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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid