What’s Wrong with Pakistan’s Economy?
Economy of a country has, over the years, assumed greater significance than ever before. Contrary to the historical view of military might, modern-day nations are seen through the prism of economic strength. It also follows that technological advancements in all spheres of life in general, and in arsenal, in particular, have made research, development and acquisition of modern-day arsenal expensive, leading to the situation where only a strong economy can give rise to and sustain a formidable military. The fall of the USSR is the most cited example of crumbling of a militarily strong nation under the weight of a withering economy. Against this backdrop, the significance of a strong economy for Pakistan cannot be overemphasized and, therefore, the economic quagmire the country finds itself in over the last couple of years is a matter of grave concern for all and sundry.
Economic crisis of Pakistan is neither new nor simple; it is a result of an accumulation of problems over the last three decades in wide-ranging areas – from mismanagement to corruption, neglect of innovation in agriculture sector to criminal apathy towards efficient storage and use of water, and rapid population growth to failure in making the population productive through sufficient industrialization. Continued neglect of constructing water reservoirs, shifting to efficient irrigation systems and emphasis on water conservation has led to a situation where Pakistan is now among countries facing severe water scarcity. It not only has serious consequences for life in the country but also repercussions for agriculture, livestock development and affordable power generation. Agriculture has been suffering due to lack of irrigation water, below-average rains, soil erosion, degradation of agricultural lands due to overuse, reliance on antiquated methods and decrease in total land under cultivation as cities sprawl and agricultural land is converted into residential areas, mostly unplanned dwellings whose faulty sanitation system mars the land quality of nearby areas as well. The country faces drought and desertification as well. According to Sustainable Land Management Project, Ministry of Climate Change, 51 percent land of Pakistan is under desertification, 80 percent of country’s land is arid or semi-arid, and these lands are home to two-third of the population. On average, the country sees two to three years of drought every decade. Policy and governance response to these alarming indicators is zero. The country is home to one of the most rapidly increasing populations around the world. No matter what the government may do, resources and opportunities will always be outpaced by the number of mouths to feed and the number of people seeking employment, if population keeps increasing at such high rates.
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