PAKISTAN IS NOT A POOR COUNTRY BUT POORLY MANAGED COUNTRY.
Nature has blessed Pakistan with abundant resources, but due to mismanagement by the political and bureaucratic elite, the economy is suffering and a large portion of population is living in poverty.
Extent of the Issue.
- Pakistan’s economy is collapsing; foreign debt is rising and people are living in poverty.
- The untapped resources of Pakistan include, but are not limited to:-
- Pakistan’s land is of various types i.e., agricultural plaints, deserts, mountains, plateau.
- Pakistan has access to warm waters that facilitates international trading.
- Many rivers flow through Pakistan and the country is in possession of one of the best canal system in the world.
- Pakistan has a large reservoir of mineral resources including gold, copper, iron, salt, natural gas etc.
- The country has abundant renewable energy resources at its disposal.
- A significant portion of population is comprised of youth.
- If these resources are properly exploited, Pakistan can emerge as strong and prosperous country.
- Low literary rate and poor quality of education.
- Lack of technical and vocational education results in untrained labour force that cannot be employed in industry and economy.
- Pakistan is facing a governance crisis since its inception.
- The incessant political instability has obstructed the adoption and execution of long term policies.
- There is absence of rule of law in the country that allows the powerful culprits to go scot free.
- Corruption has penetrated deep into the society and is draining national resources.
- Politicians lack vision and are busy in self-aggrandizement.
- Women participation in the labour force is minimal.
- Literary rate as well as standard of education should be improved.
- Technical education should be given to the potential labour.
- Governance should be improved by enhancing public participation through local government,
- Rule of law should be strengthened.
- Political instability must be removed.
- A combination of short, medium and long term policies must be adopted.
- Untapped natural resources must be exploited.
- Exports should be improved while a sound import policy must be adopted.
- Reliance on foreign debt should be minimized.
Pakistan is not a poor country, but poorly managed country.
Pakistan, the dream homeland of the Muslims of sub-continent, is facing stiff economic challenges. The country’s economy has so far been unable to make a take-off and the rising inequality between the haves and have-nots is giving an impression that the country is poor. The double digit inflation, particularly of food items, and the growing unemployment has pushed more and more people into poverty. However, Pakistan is not a poor country, but poorly managed country. Nature has blessed Pakistan with abundant resources, but due to the mismanagement by the political and the bureaucratic elite, Pakistan has failed to capitalize and materialize its vast economic potential. In this modern world, where economic progress of a country is directly related to the level of its governance, it is high time that the government eschew maladministration and focus on good governance to change country’s fortune.
The present scenario of Pakistan depicts a sorry state of affairs. The country’s economy is collapsing; foreign debt is rising, and a significant portion of population is living in poverty. Corruption is deep rooted, unemployment is increasing and the industry is closing. All these problems share a common cause. The country’s political and bureaucratic leadership has failed to deliver on the governance front. Despite enormous potential for economic growth, the country is fast moving towards the economic meltdown. At this point, it would be relevant to look into various resources of Pakistan.
Pakistan has been blessed with enormous natural resources. However, owing to the mismanagement, negligence and incompetence of the policy makers, country’s economic resources have largely remained untapped. The untapped natural resources of Pakistan includes, but not limited to the following items.
Pakistan’s land is comprised of various distinct types. There are large plains, mountains, deserts, plateau. All these natural bounties are available in abundance. The plains are fertile and yield different crops. The presence of four seasons enables the harvesting of two crops in a season. However, owing to the mismanagement and pitfalls in the agricultural system, country has failed to achieve desired results. The average yield per acre has remained low, and the government has done little, if any, to improve the situation.
The northern areas of Pakistan are home to three of the world longest and highest mountain peaks. Five out of fourteen highest mountains are located in the northern areas of Pakistan. These mountains are full of scenic beauty and attracts large number of national and international tourists. Government can earn valuable foreign reserves by facilitating the international tourists and improving the tourism industry. The avenues of employment will also be opened to the local people who can then effectively fight against poverty. However, at present these areas are also home to several extremist group that established their place by filling the void created by the government’s maladministration.
Similarly, deserts, plateaus, doab’s etc, offer various economic opportunities in their own right.
Pakistan is located at the cross roads of south Asia, East Asia and Central Asia. The geo-strategic location of Pakistan is of one the greatest bounties of nature to Pakistan. Pakistan can serve as a link between the different regions of the world and therefore earn royalty. With the emergence of globalization trends, a new sector of international trade i.e., service sector has also emerged. Pakistan can benefit greatly from the service sector. The seaport of Gawadar is critically located and has the capacity to meet the needs of China and central Asian States including Russia and Afghanistan. Government response in developing the Gawadar port is not ideal. The government of Pakistan in collaboration with China has launched China Pakistan Economic Corridor program. The government must, should take all the stakeholders on board to ensure that the project bears fruit.
Pakistan has accessed to warm waters throughout the year. The long coast line of 1046 KM facilitate international trade. The next door super-power of Pakistan i.e., Russia has accessed to warm waters in just four months. Pakistan can offer its port to the Russian Federation for trade and business. For this to happen, the country must have to be in good terms with its neighbours. Maintenance and promotion of international relations is the responsibility of the federal government. The government must weigh the economic considerations while building relations with other states.
Many of the world’s longest rivers flow in Pakistan. Pakistan is blessed with many fresh water rivers. The country is also equipped with one of the best canal system in the world. A few decades earlier, the country was regarded as water sufficient country. The failure of government, in building any major water reservoir for few years now has turned Pakistan into water stress country. If the situation is allowed to go on like this, Pakistan will soon become a water scarce country. The importance of water can hardly be over-emphasized. In addition to its many other advantages, water is an important instrument for moving the economy of country and thereby, reducing poverty. Pakistan is an agricultural country and hence, the availability of sufficient water is imperative for the growth of the economy.
Pakistan has numerous reserves of various mineral resources. A large number of mineral resources are buried underneath the land of the country. Pakistan has second largest reserves of salt in the world. Coal is available in large quantity in Pakistan, especially in Sindh. Though the general quality of coal is not good, but still it be utilize to power the economy. Gold and copper are also found in the large quantities. A modest estimate puts the value of gold and copper reserves of Pakistan in billions of dollars. Besides this, iron, gypsum, litrite are also found in Pakistan. Oil and natural gas is also available in Pakistan.
In addition to the non-renewable energy sources, Pakistan has sufficient availability of renewable energy sources. The hot and temperate climate facilitates in the capturing, storing and using of solar energy. The large plains especially the desert can be a good source of wind energy. Pakistan can even generate electricity, a rare commodity these days, from tidal effect and from geothermal energy. Similarly, two large dams generates thirty percent of total electricity. The country has the capacity to build more dams to produce additional cheap electricity.
An appraisal of the natural resources of Pakistan makes it amply clear that the country is not a poor one, but is indeed a poorly managed one. The country has great economic potential despite poor showing of the economy. Hence, at this stage it would be relevant to look at the various causes that have hindered the growth of the national economy.
The first and the foremost cause of the poor showing of economy, owing to mismanagement, is the lack of education and the poor quality of education in Pakistan. The most optimistic estimate about the literacy rate put the figure around 60%. This is not only on the lower side as compared to the world standard, but also to the regional average.
Education influences the economy in numerous ways. Firstly, it makes the people aware of their rights and put their government on guard to defend itself from the adverse public opinion. The actions and omissions of the government do not go unnoticed in an educated society. Hence, the government remains sensitive to public opinion and discharge its duties diligently.
Secondly, these are the times of knowledge and education. The country’s progress is conditional on its being cognizant with science and technology. Science has revolutionized the modern world. The agricultural produce, the industrial yield, services provided; all can be increased with the increase in the employment of scientific method. The government failure to provide quality education to the people adversely affected people’s ability to adopt measure to uplift their socio-economic status. Education is a primary tool that enables the citizen to make improvements in his life. The government has done great disservice to people by not imparting quality education.
The greatest source of Pakistan’s foreign reserves is the remittance send by the overseas Pakistanis. The overseas Pakistanis contribute around 1 billion dollar to the economic on a monthly basis. The next biggest source is the earning from textile exports that stand at an average rate of around 2 billion dollar a year. This difference of around $10 billion a year clearly explains the importance of foreign remittance. Now this amount could be four to five times extra if the people who are working abroad are properly educated and trained. Lack of technical and vocational training results in the untrained labour force that cannot be employed in industry except as labourer. The proper training and education not only help people to ameliorate their circumstances, but also results in additional foreign reserves to Pakistan.
