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Wednesday August 17, 2022

Resource-rich

December 05, 2021

Pakistan has the fourth largest irrigated land area in the world (after China, India and the United States). Pakistan is the fourth largest cotton producer in the world. We are the fourth largest sugarcane producer in the world. Pakistan is the fifth largest milk producer in the world. We are the sixth largest date producer in the world. Pakistan is the eighth largest wheat producer in the world.

According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Pakistan may have over 9 billion barrels of petroleum oil…” That is 45 years worth of consumption. According to the EIA, “Pakistan holds sizable shale gas reserves of 105 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).” That is 58 years worth of consumption.

Reko Diq has estimated reserves of 5.9 billion tonnes of copper ore and 41.5 million ounces of gold – making Reko Diq one of the largest copper and gold reserves on the face of the planet. Pakistan has an estimated 1.5 billion tonnes of iron ore in Chiniot, Nokundi, Haripur and Kalabagh. We have large limestone deposits in Khewra, Dando, DG Khan, Nowshera, Kohat and Harnai. Pakistan has the world’s second largest salt reserves. Our hydropower potential exceeds 60,000 MW – of which only 7,000 MW has been developed. Imagine tourism – we have a 1,046 km coastline all of which lies undeveloped.

Pakistan, with a median age of 22.8 years, has one of the youngest populations in the world. Pakistan’s population growth rate is decelerating, the working age population is expanding and the age dependency ratio is on its way down. This is where Europe was a hundred years ago – and then the European economy grew by leaps and bounds. This is where China was half a century ago, and then the Chinese economy grew by leaps and bounds.

Imagine: by 2030 Pakistan’s working age population is expected to be around 67 percent of the total. Imagine: the working age population in Korea, Germany, Japan and Italy is declining. To be certain, Pakistan stands to reap the largest of all demographic dividends (demographic dividend is a boost in economic productivity that occurs when the working age population is on the growth path). Geographically, we are one of the most strategically located countries right in the middle of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.

In 2011, the IMF empirically determined the ‘effects of political instability on economic growth’. According to the study, “political instability significantly reduces economic growth...Our results suggest that governments in politically fragmented countries with high degrees of political instability need to address its root causes... Only then, countries could have durable economic policies that may engender higher economic growth.”

We have all the prerequisites for robust economic growth – except political stability. We must end this state of ‘permanent political conflicts’. We must rectify our political dysfunction. All we need is two things – political stability and a refocus on geoeconomics. All we need to do is to deploy our economic resources to advance our geopolitical goals. All we need to learn is the “interplay of economics, geopolitics and strategy.”

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com Twitter: @saleemfarrukh

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