Great talk, my captain

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With a rather excessive emphasis upon the marvels of the days gone by, Prime Minister Imran Khan played another sticky wicket at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday. His address recounted his government’s efforts to improve all of the country’s economic policies, which would perhaps reposit it to its former ‘line of success’. Quoting the likes of Sheikh Muhammad and drawing parallels between his personal trajectory where he “failed many times..but learnt to rise back” and Pakistan’s journey, which is “just going on the upswing, our premier had something to offer to most of his audience.

Making use of the glamour that he is previously famous for, Mr Khan even built an appealing case for foreign investors who should not “miss the boat.” It cannot be denied that he delivered a powerful speech that befitting his impressive personality and marked him as a charming breeze of the new order. He should be rightly appreciated for coming down as a strong leader in front of the international community, with no prominent sign of wear from the humungous challenges before him.

All his fervour aside, there is only a certain point to which his charisma can help him sell his struggling administration as an upcoming tiger economy. It can only be hoped that he lives up to his eloquent promises and garner enough support from the international community to push his tenure through these harsh waters. Still, as Mr Khan rightly acknowledges, Pakistan’s problems run pretty deep.

First and foremost, Islamabad needs to effectively carve up a solution to its cash-strapped economy. Despite trying to cut government expenditure through schemes like auctions of luxury vehicles and buffaloes, their austerity reforms have not yet done enough to reduce state debts. By the end of the year 2018, Pakistan was almost on the verge of bankruptcy. Many believe circumstances to be turning in the incumbent PTI government’s favour as it begins to set its plan in motion. Still, the actual impacts of changes in exchange rates decrease in regulatory duties, and an outreach program to tap foreign reserves would only be realised in due time.

Moving on, Mr Khan should deliberate upon the existing infrastructure and the business environment in his country if he wishes foreign investors to take his invitation to invest in his vision for a “strong and prosperous Pakistan” seriously. Increasing exports would dramatically help Pakistan reduce its reliance on debt financing. Yet, these measures need a viable environment, including but not limited to changes in tax laws, improved governance and a fresh set of reforms to ensure the much-needed institutional support.

Even if Mr Khan’s reminiscence of the golden “Pakistan in the sixties…(that) was a model of development” is seen as his vision for his administration’s economic goals, it would take much more than his finesse to lead the country through troubling times.  We, at The Morning Mail, can only hope that his repeated insistence on the need for economic reforms translates well with the International Monetary Fund: conditions that do not make life any harder for the common man.