English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Will the experienced Nawaz Sharif be able to anchor Pakistan’s shipwrecked economy?

Pakistan's former Prime Minister and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif

Economic recovery will be Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s biggest test as he sets the ground for the upcoming general elections. At a rally in Lahore, which he addressed immediately upon his return after four years, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo promised to take adequate steps to bring down prices.

While Sharif did not elaborate on any plans, former finance minister Ishaq Dar said that a roadmap is in place. According to Dar, the Shehbaz Sharif government’s focus was only on saving Pakistan from default and preventing the country from going the Sri Lanka way.

“If the people elect Nawaz Sharif again, he has an economic plan for the relief of the people. The last 16 months were not for economic recovery, but to save Pakistan from default,” Dar said, according to Express Tribune.

A close aide of the elder Sharif, Dar, who took charge as finance minister in late September 2022, could do little to revive the economy of the country.

Meanwhile, Nawaz acknowledged that things have worsened to the extent that people have to choose either to pay their electricity bills or feed their kids.

“It has become impossible for people to pay bills. People are committing suicide,” he added.

“I want to serve this nation,” the elder Sharif who has served as PM three times earlier.

The South Asian country is facing an unprecedented economic crisis with high inflation, rising unemployment, energy shortage, dwindling foreign exchange reserves among others. Most importantly, its external debt levels have been steadily increasing. Pakistan’s total debt and liabilities increased 29 per cent to touch (Pakistani) Rs 56.21 trillion at the end of the previous financial year that closed on June 30.

While poverty levels have increased, the middle-class population has been thinning.

Amid the economic crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked Pakistan to take further steps towards austerity and increase gas prices.

“Nawaz Sharif is a seasoned politician, he has been the PM earlier also, so he has experience but Pakistan of today is very different from what it was when he left. Though he would more or less know what should be done, the question is how much will he be able to do,” an analyst said.

India’s relations with Pakistan had nosedived during the Imran Khan government especially following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. Pakistan halted trade with India too.

Despite repeated requests from the Pakistani industry captains asking Islamabad to resume trade with India, nothing has moved.

Amid the deepening of the economic mess in Pakistan, Sharif’s words and actions will be scrutinized carefully.

Also read: Watch: Nawaz Sharif arrives in Lahore from London via Dubai after four years in exile