Pakistan turns over a new leaf in the wake of Nawaz Sharif ouster, as the nation challenges corruption and impunity.
After Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif ouster following the Supreme Court’s investigation into his family’s undeclared properties abroad through offshore companies, the nation demonstrates its willingness to battle corruption and arbitrariness, two unfortunate and undying elements of most governments around the world that eat democracy alive.
Despite calls that the Nawaz Sharif ouster is the latest indication that Pakistan is run by chaos rather than democracy, Sharif’s removal from power amid a scandalous money laundering case shows that accountability and rule of law still reign in the nation that has removed from power all of its PMs before the end of their term in the past seven decades.
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The fact that the Supreme Court managed to remove Sharif from power indicates that the voice of Pakistani people, who took part in mass protests all over the nation to get to the bottom of the Panama Papers case, is heard by the courts.
The same cannot be said about Pakistan’s historic rival, India, which has struggled with mob violence and cow vigilantism for a while. India has seen the rise of protests against attacks on Muslims – oftentimes labeled as the Muslim genocide in India – but to no avail.
Nawaz Sharif Ouster Shows Pakistan’s Determination
Pakistan is one of few nations that actually reacted to the Panama Papers revelations, which made headlines last year and included revelations about several world leaders. Many nations decided to ignore or downplay the importance of Panama Papers documents, which disclosed alleged off-shore assets of quite a few world leaders that still remain in power.
While both Ukraine and Russia, whose leaders President Petro Poroshenko and President Vladimir Putin, respectively, were mentioned in the Panama Papers revelations, neither the Ukrainian nor Russian courts actually investigated the claims made in the scandalous April 2016 leak.
Pakistan, meanwhile, decided to get to the bottom of the claims in the documents that revealed the existence of Nawaz’s off-shore assets. And the investigation turned out to be fruitful, as investigators found “glaring disparity in the assets and known income” of the PM’s family.
While Pakistan is notorious for military coups and illegal power grabs, it has its own benefits, which were seen in the case of Nawaz Sharif ouster. If Sharif controlled both courts and military, one can argue that the Panama Papers case would never get this far and would be ignored just like in Ukraine and Russia.
Sharif Leaves Behind Achievements and Setbacks
Sharif is leaving behind both economic achievements and setbacks – after all, the nation has seen its economy soar during Sharif’s term, but at the same time the Pakistan economy is on the verge of crisis due to Sharif obtaining a whopping $35 billion in loans during his four-year tenure. Sharif’s successor will face tough decisions to keep the Pakistan economy on track while saving it from crisis at the same time.
The latest indications of the Pakistan economy’s rise in recent years is the fact that the nation has five of its companies on Forbes annual Asia’s 200 Best Under A Billion list, the feat that could be spurred by the rapid progress of CPEC. This year, Pakistan surpassed its arch rival, India, who has only three companies on the list.
In fact, besides economic growth in Pakistan, Sharif’s term as PM had seen infrastructure expansion, improvement in the nation’s chronic electricity shortages as well as a drop in poverty and the growing partnership with China, which is funding and building several mega infrastructure projects in Pakistan under CPEC.
Last year, Pakistan’s stock market out-performed all others in Asia, an unprecedented achievement for the Pakistani economy.
Political Drama Has Taken a Toll on Pakistan’s Economy
Following the Nawaz Sharif ouster, the nation will most likely stay on track with its growing friendship with China, further expanding infrastructure and solving its electricity shortages at the same time. Whether or not Sharif’s successor can get the nation back on to track for economic growth remains uncertain.
After all, the country’s economy has been suffering from the political drama surrounding the Panama Papers case. In early July, the Pakistani currency fell by over 3%, its biggest decline in nine years.
The Nawaz Sharif ouster will most likely have a negative short-term impact on investment inflows in Pakistan – as investors usually think twice before pouring their money in countries whose governments are accused of corruption and money laundering – but the ongoing implementation of CPEC is projected to fuel economic prosperity for Pakistan.
Pakistan’s economy could be on the verge of an imminent crisis, as the nation’s current account deficit (CAD) is unsustainable and remains an obstacle to economic stability. Moreover, the new PM will have to address the fact that the country’s foreign currency reserves are built on foreign loans.
What Has Nawaz Sharif Ouster Taught Pakistanis and the Rest of the World?
The potential economic crisis in Pakistan might overshadow the major victory of law in the Nawaz Sharif ouster. It is up to the future PM to decide: seize or ignore the unique opportunity to embark on a new road and enter a new era of political stability and economic growth.
If the Nawaz Sharif ouster has taught Pakistani politicians anything, it is that Pakistani courts have zero tolerance for dishonesty, impunity and corruption. While CPEC has the potential of making Pakistan one of the most attractive nations for investors in the next decade, political uncertainty and inadequate actions by the country’s leadership to address the economic decline could scare investors away.
Economic decline leads to higher risks and brings less investments than expected. With the Nawaz Sharif ouster, Pakistan is showing the world – and its potential investors – that it is willing to tackle corruption.
With the Pakistani economy having the potential to head in the right direction prosperity thanks to the advances of CPEC, the Pakistan economy’s prosperity hinges on the new PM’s ability to make tough decisions to prevent crisis.