Energy crisis to dominate policy of next government

The new government, which will form after country’s general elections on July25, will have to largely focus on overcoming energy crisis, trade and improving the foreign reserves.

With security situation improving and the IMF claiming last year that the country had emerged from crisis after completing its post-2013 bailout programme, things maybe looking up for Pakistan.

China has also made progress on an ambitious multi-billion dollar infrastructure project — the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — linking its western province of Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea via Pakistan. But growth has not been as fast as many hoped. The economy grew by 5.8 percent during 2017-18, its fastest since 2005 but still missing a government target by 0.2 percent.

The new government will have to work on Human Resources like youth employment opportunities, by offering incentives in tourism, housing and construction sectors. FATA would also be brought to the mainstream by giving them substantial development funds. It is expected that the new government will encourage investment by creating an investor-friendly environment in the country & will also help create new jobs and increase domestic exports for which tax rates and energy tariffs will be reduced to make Pakistani products competitive in the international markets.

The three major parties — PML-N, PTI and PPP — have issued their manifestos. This, in and of itself, is a good thing. The three parties focused on health, education and democracy in their manifestos.

All parties have mentioned higher education as a major theme in their election promise, which is excellent. The PML-N has talked about how the funding was increased in their tenure. But the Higher Education Commission (HEC) continues to face challenges, some of them existential, and the PML-N does not talk about restructuring or addressing those challenges. The PTI does discuss creation of new universities and new collaborations, but some of those things have been tried before in the Musharraf era and didn’t quite pan out. The PPP emphasise access and quality as well as creative thinking — something that is a fresh perspective and much needed.

For the first time in the country’s electoral history, the coming elections will be dominated by the aspirations of the very young in the country. Between 20 and 22 million young people will have the right to cast their vote for the very first time. They would have reached the voting age since the elections of 2013. According to the Election commission of Pakistan, in 2013 out of the 84 million total registered voters 16.2 million (20 percent) were in the age bracket of 18-25 and another 23.8 million (28 percent) under 35. After the revision of Electoral Rolls in 2017, the total number of voters in Pakistan has jumped to 97 million.

Published in Melange Intl. Magazine in July 2018.

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