Failure of governance
INDIA, a large, imperfect de ocracy with its many ethnolinguistic and religious groups, separatist forces, occupied territories, etc, is certainly not easier to govern than Pakistan. Up until the 1980s, Pakistan was ahead of India in most economic indicators. Then, in the early 1990s, India dismantled its licence raj and shot past Pakistan.
Today, its annual foreign direct investment is 40 times more than that of Pakistan. Its central bank reserves are over $580 billion; ours are $8bn. It is now well ahead of Pakistan in most human development indicators.
Pakistan’s per capita income is below every country in South Asia except Nepal, and below even the average of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In human development indicators such as education, infant mortality, etc, we do even worse.
We often have a debate in Pakistan about whether we should have presidential or parliamentary de ocracy, or even a military dic ship. The problem isn’t the type of government we have. The problem is that governance in Pakistan is just ineffective: in 75 years, our governments haven’t been able to deliver economic growth, security of life or property, education or health, or even clean drinking water. The hard truth is that our governments haven’t been able to solve any major problems facing Pakistan.
All countries have problems but successful nations resolve them. Our governments only put off resolving problems and, in the process, exacerbate them. From population planning to illiteracy to extremism to budget and trade deficits to local autonomy to privatisation to growth to income disparity — our governments have been unable to fix any issue.
Take, for instance, the circular debt. This arose during Gen Musharraf’s regime and was around Rs25bn. It grew to Rs500bn under PPP, Rs1,100bn under the PMLN and Rs2,500bn under the PTI. No government has been able to fix the issue, as none has had the time, will or competence required to resolve it. As a result, the issue has become more intractable over time.
When a country rapidly increases its income, it is the vast majority of the people who benefit. When Japan, Korea and China quadrupled their incomes in a couple of decades, it was the poor who transitioned to the middle class. Of course, the rich got richer, but it is the vast working class that got the most benefits. But no country can grow without effective governance and savvy economic policy, and in this we have always failed.
Pakistan has one of the fastest population growth rates globally and we add about 5.5 million people every year. Yet no government, federal or provincial, has been able or willing to do anything about it. Population control doesn’t require a lot of money. It only requires resolve and competence. But this has been lacking.
Consider security in Pakistan. Ours is a crime-ridden society where no one, especially women, feels safe. Foreign airlines avoid coming to Pakistan because they don’t want their crews staying here overnight, particularly in Karachi. Foreign buyers don’t like visiting Pakistan, and foreign firms neither invest here in factories nor open buying houses.
This obviously hurts our exports. We get no tourists coming here either. How can a country prosper where no foreigner feels safe? We have experienced extremism, terrorism and crime since the 1990s, and are ‘used to’ living with danger and an ineffective police and security apparatus.
What do Pakistanis think of our governments? In a PIDE survey, 40pc Pakistanis want to leave Pakistan. Look at how Pakistan is faring on various human development indices, and you cannot but conclude that Pakistan is one of the worst-governed countries in the world. It’s time we wake up to this reality.
At last an author who has made a correct judgement of the situation in Pakistan.
Bravo. First step to solving a problem is accepting the problems.
Very well written , atleast the writer has correctly pointed out all the major problems in front of the country. The most serious are population and education. Time is running out if no action is taken against them now.
This article is an eye opener for certain intellects who quite frequently take pot shots at India's poverty.
The 40% of Pakistanis who want to leave Pakistan, many of them would be very happy to migrate to India.
Great article! Such wise people but hardly paid attention. 40% prefer leaving country but as along as they are there, prefer religious fervor!! Without people's support, society cant be radicalized to this extent.
If Pakistanis are not going to wake up, after reading this article, they never will.
Pakistan is controlled by the army and mullahs
We have not learned anything from our past. Because there is no will.
Pakistan everything revolves around Kashmir…. The day it gives up Kashmir, it will be able to concentrate on the well being of its people and it’s economy
Pakistan leadership has lacked vision. The Muslim League leaders were never put in jail. Nehu, Gandhi, Azad, Prasad, and other Congress leaders spent time in jail and had time to reflect on what kind of country they would like to have.
Nothing good comes out of hatred. But that is exactly what Pakistan is - in every sense an anti-thesis of its arch-nemesis, India. Unless it comes to terms with this illogical, dogma-driven hatred, there is no hope for rational policy making.
Brilliant analysis. I would like to add that Pakistan is now the most ridiculous country in the world.
An eye-opener and food for thought.
Failed state. With ill intent towards India as the cornerstone of its national policy, what can one expect? Prosperity? Only ruin. What people have been predicting for decades is now coming true.
No mention of the magnitude of the military spending. Japan and Korea almost ZERO.
Dear Former Finance Minister,
Are both India and Bangladesh economies documented?
If their economies are documented, then how did they do it?
Very brave article. Acknowledgement of truth is first step to change.
Shan ul Haq
Of course the population growth has not helped ; but would you dare to compare the defence expenditures of both Bangladesh and Pakistanin in last many years. While we wasted our resources on nonproductive fields ,Bangladesh used the same resources on education, health and improving infrastructure which has helped their economic growth.
Yet no mention of the elephant in the room - the entrenched religious dogma which seems to take priority over everything!
Pakistanis are ungovernable because everyone thinks they are better and purer and holier than others
Pakistan always had borrowed growth. Americans and Arabs used to pump in Money, because of Russia aggression. Americans left Afghanistan and the Pakistan economy started facing issues....
There are several realities Pakistan needs to wake up to. Like what is the purpose of this nation.
To end the bad governance in the country we need a revolutionary leader and that leader is nowhere.
Pakistan needs someone strong like Modi to fix our problems. India is lucky to have got Modi.
Rahim Ullah (GB)
respected sir it is you who can change the shambling system, or let it be the way, or let other new competent people bring a change in our flawed system.
向您致敬。您可以改变这个摇摇欲坠的体 制，或者让它继续，或者让其他有能力的新人改变我们有缺陷的体 制。
You also contributed in making Pakistan worse governed country during your tenure.
Rare honest and brave introspective article. Problem with Pakistan begun at the time of it's inception which was based on religion. Today neither India nor Bangladesh are religion based countries while Pakistan has been marching in backward direction guided by religious fanatism.
Pakistan; a country of hypocrites, by hypocrites, for hypocrites.
Brilliant article. The country need to come out of many fixations (wrong) to really progress. But will the political system ever allow this to happen, at their own peril?
As a Finance Minister, did you try to translate these thoughts into actions ? Of course not. Would you like to shed some light (in your next piece) on the apparent and hidden barriers that didn't allow you to bring some improvement in our economy?