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We are a nation of scandal and drama, and often garden-variety philosophy. The electronic media runs on political adrenaline and heated debates on non-issues; while drawing room analysts are in abundance with opinions on everything from Panama to Qandeel Baloch. Twitter is blazing with thousands of behind-the-keyboard voices, taking down the world 140 characters at a time.
Earlier this week, Islamabad-based think tank Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) held a seminar titled SAARC-Challenges and Opportunities in Changing Regional Dynamics.
The current account posted a deficit of $1.8 billion (1.7% of GDP) in Jul-Oct 2016 as compared to $1.1 billion (1.1% of GDP) in the corresponding period last year. Higher trade in goods deficit, low remittances, and absence of Coalition Support Fund explain the higher deficit this year.
That workers remittance to Pakistan dropped by nearly four percent in the four months ending October 2016 is no news. But that the central bank still expects full-year remittances to grow between 3 and 8 percent is quite a startling one.
The May 2013 general elections were remarkable not just for the historic democratic handoff. The polls were noteworthy also because of the diverse mandate they threw up in the nation's provinces. Where PML-N had tightened its grip on Punjab and PPP managed to hold on to Sindh, the insurgent PTI had stormed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and nationalists were able to form a coalition government in Balochistan. This was another chance by an imperfect democracy for the major parties to showcase their governance credentials, so that the electorate was better make up their minds for 2018.
Should Pakistan worry? Chatter is brewing that the incoming Trump administration is going to adopt a tough line with Pakistan. Those ringing the alarm bells may be jumping the gun, for even Trump doesnâ??t know what Trump will do. But the concerns raised merit a closer scrutiny.
This column is under no illusion: without a strong public demand for accountability, significant and meaningful taxation reforms will continue to elude Pakistan. What are the chances of a big push from the electorate? Sure, civil society think-tanks and donor-funded programs have been making an active case for tax reforms. But even they concede their advocacy is no good when the people don't want it more than they do.