Be it the increased investment in Pakistan, reduced terrorist attacks or the public flocking back to markets and resorts – the international media is noticing all the positives, calling it a “surprising turnaround”.
The revival of Pakistan’s economy and peace after concrete measures taken by the government has grabbed the attention of the world’s leading newspapers.
The Washington Post, a leading daily of the United States, in its news report says that after years of terrorist attacks, military coups and political upheaval, “Pakistan for now has settled into a period of relative calm”. The report mentions a 70 percent decline in major terror attacks over the past nine months.
“The people are feeling more secure. There are development projects, and the perspective of people is changing to say that now we can see things are going well,” said Zafar Mueen Nasir, Dean of Business Studies at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
The military campaign in the tribal belt and Karachi has been credited with reduced terrorist attacks and other crimes.
The report said that in recent months, the speculation about a civil war or an economic collapse in Pakistan died down. “Instead, credit agencies are boosting Pakistan’s bond ratings and large investment firms are advising clients to take a second look at opportunities here,” the report adds.
“It is the best, undiscovered investment opportunity in emerging or frontier markets,” Charlie Robertson, London-based chief economist at Renaissance Capital, told Bloomberg News in late June. Also, the International Monetary Fund, which has extended a $6.2 billion loan, released a report last month crediting Pakistan for its 4.1 percent growth in gross domestic product this year, with a bump up to 4.5 percent projected for next year.
The Washington Post report said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has started delivering on his promise to make life a bit easier for Pakistan’s middle class, including building of 800 miles of highways and 14 power plants by 2018.
“Sharif is also implementing shorter-term goals to improve life for Pakistanis,” the report said, mentioning the inauguration of 14-mile rapid-bus system connecting Islamabad to the working-class town of Rawalpindi.
Also, a month earlier, the government introduced new cross-country deluxe train service featuring air-conditioning, WiFi and televisions. The report said the Islamabad airport, consistently ranked as one of the most outdated in the world, had been upgraded with spiffier ticket counters, air-conditioned shuttle buses and its first fast-food restaurant. “This government is far better, compared to previous governments,” Dilawar Ali, a 43-year-old engineer, said as he shopped at a market in Islamabad.
“For the broader Pakistani public, the country finally appears to be waking up after a decade-long slumber,” the report opines. The Washington Post highlighted the increase in tourism after the Ramazan holidays ended in mid-July, as surprising numbers of Pakistanis flocked to Himalayan mountain resort towns, overwhelming highways and hotels.
The weekly Economist in its report mentioned an increase in business activities in Pakistan. It said that a year or two ago, only a handful of customers would brave a trip to Karachi’s jewellery quarter as they were highly likely to be robbed of cash on the way in or of purchases on the way out.
However, after the crackdown by Pakistan’s paramilitary force, Rangers, the business is up by 70 percent. The report says that these operations had led to a sharp fall in serious crime and the kidnappers and murderers were feeling the heat.