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EDITORIAL: President Arif Alvi hit the nail on the head the other day when he implied that financial inclusion, which is necessary to put the country on the “path of progress and prosperity”, was not possible without political inclusion.

He was lamenting the paralysis that has overtaken the political system following the Feb 8 election, of course, mincing few words and pointing out that millions of people who expressed confidence in the democratic process had had their hopes “shaken”, which is “not in the country’s interest”.

He also pointed out, quite rightly, that blockage of social media sites reflected “the lack of intellectual capacity to handle criticism”.

Speaking at the third edition of Hosting Business Net 2024, a platform to promote financial inclusion and digital transformation, he then took off on the usual, politically correct line about enhancing “inclusion of deprived sections of society, especially women and persons with disabilities, in the mainstream of the economy through the digital transformation of the financial sector for socio-economic development”. This is the bit that all leaders lace their public speeches with, but what he said about political inclusion was far more important.

There’s no doubt that the February election, which was supposed to deliver a people’s government capable of taking tough decisions needed to steer the country out of its many crises, has instead left the country’s political fabric even more torn. This is more than just the usual political problem in the present setting. Pakistan’s economy is on the brink of collapse and the only thing keeping it from defaulting is the link with the IMF. And once the Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) ends mid-March, a new bailout programme will have to be negotiated, which will no doubt be on even harsher terms.

That is when political inclusion will be urgently needed. IMF insists on very harsh upfront conditions for its loans now, and the people have already been driven to desperation because of all the taxes heaped on them to keep the SBA on track. And with the political elite not just bitterly divided but also at each other’s throats, it will not be possible to get people to rally behind a bailout programme that will bring structural adjustment pain at first, but eventually put the economy back on track. In fact, as things stand, whoever is in opposition will accuse whoever is in government of betraying the country and the people whenever the latter agrees to the Fund’s demands.

Yet, despite being right President Alvi, too, only pointed out the problem without offering a solution. It seems nobody can get all stakeholders to put their differences aside and work for the country and the people at this point, even though this game of thrones has brought the country right to the edge and now promises to throw it right over.

History will remember this time, not just for the establishment’s blatant interference in politics, but also for the politicians’ shortsightedness and greed as they put their own personal and political interests above the people’s needs.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Comments

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Test Feb 24, 2024 08:33am
Why don't you resign your 5 year are over and shamelessly you are occupying that seat. IMF needs to put harsh conditions because so many entities are in loses and are not running in profit.
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M M Alam Feb 24, 2024 09:18am
Stolen mandate is the elephant in the room.
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KU Feb 24, 2024 12:00pm
Honesty, fair play, justice, rights and integrity are virtues gone extinct in our country. Fear and lies now rule is.
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Johnny Walker Feb 24, 2024 02:33pm
Pakistan zindabad
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Bashir A Aziz Feb 24, 2024 07:44pm
I would like to express my appreciation for this insightful and thought-provoking article. It provided a good analysis of the subject matter. I anticipate more contributions of this caliber.
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M M Alam Feb 25, 2024 01:27am
@Test, The expiry date of governors of Punjab, KPK were over a year back. No shame. Elections after 90 days & rigged. No shame. IMF puts harsh conditions mainly because of twin deficits , SME losses.
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M M Alam Feb 25, 2024 01:28am
@KU, agreed
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M M Alam Feb 25, 2024 01:30am
@Bashir A Aziz, no solution to problems provided by President and no solutions suggested for brain storming by the Editorial board as well.
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Test Feb 26, 2024 06:03pm
@M M Alam , He is just puppet of PTI and should be thrown out doesn't deserve anything. Now not even calling national assembly what he is trying to prove.
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Nauman Ashraf Feb 26, 2024 07:13pm
@Test, Who is not a puppet here?
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