OPINION: The Economic and Social Costs of Political Instability in Pakistan

Political agitation and riots can have a negative impact on the economy and lifestyle of a country like Pakistan in various ways. Some of the possible effects are:

  • Reduced economic growth: Political instability can hamper the economic performance of a country by creating uncertainty, discouraging investment, disrupting production, and affecting trade. According to one source1, Pakistan’s economy has been badly damaged by the political crisis that resulted in the ousting of Prime Minister Imran Khan in April 2022. Imran Khan, who lost power last year, is the seventh former prime minister to be arrested in Pakistan. Imran Khan is accused of large-scale corruption, nepotism and inefficiency. His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf [PTI] party called for demonstrators to remain peaceful hours after PTI mobs destroyed public property, burned scores of vehicles, hurt law enforcement personnel as well as civilians and set fire to the residence of a top army general in the eastern city of Lahore. The source predicts that inflation in Pakistan will cross 15 percent by summer and that the country will face a serious balance of payment crisis due to low reserves and high imports. Another source2 confirms that there is a negative relationship between political instability and economic growth in Pakistan from 2000 to 2019, and that political instability fosters corruption and weakens institutions.
  • Increased social unrest: Political agitation and riots can also trigger more violence, protests, and conflicts among different groups in the society. This can affect the security, peace, and harmony of the country and create more challenges for the government and law enforcement agencies. It can also affect the quality of life, health, education, and welfare of the people. For example, one source3 reports that political instability in Pakistan has led to frequent strikes, demonstrations, and clashes that have disrupted public services, transportation, and businesses3.
  • Damaged international reputation: Political agitation and riots can also tarnish the image and credibility of a country in the eyes of the international community. This can affect the country’s relations with other countries, its access to foreign aid and loans, its participation in regional and global organizations, and its attractiveness for tourists and investors. For example, one source1 notes that Pakistan’s political crisis has raised concerns among its allies such as China, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, who have invested heavily in the country’s infrastructure, energy, and security sectors1.

Therefore, political agitation and riots can have serious consequences for the economy and lifestyle of a country like Pakistan. It is important for the government and the opposition to resolve their differences peacefully and democratically, and to work together for the stability and prosperity of the nation.

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