A reset needed

Editorial Board
Monday, Apr 08, 2024

With Ramazan about to end, and Eid just around the corner, many are wondering if we will get a chance to celebrate this year at all – given the economic and political traumas the people of Pakistan have been subjected to in the past few months. Pakistan is all set to enter a new IMF programme, and with a new finance minister trying to bring in economic reforms and the government also cautioning us that the next couple of years may not be easy, the people will need to tighten their belts furthermore. The past few years have already been economically taxing on everyone, especially the poor and the middle class. The government should ensure that the economic reforms do not just target those who are already paying their taxes like the salaried class but that new taxpayers are brought in from sectors like retail, real estate and agriculture so that the burden of taxes is not shifted to the same people again and again.

On the judicial front, the letter by six judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and the subsequent suo motu by the Supreme Court is important because it is no secret that the judicial establishment has for decades on end been used to undermine politicians. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had warned of this but he was penalized. Fortunately, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa has taken suo-motu notice of the IHC letter. Here’s to hoping that this matter will be resolved after Eid when the hearing resumes and proper guidance is given by the top court for judges when such cases arise in the future.

On the political front, there seems to be stability if looked at from a parliamentary perspective but politically, things are still up in the air. Some signs of stability can be seen in the fact that we have a coalition government that has enough numbers to complete its tenure. Even the announcement by the opposition parties that there will be protests after Ramazan has not ruffled the government’s feathers as it seems quite comfortable in its numbers. There is also the new ‘same page’ – this time between the PDM parties and the powers-that-be. If reports are to be believed, not all is well within the PTI too. Despite the party’s popularity, it seems that as long as Imran Khan remains in jail, there will not be enough cohesion within the party leadership as experts say that some leaders cast doubts on others for being ‘planted’ while others accuse them of being jealous of their popularity. The war of words in public between different PTI leaders may be amusing to its detractors but for a party that got a lot of votes and is popular because of Imran’s populist rhetoric, such infighting means that they will not be able to come up with a focused strategy to counter the government. If the PTI can get its act together, then it can exert pressure within parliament on the government. Let’s see if the judiciary, political class, and our economic gurus can allow Pakistan a rest – and its people a breather.