Fractious Path: The Odyssey of Pakistan’s New Governance Landscape

In 2024, the freshly minted Pakistani administration finds itself thrust into a labyrinth of obstacles demanding urgent attention and the crafting of astute strategies for resolution.

In 2024, the freshly minted Pakistani administration finds itself thrust into a labyrinth of obstacles demanding urgent attention and the crafting of astute strategies for resolution. One of the key challenges is the economic crisis that has been exacerbated by the global pandemic and regressive economic measure taken by the previous administrations. High inflation rates, unemployment, and a growing budget deficit are pressing issues that need to be addressed promptly. Additionally, the government must tackle the longstanding problem of energy shortages and invest in renewable energy sources to ensure sustainable power supply for the country.

Domestically, issues such as political unrest, economic vulnerability, and escalating security risks have had a significant impact. Furthermore, political stability, security concerns, and diplomatic relations with neighboring countries also demand critical attention and delicate handling. As the new government takes the helm, it is essential to develop comprehensive plans and implement sound policies to confront these multifaceted challenges.

First and foremost, restoring economic stability is top priority. The new finance chief is facing significant challenges ahead, particularly concerning interest rates and energy prices. Industry concerns are significant, but a key issue is the potential impact of a one percentage point increase in the policy rate, leading to a substantial rise in debt-service payments for the government. This situation is linked to the pressing matter of debt restructuring, particularly regarding domestic debt.

Currently, the federal government’s debt-service payments surpass its net revenues, influencing its resource allocation. This represents a challenging period in Pakistan’s economic past. The elected government will likely need to make tough decisions that may not be well-received in order to meet the requirements for a new IMF loan.

Second, ensuring political stability and national security is crucial for the overall well-being of the country. Addressing security concerns and fostering political stability can create a conducive environment for economic growth and development. To ensure the smooth functioning of the political process, political parties and major institutions must engage in a wide-reaching national conversation that paves the way for a collective agreement. While democracy permits peaceful demonstrations, it is paramount to reject any form of street violence that puts the safety of the very individuals on whose behalf the protests are being conducted at risk.

Establishing strong internal security is essential to instill trust among both local and foreign investors. For this purpose, the government should start reforming the police system and ensure consistent application of the law across all regions of Pakistan. Moreover, intelligence agencies need to collaborate closely to effectively address security risks, particularly those posed by external adversarial entities operating in our vicinity.

Maintaining and improving diplomatic relations with neighboring countries is another challenge, paramount for regional stability and economic cooperation. The government needs to engage in diplomatic dialogue to address mutual concerns and promote peaceful relations.

Our foreign policy necessitates a thorough reassessment. It is crucial to uphold the principle of avoiding engagement in external conflicts and to place a higher significance on fostering peaceful external relations. The founder of Pakistan endorsed a foreign policy based on “friendliness and goodwill.” Exploring avenues to connect with neighboring countries through a geo-economic lens is also imperative. To make well-informed decisions, engaging all relevant stakeholders in discussions on key foreign policy matters is essential to ensure inclusivity in the process.

Pakistan should continue to uphold and bolster its relationships with the United States and China, with a significant focus on fostering economic collaboration. Another cornerstone of the evolving relationship between Pakistan and the US is economic cooperation and support, especially given Pakistan’s current economic crisis. Securing Washington’s backing for a new IMF programme is essential.

Regarding India, Pakistan should be open to any potential proposals from New Delhi, present or post-elections in May, while maintaining our official stance on the Kashmir conflict. It is crucial to sustain dialogue with the Afghan government across various levels to influence the Taliban against supporting the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in conducting terrorist assaults in Pakistan. In light of the profound transformations occurring in the Gulf states, Pakistan should prepare for expanded economic and trade ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies.

Besides economic and political challenges, Pakistan is grappling with a worsening security landscape characterized by escalating attacks from groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic State, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. In addition, tensions along the borders with Iran and Afghanistan are escalating. Resolving these security issues primarily rests on military efforts. However, the key to success lies in strong collaboration between civilian and military authorities.

Initial signs point towards this consensus being established, reflecting shared goals. Yet, garnering broad public backing for potential major counter-terrorism initiatives may prove challenging, especially considering the likelihood of limited popularity for the new government.

Wrapping up, the new Pakistani government is tackling a multitude of formidable obstacles that demand strategic foresight and resolute action. From economic pendulum swings to political turbulences, the path ahead seems arduous for the newly elected leadership. Yet, through unwavering dedication, collaborative efforts, and an unwavering drive to prioritize citizens’ welfare, the government can potentially surmount these challenges and illuminate a beacon of hope for a prosperous future. The roadmap to progress lies in the hands of those at the helm, With proactive management and right prioritization, the challenges can be overcome.

Rameen Siddiqui
Rameen Siddiqui
A thought leader and youth activist with main focus areas being Sustainable Development, Political Economy, Development Justice and Advocacy. A member of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY). Also a Youth Member of United Nations Association of Pakistan (UNAP).