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The G20 Summit in New Delhi on September 9-10 should have been an eye-opener for Pakistan. However, it does not seem so.

We are complacent as usual. There is a glaring absence of a serious debate in the print and electronic media on the economic fallout that Pakistan will face on account of realignment of elements, including one of our main sources of cash as a last resort.

In one of his articles of five-part ‘Learning From Others’ series carried by this newspaper earlier this year, this writer drew comparisons between the of economies of Pakistan and India in 2002 and 2023.

On a personal note, it was iterated that when this writer was in 2008 the President of South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA), which has its headquarters in India’s capital, there were frequent visits to this city as well as country’s economic and financial hub Mumbai.

At that time, Lahore and Karachi airports were much better than the airports of these two very important Indian cities. Their airports were filthy and not at all customer friendly. However, a decade later, this writer observed that New Delhi’s new airport was better than even Heathrow in London or the JFK in New York.

How did this profound transformation take place in a matter of one decade or so? Pakistanis have to learn the manner in which infrastructure in India underwent such a huge transformation. Now almost all the major cities of India have mass transit programs whereas Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, does not possess any such system. At present, we are at least 50 years behind India.

Despite these apparent shortcomings even our mainstream media peddles an outrageous narrative that conveys, albeit unsuccessfully, a belief that a time will come when Pakistan will ultimately conquer India. The purpose of this series of articles is to identify the primary reasons for these differences in growth and economic gap between the two almost identical societies that were part of one country just over 75 years ago. The following are differentiating factors:

Lack of rigidity

History has proved that Indians are not rigid in their decision-making processes. At the time of Partition of the subcontinent the status of India was as under:

The Union of India was consequently established from 6 former Indian provinces/presidencies (East Punjab, United Provinces, Central Provinces, Madras, Bombay, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam) and 562 former princely states.

At present, there are twenty eight (28) provinces and eight (8) union territories of India. All the provinces have been created on the basis of ethnic, cultural and linguistic homogeneity. For example, Haryana is originally a Hindi-speaking state which was carved out of the former state of East Punjab.

Karnataka is Kannada-speaking southwestern state of India whereas Tamil-speaking modern Tamil Nadu state emerged from the Madras Presidency of British Administration.

The differences of views in India were as strong as those were witnessed in Pakistan. India was facing the prospect of secession of Tamil Nadu from the Union at the time of linguistic determination under the Constitution. However, their politicians were mature enough to overcome those crises and all such matters were ultimately settled.

On the other hand, in Pakistan, we are in the habit of consolidating various governing units based on myopic political considerations and ill-conceived expediencies such as One Unit in 1954 and the 1956 and 1962 Constitutions. Despite an almost 100 percent increase in population after the arrival of the 1973 constitution, no new province was carved out.

Any such endeavor is viewed with suspicion. The lingering demand for the creation of a ‘Seraiki province’ is a strong case in point.

All the political parties promise the establishment of a ‘Seraiki province’ before every general election, but do not act in this regard after elections.

The absurdity can be gauged from the fact that there is hardly any cultural or linguistic affinity between a person living in Hub, which is almost a part of Karachi although it’s a part of Balochistan province, and a person living in Loralai, a town of the same province but at a distance of almost 1,000 kilometers from the former.

The seat of government in Balochistan is Quetta, which is over 700 kilometers from Hub. This rigidity is the biggest cause of stagnation of economic development in the country. Pakistanis are strangely placed insofar as their approach to the subjects of governance and devolution is concerned.

Homegrown finance ministers

The list of Finance Ministers of India from 1947 to 2023 in comparison to those in Pakistan during the same period reflects the reason behind the growing gulf between economic policies and the implementation. Morarji Desai, Indira Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh and V P Singh, for example, served as Finance Ministers before they became country’s Prime Ministers. The list does not include any imported person of Indian origin to head the government. All were genuine political workers and except Indira Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram, no one was foreign educated.

This writer penned an article about the Finance Ministers of Pakistan sometime ago. He started with unelected Malik Ghulam Muhammad to bureaucratic supremo Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

The present Finance Minister of India is Nirmala Sitharaman. She obtained a degree in economics from the Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, which is affiliated to Bharathidasan University, in 1980, Master of Arts in economics and M Phil degrees from JNU in New Delhi in 1984.

Unfortunately, however, people without foreign degrees are not treated with much respect in Pakistan. The results are obvious.

Economics relates to the common man in particular circumstances. Our rulers from 1947 onwards remained disconnected from the masses due to absence of general elections and in 1957/1958 we ended up under a Martial Law administration with a strong military presence.

