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Key Economic Data 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
Millions of US $ 96,100 82,300 73,300 44
GNI per capita
 US $ 600 520 480 160
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Pakistan


Update No: 025 - (28/02/08)

Elections: some surprises but no shock
The result of the February Pakistani elections was mostly in line with forecasts, except that no wave of solidarity support for the PPP in the wake of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto materialized. With almost 33%, the PPP was by far the largest party and the closest thing to a national party with MPs relatively well distributed among provinces, but posted an altogether relatively mediocre performance. In part this might have due to manipulations by the outgoing government, which tried hard to maintain the support of large landowners in order to secure the rural vote and might well have indulged in election rigging too. The 24% obtained by the PML-Q is indeed more than expected and won it the second place in terms of popular vote, although not in terms of seats, where the PML-N of Nawaz Sharif obtained many more despite having just 20% of the votes. The Islamist coalition (MMA) fared very poorly with just 1.3% of the votes, not least because all of its component parties except one boycotted the vote. 

Coalition in the making
The incumbents' supposed manipulation of the polls failed to deliver outright victory, an impossible task anyway given the direction of the popular mood, but avoided the PML-Q being wiped out and forces the new government to be based on a wide and presumably shaky coalition. With about a third of the seats, the PPP clearly needed to form a large coalition to be able to rule. Despite having in the past negotiated with the PML-Q for a coalition, in the end the PPP leadership bowed to popular pressure and offered an alliance to the PML-N, with which they have an old enmity. It seems likely that Makhdoom Amin Fahim of the PPP will be the next Prime Minister. He is not tarnished by past accusations of corruption, but he lacks experience in government. With less then half the seats between them, the two parties will also need to bring in smaller groups. Musharraf might still hope to see the politicians discredit themselves and recover some personal popularity later on or manipulate them against each other. Differences already exist. Nawaz Sharif will be trying to strengthen his position within the parliament by luring PML-Q MPs to join his party and indeed 13 outgoing MPs had already defected before the elections. The PPP is however hostile to bringing any of these into the government, a fact which will likely hamper Sharif's recruitment campaign. Sharif also appears more committed than the PPP to re-appointing the judges sacked by Musharraf to their posts. 

More evidence of economic slowdown
More signs of weakening economic trends have been reported during February, in part due to power shortages. Exports have declined 12% over the year to December and textile exports have been looking particularly weak. The January riots are now estimated to have caused US$1.3 billion in losses in the power, telecommunications and transport sectors. Foreign investment was already declining during the first six months of the current financial year, down 32% on the previous year. Both the current account deficit (up 31.1% during the same period) and the services trade deficit (up 45%) continue to worsen rapidly, threatening the future ability of the country to pay for imports of goods and services. The excessive reliance of the outgoing government on foreign exchange inflows to cover the deficits and the inability or unwillingness to bridge the gap between imports and exports is widely seen as the cause of the worsening situation. December data seems to suggest that the trend is towards a further widening of the gap.

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