- Celebrating Achievements: Objectives Resolution, Nuclear Program, and HEC showcase Pakistan’s accomplishments. Digital economy and Akhuwat Foundation empower youth and fight poverty. Sports excellence, renewable energy, and abundant resources highlight Pakistan’s potential.
- Challenges Faced: Economic Meltdown: Addressing inflation and unemployment for national well-being. Unequal Wealth Distribution: Promoting fairness and inclusivity in the economy. Policy Reforms Needed: Balancing private sector interests for the common good.
- Honoring Armed Forces: Disciplined and valiant armed forces contribute to national security and peace. Nishan e Haider awards recognize the bravery of fallen heroes. Pakistan Air Force maintains air supremacy and global leadership.
In the wake of negative news and propaganda on social media, it is pertinent to highlight the positive side of Pakistan. A nation that has achieved significant milestones during its short history. We will restrict our discussion to national achievements, although there are numerous individuals’ success stories of excellence. The significant challenges faced by Pakistan are briefly dealt with toward the end of this article.
Objectives Resolution adorns the constitution of Pakistan as a preamble clause, which states sovereignty belongs to ALLAH Almighty and no law can be enacted repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah. This preamble clause gives the direction to the nation. It implies that the citizens of Pakistan must combine conscience and competence together through their journey of life. In the realm of education, there is no better judge than the renowned American author Stephen Covey who laments in his book titled “The Seven Habits of Most Successful People” that education without conscience is in fact bad education. This dictum is intricately connected with a contribution vision, which demands meaning and voice in life. Society must be reformed along these lines, which implies that “when you get your voice give others their voice”.
Pakistan’s Nuclear Program and its success is a monumental achievement. The nuclear detonations on 28th May 1998 in Chaghi gave a befitting response to India’s detonation in Pokhran. The nuclear deterrence of Pakistan provides insulation against aggression by the adversary. It also provides a potent means of maintaining peace in the region.
Higher Education Commission
HEC changed the landscape of Higher Education in Pakistan. It has helped to produce thousands of PhDs both at home and abroad along with the needed capacity-building measures for executing high-quality teaching and research. The Technology Incubation Centers and ORICs established under the umbrella of HEC at various HEIs help to bring the research out from the labs into the market. HEC also introduced the Triple Helix model, which promoted collaboration between academia, industry, and the government. HEC also enabled the HEIs to connect education with the financial engine comprising industry, commerce, R&D, products, and services. It also encouraged entrepreneurship to promote the environment of job providers rather than job seekers. It is heartening to report that the leading publishers and think-tank Elsevier in their recent report ranked Pakistan ahead of BRICS countries in so far as the quality of research is concerned.
In times of poor offline economy, the digital economy provides the silver lining in the cloud. The current volume of the digital economy exceeds that of the traditional offline economy. The freelancing program spearheaded by PITB and now operative in several HEIs is another landmark in providing online jobs to the millions of youth in Pakistan. It has trained 55,000 thousand freelancers who earned USD 0.5 Billion in 2022, landing Pakistan at No. 4 in the comity of nations. A massive increase in the freelancing platforms is underway with a target to train 1 million freelancers who can earn up to USD 10 Billion in the foreseeable future.
Akhuwat Foundation commenced its mission as a non-profit organization to alleviate poverty by empowering socially and economically marginalized segments of society through interest-free microfinance and education. It has now emerged as a pragmatic model of inclusive poverty alleviation, having 800+ branches across all 4 provinces, AJK and GB. Besides the foundation has empowered millions (5.6 M beneficiaries) of people across the country disbursing Pkr 180 Billion in interest-free micro-loans with a return rate of more than 95%. There are 50000+ students receiving free education in 301 Schools and 3 Colleges across the country. On top of that 0.6 million patients of Hepatitis and Diabetes have been treated free of cost. Its founder Dr. Muhammad Amjad Saqib, a Pakistani social entrepreneur, is the recipient of the highest Asian accolade Ramon Magsaysay Award.
Pakistan holds the unique honor of becoming the World Champion in Hockey, Cricket, Squash, Snooker, and Street Football. Despite the meager resources and lack of suitable facilities, this is by no means an ordinary achievement. Pakistan ruled the arena of World’s Squash for consecutive 10 years, despite the fact there were only two squash courts in the country belonging to PAF. Jahangir Khan was unbeaten during which time he won 555 consecutive matches; the longest winning streak by any athlete in top-level professional sports.
Renewable energy is the best option for mitigating climate change. GoP set a target of 25% share of renewables in the energy matrix of the country by 2025. However, only 1300 Megawatt of Solar and 1335 Megawatt Wind energy was installed to date through licensing to the project developers. This comprises about 6% of the total installed capacity of 45,824 Megawatt. Very few people know that the solar revolution has come about in the country. The general public installed more than 10,000 Megawatt of Solar on their homes, schools, HEIs roof-tops and agri-lands, kicking up the national “Grid” to 55,824 Megawatt. This amounts to 22% of renewables in the energy matrix of the country; a development that is not short of a Solar Revolution in Pakistan.
Pakistan is imbued with vast natural resources in oil, gas, minerals and precious metals. A recent survey values these treasures at a whopping USD 6 Trillion. There is some ongoing extraction work, which needs to be accelerated, pending investment. For example, one of the main reason for higher unit price of electricity in Pakistan is dependency on imported fuel (Coal, HSD/RFO & RLNG), apart from capacity payments, T&D losses and circular debt.
Exploitation of natural resources can give a timely boost to Pakistan’s economy and mitigate the problems faced by the common lot. There is news in the media that an investment of around USD 75 Billion is in the offing. It is crucial for us to ensure independent economic revival by striking advantageous deals in compliance with sustainability and social responsibility. Private sector partnerships and collaborative relationships must be aligned with developing, refining and producing value-added products within the country, thus ensuring economic security and stability.
Our armed forces are a big asset for the country. It is one of the most disciplined institution of Pakistan. The training, preparedness and professional conduct of the soldiers is exemplary. They have enormous feats to their credit. Whether it is to flush out intruders from the Haram e Kaba, providing security in FIFA Cup, or securing the country from internal and external threats, the armed forces have come up to the mark without blemish. Pakistan prides in fielding the largest contingent in the UN Peace keeping operations around the world.
When times become tough, the armed forces are there to offer needy assistance during the havoc of floods, or other natural calamities like earthquakes. The armed forces also play a pivotal role in disaster management. Above all, the armed forces bear the brunt in fighting the foreign militants across the border of Baluchistan and KPK and lay their lives in defending the country’s borders. The award of eleven Nishan e Haider, the highest posthumous accolade received in the wake of fieriest battles of history, is a clear testimony to the bravery, valor and chivalry of the armed forces. Pakistan Air Force is one of the best outfits in the world, which reigned over the skies and exhibited real air supremacy in the 1965 war.
Pakistan is currently facing two major challenges namely, the Economic Meltdown and the Unequal Distribution of Wealth. Without getting into the jargon of statistics, in the worlds of noble laureates, the state of illness of an economy is judged by two primary indicators i.e. inflation and unemployment. It is a challenge to bring down the inflation to a level so that the fulfilment of basic needs of an average Pakistani is within his reach. On the other hand the seething throng of 64% talented youth need employment opportunities to serve the country and fulfill their dreams. Digital economy palliates this scenario to some extent, but the larger population will be served only through energizing the financial engine comprising industry,
commerce, R&D, products and services. Reviving the financial engine requires appreciable investment in the country’s resources. It is up to the policy makers to attract investment that will lead to harnessing the resources, providing the needy employment and most importantly lighten the debt burden. The prospective investment should not encourage predatory capital, in fact it should ensure trickle-down effect so that an average Pakistani can reap the benefits of such investment.
Unequal Distribution of Wealth
The second biggest challenge being faced is the unequal distribution of wealth in the country. Let’s take an example of Pakistan’s unbearable electricity bills. Owning to the lack of a timely policy framework and political will, the country was driven into thermal power as an easy way out to decrease load-shedding. The private sector was invited to invest in thermal power with fixed capacity payments that comprise 31% of the electricity bill, while there are nine taxes in electricity bills amounting to 31%. Strikingly, the fuel cost is only 12%. The question arises who is the real beneficiary? It is instructive to note that the 35% market cap of KSE is owned by eleven groups of private companies.
The various privileges enjoyed by different vested interests include tax exemptions, low effective tax rates, tax evasion; cheaper inputs including energy, water, and machinery; higher output prices; favorable pricing formula, monopoly/cartel; and preferential access to land, capital, and infrastructure/services. According to UNDP calculations in terms of the magnitude of benefits and privileges enjoyed by each sector out of a total of Pkr 2,660 billion is as follows: corporate sector (banking plus industry) enjoys the benefits to the tune of 724 billion, feudal class 370 billion, high net worth individuals 368 billion, large traders 348 billion, state-owned enterprises 345 billion and exporters 248 billion. Effective corrective measures are needed to discipline these elite classes to allow a level playing field in the country so that other firms can compete and not forced to leave the market. Till such time one recalls the famous Chinese saying “the temple is poor, but the monks are rich”.