Do not expect miracles

December 08, 2022

LAHORE: We cannot afford to maintain the status quo in economic affairs, which is rapidly widening the development gap with other countries of the world.It is of no use to boast that South Korea...

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LAHORE: We cannot afford to maintain the status quo in economic affairs, which is rapidly widening the development gap with other countries of the world.

It is of no use to boast that South Korea copied our economic plan in the 1960s to overtake us by the widest margin in the economic field. Six decades back, the technology was in its infancy and to beat a developed nation in the economy took decades.

Today, the disruptive technologies have the capability to take a huge leap within a year. In the 1960s, we were ahead of all regional economies in development.

Our per capita income was higher than India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Indonesia. When Bangladesh separated from Pakistan in 1971, it was a basket case.

Now all these countries are much ahead of Pakistan economically, except for Afghanistan. Even the war torn Afghanistan has a more stable and stronger currency than ours.

Our planners remained silent spectators in the past four decades as they saw the economy of the country slipping from their hands. They went on accumulating debt to finance fiscal deficit. Development went out of their priority list.

Now the country has reached a stage, where no country or global institution is prepared to lend us with harsh conditions.

Hopes have turned into despair. The ruling elite is perhaps hoping for a miracle to happen like striking huge oil reservoirs.

However, even that would not resolve our issues. We have wasted huge resources in the past.

We missed so many opportunities when foreign aid was coming and we were wasting it in consumption. The lifestyle of the ruling elite now matches the way the global millionaires live.

We never capped our expenses. Muhammad Khan Juneju in 1985 ordered that ministers would use 800cc Pakistan made cars and the Prime minister would be entitled to 1300cc local car.

He was laughed at. Now the ministers want bullet proof cars with convoy security vehicles following them. The protocol of the prime ministers matches that of the president of the United States.

Yet we are a poor state. One of our former prime ministers did not stay in the lavish official prime minister’s residence, but commuted to his office on a helicopter daily from a more lavish personal residence.

Yet all these leaders inform the world that Pakistan is a very poor country. Their lifestyle in Pakistan and on foreign tours belies this claim.

How can a leader of a poor country live as lavishly on taxpayers’ expense that is denied to the prime minister of Japan.

Pakistan needs to change and the change will come from the top. The ruling elite, the bureaucracy and the judiciary must live a simple life in line with the life that the majority of Pakistanis live.

They must be subjected to load shedding that ordinary citizens face. There should be no stopping of traffic for the VIPs.

Their children must enroll in public schools. Only then the elitists would know the misery people go through.

Their experience will make them realise that all ills are because of corruption, malpractices and incompetence. There would be no traffic jams, no load shedding and no absent teachers in government schools.

With transparent and merit-based governance, we can catch up with the rest of the world in five years.

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