Violent extremism affects Pakistan’s economy negatively

Terrorists are trying to destabilise Pakistan’s economy as well as the democratic process.

Sanm Malik

2009-10-30

ISLAMABAD — Terrorists are trying to destabilise Pakistan’s economy as well as the democratic process, Punjab’s Minister for Finance, Planning, and Development Tanvir Ashraf Kaira said, on Oct. 24.

“Because our economy has suffered a loss of US$40 billion due to war on terrorism, Pakistan cannot afford defeat; success is the only option. It is imperative for the safe future of Pakistan,” he said. Violent extremism and the status of the economy are closely linked. “Waves of terrorism and suicide attacks proved confidence-shattering…to investors.”

“The security situation has badly affected the business environment and consequently the economy as a whole,” said Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Zahid Maqbool.

“Pakistan’s salvation lies in rapid economic growth, a goal that should not be ignored by the government,” he said, which “is focused on grassroots level measures to combat the problem of terrorism, and includes a democratisation program involving social, economic and cultural reforms to achieve that end.”

Pakistan is taking steps to make the economy competitive both at the micro and macro levels, including some public-appeasing measures such as the Benazir Income Support Programme, a $240 million subsidy to farmers to purchase tractors, and the reinstatement of thousands of government employees who were laid off in the 1990s.

The ‘Strategic Trade Policy framework 2009-2012’ contains policy guidelines, and identifies principal action areas to reach an export growth target of six percent for the current fiscal year (FY), ten percent for the next, and 13 percent for 2011-2012.

Major new large scale investments in transportation and energy infrastructure are underway, which will position Pakistan as a key trade and investment hub linking the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia. Gwadar Port, which opened in 2008 in Baluchistan on the Gulf of Oman’s coast, will create a new economic corridor.

Maqbool called for promoting a "trade-not-aid policy" with friendly countries, which would involve them extending market access to Pakistani products in their respective markets,” he said.

The ICCI is of the view that Pakistan's economy has suffered badly because the country has become a frontline state in the war against violent extremism. The passage of the Kerry-Lugar Bill (KLB), which provides U.S. economic assistance to the country, is a positive step towards compensating Pakistan to some extent for its economic losses. Maqbool said he hoped the legislation would further promote trade and economic activities contributing to the prosperity of both countries.

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