Ever since its independence, Pakistan has constantly found itself on the path leading to economic downfall. According toone particular school of thought, the underlying reason behind the deterioration of the country’s economy lies in the corruption of the country’s politicians. They believe that politicians have robbed the country and have laundered their money in foreign countries. A recent report revealed that most of the real estate in Dubai is owned by Pakistanis. The question is: Are all of the people who have bought real estate in Dubai corrupt? The last few decades have witnessed the discrediting of Pakistani legislation and the law being treated like a plaything by military dictators who have plagued the judicial system to its core. This has forced many common people, who were unable to find justice within their country, to sell off their assets and transfer that money into foreign real estate. These people have been completely ignored by the mass media and by those who are motivated by a certain political agenda as set by the prominent undemocratic forces. Excluding these people from the larger picture is not a mistake but rather a deliberate conspiracy. The apparent reason behind this is to keep the public in the dark regarding the real underlying issues. Politicians have been identified as corrupt in nearly every forum. But, in the context of Pakistan today, what is the definition of corruption? The general perception holds that any person who has more assets than they earn is a malfeasant. More than 90 percent of Pakistan’s population does not pay direct taxes and therefore are not bound by the law to maintain ledgers of their accounts. How can the sources of income for those people who do not pay taxes be accounted for? Nearly seventy percent of Pakistan’s population is related to the agriculture sector in one way or another with minimal taxation being levied on agriculture. Therefore, using documents that show the source of income as evidence of a person’s corruption is equivalent to calling the majority of the country corrupt. This standard can, however, definitely be used to ascertain the corruption of government employees as all of their income is documented and their total income can be easily determined. These people could be held accountable for their corruption without difficulty. But, those powerful government employees are beyond the reach of any government’s accountability. The Panama Case revealed the names of several employees of previous governments. It would have been easy to hold those people accountable as the government already had complete records of their income, but that, of course, did not happen. A peek into history would reveal a series of contentious moments between political leaders and non-democratic powers in the country. During the Pakistan Peoples Party’s government, a minister once said on a talk show for a private channel that equality should be exhibited in corruption as well as in other areas. This appeared to be just an amusing comment, but it holds a much deeper message. If we delve deeper into the question of why Bhutto was hanged to death or why Junejo’s government was over thrown, it would be revealed that it was not a simple matter of corruption. In fact, it was far from it. More than 90 percent of Pakistan’s population does not pay direct taxes and therefore are not bound by the law to maintain ledgers of their accounts. How can the sources of income for those people who do not pay taxes be accounted for? The original issue was different. Now, let us evaluate the final government of Mian Nawaz Sharif. Analysts from a particular school of thought believed that Nawaz Sharif’s government wanted to bring about a paradigm shift in the country’s economic policy as well as its foreign policy. This, however, was not acceptable to the powerful echelon of the country. Other people were of the opinion that Mian Sahib’s a spirations to change the ongoing policies were not for the betterment of the country but rather to accumulate more power for himself. People belonging to the former point of view believe that during the recent elections powerful forces played a significant role in bringing the PTI into power. Perhaps these forces were in favor of the PTI because they thought that if this party came into power, they could transform the country’s deteriorating economic situation without making any fundamental changes to the economic or foreign policy. An analysis of the Pakistani economy reveals that the country’s economic reality is much different than in the past. For example, Pakistan no longer has the amount of water that it had earlier. If we are unsuccessful in building dams in the near future, not just the agriculture sector will suffer, but it will threaten the existence of Pakistan. A mutual understanding between provinces is essential for building dams, but that does not seem as if it will happen anytime soon. Even if the water supply is taken care of, the country’s economy cannot be entirely dependent on agriculture. Industry is needed to fuel economic growth, but the basic elements for running industries are missing, including economic fuel, electricity, and educational institutions. We also lack new ideas and modern inventions. In stark contrast, India has excellent educational institutions which are doing advanced research and introducing innovative ideas to support their industries. Similarly, with the number of high quality, cheap Chinese goods available on the market, who is going to buy expensive products made in Pakistan? Perhaps that is why our previous leaders chose to focus less on the manufacturing industry and the conventional export sector. As a solution to this situation, Pakistan should develop regional trade. This can be done by improving relations with neighboring countries. Focus should also be placed on the tourism sector. To make all of these possible, radical changes to foreign policy must be implemented. This is something that no government has ever dared to do. Under the previous leadership’s government, certain segments were offended by Vajpayee’s visit to Pakistan as well as Modi’s visit to Jati Umra. Pakistan also played an interventionist role in the development of the Taliban. As a result of activities like this, we have made our relations worse with all neighboring countries in the region except China. We cannot, however, reduce our defense budget without peace on our borders. By changing our foreign policy, we could improve our relations with India, Iran, and Afghanistan. This would result in a drop in the defense budgets for both Pakistan and India and would lead to economic prosperity for the entire region. Based on these circumstances, an analysis of Pakistan’s current situation makes it clear that the ideology which believed that Pakistan’s economic circumstances could be changed without making significant changes to foreign policy or by promoting regional trade does not seem to be working. The writer hosts a current affairs talk show on PTV News. Follow him on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/syedzishanhyder Published in Daily Times, October 20th 2018.