Happy New Year, dear readers!
How will the new year treat us?
Well, let me be honest and blunt: the year 2023 is likely to be a difficult one for Pakistan. Currently, the country is facing various challenges, and they are only likely to exasperate as time passes. 2022 saw political instability and a change of government, along with a failing economy. Moreover, several security and environmental challenges also plague the country. Poor short-term policies of the previous government and global developments such as the Ukraine-Russia war led the country into a deteriorating economic situation.
Political instability in a country is conducive to its downfall, as the political and economic fronts go hand in hand. Acemoglu and Robinson explain in their book “Why Nations Fail” that the poverty or prosperity of a nation depends upon its politics. In particular, the types of political institutions dominant in a country determine the prevalent economic institutions that, in turn, determine economic success. Pakistan’s political institutions are quite weak; therefore, there exists instability on its political front, which has led to the worsening of the economic side as well. Currently, the risk of default exists, and all of this can be blamed on the previous and current governments. Bad policymaking and implementation and the need to gain power in the next elections have led the economy to this stage. This will only get worse in 2023 if swift action is not taken. The leaders must put aside their egos and their need for power and, for once, work for the good of the nation, otherwise, the situation is likely to be quite grim.
In the last days of 2022, Pakistan’s security situation worsened. In November, the TTP announced that they would end the five-month-long ceasefire. This resulted in a number of attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. The threat became even more visible when an attack was carried out in the federal capital. Moreover, the takeover of Swat by the TTP is a security failure and must be addressed as soon as possible. Pakistan also faces a threat from its western neighbour, Afghanistan. Border shelling from the other side has claimed the lives of many civilians, and if the situation remains the same, Pakistan is likely to once again be mired in a series of attacks from the TTP and other militant groups that might enter the country through the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Afghan government is uncooperative, and it is likely that Pakistan will face a threat from that side of the border as well, even though it was once thought that the Afghan Taliban governing Afghanistan would be positive for Pakistan. This problem has just started, and if it is not nipped in the bud, it will take Pakistan back to the previous decade of daily attacks, loss of life, infrastructure, and investment.
Additionally, Pakistan is the 8th country most vulnerable to climate change. The year 2022’s floods and heat waves have shown what lies ahead for the country and its people if action is not taken. While being in this position is not Pakistan’s fault, it is its responsibility to work towards mitigation. The devastation caused by the floods has had a profound impact on the economy and the people. Even before the floods, inflation was on the rise and many could not afford basic necessities, and after the devastating climate event, survival has become even more difficult for a large part of the population. This is just a glimpse of what lies ahead for the country if timely action is not taken.
Year 2023 will be a difficult one as many problems will be carried forward from the previous year. Pakistan is likely to face challenges on the political, economic, security, climate, and social fronts. If swift action is not taken on all these fronts, the country is likely to become one of the worst places to reside in the world.