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Can Pakistan be a welfare State?

M Nadeem Akhtar

Pakistan is a developing country and over the time, process of and compatibility between politics
and development policies remained trembling. By considering politics as irrelevant to the notion
of development will be a colorless panorama. One of the rudimentary prerequisite of being a
welfare state is the system of governing legislative process which by definition should represent
every faction of society with voice and opportunity to participate.

World is suffering from a prolonged and ever-present social taboo of poverty which remained
characteristic of every society other than industrialist societies so European nations were to some
extend able to remove social inequality, enhanced social mobility and transformed from agrarian
society based on economy of subsistence agriculture to modernization under world system theory
and globalization. They developed in indigenous technology and manufactured industry.

Development of the indigenous technology is a continuous process requiring only favorable

environment. It explores new horizons as required based on principles of natural evolution.
Importation of technology always hinders the timely change required to transform the society. In
all this debate state and society are two interacting groups. States always tackle social issues by
addressing policy challenges. One more important aspect of development recently been
acknowledged is the development within cultural boundaries. This fully negates the hypothesis
of linear development e.g. Pakistan cannot apply same policy framework all over the Pakistan as
some areas have different recurring social issues of concern.

Pakistan is lacking principally in human resource development infrastructure in addition to

indigenous technology and pinnacle of the deprivation is that applied and formative research at
higher education level is completely missing and never remained the convention in Pakistan.
Pakistan received attention from private sector donor agencies who deliberately identified the
social gaps thematically based on Population and Development; Poverty Dynamics and its
Eradication Strategies; Labor Force and Market Dynamics; Maternal and Child Mortality; and
Microfinance. This entire sector needs integration of their policies into public policies but with
stringent component of humanitarian accountability and feedback.

The characteristics of Pakistani society are different in many terms. Most of middle class labor
migrates to the Middle East and other western countries and those working in Middle Eastern
States are earning on behalf of their complete household of average size of 6. They earn and
consume letting no liability on government of Pakistan. Similarly, the agrarian sector, which is
about 70 on most, and attached to arid agriculture earn their subsistence and other household
liabilities by cultivating most common crops. They are no any burden on the demanding food
consumption dynamics but their human development is almost constant due to balance between
income and consumption.

Isolating state or society, the target of welfare cannot be materialized. The behavior of society is
at disposal of socio-economic policies of state. The developing states like Pakistan fall under the
transitional phenomena by which population started to decline but left with ever youngest group
of younger population with immediate demand and most vulnerable against inconsistent socio-
economic policies . At this stage most of states underwent modernization in agriculture and have
incepted in industrialization process. Their economy can be in form of take off. Interestingly,
Pakistan was at this stage in 1970s but reversed due to imprudent economic policies of
government which took over after the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. This debate also asks
for state’s role in market economy. Pakistani economy is market based economy whose
proponents are working to liberate economies from state’s interferences. Neo-liberals propose
state role only as regulator but no control over market dynamics. Development countries like
Pakistan cannot undergo this process as local entrepreneurship could face survival threatening
phenomenon but liberalization could be approached by developing states first by strengthening
their local entrepreneurs, promoting agriculture sector providing subsidies for farmers as with
respect to India, Pakistan’s Punjab terrain is most fertile and irrigated but per acre yield in
Pakistan is much less than Indian Punjab. Unless local farmers are not able to develop and
improve their living standards, dissemination at grass root level is not possible.

There is a need to adopt comprehensive social and economic policy at national level and public
sector should develop five-year development programs with the help of donor agencies by
identifying most demanding sectors of development, like gender mainstreaming, education,
health, population and development, rural development, and reconstruction of state economic
system less volatile to economic depressions.

Appeared on Pakistan Observer and available at