As such, the Ministry of Finance has never been able to relate itself to the common man of Pakistan. ‘Q’ Block of Pakistan Secretariat (Ministry of Finance) in Islamabad is divorced from Pakistan.

(To be continued on Wednesday)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


Comments are closed.

Fatima Sep 19, 2023 08:03am
Not sure the title reflects the nature of the article, but useful points made.
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Raj Sep 19, 2023 08:46am
The author is very wrong to claim we had “almost identical societies”. Hindus always focused on education& business. 70% properties, businesses owned by Hindus/Sikhs in Lahore before 47. Modi has unleashed economic growth, reduced corruption, red tapism. Indian left wingers run a huge media campaign magnifying every single negative news last 9 1/2 yrs. Paks eagerly consume this & think collapse of India round the corner. It takes very little to indulge in “thank you Jinnah” anyway
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Arif Sep 19, 2023 10:10am
Everyone seems to tell us the symptoms that are holding our growth but don’t have the courage to name the disease.
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KU Sep 19, 2023 12:37pm
Zaidi sb, most of us are familiar with our official version of political and economic histories and comparisons with India. What is required is a true version of our own economic and business history and how various political entities and their partners are committing an unending heist in the country.
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Tulukan Mairandi Sep 19, 2023 03:01pm
When I travel, and if people ask where I'm from, such as in restaurants, I say India. The admiration is so amazing. Unfortunately sometimes I need to say where I'm from, i.e. Pakistan. I'm instantly frowned upon. People ask if I'm seeking asylum or if I have eaten. Once a kid remarked "Osama Bin Laden's home" in reference to my glorious Pakistan. Sad.
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Az_Iz Sep 19, 2023 04:38pm
@Tulukan Mairandi, you exaggerate and take things too far, and it becomes obvious who you are.
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Az_Iz Sep 19, 2023 04:39pm
@Tulukan Mairandi, hardly anyone Pakistani would be able to backup this claim.
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Az_Iz Sep 19, 2023 04:47pm
The economy of Pakistan is mostly based on consumption led growth which did not and will not work for a low income country. It was the easy way, and the politicians followed this route. Selling petrol at half the price compared with India and Bangladesh, or even USA. Food subsidies. Wasting electricity to keep shops open until midnight. No meaningful public transportation. Cities growing horizontally, making them inefficient and taking up agricultural lands. Importing cheese worth a billion dollars. And when you run out of money, start looking for loans, and spread the good news, once a loan is obtained. And thank the brotherly countries for support. And take credit for having averted a crisis.
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Az_Iz Sep 19, 2023 04:53pm
Until a year ago, the country was selling petrol at half the price compared to countries like India, Bangladesh or USA. It was losing out about $5 billion doing this. It was also importing cheese worth a billion dollars a year. Other luxury items worth billions were being imported. Had it saved this money for a few years, that would have been enough to build Bhasha dam, ML 1 railway line, a refinery, a couple of power plants with its own money and things could have been that much better.
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Az_Iz Sep 19, 2023 05:09pm
Both India and Bangladesh have gotten a bit ahead of Pakistan, although Pakistan was ahead of them for a few decades. Both India and Bangladesh have had at least ten percent more savings at every stage of development compared with Pakistan. Savings is one of the most important tool in developing a country’s as well as an individual’s financial health.
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Dr.Salaria, Aamir Ahmed Sep 19, 2023 06:26pm
@Tulukan Mairandi, you are 100% correct and I agree with you.
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Raj Sep 19, 2023 07:22pm
@Az_Iz, Your claim is a common myth held by Paks that you were ahead. It is not like you were exporting and it declined. Prosperous Punjab core of W Pakistan, much better numbers before 1947. Also periods of “growth” in Pak due to massive US aid for signing up for various geostrategic games. India’s numbers looked weaker due to much larger port pop in BIMARU states from before 1947. Truth is 76 yrs no education, industrial, institutional infrastructure built in Pak. Time pass on Islamization, starting wars, signing up for geostrategic games, importing& consuming, aid & loans.
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Az_Iz Sep 19, 2023 08:33pm
@Raj, it is not a myth that Pakistan was ahead. It made significant gains in the fifties and sixties, by building dams. Even world bank would cite Pakistan as a model for developing countries to follow. The country got one out of 19 universities and one out of 30 major industries after partition. That was a big disadvantage. It has struggled since then to bridge this gap. Signing up for other’s wars was a net loss. A lesson learnt. The country should have instead focused on development which would have been a better choice.
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Spaceman Sep 19, 2023 09:21pm
@Az_Iz During the 1950s, Pakistan received significant economic and military assistance from the United States as part of its efforts to support Cold War allies and promote stability in South Asia. The assistance to Pakistan during this period was primarily aimed at helping the country establish its economy and military capabilities. The most notable assistance program was the U.S. commitment to the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (MDAA) and later the Mutual Security Program (MSP). Under these programs, Pakistan received substantial financial and military aid. Inspite of all the monetary stimulas, Pakistan had to fall on IMF assistance for the very first time in 1958. Any growth during this time was a facade built on easy credit. Pakistan never invested in education and sustainable growth policies. India on the other hand was following socialist policies but was steadfastly independent and non-aligned.
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Tulukan Mairandi Sep 19, 2023 10:29pm
When I travel, and if people ask where I'm from, such as in restaurants, I say India. The admiration is so amazing. Unfortunately sometimes I need to say where I'm actually from, i.e. Pakistan. I'm instantly frowned upon. People ask if I'm seeking asylum or if I have eaten. Once a kid remarked "Osama Bin Laden's home" in reference to my glorious Pakistan. Sad.
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Az_Iz Sep 20, 2023 12:03am
@Spaceman, signing up for wars was a net loss, inspite of the aid, in terms of opportunity cost, and social impact on the domestic front. The Soviet Afghan war also brought millions of refugees, which had a significant on the country’s economy. The country still hosts them without significant help from outside, and without bragging about it. And don’t forget, India did not transfer Pakistan’s share of the money, agreed upon at the time of partition. Pakistan also absorbed millions of refugees during partition, which was proportionally much higher compared to its size. The country started off with much bigger hurdles.
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Spaceman Sep 20, 2023 01:37am
It is true that Pakistan was recommended as a model for developing countries to follow in its early years after independence. One of the key factors that contributed to Pakistan's recognition as a model was its First Five-Year Plan, which was launched in 1955 emphasizing economic development, infrastructure building, and industrialization. These efforts did yield some positive results and contributed to economic growth. However, this was for a very brief period and Pakistan faced economic challenges, including budget deficits, inflation, and balance of payments issues. Issues it is plagued till today. It is true that Pakistan did receive significant economic aid and assistance from the United States and Western countries, as well as financial support from international organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has played a big role in sustaining its economy since independence.
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Spaceman Sep 20, 2023 01:38am
Pakistan experienced periods of political instability and frequent changes in government leadership which did not help in cementing the earlier gains. Today, all the aid and credit arrangement have ceased and it is only now that Pakistan is forced to support itself and the baggage of issues collected over the years has made it difficult. Basically, Pakistan will need to fundamentally change in all aspects, a reset of social, economic and also constitutional change and open up more liberally as a country. There are other Islamic countries doing the same though they are not in the same boat.
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Zarzan khan Sep 20, 2023 04:06am
Irrelevant topic. India has west amd Jewish lobby support. Indian union comprises of 24 different nations, pakistan is only 1. India has worst human rights record and occupies IOK.
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[email protected] Sep 20, 2023 06:58am
Soon Afghanistan will b ahead of Pakistan It has no debt and Sadiq ameen rulers
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Rafique Sep 20, 2023 09:56am
Excellet Article & we accept the reality that indai,s far ahead of Paksitan rather to find jsutifications. we need to put some serious efforts that will put country on right track.
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Awami Sep 20, 2023 10:21am
@Az_Iz, Sir, your points are right. But there should be national vision , where we will after 10 years, 20years and 30 Years. Nations rise if there is vision and people are inspired to attain those goal. Take case of Kashmir, still there is no unity , is nation to go to war and ready to sacrifice? Just making resolutions and seminars does not help. If there is real desire we can easily put more numbers fighters on front than India easily. India is facing two enemies. We have only one front. No war no peace damages nation. If not ready waiting but at same time go on building economy. A person who knows what he wants to do becomes successful. The nation has no any plan ends up in mental depression ,too much analysis leading to mental paralysis.
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If we are 50 years behind India, we will always remain so ,,unless the mindset of the people and its rulers changes.
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KU Sep 20, 2023 03:53pm
@Spaceman, You are right, thank you for sharing the correct version of history.
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Az_Iz Sep 20, 2023 06:37pm
Pakistan started off with much bigger hurdles during partition . It got 1 out of 19 universities. It got a couple of major industries while India got 30. It received and integrated refugees who were about 12% of the population, whereas for India it was only 2% of the population. It got another 4 million refugees from Afghanistan in the nineties. It does not get much help from international community to take care of the refugees, and the country does not go around bragging about it either. Inspite of this, it has come a long way, and will continue to prosper.
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