ISLAMABAD: Pakistani nation has travelled a long way, going through so many ups and downs in its 70 years, but it is still staying strong and moving ahead as the sixth most populous country of 200 million people.
In 70 years, although the country has exhibited significant economic growth with a phenomenal increase in the quantum of inherited infrastructure, it continues to lag behind in the sphere of human and social capital development and national cohesion.
To propel Pakistan forward in the global economy, Ahsan Iqbal, as Minister for Planning, created a Vision 2025, which sets concrete goals for the country with the objective to put Pakistan among the top 25 economies of the world by 2025 and among the top 10 high income economies by 2047.
Prof Ahsan talks about lost opportunities. “Pakistan was on the way to becoming a developed nation during the early 60s but lost its way.
“Later during the early 90s, Pakistan again led the way in South Asia but again within a decade lost its direction.”
Ahsan Iqbal, who now holds the portfolio of Minister of Interior, has a grasp of what Pakistan lost and what it achieved in its 70 years.
He said political stability is the key to keep Pakistan on the right track.
He says, “Pakistan is again at a take off stage and our goal is to create a modern economy.”
“Poverty to prosperity is not an indefinite journey; it can happen in one generation’s lifetime. Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Turkey have done it.”
He says, “all successful countries and organisations have achieved success by developing shared visions. In China Deng Xiao Peng in 1979 gave a vision 2049 for China to become a middle income country. In Malaysia, PM Mahatir in 1992 presented Malaysia Vision 2020 to make Malaysia a developed country and in Turkey PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented Vision 2023.”
Pakistan’s Vision 2025 is no different than plans of other countries.
It conceives increase in primary school enrolment and completion rate to 100 percent and literacy rate to 90 percent.
Pakistan Vision 2025 aims at substantial expansion in levels of education as well as improvements in the quality of education.
The target is to raise public expenditure on education by 4 percent of GDP by 2018.
Under this plan, higher education coverage will be increased from 7 percent to 12 percent and number of PhDs from 7000 to 15000.
Ninety percent of the population will get access to improved sanitation and the infant mortality rate will be reduced from 74 to less than 40 per 1000 births and maternal mortality rate will be cut from 276 to less than 140 per 1000 births
Vision 2025 is an ambitious plan and according to it, poverty will be reduced by half from the current levels.
Annual foreign direct investment will be raised from USD 600 million to over USD 1.5 billion and tax to GDP ratio will be boosted from 9.8 percent to 18 percent.
The more daunting task that the government has set itself is to increase annual exports from US$ 25 billion to US$ 150 billion by 2025.
Pakistan has suffered from energy shortages and the plan envisions to double power generation to over 45,000 megawatts to provide uninterrupted and affordable electricity and increase electricity access from 67 percent to over 90 percent of the population.
Pakistan can achieve all these goals if its citizens believe that they can accomplish all these goals.
Ahsan has a message for all his fellow citizens. “For a change, let’s adopt positive thinking and optimism. We have for too long cribbed about the glass being half empty. It is my conviction that Pakistan is well poised to emerge as one of the fastest growing economies in South Asia.” – APP