The third cause of economic failure due to mismanagement can be found in the fact that Pakistan is facing a governance crisis since its inception. The difficult circumstances in which Pakistan was born; never ending hostility of neighbouring India, Pakistan’s engagement in wars with India, Afghan Soviet war and the war on Terrorism triggered an unending governance failure. A strong, dedicated leadership is required to take country out of this situation.
Along with external threatening sovereignty, Pakistan had host of internal problem. The challenge that has affected the governance worst is the incessant political instability in the country. It took nine years to the newly born nation to agree on a constitutional formula and during that period, country was run by seven prime ministers. Since, then country was put under four martial laws. Democratic system was not allowed to prosper. The musical chair of civilian and military rule made the governance difficult and the citizens were the principal sufferer. This political instability obstructed the adoption and execution of long term policy. Consequently, country remained bereft of any developmental strategy.
The political instability also had its effect on the development of institutions. The country’s institutions have remained weak. This resulted in the absence of rule of law, which allows the powerful criminals to go scot free. The absence of rule of law and accountability is one of the major motivator for the government officials to engage in corrupt and negligent practices.
Another factor that has affected the management of the country and resulted in bad governance is the pervasiveness of the corruption has penetrated deep into the society and is draining national resources. The poor ranking of Pakistan on the corruption index is the testimony of the fact. As the level of corruption has increased in the society, the level of governance has decreased.
Governance is all about leadership. Unfortunate Pakistan, after the untimely death of this founder, has remained devoid of visionary leadership. Politicians in Pakistan lacked vision and the car for the people and were more interested in the self-aggrandizement. The myopic and self-centered policies of politicians has affected the governance and resulted in the poor showing of the economy.
Another factor that is responsible for the poor economic growth is the lack of women participation in the labour force of the country. Women constitute more than half population of Pakistan, but their contribution in economy is negligible. The government has largely failed in facilitating the entry of women in the economic corridor.
The discussion on the topic would be incomplete without discussing some of the measures that can be taken to improve management and governance in the country with the resultant positive effect on the lives of people and economy of country.
The need and importance of education has already been discussed in detail. It will be suffice to point out here that the government should adopt a comprehensive strategy to promote education. The important first step in promoting the education is to increase the government spending on education. The current government spending of around 2% of GDP is quite low. Given the acute state of education in the country, government should atleast double the current spending so as to bring it at par with the international standard.
The promotion of education must include practical steps to promote technical education. A significant portion of Pakistan is of great national importance, because the world population is generally getting older, whereas, our population is getting younger. Thus, it not only be employed in the labour market of the country, but also of the world. The young population can become a source of great national asset if the government is able to equip them with scientific and technical knowledge.
The cure to maladministration is good governance. The most effective way of achieving good governance is through enhanced public participation. Governance is done for the people and it will automatically improve if people are involved in the governance process. Thus, involvement of people through local government system will result in the good governance by the government.
To ensure good governance, transparency and accountability, rule of law should be strengthened in the country. The countries in which law is supreme also have good governance. When a person knows that he will be held accountable for his deeds, he will not engage in corrupt practices, rather would discharge his duties diligently and efficiently.
Democracy should be strengthened and political instability must be removed to improve governance. The functioning of real democracy is essential for the improved governance. Only a democratic government that is sensitive to public opinion would govern efficiently. Thus, democracy is to be strengthened especially at the grass root level if there has to be a meaningful change.
The government must adopt a multi-prone strategy for the economic uplift of the country. A combination of short, medium and long term policies must be adopted to improve governance and hence, economic profile of the country.
As discussed in detail earlier, Pakistan is blessed with numerous mineral resources. The government must take effective measures for the proper exploitation of these resources. The government must engage national and international experts and must also take the local people on boards. The concerns and fears, especially of Balochs should be addressed. The mineral resources has the potential to make Pakistan prosperous and economically sound state.
The government must focus on expanding exports while a sound import policy must be adopted. The imports of non-essential commodities should be discouraged to save valuable foreign reserve. The trade imbalance with other countries must also be minimized. For instance, China is of the largest trading partner of Pakistan, but the Pakistan’s imports from China are much larger than exports. A balance strategy is needed on the issue.
From the above discussion it can be concluded that Pakistan is not a poor country, but a poorly managed countries. Pakistan has plenty natural resources and if these resources are efficiently utilized Pakistan can emerge as a rich and prosperous country. The multifaceted challenges faced by the country in governance arena can be addressed by following the suggestions discussed in this paper.