Nawaz Sharif Led Pakistan to Economic Prosperity, Says Bloomberg Report

A new report by Bloomberg Economics has lauded the economic performance of Pakistan under the leadership of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is seeking to return to power for the fourth time in the upcoming general elections on February 8.

The report, authored by Ankur Shukla, compared the economic indicators of Pakistan during the tenures of the three major political parties since 1990: Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Using a misery index, which is an informal measure of the state of an economy by adding the inflation and unemployment rates, the report found that the PML-N had the lowest average value of 14.5%, indicating less economic hardship for the citizens. The PTI had the second lowest value of 16.1%, followed by the PPP with 17.2%.

The report attributed Nawaz Sharif’s economic success to his pro-business policies, infrastructure development, and energy sector reforms. It also noted that Nawaz Sharif had to deal with external shocks such as the 1998 nuclear tests, the 2008 global financial crisis, and the 2014 oil price collapse.

However, the report also cautioned that the economic situation of Pakistan remains challenging, with high inflation, low growth, weak currency, and low foreign exchange reserves. It said that the country is dependent on a financial bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which requires the new government to implement unpopular measures such as cutting subsidies and raising taxes.

The report also highlighted the political uncertainty in Pakistan, as Nawaz Sharif faces legal cases and Imran Khan remains in jail after being ousted from power in a no-confidence vote in April 2022. It said that despite his imprisonment, Imran Khan is still the most popular politician in Pakistan, with a 57% approval rating, according to a Gallup opinion poll. Nawaz Sharif’s popularity has also increased from 36% to 52% in the past six months.

“The public may be giving Sharif the benefit of the doubt,” Shukla wrote, adding that “the road ahead won’t be easy for any party that wins the election.”

The report also mentioned the role of the third major party, the PPP, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. It said that the PPP had the worst economic performance among the three parties, but also faced the most difficult circumstances, such as the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, the war on terror, and the 2010 floods.

The report concluded that the economic future of Pakistan depends on the outcome of the elections, the stability of the government, the cooperation with the IMF, and the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of Pakistanis.

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