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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid