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How is 64 year old Pakistan doing?

23 August 2011 at 02:26

You tend to hear the worst 5% of the Pakistan story 95% of the time!
The above is a quote attributed to Pakistani Entrepreneur Monis Rahman in the August 8th 2011
edition of Forbes Magazine story titled Want to Start a Company in the World's Sixth-Most Populous
Country? Time to Move to Pakistan. So let us show you the other 95% that Pakistani media refuses
to tell you about!
Let's start with some of the key indicators of progress Pakistan has made since independence in
1947.
Health & Wealth
The health and wealth of a nation depend on availability of good nutrition and access to health care
and education, which in turn rely on economic growth to support needed public and private social
spending. The most basic indicators of progress, such as the life expectancy and per capita incomes
of many nations, have been compiled and brought to life in animations developed by Professor Hans
Rosling. The Gapminder animations show that life expectancy in Pakistan has jumped from 32 years
in 1947 to 67 years in 2009. Per Capita inflation-adjusted PPP income has risen from $766 in 1948
to $2603 in 2009. Over the last two decades, Pakistan has continued to offer much greater upward
economic and social mobility to its citizens than neighboring India. Since 1990, Pakistan's middle
class had expanded by 36.5% and India's by only 12.8%, according to an ADB report on Asia's rising
middle class released in 2010. The ADB report on Asia's rising middle class confirms that Pakistan's
middle class has grown to 40% of the population!

Literacy
Literacy is also a very important indicator of progress. Though the literacy in Pakistan has increased
from about 10% in 1947 to about 60% today, it remains dismally low relative to many other
nations. However, a closer examination of literacy data by age groups shows that the literacy rates
are rising by every generation:
AGE = LITERACY RATE
+55 = 30%
45-55 = 40%
35-45 = 50%
25-35 = 60%
15-25 = 70% (Male 80%, Female 60%, UNICEF)
However, rural and female illiteracy are still the biggest challenges which Pakistan must address.
Poverty, Hunger & Inequality

The World Bank ranks Pakistan among lower-middle-income nations with per capita income
exceeding $1000 a year. Pakistan is still a country with significant population of poor people.
However, its recent levels of poverty are among the lowest in South Asia. The 2011 World Bank
data shows that Pakistan's poverty rate of 17.2%, the lowest in South Asia.
Based on hunger data collected from 2003 to 2008, The International Food Policy Research (IFPRI)
has reported that Pakistan's hunger index score improved over the last 3 consecutive years reported
since 2008 from 21.7 (2008) to 21.0 (2009) to 19.1 (2010) and its ranking rose from 61 to 58 to 52.
Pakistan is also more egalitarian than its neighbours. The CIA World Factbook reports Pakistans
Gini Index has decreased from 41 in 1998-99 to 30.6 in 2007-08, lower than India's 36.8 and
Bangladesh's 33.2.
The Economy
In 1947, Pakistan was broke - because India refused to give Pakistan its share of Sterling reserves.
The situation was so bad that Pakistani Government couldnt pay it's employees. In this first
existential crisis, the Habib's bailed out the government by lending Rs. 80 million, more than half of
Rs. 150 million budget.
Today, Pakistan's economy is the 27th largest in the world and is apart of the "Next 11 Economies". It
is one of the top 15 emerging economies (BRICs+Next11) picked by Goldman Sachs. Goldman
forecasts Pakistan to be among the Top 20 biggest economies in the world by 2025. Since 2008,
Pakistan's economy has been suffering from a serious stagflation, a very bad combination of slow
growth and high inflation. But history tells us that this current situation is not normal for Pakistan.
Afterall, it's Pakistan's robust economic growth that has enabled significant progress based on the
health and wealth indicators outlined earlier.
Beginning in 1947, the economy grew at a fairly impressive rate of 6% per year through the first four
decades of the nation's existence. Inspite of rapid population growth during this period, per capita
incomes doubled, inflation remained low and poverty declined from 46% down to 18% by late 1980s,
according to eminent Pakistani economist Dr. Ishrat Husain. This healthy economic performance was
maintained through several wars and successive civilian and military governments in 1950s, 60s,
70s and 80s until the decade of 1990s, now appropriately remembered as the "lost decade".
In the period from 2000-2007, here's what the IMF agreed to in 2008 as part of the nation's bailout:
Pakistan became one of the four fastest growing economies in the Asian region during 2000-07 with
its growth averaging 7.0 per cent per year for most of this period. As a result of strong economic
growth, Pakistan succeeded in reducing poverty by one-half, creating almost 13 million jobs, halving
the country's debt burden, raising foreign exchange reserves to a comfortable position and propping
the country's exchange rate, restoring investors' confidence and most importantly, taking Pakistan out
of the IMF Program.
Science and Technology

Here are some of the facts about Pakistan's progress in Science and Technology that never make
the headlines in the mainstream media anywhere, including Pakistan!
-Pakistan has been ScienceWatchs Rising Star for scientific papers published in various
international journals
-Pakistan is among a handful of nations with dozens of scientists working on CERNs SuperCollider
Project. Several of the SuperCollider components were built in Pakistan.
-Jinnah Antarctic Station puts Pakistan among a dozen nations doing research in Antarctica
-Pakistans IT Industry is worth $2.8 billion and is growing every year
-Pakistan leads the world in Biometric IT services with the worlds biggest biometric database.
-Top-selling Blackberry application was developed by a Pakistani company Pepper.pk
-SUPARCO (Pakistan Space Agency) is rumoured to be designing it's own satellite launch vehicle
TAIMUR
Arts, Literature & Culture
There has been an explosion of the uniquely Pakistani arts and literature:
-Sachal Orchestra, a Lahore Jazz Group, is topping western music charts
-Regular book fairs, music concerts, fashion shows & theater group performances
-UKs Granta Magazine Special Issue Highlights Successful Pakistani Authors Books Published in
Europe and America. Examples: Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Daniyal
Mueenuddin (In Other Rooms, Other Wonders), Kamila Shamsie (Burnt Shadows), Mohammad
Hanif (A Case of Exploding Mangoes) and Nadeem Aslam (The Wasted Vigil) who have been
making waves in literary circles and winning prizes in London and New York.
Heavy Manufacturing
Pakistan has a significant heavy industry today. For example:
- Autos, Motorcycles, Tractors, Buses, Trucks (Auto sales up 61% in July 2011)
- Steel
- Nuclear Reactors (Khushab)
- Aircrafts
- Ships
- Unmanned Drones (UAVs)
- Army Tanks

- Ballistic and Cruise Missiles


Natural Resources
Pakistan is rich in energy and mineral resources. The US Deptarment of Energy estimates 51 trillion
cubic feet of shale gas mostly in Sindh. And there's good potential for shale oil in the country.
-Vast coal reserves at Thar for cheap electricity (Coal power plants)
-Huge deposits of Copper, Gold, Iron and Rare Earths at Reko Diq, Dilband and Saindak in
Balochistan
-High sustained wind speeds of 13 to 16 mph along the Arabian Sea coastline (Wind power plants)
-Lots of sunshine everywhere all year round (Solar power plants)
-Significant hyrdo energy potential
Strong Society
The Habibs bailed out Pakistan in 1947. Now, let's see how Edhi doing it in 2011. Here's quote from
Anatol Leiven's "Pakistan: A Hard Country":
"There is no sight in Pakistan more moving than to visit some dusty, impoverished small town in arid
wasteland, apparently abandoned by God and all sensible men and certainly abandoned by the
Pakistani state and its own elected representatives - to see the flag of the Edhi Foundation flying
over a concrete shack with a telephone, and the only ambulance in town standing in front. Here, if
anywhere in Pakistan, lies the truth of human religion and human morality".
Lieven says Pakistanis donate 5% of the GDP for charitable cause, making Pakistanis the most
generous people in the world. As a benchmark, philanthropy accounts for 2.2% of GDP in the United
States, 1.3% in the UK, 1.2% in Canada and 0.6% in India.
Weak State
Unfortunately, Pakistan is run by incompetent politicians! The Pakistani military and the civil society
bails out the state each time it is found lacking. Examples include the Earthquake in 2005, Swat
takeover by Taliban insurgents in 2009, and massive floods in 2010. In each of these cases, the
politicians and the civilian administrators abandoned the people and the world media declared
Pakistan a failed state on the verge of total collapse. But they were proved wrong each time. The
military launched the rescue and relief efforts by deploying all of its resources, and then the NGOs
like Edhi Foundation stepped in to help the people stand on their feet again.
Summary
While the worst 5% of the Pakistan story gets all the headlines, the reality of Pakistan today as
vibrant society and a strong nation gets ignored by the mainstream media. The real story of Pakistan
is the resilience of its 180 million citizens who continue to strive to make it better and stronger. These
are tough economic times for Pakistan, but if history should stand corrected, Pakistan will pull out of
this and continue to grow!