Although it is inherently a good notion, our much polarised political environment has made it difficult to achieve.
A sign that our leaders have begun to accept the transience of political power and the issues brought on by the ensuing lack of consistency in policy is the need for an economic charter, which has resounded with sporadic frequency over the previous several years and taken on growing urgency recently.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reiterated the necessity for it in his speech to the nation on the occasion of Pakistan’s independence’s 75th anniversary.
The concept for a charter of economy is based on the Charter of Democracy that Benazir Bhutto, the late chairperson of the PPP, and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif signed in London in 2006. The Charter of Democracy established some basic rules for how politics would be contested in Pakistan between the two major parties after years of conflict saw them constantly plot against and undermine one other, to the country’s overall disadvantage.
Similar to this, the proposed economic charter is likely to contain boundaries that the parties signing it will pledge to uphold in their struggle for dominance. Over the past few years, as the nation has fallen from one crisis to another and successive governments keep delegating the difficult task of enacting economic changes to their separate successors, the necessity for such guidelines has grown.
Politicians will at least give the economy some room to stabilise and expand while maintaining some degree of continuity if they sign on to a shared reform agenda and agree to leave it off the table while they argue and wrangle about everything else.
The present PML-N-led government has made an effort to follow the challenging recommendations offered to it in order to rescue the economy from the severe situation it was discovered to be enmeshed in after the PTI government was ousted. The government has mainly kept to its guns, despite having reversed course on a few crucial issues.
The PML-N should be applauded for its choices, even though they came at a high political cost. It makes sense that the prime minister wants to prevent the sacrifices from being in vain. There won’t be any progress on this issue, though, unless the PTI participates in the negotiations and acknowledges that it cannot lead the economy on its own and that it needs a charter like this just as much as its competitors do.
Both sides have members that are stubbornly unwilling to communicate with the other. There is little chance that reason will win the day as long as such immaturity reigns. It is past time for all parties to realise that political conflicts do not have to be used as a pawn in economic negotiations.