By Amna Malik
Two-year ago when Pakistan Muslim League – N (PML-N) came into power, the economy as well as the social setup of Pakistan was downward spiral and admittedly, victory in May 2013 general elections was a greater responsibility which people levied upon PML-N leadership to rid the country of this spiral. Today, the government has completed two years and made significance achievements enabling every state department to grow faster, however, before going to visualize what that landmark performance the government has delivered to the people, this is also essential to portray a brief scenario of the situation prevailing in Pakistan two years ago.
In fact, energy crises and terrorism were the two main problems the entire nation was suffering from. Above and beyond, lower level domestic & foreign investment, industrial growth along with high level unemployment, record inflation and high level of load-shedding were also making common life hard to survive. Economic growth had decreased by 30% resulting in high level inflation. Rate of interest was also soaring high causing investment to decline rapidly. The budget deficit was also mammoth and foreign exchange reserves were rapidly ending what that the economy was close to collapse due to huge burden of foreign loans.
While framing the primitive soup theory to overcome the economic and social problems, PML-N government under the headship of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif preferred to overcome root of every economic problem and the best option for them to beat electricity load-shedding. For this purpose, Rs 500 million circular-debts, the main cause for lower electricity production was paid without any delay. Consequently, electricity production increased by 1700 MW and electricity supply gets better. At the time when PML-N came into power, electricity shortage was 7000 MW therefore government has setup the target to add 21000 MW electricity to national grid within the next 8 to 10 years and launched many power generation projects.
Following are some detail about the projects being installed by the government to sustain electricity crises in Pakistan. Govt. has started groundbreaking power project at Port Qasim; 10 coal-fired power projects with a capacity of 660 MW each were being initiated at Gadani in Baluchistan, which would add in total 6600 MW electricity to the national grid. 3500 MW electricity will be generated from the Diamer Bashah Dam in Gilgit Baldistan and 950 MW from Neelum-Jhelum power project next year. 1320 MW project consisting on small projects in Jamashoro, Rahim Yar Khan, Muzaffargarh, Sahiwal and Jhang is being installed. Nandipur Thermal Power Project has been completed a long time ago and successfully adding 425 MW in the system. 969 MW will be available adding the expansion work on Tarbela iv and v project and this will be completed in 2017 with total production of 2760 MW power. UCH 2 404 MW along with independent power plant at Dera Murad Jamali have been constructed which will add an aggregate of 990 MW electricity to the national grid. Diamer-Basha and Dasu dams are under construction and will add 9000 MW in the future.
Now these landmarks projects in energy sector would put back the country from darkness to light. China has also promised to install many energy projects worth USD 6 billion in the next five years. Foundation of atomic energy plant has also been laid in Karachi. China will provide technical and financial assistance for this project, which will produce 2200 MW electricity till the end of 2017. The government strategy to convert furnace power plants into coal power plants aiming at minimizing extra burden on the import of oil and to provide people with electricity at lower prices will also minimize trade deficit.
The shuttered down economy was also a big challenge. Efficient economic policy is triggering economic and business cycle of Pakistan which is further easing common life to grow. Inflation and economic growth have decreased by 4.2 % and 4.4 % respectively which were 10 % and 3% two-years ago. Exports and foreign receipts have increased by 2.73% and 13.7%. Revenue collection have been increased up to Rs. 2226 billion which were Rs. 1946 billion before consequently, it has decreased budget deficit from 8.8% to 5.5%.
Trade deficit is decreased by 2.55% which has also been verified by IMF and World Bank. Recently, foreign reserved has reached at record level of USD 18 billion. Government has successfully issued USD 2 billion Euro Bonds. 3G & 4G radio technology has been auctioned which has successfully returned in meeting target of Rs. 120 billion however, previous government made the same auction with a target of Rs. 79 billion. IMF and Asian Development Bank have restarted their normal official activities in Pakistan which proves their confidence over the policies and performance of recent government. Possibilities of foreign invest is also sure and to sustain foreign investment in energy sector, talks are being initiated between government and American companies.
The signed USD 46 billion agreement of Pak-China economic corridor is another landmark achievement of PML-N government, which will not only open the new avenues of relationship in trade and economy between two countries but also open new vistas for development in the whole region. According to the agreement, 2700 KM motorway, 200 KM long tunnels with 70 main bridges will be constructed which will generate employment opportunity in the country. The experts have termed the corridor as ‘game changer in the region’.
PML-N government has strived hard to secure GSP Plus status for Pakistan. It is estimated that now after achieving GSP Plus status, Pakistani exports to the European market will increase by USD 2 billion per year.
