Friday Jan 13, 2017
Having delivered on governance, economic reform and, crucially, security, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif now turns his attention to winning a second term, renowned magazine Nikkei Asian Review reported.
According to the magazine, having earned no uncertain praise in business circles and the media, some are already predicting another win for Sharif in the 2018 general election. Pakistan has recently seen significant improvements in its infrastructure and energy sectors, helped in part by the downward trend in oil prices.
In August, the country completed the International Monetary Fund's Extended Fund Facility program, which provided $6.4 billion in financial aid over three years on condition the country undertakes certain reforms, including fiscal austerity and privatisation measures. Macroeconomic indexes are up across the board, and relations with the US and the wider international community have improved.
Public order, which has long plagued the entire country, is normalising thanks to the military's anti-terrorism campaign.
Nikkei Asian Review reported that although it can only be described as reaching the halfway point in its efforts to promote exports and manufacturing, reform the tax code and privatise state-run companies, Pakistan's recovery is undoubtedly gathering pace.
Gross domestic product growth fell short of the country's 5% target for fiscal 2016 -- which ended in June -- due mainly to a poor harvest of the primary agricultural product, cotton. But for fiscal 2017, the country is confidently projecting growth above 5%. The consumer price index, which for a time saw double-digit annual growth, fell to 2.9% on average in fiscal 2016. The government's annual deficit has fallen from 8.2% in fiscal 2013 to 4.6% of GDP.
Under Sharif, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party, or PML-N has focused on building infrastructure and public transportation systems. It has also made certain progress, mainly in its stronghold of Punjab, developing agricultural areas and addressing unemployment.
The centrepiece of its political campaign is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project, a comprehensive infrastructure program relying on financial help from China. Investment in CPEC projects totals $51 billion, mainly for the building of power plants, but also encompassing roads, ports, railroads and airports, and offers hope of spurring industry nationwide.
The Nikkei is Nikkei Inc.'s flagship publication and the world's largest financial newspaper, with a daily circulation exceeding three million.
The Nikkei Asian Review is its English-language business journal that launched in November 2013