Devising a Growth Strategy for Pakistan (1): Your Ideas Invited

Posted on February 3, 2011
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development
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Adil Najam

(Editor’s Note: This  is the first in a series on Pakistan’s New Growth Startegy. The Planning Commission of Pakistan has invited ideas and suggestions on this and we invite and encourage our readers to please help in highlighting the best and most innovative ideas they can think of. Have your say.)

I have been planning to write this post for most of a month. I have kept postponing because more sensational and urgent “news” kept coming in the way and I did not want our readers’ attention so diverted on the immediate that they ignored the important. All of this to say two things: First, I believe that the topic of this post is truly and deeply important and I really do hope that our readers will think very deeply about this and give us their very best feedback and ideas on this. Second, I was wrong in my original assessment and should really not have waited – the sensational and the urgent are forever with us (especially in Pakistan) and should never distract us from the important. And, ‘important’ is what this post is about!

The Planning Commission of Pakistan – now headed by Dr. Nadeem ul Haque, an out-spoken economist; international economic policy expert; former head of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economists (PIDE); and a friend and erstwhile contributor to ATP – has embarked on a fresh and bold initiative to develop a new growth policy for Pakistan – a ‘New Development Approach.’ At a time when many of us (I certainly stand accused) are caught up in the politics of the moment and immediate concerns, here is a strong, timely and very welcome initiative to think long-term – beyond the dynamics of today’s politics or this government or that – about exactly what will get our economic house in order on a sustainable and long-term basis. What do we need to do today, that will make improve economic and developmental conditions tomorrow?

With a refreshing and energetic zeal, Dr. Nadeem ul Haque has been reaching out to all elements of the Pakistani intelligentsia – universities, business sector, independent experts, citizens, the public -to think about this question and to give the Planning Commission their inputs, their ideas, their critique, their suggestions. Dr. Haque has also reached out personally to us here at All Things Pakistan to contribute to this national dialogue and discussion on exactly what is needed in a national growth strategy for Pakistan, and a new development approach for our future. I have every reason to believe that this is not an empty gesture, but an honest and real desire on his part to get a serious dialogue going on the best ideas for a growth strategy for Pakistan. I would urge our readers to seriously avail of this opportunity and to share their ideas and suggestions on this issue. Not every idea, of course, can or should be implemented, but I have high confidence that in this case your ideas will be read heard, digested and have a real chance of influencing the final shape of the national growth strategy. For those of us who have long cribbed that no one listens to us, here is a real invitation to be heard. Let us not disappoint!

In December, while in Pakistan, I had the opportunity to participate and speak at an event organized on the new growth strategy at the Higher Education Commission (HEC) which included some of Pakistan’s leading economic scholars as well as university leaders from across Pakistan. A lot of the confidence you sense in the paragraphs above comes from that experience. It was heartening to see our economic policy makers making a serious and heartfelt effort at inviting debate and ideas. It was more heartening to see universities being viewed and treated with the respect than knowledge producers deserve in all societies. It was even more heartening to see a real discourse and a thirst for ideas and a discussion that did start looking at the long-term questions of national development in the serious intellectual and ideational perspectives. What I think was most heartening was the clear sense in that room that ideas matter. In many ways, that is what any strategy is about – a discourse on ideas and an attempt to hit at the right idea about what should happen.

A rather long introduction, I realize, to introduce this series of posts. At this point, I thought starting with the general idea of a ‘growth strategy’ is what would work best. We will have more specific posts later, but at this point, when you think of growth for Pakistan, what are the type of things that come to your mind? Remember, this is not making a wish list or throwing out cynical jugats. What are the most strategic investments in policy, in idea and in resources that can be made today that will put Pakistan on a path to growth.

That Pakistan is in an economic mess is not in question. It is also clear that a central part of any solution – maybe even the first step – has to be to curtail the inefficiencies and wastes in the system – in terms of corruption at all levels and in terms of waste and excess. However, while that is necessary, it will not be sufficient. Simply given the demographic  realities of Pakistan, a real growth impetus will be necessary. If the corruption and waste continues, this growth will be further stymied. But, even if the corruption and waste was checked real and sustained growth will be needed. Where do you think it can come from? And how? That, in essence, is the strategic question.

The new development approach that Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haque and the Planning Commission have begun the discussion with is built on four pillars:

  1. Increase productivity – Through Innovation
  2. Create Competitive Conditions – Through Internal Markets
  3. Urban Management – Through Creative Cities
  4. Youth Engagement – Through Mobilizing  the Energies of the Young

There is, of course, much more beneath each of these ‘motors’ of growth – productivity, competitiveness, urban management and youth engagement. More importantly, what are the mechanisms in policy of unleashing the potential in these areas? And what other areas might one think of (knowing that long laundry lists of litany are not what strategy is made of!).

We will share more of what the Planning Commission and others are thinking of on these. But, first, we thought we should ask you what you think!

39 Comments on “Devising a Growth Strategy for Pakistan (1): Your Ideas Invited”

  1. HaroON says:
    February 3rd, 2011 12:30 am

    If this is real, then it is a good step. I wonder if they will really listen to people’s ideas or this is just PR. I hope they will.

  2. Dr. Asma Ali says:
    February 3rd, 2011 12:36 am

    I think the idea of focusing on growth is the right one. Without that we will always lag behind. I am also glad to see the youth issue as a priority. But really the real youth issue is employment. Generate employment and the youth issue goes away – as it has in China and India.

  3. Nasim says:
    February 3rd, 2011 12:48 am

    I am glad they are asking for advice and suggestions. Such a strategy must have national ownership. The key point is having a strategy for youth involvement. The young in Pakistan are a real timebomb specially without jobs. The mullah has realized that and is already using that to turn the young into REAL bombs. Our policy makers need to do that too. The way to difuse these human bombs is by giving them jobs and employment.

  4. Basheer says:
    February 3rd, 2011 12:49 am

    What about the energy issue and planning for that. Without energy there is no growth. Solve the energy crisis and so many other things will fall into place!

  5. Kamran says:
    February 3rd, 2011 1:07 am

    The idea of growth’ alone is not sustainable in the current conditions. We have a huge budget deficit and need to cut down on expenses. I understand more than 50% of our budget goes into servicing our debt, hence, growth is not possible wothout taking control of these issues.

    For growth we need to go into new fields, IT, mining, defence products etc. For that we need to spend more time in training and educating the masses. This can also take care of youths as they will develop new skills and issues like energy can be focused more as they are linked. Its a long term shot but I believe the right way forward.

  6. February 3rd, 2011 1:09 am

    Economic growth directly related to law and order situation and Justice among provinces.

    Justice & provincial autonomy is the key to success for “Pakistan”.

    (1) Justice among provinces in Pakistan:

    All we need is justice in Pakistan among all provinces, which is very absent in Pakistan since its creation, as NWFP always ask for its royalty of electricity, Baluchistan has not given commands on its own resources, Sindh earn most but don’t get what it deserve, it seems as we did not learned any lessons from 1971 where our enemy India took advantage of injustices with Bengalis, that WAR was PAKISTAN Vs PAKISTAN AND NOT between INDIA Vs PAKISTAN , because BANGLADESH was PAKISTAN then. INDIA intervened with USSR (as any other enemy) in our internal affair as we were doing injustice with Bengalis, otherwise Bangladesh would have still a part of Pakistan, and so if we do “Justice” then India, Israel, USA and the rest of the world simply can’t break Pakistan.

    (2) Provincial autonomy is the way forward for Pakistan:
    Why Pakistani leaders are afraid of Provincial autonomy in Pakistan?

    Foolish leaders of Pakistan think that if we give province its right to rule itself, it will break Pakistan, but to me this will make Pakistan stronger as province will have their future in their own hand, their resources in their own hand, and they will not be angry with the federation that it is NOT giving our rights, our money, our resources, not self-governess, provincial autonomy would thus mean the capacity for a province to govern itself, to determine, without interference from the outside, its own policies and priorities, assured to have the financial capacity to fulfill its responsibilities etc & the federation will get its income as province give them to take care of currency, Military & foreign policy. As Canada a progressing country has provincial autonomy,USA has given autonomy to its states & it’s the only “Super Power” in the whole world, & USSR which was broken due to the same kind of problem now Russia has learned from its past and now has unique policy for its provinces:

    Russia consists of 83 “subjects” (divisions)

    21 = republics (full autonomy)
    46 = oblasts (same as our provinces)
    9 = krais (territories – same as provinces)
    1 = autonomous oblast (Jewish province with republic autonomy)
    4 = autonomous okrugs (districts which are autonomous)
    2 = federal cities

    Republics differ from other federal subjects in that they have the right to
    establish their own official language and have their own constitution.
    The chief executive of most republics has the title of “President”
    however are appointed by the President of Russia himself. The
    President’s nomination must be accepted by the republic’s parliament
    for the appointee to be eligible.

    Oblasts are administrative units similar to our Pakistani provinces and are less
    autonomous than republics, in that they cannot establish their own
    language and constitution.

    Krais are the same as oblasts; Krais are similar to “territories” (provinces with smaller populations and larger landmasses).

    Federal Cities are two in Russia; Moscow and St. Petersburg and have direct control of their own affairs.


    Punjab province which has at least 54% of the Pakistani population has to take a serious step in this matter as without the will of Punjab these imperative things simply can’t happen as the people of Punjab came on streets only then judiciary was restored otherwise it was a daydream, so without the involvement of Punjab province “Justice” & “Provincial autonomy” can’t be achieved and this is the only way to save Pakistan.

    Pakistan can only progress when we have Unity among us and for Unity we need “Justice” & “Provincial autonomy”, these things are the key to success for Pakistan, without it our future is bleak.

  7. Ali Dada says:
    February 3rd, 2011 1:25 am

    Dr. Adil Najam,

    First of all, you are a Doctor as you have a PhD, so you should call yourself Dr. Adil Najam (please don’t be so humble, you deserve the title for the hardwork you put in).


    I will concentrate on talking about education…

    . Abolish all private education and different provincial education board. We are a small country and don’t need Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, etc board (sure in Kashmir, you can teach Kashmiri as a subject, in Balochistan, Balochi, and so on as an optional course). When countries like Zimbabwe can have top notch education standard, so can Pakistan, no excuse.

    I say gradually fire all of teachers who are barely educated and hire (hire foreigners if you have to) who are qualified to teach.

    Also, integrate Islamic studies all the way from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and please make up your mind – shut down all non-Madrasa schools by integrating all subjects in Madrasa schools or vice-versa shut down all Madrasa schools by integrating same level of Islamic Education into non-Madrasa schools (ideally Pakistanis should be pro in both – Islamic studies and Worldly subjects).

    When the kid reaches Grade 11 then they can have different fields to specialize: Business, Engineering, Medicine, Literature (english/urdu) or Islamic Studies.

    Our kids don’t have good education facilities – broken walls, no playing ground, no sports/academic clubs, no wood/metal worshops, no cooking classes so how do you expect your youth to be inspired and to remain non-political?

    As for Universities and community Colleges, please make separate university and community college campus for girls and boys. Both girls and boys deserve to study and especially in rural areas and among conservative families, then will be more likely to send their girls to study post-secondary if you provide them with a compatible environment (sure it won’t help in workplace but education is first and must be obtained).

    There is also good argument for making separate boys/girls universities/colleges – in Medical school majority students are girls but most of them don’t work in the medical field once they graduate. So why not let them study but have equal number of seats for boys in separate campus?

    Please start your education revolution from the most backward and rural areas of Pakistan and make education free – you will see the difference. Offer all students free, healthy, filling breakfast as an incentive – dig deep in your pockets.

    Forget about making Pakistan rich overnight, just work on this and you will make 100s of millions of Pakistanis proud of their Country.

    If PPP wants to leave a good legacy, then this is it – fix education, make it corruption free and people will love you for it. I beg you Sir, please fix our education.

  8. Syed says:
    February 3rd, 2011 1:42 am

    I attended Dr. Haque’s growth workshop in Lahore. Someone made a wonderful point. He had been part of the Planning Commission in the 90′s and had attended similar workshops. He remembered that the stuff being discussed in 2010 was the same as in early 90′s.

    I know Dr. Haque is adamant that learning is a continuous process and we need to continue to think about our growth strategy. That’s somewhat true, but the basic problems in our country are pretty straightforward. Our problem is not in economic thought, but simply in the political economy.

    Another thing. Dr. Haque is a Chicago School economist. Believes in free markets. I think he’s a bit of a misfit in the Planning Commission in Pakistan (a country where the government interferes in most markets and messes things up).

    We’ve got an extremely influential Finance Minister in Dr. Hafeez. Shahid Kardar is governor State Bank. These are all well educated, liberal economics minded people. Frankly, the economic reforms in Pakistan have been somewhere between low and none. If the government depends on coalition partners who blackmail them on issues like petroleum subsidies, then these people can’t do much.

    I say forget the consensus building. Anyone who has worked / lived in Pakistan knows it can never happen. I say ram through well thought economic reforms. Be cautious with opening your economy (we are reasonably open), but start making reforms. Starting with an agricultural tax. Its scandalous that people over the 200,000 rs bracket don’t pay agriculture tax.

  9. February 3rd, 2011 2:56 am

    Some comments from the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “Stop fmly planning. Encourage ppl to hve more kids!!”
    - “and then wail for infrasturcture?”
    - “I am glad they are asking for advice and suggestions. Such a strategy must have national ownership. The key point is having a strategy for youth involvement. The young in Pakistan are a real timebomb specially without jobs. The mullah has realized that and is already using that to turn the young into REAL bombs. Our policy makers need to do that too. The way to difuse these human bombs is by giving them jobs and employment.”
    - “Just reduce the bureacracy that faces business and see how things will flourish.”
    - “‎2 words. contract enforcement.”
    - ” very simple 1 child per house hold…… china did ………govt should impose this mandetory law in the entire country for the next 25 years.things will start changing ………unless this population growth will not be controlled we can not plan any policy towards prosperity….whatever our resources are they are not enough to feed the entire country….so govt should impose strict measures to control population…how it could be done …through media education….newspapers……municiple level….constituency level where family planning importance should be given…….people should be tought safe sex education conterceptive medicines….and other measures to control birth………..this education should be given both men and women ……having sex should be for pleasure rather then for making babies our govt has to educate this to it people…..govt should provide free good quaility condums plus conterceptives to poor as much as they want to …..this thing might looks so funny to read but this is reality we have to step in to this otherwise we will never be a properous nation in furture….”

  10. Economist says:
    February 3rd, 2011 3:04 am

    Growth can only come from private entrepreneurs. The role of govt is only to create conditions in which entrepreneurs can flourish. Right now government is a hurdle to enterprise. Strategy has to focus on institutions which can change this. I remember seeing something on ATP about ease of doing business index. That is what the strategy should focus on.

  11. Kafir Per Pakistani Law says:
    February 3rd, 2011 3:57 am

    Pakistan can only develop ecnomically when its citizens, especially the minorities or forced minorities (as best indicator of rise and fall of a nation is how they treat their minorities), develop sense and feel that Pakistan is their country and in it they will get the best justice possible anywhere in the world.
    Until then nothing will work just like many economic and 5 year development plans in history of Pakistan.

  12. Faisal says:
    February 3rd, 2011 4:19 am

    Don’t try and do everything, focus on what we can do better, for example:
    1) Aggressive exploration for gas (OGDCL alone can’t do this)
    2) Revamp textile industry

    Private sector is working (and will continue to work) in areas where law and order situation is worse than that of Karachi/Lahore/Faisalabad – Of course Govt. needs to continue working on improving it.

  13. Jawed says:
    February 3rd, 2011 4:22 am

    One word: EDUCATION

  14. SH Kavi says:
    February 3rd, 2011 5:27 am

    two ideas come to mind,

    -Initiate controlled selective privatization of corp. like PIA, steel mill, WAPDA, Pakistan Railways etc. to make them profitable again.It would also decrease and and inefficiency.
    -Broaden the tax base by finding the new sources of revenue.Relying on IMF, World Bank etc is unsustainable in long term.

  15. Gardezi says:
    February 3rd, 2011 5:34 am

    Strategy is easy. Implementation is not.

    Here are some absolute essentials:

    1. Plug corruption losses from top to bottom. the bottom ones add to even more than the amounts on the top.
    2. Plug ineffecient operations. Not just cabinet size, but PIA, Railways, and other outfits which have become employment exchanges.
    3. Create real one-window operations. This may be most important. East of doing business.
    4. Shift higher education policy towards job creation and enterprise.
    5. Govt institutions to focus on improving quality of necessary services and leave all else to private sector. See how effecient both media and telecom has become after privatization. Try that with airlines (remove PIA preferences) and railways and steel mill.
    6. Export promotion. Not by fairs and tours but by ease of operation for Pakistani exporters as well as foreign importers.

