After 70 years of independence, the country is still struggling to move its economy toward any identified direction. Many countries started their economic voyage after Pakistan, but left it behind in the race long ago. Whether under the military government or so-called democratic rule, no one could change the lot of the nation. Despite having all the economic indicators in its favour, the country still lags behind its peers in the neighbourhood. Once the war-ravaged Vietnam was struggling for its survival. Now it has a rising economy. Bangladesh is another success story which has become focus of business, trade and investment. But we as a nation are still directionless not knowing which way to go. Our competitors are not South Korea, Singapore or Malaysia anymore, but the least developed nations in Africa and elsewhere. The politicians are busy settling their scores, bureaucracy is concerned about their salaries and perks and the government is working without any economic agenda. The fate of the sixth largest country of the world is unpredictable or is predictable in a wrong sense.
As a matter of fact, even disproportional size of population is blessing in disguise if human resources are utilized for economic growth. The European nations yearn for human resources and grant asylum to thousands of young every year, but a majority of Pakistan’s population consists of young blood with a desire to make progress. Only vision and direction is required to utilize their abilities. The policymakers have also failed to reap benefits of self-started industrialization or the business growth. The total concentration of the government is on tax collection or enhancement of tax rates without offering the industry anything in return. The harsh rules often backfire and the businessmen, who innocently want to do something for the nation, start avoiding to come under tax radar. This not only deprives the national exchequer of genuine tax returns, but also promotes the culture of corruption and mismanagement.
A national economic action plan is need of the hour involving across the board political leadership, technocrats, civil society, think tanks, intelligentsia and the business community to prioritize the development goals. The goals of the government-sponsored Vision 25 or the UN Millennium Development have yet to be achieved to bring any positive change in the economy or the living standard of the people. A guideline can be obtained from the Vision or the UN goals to set the economy in the right direction and only will and commitment is required for the purpose.