Pakistan faces complex challenges, internal and external with no easy solutions in sight. Pakistan’s challenges include weakened political leadership, poor overall performance of state institutions, poor public services, massive poverty, burgeoning population, rampant urbanization, continuing military control of Pakistan’s foreign and security policy framework, bad governance, impact of continuing conflicts with India, Afghanistan’s war situation, increased militancy, and endemic corruption allegations.

Pakistan is facing an economic crisis because of massive corruption, bad planning, bad governance, and even political instability. Like elsewhere, Pakistan was also challenged by the Covid-19 lockdowns which has also severely affected the country’s economy. Meanwhile, political uncertainty is taking a toll on the country’s economy as the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) government is not ready to take bold decisions to stabilize the economy. The country was expected to improve on the economic front thanks to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative but the sheer negligence of the ruling establishment to tackle the issue of social justice and enlightened Islam will draw it back from reaching its true potential.

The anarchy unleashed by Islamic fundamentalists must be checked in Pakistan before it engulfs the whole region in further chaos. Much depends on timely action taken by the ruling establishment of Pakistan to get its own act together to achieve the true prospects of economic development presented to the country by the CPEC initiative. Bad governance is still the norm in Pakistan and not the exception. Desperately needed reform measures still await the nation. The nation is poorer because of its poor leadership, both military and civilian. It is hoped that a turnaround could still happen as a new civilian leadership replaces the current lot. Pakistan has enormous potential in its youth but lacks leadership to make full use of the potential. The leadership is bickering amongst itself, complacent and corrupt. Too bad for the country. There was also a bright side to the country’s dismal picture, however. Pakistan can indeed have a great future and be on the road of success and sustainable peace. Pakistanis are the most resilient nation.

Pakistan can indeed position itself in the region as a massive trade corridor that will catapult this country to economic prosperity and a symbol of geostrategic integration. Pakistan as the regional trade, industrial, and economic hub will be in a position of strength and the world will endeavor to improve relations with Pakistan. Pakistan believes in cooperation, instead of competition. Pakistan is carving out a trajectory of progress for the region by way of economics, which the world needs to recognize and acknowledge. Pakistan faced an existential crisis of a daunting magnitude. The primary threat was from within the country.

Pakistan's economic crisis demands bold actions by the Sharif Government. All lenders are looking up to the future IMF signal to assist the country. Therefore, Pakistan must adhere to the IMF conditionalities, sooner rather than later. Populist measures, though understandable, will not work.

Pakistan should strengthen its system of democracy because it was very deficient in countless ways and not functioning at all. The political paralysis was a result of these systematic faults. Islamic fundamentalism, poor governance, absence of democratic norms, intolerance in society, and inertia was the principal cause of the situation. Lack of political will to reform both state and society may be the single biggest reason for the mess. Examine the deeper problem of bolstering the deficient, undemocratic decision-making structures. Due to the disinterest towards institutionalized decision-making by Pakistan’s rulers, it was hardly surprising that policy and decision-making of national importance remained personalized and incoherent. It was this very flaw that prevented the Government of Pakistan from conducting a true national strategy. Until and unless there was an institutional decision-making process, Pakistan would continue to have a lack of intellectual content and the country would always be faced with the crisis. Pakistan faces much larger challenges because of this poor policymaking.

The county’s past is haunting it now. Reckless decisions like the infamous U-turn of General Musharraf after 9/11 where Pakistan became an ally of the U.S. without weighing the full consequences of this abrupt departure from foreign policy. The Army’s alleged support of Jihadist entities like the Jaish-e-Mohammad, Haqqani network, and Quetta Shura. The main reason for this was the personalist nature of rule in Pakistan. The civilian leaders do not follow democratic norms of decision-making. This empowered the Army even more and provided further leverage to it to influence Pakistan’s decision-making.

Neither the Cabinet nor the Parliament are fulfilling their given roles assigned to them. Even the Judiciary is very deficient, especially at the lower levels. The Parliament does not properly fulfill its legislative duties and oversight of Pakistan, as was the norm in the system of democracy. The Cabinet does not deliberate as was needed for proper administration of the state institutions. The notion of national security was the primary driver of Pakistan’s national interest which had given significant leverage to the military. The military itself had a deficient national security paradigm and a very narrow focus of the regional situation, let alone the global one. It was obsessed with its enmity with India, the historic rival. This does not condone Indian actions in any way; the point was that the military as an institution was necessarily focused on fighting wars and winning them, and not working for peace.