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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Resource Rich, Cash Low!

                ‘Resource rich, cash low’ is a catchphrase that best describes Pakistan’s economic woes and predicament in all other fields that otherwise make a country rich and strong. Almighty Allah has blessed Pakistan with many benedictions i.e. geographic location with great regional connectivity through all possible global commons, four weathers, fertile lands, water, food sufficiency, untouched hydrocarbons, precious metals and mineral resources, lovely landscapes, physical independence, greatest religion, impressively talented human resource, strong Defence Forces with Nuclear Deterrence and counter punch, gifted scholars, poets and sportsmen—and one can go on and on, and yet cannot thank Almighty enough for His infinite clemency. Despite all that, one wonders as to why since 1948 till to date, except for brief sigh of relief here and there, Pakistan has always remained embroiled in a vortex of man-made crises. Is it due to (ill) planned political strategy and thus wilful neglect; or due to bureaucratic hitches and glitches woven in compliance of the imposed international security and economic structure by the neo-colonial masters?—obviously, there would be numerous opinions about it depending on the life experiences, information and knowledge one had been exposed to; and most importantly contingent upon which side of the fence one had preferred to stand in life.

           

   The current population of Pakistan is 243,702,914 as of Friday, March 8, 2024, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data, which is equivalent to 2.99% of the total world population. According to the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) National Human Development Survey, Pakistan currently holds the highest proportion of young people, as 64% of the total population of Pakistan is below the age of 30 while 29% is between the ages of 15 and 29 years. In this age of IT, AI and ever evolving high-tech global environment, had Pakistan timely invested on this invaluable human capital like China or even India did four to five decades ago, Pakistan would have been economically, technologically, and diplomatically far ahead of many competitor at least in Asia; with global footprints in various fields, as evidenced by relatively small but enviable performance by Pakistani doctors, engineers, economist, scholars, IT experts and technicians proudly serving abroad, mainly due to self-struggle and good luck than by the government strategy. The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose. The critical but long ignored investment in improving the “Mothers and Teachers Institutions” is pivotal for production of refined and disciplined human resources in a modern and moderate society as distinctly visible in all civilised and stable states. Advice for the incumbent government, it is never too late; take on investment in the human capital seriously and meaningfully as a national top priority.

            

    The public and private investment in IT and manufacturing industries with reduced energy tariff is bound to promote export as well as reduce import with brighter chances of multiplying national growth rate. For that, exploration of untapped and even tapped but ignored or deliberately buried energy and other treasurable resources must get second highest national urgency. Thereby, the unemployment, widespread hunger, backbreaking inflation, public anguish and forced talent exodus will be significantly addressed. The production of high quality products and availability on comparatively cheaper prices like Japan or South Korea will address the issue of import of cars, electronic gadgets, and other luxury items and save precious foreign reserves; indeed, it will reverse the self-destruct cycle. The government needs to promote and facilitate the local investors in this direction as a sustained strategy. The construction industry that involves a large number of supporting industries plays a vital role in generation of employment, fast tracking growth rate and for provision of affordable essential accommodation to the public. However, the modern urban development modules as practiced by China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore needs to be emulated instead of eating up the most precious arable lands. This needs to be another high primacy area for the new government.

              

  The water and food security is vital for human life; and both go hand in glove. The over delayed construction of big and small dams for generation of electricity as well as for irrigation needs no emphasis. Pakistan needs to immediately develop its food industry, farming and overall agriculture on modern footing with greater yield and by putting to use millions of acres of arable lands in all the four provinces, especially in Balochistan. Each province needs to have agriculture universities, modern facilitation centers for counselling and promotion of suitable crops, fruits, provision of seeds and fertiliser, locally manufactured modern agriculture machines and tools on easy instalments. With a sincere effort in this direction, not only Pakistan can feed its own population with affordable food items, but also export and earn much needed foreign exchange. To provide required finances to the small and medium entrepreneurs, the banking policies and schemes also need to be revised to make it public and investor friendly in line with available examples within Asia.

               

Needless to say that for keeping the cart behind the horse and moving it towards the right destination, the most important  element is keeping the self or political interest out of all such national endeavours by the ruling elite. Well done is better than well said. For that, all three main elements of the national power or effective governance i.e. the Legislature, Judiciary and the Executives have to deliver and function in their respective constitutional orbits with much needed honesty, perseverance and utmost commitment to the national interests. A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness. The people of Pakistan have suffered enough due to rampant mismanagement, greed, corruption and incompetence. The three pillars of the state must realise that we have drifted far enough and it is already too much for the public to boil at the bursting temperature in the pressure cooker. Let’s take a fresh start with far sighted policies, strategies and plans for the too delayed national uplift as per the available potential in the state. That is how Pakistan can be resource as well as cash rich, Insha’ Allah.

 

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