Election Season Political Instability Could Threaten Pakistan's Growth Prospects

Sluggish GDP growth of only 1.9% offers little solace, with the economy projected to recover at a snail's pace.

Election Season Political Instability Could Threaten Pakistan's Growth Prospects

The Asian Development Banks’ (ADB) economic outlook for the next fiscal year that marks Pakistan’s future with high inflation, sluggish growth, social safety nets erosion and foreign exchange volatility, identifies political instability in election season key risk to growth stabilization.

With the inflation projected to be double digit (25%), the phenomena have emerged as the biggest enemy of the people. With prices soaring at an alarming rate, ordinary citizens are finding their wallets growing thinner by the day. The cost of living is a relentless burden, testing the resilience of families and their ability to provide for their loved ones. The bazaars once filled with the laughter of shoppers are now fraught with worry.

Amidst this turmoil, the promise of a better tomorrow seems distant. Sluggish GDP growth of only 1.9% offers little solace, with the economy projected to recover at a snail's pace. Job seekers face the harsh reality of underemployment and limited opportunities. The youth, brimming with potential, find themselves at a crossroads of frustration and economic hardship.

The exchange rate dance brings further distress. The volatility of the rupee means that the cost of daily necessities, from fuel to groceries, continues to climb. The rhythm of life has shifted, and many struggle to keep pace.

As the government clings to fiscal austerity measures, the consequences ripple through the fabric of society. Reduced public services, welfare programs and undoing of subsidies on essentials are felt most acutely by the poorest relying on these lifelines. For them, the safety net has frayed dangerously.

The job market resembles a minefield, and the risks are high. High unemployment rates loom, and the promise of stability is elusive. The struggle for a dignified livelihood is a daily battle for those longing for a glimmer of hope.

Food price volatility adds yet another layer of uncertainty. Global events, like the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the El Nino climate pattern, send shockwaves through the nation's food supply chains. The once-simple act of putting nutritious meals on the table becomes a fraught endeavor.

The ADB report says that during the election season the ongoing political instability poses a significant risk to the successful implementation of reforms aimed at achieving growth stabilization, restoring public confidence, and ensuring sustainable debt management.

The future is shrouded in uncertainty, but amid the challenges, hope lingers. Pakistan stands at a crossroads, where reforms hold the promise of economic redemption. However, persistent political instability threatens to thwart progress.

The people yearn for a government that can master the delicate art of balance—balancing economy and welfare. It is a tightrope walk between necessary reforms and safeguarding the most vulnerable. 

Attracting foreign investment and ensuring political stability are crucial components for weaving a more stable and prosperous future for all Pakistanis. However, the prospects of achieving these goals are intricately linked to the implementation of structural reforms aimed at upholding the rule of law, fiscal discipline, improving the ease of doing business, and safeguarding freedom of expression.

The author is a policy analyst