Friday May 24, 2024

Last chance?

By Dr Farrukh Saleem
August 01, 2023

For a staggering 73 years, ever since our joining the IMF in 1950, we have been in and out of the IMF Emergency Ward not once, not twice, but a mind-boggling 22 times. Yes, you read that right – almost once every three years during our entire existence as a nation.

It is time to confront the uncomfortable truth: our own doctors treating our economy either do not have the political will to nurse the patient back to health or, worse yet, they are incompetent. And now, here we are, back in the dreaded Emergency Ward, still shamelessly preoccupied with petty zero-sum political games. A prime example of this reckless behaviour can be observed in the PML-N’s nomination of Ishaq Dar as the caretaker prime minister and the PPP’s rejection of it being ‘fake news’. It’s high time we face the harsh reality and demand real, decisive action to rescue our ailing economy. This could very well be our last chance. Do our decision-makers look serious?

We cannot continue to treat the IMF Emergency Ward as a revolving door to satisfy anyone’s immediate political needs without addressing the underlying issues that keep landing us in this dire situation. We need to see a united front that prioritizes the nation’s interests over partisan interests. It is high time for a paradigm shift in the way we approach our economic challenges. We have reached a crossroads, and the decisions made in the next three to six months will define our economic trajectory for years to come.

The necessary condition is political stability. But political stability on its own cannot take us out of the Emergency Ward. The sufficient condition is a defined, evidence-based economic policy – devoid of any political biases or considerations. To break free from this crippling cycle, we must undertake a resolute and decisive four-step plan. First, achieve a unanimous consensus within the ruling elite. Second, unhesitatingly enlist economic expertise from outside the government to guide the government in getting out of the Emergency Ward. Third, fortify our economic institutions, ensuring they possess the strength and resilience to weather any future storm. Lastly, and most crucially, adopt an unyielding commitment to an evidence-based economic policy, one that rests on concrete data and sound analysis. There is no room for half-hearted measures or political expediency. The path to salvation lies in unwavering determination and bold action.

In conclusion, we cannot afford to squander this opportunity. This is our last chance to avert the recurring nightmare of economic instability. It is time to rise above political gamesmanship. The path to economic redemption requires a united effort. Our destiny as a nation is in our hands, and we must act now before it’s too late. Together, we can build a thriving economy, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come. Do our leaders possess the necessary political will and capacity to finally terminate their zero-sum games, partisan bickering, and rhetorical attacks? Only time will reveal the answer.

The writer is a columnist based in

Islamabad. He tweets @saleemfarrukh and can be reached at: