Pakistan’s better tomorrow
Pakistan experienced its first democratic transfer of power with the election of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in May 2013. This historic election was celebrated throughout the population and demonstrated the widespread desire to confront the country’s greatest obstacles. Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Sharif, spoke at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Monday about Pakistan’s vision for regional prosperity and economic development. He contended that Pakistan is on the rise and is making gradual yet sustainable progress under the new government.
Prime Minister Sharif has made his priorities clear in revitalizing the country and providing for a better future for Pakistan. Fatemi stated that one of Sharif’s main concerns lies in the growing energy crisis that has hindered the country for many years. The shortages in gas and electricity have resulted in weakened economic activity in key national industries. The prime minister has thus made it a fundamental part of the national agenda to address this issue because there can be no meaningful improvement in the economy or the lives of the people without a stable energy supply.
The new government has also placed emphasis on building relationships with neighboring countries and global powers. Prime Minister Sharif recently met with Indian Prime Minister Modi to discuss a future amicable relationship between the two countries. This was a historic meeting between the two democratically elected prime ministers as a means to move past the strained relations between India and Pakistan. This relationship could ultimately not only be beneficial for India and Pakistan, but also for the prosperity and growth of the entire region.
Prime Minister Sharif is also invested in Pakistani and Chinese relations. China has played a pivotal role in assisting with economic improvement in Pakistan, as well as looking for solutions to the growing energy problem. The EU has also demonstrated interest in Pakistan’s recent progress, thus opening it up to increased foreign direct investment from European countries. Fatemi also emphasized the importance of ties with the US, despite strained relations in the past decade. Nevertheless, the new Pakistani government has proven its dedication to developing substantial and committed relations on a global scale.
Another objective of the new government is eliminating the extremist threat within Pakistani borders. Thus far, they have been successful in capturing militants and destroying extremist safe havens and communication systems. Prime Minister Sharif also has been working with Afghanistan on border control in order to eliminate the spread of militancy and extremism. He has made it clear that Pakistan is committed to this operation as long as needed.
While Pakistan is currently making progress, the government still must combat the weak institutions and plethora of economic problems from the past. Fatemi highlighted the importance of restoring the education system. The inherent linkage between education, awareness, and the economy must be recognized in order for Pakistan to move forward as a prosperous nation.
He also argued that Pakistan could benefit from a better utilization of youth. They need not be a drain on the national economy, but rather contributing members of society. The government should establish technical schools across the country in order to foster necessary employment skills. Youth could then work towards reviving Pakistan’s textile industry, with the advantage of a large supply of cotton. Prime Minister Sharif is optimistic regarding potential youth involvement and bottom-up approach to economic growth.
“Pakistan is on the road to a better tomorrow,” concluded Fatemi. It is likely to be a long and challenging journey, but Pakistanis are eager to move forward. We will see in due time as to whether the conviction of this new leadership can usher the country into a new era of political and economic improvement.