Economically-sustainable development in Pakistan

Historically speaking, real economic development requires a certain set of socio-political conditions to happen. Crucially, it almost always happens in small bursts, preceding and followed by periods of tranquility, if not a slideback.

So what are the key ingredients necessary for economic development?

  • The right vision – you can have all the strength of the universe but if you’re pointing in the wrong direction you won’t hit your targets.
  • Political will – it would be romantic to assume that social change can drive economic progress without the necessary government backing.
  • Time – Like all things, it’s not as simple as flipping a switch and seeing the results 5 minutes later.
  • Momentum, allied with political will, is the only force that can drive real ecomomic growth.
  • International Sovereignty – in other words, the freedom to do what you want, at your own pace, without international pressure or restrictions.

Take out any one of these ingredients and the economy will suffer.

At this point it would be worthwhile to look at the cases of great economic progress in the last few centuries and pinpoint their causes of success.

  • England – vision, will, time, independence, a unique ability to improve upon innovations.
  • USA – time, vision, sovereignty, geography.
  • South Korea – international support, will, vision.
  • China – time, vision, political will.
  • Germany – sovereignty, will, geography, vision.

In all cases, a strong vision and will are the core ingredients, followed closely by time and international sovereignty. Geography and other factors play a supporting but ultimately minor role.

And as a point of reference, India: time, sovereignty, geography, will, some vision.

Contrast these with Pakistan.

  • No vision.
  • No political will.
  • No time.
  • No space to manouever.

Pressuring Pakistan to deliver economic progress in 5-10 years that has historically taken countries several decades is a recipe for disaster. Encouraging Pakistan to adopt macro-economic policies that are in stark contrast to micro-economic realities of the social fabric will only make the problem worse.

This is a nation of slaves after all, having traded in the British rulers for their feudal overlords without raising a hand for their own independence. You can’t expect democracy to happen in a vacuum, nor can you force democracy in a social structure where historically you’ve needed strong autocratic leadership to deliver progress before considering ‘group-think’.

It is convenient and hopelessly idealistic to say that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. In fact, the youth of today are most likely the slaves of tomorrow, in as much as most people in society today are slaves to their economic and social destinies.

As a rule, we are looking for high performers who can form their own tribes and lead local changes. We are looking for people who would want power and have the ability to weild it, and with that we are also facing the possibility of further abuse of that power.

Empowering the youth of today (or any age) is like empowering your child. You need the right environment, the right parameters and you have to hope that the kid turns out alright. But above all, you need to know when to support and when to push them back.

The challenge facing apolitical systems is the opposition such systems face from actual authorities – and in that resistance you either see the erosion of apolitical effort or you see anti-institutional violence.

Therefore if the first goal is to create a sense of responsibility, the second goal is to ensure that there is an acceptance of the new apolitical systems and a transference of power and responsibility, and for that to happen, there needs to be a re-evaluation of our goals and objectives.

Another challenge is the need to make unpopular decisions and the will required to carry them out, something that erodes with the implosion of media and it’s ability to amplify any opinion, wrong or right, good or bad, positive or negative. He who shouts the loudest gets heard, and it’s easier to go against something than to shout for it.

The country is suffering. And neither the solutions offered nor the circumstances in place are going to help things get better. To get out of this mess, you have to identify leaders in all segments of society and then empower them to deliver the change necessary on their own terms, through their own methods.

Five Pillars Of Youth Development

  1. A clear and effective system for creating a socially-relevant and able local youth organisation (i.e. a franchise system) where you can enable leaders to drive social and economic change in their local communities.
  2. A grounding focus on learning / self improvement – the more you know, the more you can do.
  3. A core focus on action – every day, every meeting, every person, must lead to action. Rome was not built in a day, but Rome was built every day.
  4. One for all, all for one – back each other.
  5. Vision – this is key, because the wrong vision can lead to violence and aggression (see MQM),and the right vision can then pull all other attributes to the right direction.

Whether we have the collective will to push through any meaningful changes in society remains to be see – although as I’ve said previously, we have the conditions (in the near-future if not now) where these changes will become inevitable.

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