Discussion on economy calls for major constitutional amendments to steer country into right direction

Arshad Yousafzai
Sunday, Jun 05, 2022

KARACHI: For the last 75 years, Pakistan has been facing political and economic crises but the state seems not ready to diagnose and fix the underlying reasons resulting in such crises. The policies introduced in the last 40 years brought us to the brink of bankruptcy.

Academic Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed and Economist Dr Kaiser Bengali expressed these views while addressing a roundtable discussion titled ‘Socio-Political and Economic Meltdown’ at the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA).

The event was organised by the Concerned Citizens Alliance — a newly formed apolitical platform.

Dr Ahmed said the 1973 Constitution was a fundamental document for the country but it needed 20 to 25 crucial amendments. He also called for ensuring that the Constitution was fully functional in the country.

Bringing historical perspective to the discussion, he opined that the Muslim League had no clear plan about how it would establish a modern state in a society that was based on feudalism and tribalism. “Instead of replacing the traditional society, the newly established state of Pakistan brought colonialism in different shapes to deal with various problems. Also, the civil and military bureaucracy became dominant and they converted the new state into a security state.”

According to the academic, the country became a national security state in 1958 and this did not change afterwards. “National security is always a point of concern for the rest of the countries in the world but other countries deal with national security issues by fixing their parameters within a democratic approach through democratic institutions.”

Dr Ahmed said civilian supremacy had never been observed in Pakistan, due to which democratic values could not flourish. In the past, Pakistan saw around five hybrid regimes, including the hybrid regime of Imran Khan that was imposed in 2018, he added.

One could easily gauge that military dictators were behind those hybrid regimes, he said.

He was of the view that the country’s economy was based on war against terror but when the war ended or subsided, the country was left with no economic plan. “As a result of our policies, our allies no longer trust us.”

The constitutional institutions such as National Finance Commission and Council of Common Interest must be functionalised so that we could all sit together and come up with solutions to the problems we face today, Dr Ahmed said.

Dr Bengali remarked that today, even a rickshaw driver knew what was wrong with Pakistan’s economy. He added that perhaps our economy could continue to survive with foreign loans but it was not a permanent solution.

This current crisis would lead us towards new solutions, the economist said. “We would be forced to challenge the powers not ready to share their power.”

“We are taking loans to pay loans and putting the burden on the common people. All our finance ministers are now the agents of the IMF and they have one-point agenda of implementing what the IMF wants,” he lamented.

He said the industrial and agriculture sectors were the most neglected sectors of our economy as investors and businessmen preferred to invest in other sectors such as real estate and imports. He lamented that factories were being shut, which would further curtail job opportunities in the country.