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Rise, before we fall

Malik Bostan

The writer is President of Forex Association of Pakistan.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to ransack across the world and even developed countries have surrendered in front of the deadly virus. Our beloved country has not been severely affected and with our damaged economy and instability, we don’t even enough resources to recover from it.
One of the biggest pillars of our economy are overseas Pakistanis who live abroad but continue to send their hard-earned income as foreign remittances back to the nation. This provides valuable foreign exchange to our depleting reserves and helps us deal with the world. Pakistan imports nearly three times more than it exports and we need these foreign reserves. As several people remain unemployed amid pandemic, many Pakistanis residing around the world are also affected and stranded at airports just hoping to get back home. This could adversely affect our economy and foreign reserves.
Despite the pandemic, overseas Pakistan remitted two billion dollars back to the country, while in April the amount is expected to be around $1.8bn. In the coming months, there could be a risk of decline in remittances due to the months-lockdown and loss of life which could aggravate economic problems.
During the 1980s Pakistan’s textile industry was the most ahead in the region, but economic policies have broken their jugular vein of the nation. The industry today is dire straits, and while industrialists cannot even help themselves, it is unlikely they will the country. Pakistan is an agrarian economy and this sector should be given exemption among the lockdown so farmers can harvest crops. As the global output will fall, Pakistan has the opportunity to increase imports and prop the economy even further.
The dilemma of the nation is that we rise after we have fallen. The number of coronavirus cases has crossed 5000 and could increase in the coming days. The situation may have been under control if the lockdown is strictly followed, but it is currently too early the exact situation due to lack of testing. The government should take further steps to provide testing kits while wealthy individuals should assist them.
Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) told us over 1400 years ago that ‘Cleanliness is half of faith’. The world is now realising the importance of cleanliness. We should maintain cleanliness, piety, and eating halal and healthy natural foods so that we are able to pass through these testing times.
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