Despite the razor thin majority in the federal legislature, PTI government managed to play a master stroke by passing FATF related bills in the joint session of the parliament to get Pakistan off the greylist and avert the possibility of being moved to the blacklist. The legislations and subsequent codification of laws thereon will chock the channels of money laundering by political elite to further enrich their offshore accounts and immovable assets abroad. These legislations have rippled the opposition leaders. Hence, top leadership of all the opposition parties gathered at PPP hosted All Parties Conference (APC) and formed the forum of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for nationwide protest against the government from January next year.
As usual failing to present an alternative plan for the socio-economic uplift of the people, the opposition criticised the fiscal and monetary policies of the government, blasted it for increasing unemployment, surging inflation, likely threat to strategic assets of the country due to crumbling economy and cliché allegation against the government to have hatched a conspiracy for scrapping the 18th Amendment and slashing the share of provinces determined in the 7th NFC Award. They also sang the mantra of financial embezzlement in the ongoing CPEC related projects.
The opposition forum demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister and holding of fresh election in a transparent manner and raised the imaginary bogey of imposing Presidential system on the country. They also criticised the Afghan policy of the present government.
The chronic economic issues that opposition has enumerated in the resolution of APC were produced by bad governance and misrule of two mainstream parties during 2008-18 and left them as legacy to the PTI government. Shady deals made under the power policies of 1994 and 2013 and of course LNG import deal of the last PML- N government crippled the economy and pushed Pakistan from the status of producing country to lowest rank of trading nation. This is what the trade bodies were persistently complaining of. The present government has signed MoUs with local IPPs and negotiation shall be held with foreign power companies to lower the electricity tariff and pave the way for liquidation of circular debt in easy installments. The levy of GIDC has been withdrawn to reduce the input cost of agriculture. The sector has recorded a growth of 2.67 percent in the previous fiscal year even after being hit by natural calamities such as recurring locust attacks and damage caused by excessive rains. In the previous governments, growth rate of agriculture had remained stagnant at 0.85 percent. The manufacturing sector started declining and 40 percent of textile industry had shifted to South East Asian countries in the pursuit of low cost energy inputs a, better technology and skilled manpower.
The present government is upgrading the technological base of the industrial sector and opening engineering and technology institutes for skill development. The inauguration ceremony of one such institute has been performed by the Prime Minister Imran Khan at Haripur in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa the other day. It improved the Ease of Doing Business Index by 28 points.
The MoU signed by the last PML-N government for the upgradation of Main Railway Line ML-1 project under the umbrella of CPEC was plagued by transparency issues. The multilateral donor agencies had criticised the agreed cost of $9.2 billion. The present government, fulfilled all the procedural requirements of ensuring transparency, reviewed the cost of the project and signed agreement for $6.806 to implement it. The mantra of scrapping the 18th Amendment and reduction of share of federating units from federal divisible pool of tax revenue in the next NFC Award is nothing but fantasies of opposition leaders, it not a deliberate blame game to malign the government. As the Prime Minister shows zero tolerance for misappropriation of public funds and three federating units surrendered Rs.202 billion of unutilized financial resources to the center last year.
There was a diplomatic inertia on the Afghan conflict during the previous governments. The present government launched a proactive diplomacy to end this conflict by bringing the stakeholders to the negotiation table to avoid the repetition of mistake made first Nawaz Sharif government in 1992. The diplomatic efforts of the present government proved fruitful; historic peace deal between the US and the Taliban was signed in on in February, and first round of intra-Afghan dialogue has been held. The opposition should better wait till the completion of tenure of the present government.