News / Asia

    Pakistani Voters Focus on Struggling Economy

    Pakistani Voters Focus on Struggling Economyi
    X
    April 23, 2013 2:51 PM
    As Pakistan prepares for national elections next month, the new government’s plans for reviving the fragile economy are for many a higher priority than addressing militant violence. But Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad that that given the economic track record of the last administration, few are hopeful for change.
    Ayaz Gul
    As Pakistan prepares for national elections next month, the new government’s plans for reviving the fragile economy are for many a higher priority than addressing militant violence. Given the economic track record of the last administration, few are hopeful for change.
     
    Zafar Saeed runs a vocational training center in a low-income neighborhood of the Pakistani capital. For more than a decade, his institution has trained thousands for work in an increasingly difficult economy. Now as his own business struggles from power cuts and inflation, Saeed blames the government for the situation.
     
    “Our organization has suffered major financial losses particularly over the past five years because prolonged power outages have not allowed us to perform our activities. The other main reason is inflation because people can no longer afford to pay for their fees to learn income-generating skills,” said Saeed.

    Lacking political will

    Many share Saeed’s view. Street protests against chronic power outages are routine in Pakistan, where power cuts can now last an entire day.
     
    Ashfaque Hassan Khan, a professor at Islamabad’s NUST Business School, said, “We are facing economic challenges and the reason for this is that for five years the economy has never been on the radar of the government.”
     
    Khan said part of the problem has been too little political will to fix the national tax system.
     
    Less than one percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people pay income taxes. About 70 percent of federal lawmakers did not submit any income tax returns last year. Most of them are likely to be returned to parliament in the upcoming elections. That makes it more difficult to request assistance from Pakistan’s major donors.
     
    “There is a genuine complaint from [the] international community because their taxpayers have started raising questions that 'why should our government give our taxpayer money to Pakistan when [the] Pakistani government doesn’t tax their own rich and influential people?'” said Khan.

    Economic focus

    Although militant attacks in Pakistan routinely make international headlines, recent public opinion surveys indicate most young people are concerned about unemployment, high inflation, power shortages and corruption.
     
    Former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi, said these surveys also suggest Pakistanis under age 25, who make up 60 percent of the population, have grown more pessimistic about the future.

    “So, the message to Pakistan’s next government is a very strong one. And that message is deal with the economy otherwise young people will opt out of the system and when young people opt out of the system and lose faith then frankly, the future prospects for any country begin to look very bleak,” said Lodhi.
     
    To build support among the young voters who make up roughly 40 percent of the electorate, popular political parties are vowing to reduce unemployment and root out corruption.
     
    But with opinion surveys showing extremely low favorability ratings for politicians, many voters - like Saeed - are skeptical the next government will be any different from the last one.

    You May Like

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora