Taking Pakistan into the 21st Century
Events since last September 11th have underscored the significance of a stable and prosperous Pakistan. That Pakistan should address and rectify some of the economic, political, and social ills that have sapped its vitality over the years is of prime importance to the people of Pakistan. But increasingly, there is an awareness that it is also in America's interest that Pakistan develop into a vibrant, pluralistic, economically flourishing country where transparency and the rule of law afford equal opportunity and equal protection to all.
On July 24, 2002, the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Pakistan America Institute sponsored a full day conference on the myriad economic and political challenges facing Pakistan, a key ally in America's war on terrorism. More than a dozen distinguished experts from Pakistan and the United States convened at the Center to present their analyses of Pakistan's domestic situation, and to discuss their ideas on the need for systemic reform in Pakistan. Not every participant prepared written statements, but the four presentations offered here are representative of the richness of the day's proceedings.
In the first panel on "Revitalizing Pakistan's Economy," Avais M. Hussain, the chief executive officer of Angora Textile Ltd., gives a broad macroeconomic overview of Pakistan's economy. His paper "Taking Pakistan into the 21st Century: Economic Challenges" (PDF) argues that the influx of foreign funds after September 11, 2001 will buoy the economy only temporarily, and that Pakistan should make a concerted investment in vocational and technical education in order to raise productivity and promote sustainable economic development.
The second panel, titled "Energy and Telecommunications: Engines for Industrial Growth," took a close look at the resources and infrastructure needed to fuel Pakistan's economic revitalization. In his presentation titled "Status and Developments in Energy and Water Sectors of Pakistan," Ishfaq Ahmad, Special Advisor to the Chief Executive of Pakistan, draws a comprehensive picture of the supply and demand of water and electricity, two resources critical to Pakistan's industrial and agricultural sectors. Ahmad offers a number of broad policy prescriptions to counteract the stress on these resources brought about by demographic trends. In his paper "Oil and Gas Developments: Challenges and Opportunities," (PDF) Zakauddin Malik, the former chief executive officer of the Oil and Gas Development Corporation, depicts the shift of Pakistan's oil and gas sectors towards greater liberalization and privatization. Structural reforms, greater investment and better governance, Malik maintains, can unlock the promise and potential of Pakistan's untapped energy resources and strategic location.
The final panel dealt with the knotty issue of "Good Governance." Shahid Hamid, a former governor of Punjab and former Federal Minister for Defence, Law and Establishment, delineates the various impediments to the fulfillment of Pakistan's national aspirations as enshrined in its constitution. In particular, he examines social sectors such as education and health, the conflict over Kashmir, civil-military relations and the devolution of power from the center to the periphery. He argues that strengthening institutional capacity is essential to long term peace and prosperity in Pakistan.
The Asia Program is pleased to share these papers with a wider audience in the hopes of generating lively and informed discussion of the complex domestic challenges facing Pakistan. The Asia Program would also like to express its appreciation to the Pakistan America Institute, whose generosity made this conference possible.
Rapporteur: Wilson Lee