Fixing the Economy
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has significantly marred the already deteriorating economic conditions of Pakistan.
As identified in the article ‘Challenges Ahead,’ taking measures such as lowering borrowing costs and encouraging investment through ten-year fixed-term loans is not enough.
Considering the changing scenario in global politics and the disruption in the economy due to COVID-19, our country is likely to suffer from demand compression in the export sector.
The government’s temporary solutions, such as providing relief packages to the construction sector and prioritising housing schemes instead of investing in agriculture — which is in fact considered the backbone of Pakistan’s economy — will not fix the deep-rooted economic problems.
In a nutshell, such policies can be detrimental to our 2050 vision of transforming Pakistan into a high-income economy by 2047.
A New Chapter
US President Joe Biden looks forward to reviving the neo-liberal, Wilsonian or liberal-internationalist face of America.
As highlighted by Ejaz Haider in his article ‘New Beginnings,’ the new US president is unlikely to deviate from Trump’s Afghanistan policy. Even during Obama’s presidency, he, as vice president, was more interested in counterterrorism operations. Moreover, the US peace deal with the Taliban has now matured, and Washington is no longer in favour of continued troop engagement in Afghanistan.
To achieve this goal, the Biden administration will have to continue working closely with Pakistan. Biden’s intellect and vast experience in foreign policy will be crucial for Pakistan-US ties. Hopefully, the outcomes of his presidency would be positive and less damaging for Pakistan as well as for the entire region.
Ever since independence, Pakistan has faced numerous problems. Despite a pioneering family planning programme, launched back in the 1960s, Pakistan is still affected by the problem of overpopulation.
The article, ‘The Ticking Population Time Bomb,’ correctly points out that rapid population growth (2.05 percent per annum) is the root cause of other problems such as unemployment, food insecurity, water scarcity and an under-performing economy.
This pressing issue hardly gets any attention from the authorities. Meanwhile, the lack of awareness amongst the public further worsens the overall situation. The authorities should immediately spring into action and implement all family planning programmes in letter and spirit before it is too late.
To succeed in the global context, one needs to adapt to the changing environment. A country can only tread the path of development if it acquires advanced tactics. In this case, the inclusion of technology in the education sector is one of the primary factors.
One cannot boost the cognitive growth of a child by teaching new lessons in an old manner. Simply memorising or cramming course lessons is of no help in the modern era. According to Dr. Shams Hamid in ‘Passport to the New World,’ adding creativity, logic, and reasoning to teaching methods — by the inclusion of technology — is crucial.
It is encouraging to see that the government has initiated digitisation, investment in human capital and the promotion of a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
The first significant steps to the process of digitisation of education were taken during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a good sign for Pakistan’s digitalisation process. At least, we are on our way to becoming a developed nation.
Moving Ahead with Education
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was marked by a drastic shift in teaching methods throughout the country. Initially, it was difficult for the parents and students to adjust accordingly. However, with the government’s timely measures like introducing digital learning platforms on national television, training teachers for e-learning, and so forth, the country seems to have moved ahead in the right direction.
Meanwhile, the government is also working hard to enhance education quality by devising a Single National Curriculum (SNC). The SNC is supposed to ensure uniformity in Pakistan’s education system. In that way, it will bridge the prolonged inequality issues in the system.
The government is undeniably playing its part well. Now, it is up to all of us — teachers, students, parents — to be equally committed to improving the education system.
Jawad Ahmed’s viewpoint in the Crystal Ball segment was spot on. I second his opinion that the future of Pakistan will be in the doldrums in 2021. And whoever believes otherwise is actually living in a fool’s paradise.
The country’s political and economic woes will never end unless a middle-class leader takes the reins of Pakistan. All these successive elite rulers will continue to work for their vested interests, and the layperson will continue to suffer under the burden of poverty, inept healthcare, and a malfunctioning education system.
I hope that our country soon finds a competent leader who could, at least, ensure the provision of basic rights to the general public.
The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Power, Tabish Gauhar, wrote in his article ‘Powering the Power Sector’ that the government should be giving a subsidy on the rate of electricity and gas to “only those people and areas that are the most deserving, and ideally through direct cash transfers. In this regard, a pilot project mapping the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) billing with the corresponding Ehsaas database is a work in progress.”
I believe linking lifeline tariffs with the Ehsaas database is just the right way to proceed, and let’s hope that the planned pilot-scale project is launched urgently for the people of Pakistan.
The Reading Habit
I happened to read the book review ‘Perplexing Times’ by Maliha Khan, and I must say that she provoked enough interest in me that I bought the book — Making Sense of Post COVID-19 Politics — the very next day.
Fortunately, the book turned out to be as insightful as described in the review. Pakistani authorities, as well as the public, have a lot to learn from this manuscript as our battle against the corona virus is still raging.
In gloomy times like these, when people are swiftly moving away from reading books, I appreciate Narratives Magazine for having a segment solely dedicated to books. Keep up the good work.
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