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Editorial: Tough Times Ahead for Pakistan

The ever-worsening economic crisis requires urgent action if the country has any hope of achieving stability

by Editorial

File photo. Asif Hassan—AFP

Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif has warned that the “next two years in power would be quite challenging for the PMLN-led coalition because of economic and political instability.” He noted the incoming government would face a tough opposition and its first job would be to “tame inflation and improve governance.” After these “difficult times,” he claimed, the government would have ample opportunity to work for the people and the country. “The way Shehbaz Sharif ran the government for 16 months was quite challenging; even I could not manage,” he added, while also lashing out at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan for “promoting the politics of hatred” and misguiding the youth of the country.

After his speech at the PMLN’s parliamentary party meeting, Shehbaz Sharif recalled the achievements of the PMLN and Nawaz Sharif it previous tenures, claiming they had ended an electricity crisis and built a nationwide network of motorways. He said he would try his best to overcome all problems facing the country with the support of coalition parties, and sought pledges from PMLN MNAs to put an end to the country’s woes. According to Shehbaz, the PMLN—after the entry of three independent candidates—now had 104 members in the Lower House, allowing it a comfortable majority with the inclusion of allied parties.

Both incoming leaders were wise to highlight the issues facing Pakistan. External assessments all point to an urgent need to resolve an ever-worsening economic crisis as a prerequisite for stability. This requires dampening political temperatures, and tackling terrorism and massive external debt obligations. The specter of Imran Khan, sidelined but not out, would continue to haunt the new government. The PTI’s brand of agitation politics would also pose problems, as already apparent with the party’s recent letter urging the IMF against giving a fresh bailout with an election audit. Meanwhile, the country’s foreign exchange reserves have struggled to cross $8 billion for months, with all signs pointing to an urgent need to expand inflows—primarily through investment—and debt management to increase it. The crisis has only just begun; the next few years will determine just how much the public has to suffer before it is overcome.

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