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July 25, 2019

‘Pakistan has the potential to become a trillion-dollar economy’


July 25, 2019

“More money does not mean more development. Thousands of billions have been spent in the name of development, but people are still deprived of even clean drinking water, children are starving, there is malnutrition and stunting,” said Syed Mohibullah Shah, an esteemed columnist and one of Pakistan’s leading thinkers.

Shah was addressing a book talk that was organised by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi’s office of the Talent Hunt Programs (THPs), featuring a discussion on the book ‘The Economy of Modern Sindh: Opportunities Lost and Lessons for the Future’.

The event was held at the Gani Tayab auditorium of the IBA’s main campus and was attended by leading industry practitioners, thinkers, THP students, faculty and the book’s co-authors.

‘The Economy of Modern Sindh’ has been co-authored by Dr Ishrat Husain, Prof Aijaz A Qureshi and Nadeem Hussain. It offers a detailed and holistic perspective about the administrative, political and economic problems that have shaped Sindh’s economy.

It is based on intensive research and presents a multi-pronged strategy to deal with the socioeconomic challenges that serve as an impediment towards the growth of Pakistan’s sub-national economies.

“We are committed to inculcating the habit of serious reading in our students and exposing them to applied research,” said Dr Junaid Alam Khan, director of the IBA’s THPs.

“We reach out to talented students from across Pakistan and give them 100 per cent scholarship that covers their tuition fee, boarding, lodging, books and a monthly stipend. We have students coming from all across the country.

“In Sindh some of the districts are Tharparkar, Mithi, Umerkot, Jacobabad, Naushahro Feroze, Ghotki, Dadu, Badin and Shikarpur, while from Balochistan there is exceptional academic talent from Jaffarabad, Ziarat, Panjgur, Jhal Magsi, Dera Bugti, Khuzdar and Musakhel.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa adds diversity to our student body and you would find young boys and girls from Tank, Batagram, Charsadda, Chitral, Karak, Swabi and Abbottabad, while we have some very smart and brilliant scholars from Vehari, Rajanpur, Narowal, Mianwali, Layyah, Khushab, Jhang and Sheikhupura in Punjab.”

Addressing these students, Syed Farrukh Zaeem, an IBA alumnus from the class of 1994 and Global Head, Treasury and Capital Markets, United Bank Limited (UBL), said: “UBL is proud to share this valuable book with you.

“We hope that not only will the book play a part in understanding the economic situation in Sindh but also inspire us to learn valuable lessons and take appropriate measures for the country’s prosperous future.

“Less privileged students from deprived districts do not have access to quality books. UBL is committed to filling this gap by stepping in, and it’s a part of our sustainable agenda.”

Sharing light on Sindh’s journey from lead to leg, he said: “Sindh’s per capita income at the time of independence was believed to be nearly 55 per cent higher than that of the rest of the country.

“By the early 1990s it was 36 per cent higher and by 2014-15 the difference was further reduced to 17 per cent. The high per capita income of Sindh conceals the low per capita income in the rural areas, which are one-half of that of the urban population.

“Sindh’s per capita growth has stagnated during the last two decades and was less than one per cent annually, compared to the national average of 2.5 per cent. In the most recent period —FY 2011-15 — the per capita real GDP grew at only 1.2 per cent on average.”

Tahira Raza, former president of the First Women Bank, said: “When we met Sima Kamil, the president of UBL, she very whole-heartedly agreed to gift this well-researched academic book to the students who are not able to afford this otherwise.

“She was generous enough to contribute to the existing knowledge base of the students, faculty, researchers, scholars, academics; and have such studies available in the libraries, think-tanks, research centres, archives and social development labs.

“Book reading needs to be promoted in the youth. It is high time that we start a discourse around intellectual development and innovation. We cannot move ahead if you are not invested in making a meaningful contribution to society.”

Syed Mohibullah Shah, a CSP officer who was principal secretary to then prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said: “The undivided India contributed 25 per cent of the world’s GDP in 1757, which reduced to only five per cent in 1947.

“Much of India’s wealth was plundered and looted, and the pre-partitioned India was left devastated. Foreign colonisers are gone, and the native colonisers have taken up their role. We now have brown Muslims who are doing the same to the land and people.

“The system is working exactly according to the design; the design that helps the powerful and suppresses the poor, but this country has a huge potential; we have a potential to become a trillion-dollar economy. You all are young, entering in your late teens. You are the guardians of hope; only you can make it possible.

“Ten years down the road we would not be worried about the growing malnutrition in this country. You can improve the system of governance that is designed to serve the rulers and not the masses.”

Encouraging the THP students to read ‘The Economy of Modern Sindh, Shah said: “This book is a labour of love by three sons of this soil. The book covers a wide range of social and economic, agricultural and industrial, and rural and urban sectors.

“It has ably documented downward slide across all sectors, the stagnancy in agriculture, declining productivity in industries and services sectors, and declining per capita income of the urban and rural population of the province.

“It identifies divisive polity, politics of segregation, large-scale immigration from other areas of the country, and law and order issues as contributing factors that have damaged the prospects and potential of the people in both urban and rural areas.”

Prof Aijaz A Qureshi thanked the IBA Talent Hunt Program team members — Syed Rizwan A Bukhari, Umesh Kumar and Zahoor Ahmed Detho — for their services to the program.