiled Baloch leaders look very encouraging. As for the spate of recent most terrorist acts, they are nothing more than acts of desperation by the defeated terrorists. The elected and military leadership are resolutely unanimous in going to any extent to root out the scourge of terrorism.
On the economic front, the government has been able to orchestrate discernible revival. In May 2013, the country faced a severe energy crisis. Economic growth was stagnant at below 3%, inflation was at double digit, interest rates were high, budget deficit was at 8.8% of GDP, investment was on the decline, foreign currency reserves stood at formidably low level and the country faced the prospect of an ignominious default on IMF loans.
Two-and-a-half years down the line, the budget deficit has been brought down to 5.3%, inflation has been brought down to 4.53%, credit to agriculture sector has increased to Rs515.87 billion, development spending has touched Rs427.67 billion, GDP growth rate has been enhanced to 4.24%, per capita income has increased to $1513, stock exchange has touched new heights, interest rate is at the lowest level in the last 42 years, tax recovery has increased significantly from a mere three per cent to a mammoth 16.5 per cent, foreign exchange reserves have swelled to $21 billion which is an all-time high mark in the economic history of Pakistan.
The confidence of foreign investors in Pakistan being a safe and profitable destination has also increased as was evident from the finalisation of $46b CPEC deal with China and $16b LNG deal with Qatar with many other such deals in the pipeline with other countries. And the response received in the auction of 3G and 4G and the overwhelming acceptance of the Sukuk bonds from all regions also speaks volumes of our economic revival. Nearly 59% were subscribed in US, 19% in UK, 10 in other European countries, 10 in Asia, 8% by banks, 7 percent by hedge fund and 1 percent by insurance companies and pension funds. And although the country faced disaster in the face of devastating floods and astronomical expenditure has incurred on Operation Zarb-e-Azb and NAP’s implementation and debt servicing, the turnaround in the economy has been achieved.
This success story has not gone unnoticed in the world as it has been repeatedly endorsed by the international money lending institutions and rating agencies as well as the international media.IMF has shown confidence in the reform agenda pursued by the government which is amply demonstrated by continuous release of tranches after quarterly reviews. ADB and World Bank are also on record to have testified to Pakistan’s success story.
The other day, the visiting World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim, in his meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed full support for the tough economic decisions of the government in the area of structural reforms and acknowledged the fact that Pakistan had achieved phenomenal success in improving the security situation, arresting the burgeoning energy crisis and in bringing about macro-economic stability.
Kim also remarked that escape from the risk of bankruptcy that Pakistan faced in 2013 was a big gain for the country.
In energy sector, the government has already added 3,000MW to the system and power producing projects with an aggregate production capacity of 10,000MW have already been launched which are likely to generate electricity by the end of 2018. Not only that, the government is also contemplating to add another 14,000MW in the years to come.
Another 6645MW of early harvest projects in the energy sector are on the actively promoted list. The prime minister inaugurated 100MW Solar power unit at Bahawalpur recently which will come on stream by the end of December and would eventually produce 1000MW electricity. Two more units with power producing capacity of 300MW and 400MW which were jointly inaugurated by the visiting Chinese president and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will also be constructed on the same site which will become operational by the end of next year.
In the domain of foreign relations, a new narrative wedded to the cause of promoting peace in the region and creating economic linkage for a shared prosperity, has been evolved. Pakistan has been making strenuous efforts in promoting Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation in Afghanistan and fostering cooperation between the two countries in fighting terrorism. And despite some hiccups along the way there is a renewed hope of getting things back on the track.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also made positive overtures towards India for the revival of the suspended dialogue between the two countries. Another positive diplomatic development is that Pakistan has become a full member of the SCO, ground breaking ceremony of TAPI has finally been performed, and relations with Russia have been put on a higher level. Russia will build a gas pipeline between Lahore and Karachi involving a cost of $2 billion and both the countries have also concluded a defence deal.
There is no solid data on record to rebut this success story as all the foregoing development scan be verified with actual facts and figure. The country undoubtedly is far better off than it has been in May 2013. There is a discernible change in all spheres of the national life. The ambience of gloom has been transformed into vibrant optimism and it is hoped this progress and development would go a long way in boosting the already buoyant economy.