In foreign relations, PML-N government has established a new era of friendship and cordial relations with China, UK, USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, South Korea, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kirgizstan and Turkmenistan etc. Regional connectivity for regional prosperity by entrenching bilateral relations with Central Asian Muslim neighbors and by reinstalling past projects in energy sectors is also the top most priority of foreign policy. PM Nawaz and President Mamnoon Hussein have visited Central Asian states in this regard and urged their leaderships to speed up the process to accomplish past projects i.e. CASA-1000 and TAPI (both projects are essentials to sustain energy supply). For the same purpose PM Nawaz also urged Indian leadership to restore peace talks and settle Kashmir dispute so that India and Pakistan may equally be benefited by regional connectivity.
In the vision of one nation and harmony along with Sindh and Baluchistan and Sindh provinces, PM Nawaz Sharif announced to launch Green Line Metro Bus Service in Karachi, Water Supply Project, Karchi-Lahore Motorway, Metro Bus Service in Multan, Gawadar-Kashghar Motorway. Pakistan Metro Bus (Rawalpindi, Islamabad metro bus) service has been started; people are enjoying its service and saving their precious time and money.
For the reduction of unemployment, PML N government has also announced Micro Interest Free Loans Scheme, which focuses on those segments of society who are financially weak. In these schemes are Small Business Loans, Youth Training Scheme, Youth Skill Development Scheme, Fee Payment for under privileged Areas and PM Scheme for Provision of Laptops also has been included.
Now let us turn spot light on the government efforts to counter terrorism, the most unwanted paralysis and bringing it to an end was also the biggest challenge the government had to face to restore peace in Pakistani society. During last two years, recent government has also faced various terrorist attacks committed by Taliban militants and its linked organizations. The most infamous was the attack on innocent children in Army Public School, Peshawar; 142 people including 132 innocent children were slain. This incident alarmed the global humanity and huge pressure was levied upon the government to take a decisive action to rid Pakistani society of this curse of terrorism. Regardful to the government efforts and strategies adopted in collaboration with Pakistan army and other law enforcement agencies, the counter terrorism approach has been very effective. After when all the negotiation talks between government and Taliban, which were being initiated on the consult of all political parties, have proven failure, on 15 June 2015, government decided to launch a grand operation called ‘Zarb-i-Azb’ against terrorist militants. In general, this operation was a consequent of Army Public School attack, therefore all the political parties have stood by government and they altogether full heartedly supported Pakistan’s army as the whole nations now wanted to end the curse of terrorism.
PM Nawaz also carried on talks with the Afghan president on this issue. Army Chief General Raheel Shareef also visited Taliban and provided them with proofs that the terrorists involved in Peshawar school attack belonged to Afghanistan. Afghan president and their army commander affirmed to stand by Pakistan in this cause to end Taliban’s terrorist from Afghanistan as well from Pakistan. During Zarb-i-Azb, drowns attacks and land activities were also made by Afghan Army in which more than 21 terrorists were killed. Before Reheel Shareef visited to Kabul, he had also paid an official visit to USA and removed misunderstandings of Americans against Zarb-i-Azb and convinced them for the positive approach being adopted by Pakistan to end terrorism which smoothed process of Pakistan-American relations.
In fact, without effective participation of Afghan government, elimination of terrorism is absolutely not possible therefore PM Nawaz re-established good terms of Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan. Consequently, Afghan president visited Pakistan and strongly affirmed to improve relations to eradicate terrorism and to cooperate for bilateral trade. Later on, Afghan army chief also visited Islamabad on 23 December, 2014 and emphasized on visualizing common framework to counter terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Hence, assertive confidence of America and Afghanistan on Zard-i-Azb speeded up Pakistan’s military operation against Taliban terrorists which has resulted in the removal of 90% Taliban from sensitive areas of Pakistan. Government, army and political leaders have agreed upon an Action Plan to counter terrorism, implementation upon which is still being carried out and resulting in reduction in terrorist activities and target killing in Karachi and life there and other insecure parts of Pakistan is being normalized.
Collectively, the situation of peace and security is much better now in Pakistan. The occurrence of suicide bombing is nominal and the extremely sensitive areas have been clean swept from terrorists. The ratio of crimes like dacoities and extortions has also fallen.
We are witnessing that, this government is speedy overcoming the formidable economic and social problems since it came into the power. These landmark achievements show that the completion of five-year tenure of the PML-N government would be the largest interest of the Pakistan and for the Journey towards the development and accomplishment of the dreams of “Asian Tiger”. Now peoples should have to motivate to help the government in the best interest of the country and uplifting the life of common man.