    How is that for a start?

    Now, do we really think anyone at the Planning Commission is listening!

  16. SH Kavi says:
    February 3rd, 2011 5:35 am

    decrease corruption and inefficiency.

  17. Imran Khan says:
    February 3rd, 2011 6:21 am

    It is important to grow high margin products that leverage the inherent industries and strengths. I have written about it at:


    Technology Driven:

    Intellectual Property Driven:“commercialization-of-ideas”-at-nust-islamabad-pakistan/

    There are many ideas that complement the plan.

  18. Hanif Q. says:
    February 3rd, 2011 7:19 am

    I look forward to reading more about what they have in mind within those four areas. But as areas of interest they are very good ones.

  19. Bilal says:
    February 3rd, 2011 8:37 am

    Strengthening the avenues of optimum wealth distribution in a country across the public, for profit and non-profit sectors forms the backbone of sustaining real growth. A stiff inheritance tax is needed, coupled with legislation to protect the creation and sustenance of nonprofits organizations.

    The public sector needs to focus on society’s needs bottoms up… first raising the standard of primary healthcare, education, and facilitating the construction of basic infrastructure, while relinquishing tertiary management to the for profit and non profit sectors. The privatisation commission ought to have an arm (in collaboration with the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy) that also has the capacity to privatise public sector organisations (hospitals, schools, other service orgs) to the private non profit sector, if a proper governance structure and endowment is there to support the organisation.

    The strengthening of the third (nonprofit) sector, one where revenue net of expenses is poured back into an organisation’s growth, will help create the necessary balance and virtuous cycle that Pakistan needs for its long term socio-economic evolution.

  20. Bilal says:
    February 3rd, 2011 9:00 am

    At the heart of Silicon Valley or Route 128′s (Boston) innovation story is the tangled institutional tension that exists across the public, for profit and nonprofit sectors.

    I think it would be worthwhile for the Planning Commission to undertake the following exercise:

    A) Confirm Pakistan’s GDP breakdown at the national level across the Public, For Profit and Non Profit Sectors.
    B) Do the same exercise at the national level, but for key sectors such as health, education, and media.
    C) Assess A & B for the largest and most important metropolitan cities of the country.

    This might present opportunities for some focused interventions by the government of the day, to create the institutions that will help align the short term (public sector), with the medium term (for profit), and the long term (non profit).

  21. Dan R says:
    February 3rd, 2011 9:36 am

    MOST IMPORTANT: Please OPEN PAKISTAN MARKET TO THE WORLD… > Develop ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds) & Mutual Funds as many as possible. And make them “easily” available for foreign potential investors.

    This will not only help “diversify” Pakistan’s portfolio but also increase foreign stakes in Pakistan. Making Pakistan’s success important for the world.

    Keep in mind that Pakistan (per World Bank rankings) is rated at # 1 (Yes # 1) in South Asia 2011, for the “ease of doing business” AND much ahead in the rankings than India.

    Lastly the magic key = “Intelligent Design & Innovation”. Seek out the innovative brains and the Design Thinkers of Pakistan… They are the ones with sustainable solutions and the answers you seek…


  22. maqbool arshad says:
    February 3rd, 2011 10:04 am

    Pakistan has a serious health disaster with almost 8 million people infected with Hepatitis C which will soon become a calamity as millions will get complications of cirrhosis of liver , bleeding , liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma .
    This will remove a good number of productive citizens out of work force, financially ruin families because of expense of health care and overwelm rudimentary health care infrastructure.
    The irony of this sad situation is that this is entirely a preventable infection .
    The spending in preventive health care has to be increased many fold and the dividends of this investment is huge with a healthy workforce which is the critical element in the competitive world of tomorrow.
    Below is a public awareness initiative APPNA is planning to work at, but an all out effort has to be made by all.
    Hepatitis C (Hep C) poses an existential threat to Pakistani social infrastructure. This highly contagious infection will sap the energy of a large group of the working-age Pakistanis and will financially ruin the suffering families, numbering in millions.
    At present, 6-8 % of the rural population and12-24 % of urban and suburban population is infected with Hepatitis C. Prevalent widespread unsafe healthcare practices are causing worsening of the Hepatitis C infection rate. Current estimates put around 18 million people having been exposed to Hep C and about 44 % of these individuals (8-9 million) are actively infected. In all metropolitan hospitals, almost half of the patients in medical wards are being admitted with complications of end-stage liver disease, such as cirrhosis of liver, bleeding esophageal varices or frank hepatic failure. Not unexpectedly, all medical facilities in Pakistan will soon be overwhelmed if this state of affairs continued.
    The sad irony of this situation is that the Hep C epidemic is entirely preventable, is man made by negligent behavior of health care providers and an immoral and unlawful industry of reuse and repackaging of infected needles , transfusion of blood without adequate screening and recycling of hospital and clinic waste .
    The use of infected and contaminated surgical and dental instruments and reuse of infected shaving blades by the barbers continue to infect unsuspecting victims.
    The Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) is deeply concerned with this state of affairs and would like to assist concerned Pakistanis and the government to stem this challenge. APPNA would like to start a robust awareness campaign among the masses to help innocent and unsuspecting Pakistanis protect themselves from this potentially catastrophic epidemic.
    APPNA would also like to facilitate a process to eliminate unscreened blood transfusion from medical establishments. APPNA will help initiate a certification program for blood banks that would follow prescribed operating procedures of international standards to help develop expected safety of blood products.
    APPNA would also like to initiate a comprehensive educational program where medical providers, nurses and paramedics will be re-educated about safe usage of needles and sharp instruments, including effective sterilization and safe disposal. The educational campaign will also target barbers to help stop reusing infected blades and appropriate disposal of these blades.
    The campaign will encourage hospitals and municipalities to ensure appropriate management of infected medical waste by establishing privately and or publicly supported medical waste businesses which use incinerators, autoclaves, medical shredders and deep burial techniques.
    APPNA will work with legislators to pass laws to encourage safe disposal with appropriate remedies for non compliance.

    The structure of the initiative is envisioned as follows:
    Hepatitis C Initiative in Pakistan
    Sponsoring Organization: Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA)
    Chair of the initiative: Maqbool Arshad, MD
    The task force will develop and execute the project and will raise necessary funds , hire staff , establish relationships with other individuals and organizations and sign the necessary contracts and M.O.Us as needed.
    The initiative may hire a program director in Pakistan and coordinators .The coordinators will work on:
    1.Mass public awareness campaign .( Reproducing Hepatitis C workbook in Urdu OASIS, Oakland CA, author : Dr Diana Salvastre )
    Graphic designer Sara Ikram , Lahore, Pakistan ( Develop brochures and posters ),
    Ulema project:educate masajid attendees about Hepatitis C and HIV
    2. Educate medical providers how to protect patients from this epidemic. Guidelines for Hemodialysis Centres for Hepatitis C in progress.
    Develop educational material for medical providers, “Teach the Teacher Program.”
    3. Facilitate establishment of a commission to initiate a safe blood and blood products campaign by encouraging blood banks to adopt standard operating procedures and appropriate screening of the donors to eliminate blood borne viral transmission

  23. Anwer says:
    February 3rd, 2011 10:51 am

    First, a review of previous exercises in planning by the Government of Pakistan – several multi-year plans over nearly six decades of Pakistan’s existence – should be taken in hand to determine why they failed leaving Pakistan in the dire straits that it is in today. Unless we learn from our past mistakes we are bound to repeat them.

    Second, no amount of planning will be of any use unless we first establish the rule of law, do something about literally boundless corruption and provide a minimally secure and orderly society.

  24. Walia H says:
    February 3rd, 2011 9:33 pm

    Pakistan has an energy crises…Solar energy at all levels of businesses can help…small businesses as solar energy providers, larger business as manufacturers, importers and land owners with unusable farm land – use the land for solar electricity generation to sell it to the government – or to local businesses.
    Government needs to give tax incentives and small loans to incentivize small businesses owners who are currently struggling.

  25. DayDream says:
    February 3rd, 2011 9:55 pm

    Anyone can come up with a great plan. You need honest people at every level to implement it….. and thats where Pakistan’s problem lies. Therefore nothing will work.
    Thank you.

  26. Asim says:
    February 4th, 2011 1:38 am

    Hopeless situation! Our people are too wrapped up in love with religion, God, His prophet. We do not have time to be materialistic, be progressive, be competitive and rather leave it up for Allah to decide. I have seen smart minds who went to excellent universities, earned their masters only to go back and sit in their fathers’ shops….so sad!

  27. Bangash says:
    February 4th, 2011 3:02 am

    Take advantage of being a “nuclear power”, split the army into two, with 200,000 assigned entirely to internal security. We face criminals, mad mullahs and terrorists who destroy our country from inside every day.

  28. Rashid Ali says:
    February 4th, 2011 6:41 am

    Adil, this is the most constructive message that I have read in any Pakistani website. Growth of new cities is an excellent strategy. At the heart of this program there should be another strategy to make rural areas self sufficient. We are an agricultural country and loosing these skills due to rural manpower drain to cities and to a culture of handouts. Industrial and agricultural development must go hand in hand

  29. Khaqan says:
    February 4th, 2011 11:26 am

    For growth of Pakistan, I encourage our youth to get projects and outsourced business for search engine optimization from Elance, vWorker, and other platforms. That is a major foriegn exchange source and I am personally willing to guide anyone in this regard. I can be reached at 0345 5177323

  30. February 4th, 2011 1:32 pm

    Need for the hour:

    1. Get a debt moratorium from all foreign debt agencies
    2. Pay them off with loans from friendly countries who doesn’t interfere in our sovereignty i.e. China, KSA, Malaysia, Brunei, UAE
    3. Reduce consumer goods imports and sacrifice our needs to save foreign reserves
    4. Move the money from debt servicing to education, health and infrastructure development
    5. Stop drone attacks/extra judicial killings and war in tribal area
    6. Apologies and compensate all victims of wars
    7. Reduce government spending on ministries
    8. Replace current IMF/World Bank finance minister with a Pakistani mercantilist economist as a Finance Minister
    9. Subsidize wheat, sugar, gas, electricity and basic vegetables and lentils
    10. Speed up judicial proceedings so verdict comes out in less than 90 days of filing case
    11. Use Reko Diq and Thar coal for national usage
    12. Country leader should prepare Pakistanis for meeting these objectives using weekly speech by PM and local Imams in Friday sermons.

  31. Mazhar Mughal says:
    February 4th, 2011 3:20 pm

    The 4 goals mentioned by Dr. Nadeem are worthy, and to achieve them, we need to do several things, many of them mentioned in earlier comments. I will try to attribute them to national & subnational jurisdictions. We often dream of following the South Korean/Taiwanese route to prosperity, but fail to notice the size, population, ethnic homogeneity, unitary state set up and existential threats that shaped their leadership’s outlook towards nation building and progress. In Pakistan, if we are to grow, will do it not because of our leadership, but mostly inspite of it, and in this case, we will be following the footpaths of Indian entrepreneurs (and if we could just come out of our habit of self-loathing, we will recognize that our industrialists and agriculturalists have not done so badly over the years the years after all). So what our government needs is to precisely stop thinking of the welfare of its people, our masses are industrious and talented, and can take care of their welfare themselves, given opportunity. The federal government should rather be doing things that no one else can do in Pakistan, at least for the moment: providing electricity, constructing dams, developing communication infrastructure including both railways and roads, promoting hydrocarbon and mineral exploration & extraction… Provincial governments, on their part, need to focus on the provision of schooling and preventive health care, and ensuring the safety of life and property, leaving other tasks to the districts (which must be given more taxation powers). District governments will need to be much more public-friendly and welfare-minded than they have been so far, and will need to work on improving the urban life, making it more convenient, comfortable and fluid. Without serious urban planning and transportation facilities, our industry and services sectors will never be producvive enough.
    Bottomline, strong emphasis on decentralization and devolution, government doing not many things, but doing them well, and giving the Pakistani awam space to grow: do this, and we will have laid the ground for a prosperous Pakistan.

    The role of the planning commission in all this should be to help the federal, provincial and district governments in making their development plans. For example, for cities, the planning commission should develop guidelines on urban development.

  32. Aqil says:
    February 4th, 2011 7:39 pm

    Some of the points mentioned in various posts here are more on the politics side and may be outside the scope of the planning commission’s work. The planning commission should mainly limit itself to one thing as far as politics is concerned. And that is to involve representatives of all political parties in a consultation process so that a political concensus can be developed at least on the broader points. This is neceessary to ensure the continuity of policies regardless of who is in power. If there is some continuity, even a semi-decent policy can deliver some results.

    I personally won’t even mind if the army is also brought on board, given that it does play a role in politics, and is therefore a participant in the system whether we like it or not. Moreover, the military does manage so many cants all over the country (again, this is not about whether it should be in this business or not but strictly about the facts on the ground), so it is already involved in urban planning. Let the battle for the supremacy of elected governments be waged elsewhere and let this be strictly an exercise for developing a political concensus (between all players including the army) on the basic outlines of a long-term growth strategy. The media must also be involved.

    Beyond that, there is little else the planning commission can do about politics.

  33. Annina Mirza says:
    February 4th, 2011 7:42 pm

    Elections are scheduled for 2013. We need to ensure that those are unbiased & fair. National concerns need to be addressed by parties and specific plans to improve the economic situation need to be proposed. Neglected provinces like Baluchistan need to be developed using their own revenue generated from the natural resources that have been found there. Pakistani firms need to be encouraged to mine and refine the deposits of gas, coal, copper & gold. If multinationals have to be employed they should be paid fee for service with bulk of the profit invested in developing Baluchistan where these reserves are located.

  34. Asim says:
    February 5th, 2011 1:53 am

    Government’s role should be limited to a facilitator, the least they can do is provide tax breaks, subsidized electricity, cheap land to foreign companies that is willing to hire Pakistani labor in Pakistan.

    If government can provide security, which in my opinion governments ultimate responsibility, private companies can take care of the rest. Any time in the history of Pakistan whenever there is a window of 3-4 years of peace, we have witnessed increase in foreign investments.

    Only jobs that gov’t can create are worthless police, army and over crowd existing public offices with additional unqualified staff and give golden handshakes(forced retirement) to experienced and qualifies staff.

  35. talat says:
    February 5th, 2011 5:45 am

    What growth can be expected in a country turned ‘Republic of Fear’ by Yazidi mullah?

  36. banjara286 says:
    February 5th, 2011 9:37 am

    the most important point from the standpoint of nation building is that development must occur in all regions of pakistan; not just in central pakistan. it would be ludicrous to talk about growth in the country if the country itself is going to disintegrate.

    note that, in view of the decades of neglect in the past, what this means is that there must be a greater development share for the other regions in the country (notably balochistan and kp, and gb) in the near future.

    the other crucial problem, though outside the mandate of the planning commission, is that of the decimation of quality of the gene pool on account of excessive in-breeding in the pakistani society. growth and development require a populace that is physically, intellectually, and academically capable of performing the tasks.

  37. ShahidnUSA says:
    February 5th, 2011 5:33 pm

    Good points Banjara286,

    Excessive ‘Inbreeding’ Inherits problems and bad recessive gene and I think is not Irrelevant.
    Imagine going to a mall to shop and you see only one color that is, red.

  38. Adnan says:
    February 14th, 2011 3:54 pm

    Excellent initiative on the part of the Planning Commission. Coincidentally, I have recently blogged about what should be the primary growth drivers for Pakistan, representing opportunities that are screaming at us right now. It is a little different from the thinking at the Planning Commission, but more grounded in reality. You can read it at

  39. Ali H. says:
    February 20th, 2011 8:29 am

    Being an engineer, I find innovation to be at the heart of tangible growth for any country. We can fudge numbers to show ‘positive macroeconomic indicators’ but we will never be able to see actual success unless we promote creative education across the different social classes.

    For starters, we have to devise a plan to get rid of the class based education system prevalent in our country ( where the very rich goto an English speaking private school, the very poor goto an Urdu speaking government run school, and the very very poor goto a Madressah). And our nation wonders why we see shallow, unintellectual decision makers, and spiritually empty religious scholars.

    Pardon my lack of creativity to provide a proper solution to do so, as I don’t want to idealistically rant about what we need to do without mentioning how to do so. However, I came across some brilliant comments before me that specifically alluded to some very creative solutions.

    I would love to see a summary of this exercise in the form of recommendations given to the commission. Please keep us posted on the outcome(s) of this exercise (preferably in the form of a nice report out). I sincerely thank your team for this initiative.

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