Pakistan is struggling to come out of the economic crisis and the government’s efforts may bear fruit in the coming months if the balance of payment for July is to be considered. No doubt, stable and sustainable foreign exchange reserves are considered a criterion of economic development and this is possible only when domestic exports are high and imports are low. In July, Pakistan imported 19 per cent less fuel than the corresponding period in 2021. Similarly, the ban on luxury imports also helped save reserves. The government’s corrective measures are laudable, but unfortunately, unfavourable political and social conditions in the homeland do not allow the economy to recover and keep the long-term and short-term projects of the early decades extinct, which plunged the country into a mire of economic problems. During this time, the foreign investment that came in gradually disappeared. Today, foreign exchange reserves have to be managed by taking foreign loans on tough terms.
Pakistan needs foreign investment desperately. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari have made several trips abroad asking friendly countries for investment in Pakistan. Pakistan needs to increase industrial and commercial activities to lessen the country’s debts. It is very gratifying that two months ago, the Saudi government expressed its desire for multilateral investment in Pakistan. According to the latest media report, the United Arab of Emirates has recently offered to invest $1 billion in direct and indirect energy projects, health, biotechnology, agriculture, logistics, digital communication, e-commerce and finance sectors. The UAE and Pakistan have always been close to each other in terms of brotherhood and social values. The UAE has launched several welfare projects in many sectors, including health and education. Annual trade between the two countries is worth billions of dollars, while Pakistan earns a sizeable portion of its remittances from overseas Pakistani living in the UAE. Other than the UAE, Pakistan needs to explore new avenues in other countries, such as Iran, China and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s reliance on remittances to maintain remittances may backfire in the future. There should be immediate progress in the sectors in which the UAE has expressed its desire to invest. The ease of doing business parameters should be improved. Apart from this, the government must work on a war footing to encourage other countries to increase trade volume with Pakistan. We are living in hard times.