Narratives asks prominent figures from different walks of life how they envision Pakistan in 2021.
We need to realise that our worth lies in children and in youth. In 2021, Pakistan must invest in innovation, science, technology and education in order to build a knowledge economy.
As far as COVID-19 is concerned, we need to learn to live with it. Though the vaccine will be available in the upcoming months of 2021, we need to adapt to the new, post-Covid lifestyle while following all the SOPs and guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Moreover, I wish to see 2021 as the year of judicial reforms to bring the corrupt elements to book. This will pave our path to prosperity and human development.
A soaring political temperature; the opposition’s PDM alliance and the PTI-led government both testing the waters; battles of nerves and defiance; and the politics of reconciliation ultimately taking centre stage — the primary actors and acts of the year 2021 will be no different from 2020 in Pakistan’s political arena. Not much will change, and this time, it is not solely due to the government’s weakness or the opposition’s strength. In fact, it is because Pakistan, along with the rest of the world, has a more significant challenge at hand — countering COVID-19 and its widespread variants.
Just when the world was jubilant over the anticipated vaccine, the second wave and one of Covid’s fatal variants took everyone by storm. Until the first wave, Pakistan had been one of the more fortunate countries in the globe, which had largely averted the catastrophe through wise political decisions and strategies. However, the second wave has made Pakistan vulnerable, even more so, again, wherein saving lives and livelihoods will again take precedence in 2021 over everything else. It’s not over until it’s over.
Regrettably, the country’s health expenditure totalled 1.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the current financial year against the five percent recommended by the WHO. Given the government’s lack of attention, health issues in 2021 may remain the same as those of the preceding year — or become even worse. The government is only working on the curative side of diseases. For effective outcomes, we need to focus more on the prevention of diseases instead of only their treatments.
If the government only plugs away at the provision of safe water in 2021, it will help eliminate 60 percent of waterborne diseases. As a result, the overall burden on the health sector will be significantly reduced.
In order to effectively combat the second wave of COVID-19 in 2021, the federal government should formulate a uniform policy by taking all provincial governments and medical bodies on-board. The coronavirus vaccine’s administration will soon start in the country; nonetheless, the spike in the number of infections will take longer to decline.
The future of Pakistan appears to be in the doldrums in 2021. Presently, we are in a chaotic situation — the political parties are busy maligning each other, holding public gatherings amid a pandemic, while corruption is rampant nationwide. No one seems to be concerned about poverty, inflation, health and education. I am not a pessimist, but a realist who is considering all the indicators. As a result, I can only conclude that Pakistan is not going anywhere in 2021.
I firmly believe that Pakistan can only progress if it comes out of the clutches of the mainstream political parties, and politicians from the middle-class get a chance to govern the country.
2021 is going to be an even more challenging and difficult year for Pakistan’s political and military establishment than 2020. Economic revival and growth are imperative for Prime Minister Imran Khan to deliver on his so far unfulfilled promise of a welfare state. However, growing political instability and uncertainty will remain the biggest obstacle for the country’s economic revival. And political stability is likely to further deteriorate if the establishment fails to reach an agreement with the disgruntled opposition.
Core supporters of the PTI government now expect to see the party deliver its long-overdue promises. In the months ahead, the ruling party will have to overcome its predicament of poor governance and performance. The Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) proposed long march is indeed a potential threat for the current regime in the short-run. But the most far-reaching threat remains the PTI’s lack of delivery and inconsistent and flawed decision making. If the government fails to address its unserious approach in dealing with criticism of its performance, it might hand the PDM a walkover in the next few months.
2021 will in all likelihood be a year of political turmoil for Pakistan. The PDM is most likely to resort to an aggressive approach with their scheduled long march towards Islamabad or Rawalpindi.
The PTI government’s honeymoon period was over long ago. Thus in 2021, Prime Minister Imran Khan has to focus all his energies on demonstrating responsible governance. Else, the opposition parties will further agitate the political environment. Stakes are high as the country is already reeling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, after the accessibility of the vaccine, Pakistan, along with the world, will hopefully defeat the Covid crisis.