How underdevelopment ravages Pakistan

Daily: The News
Date: 01.04.11

TA developed country manifests itself in both cerebral and physical terms and in so doing
the country establishes a criterion for researchers to compare with it the development
status of any other country. On the development index, Pakistan lags behind on several
planes. The term a ‘developing country’ is a misnomer in the context of Pakistan; in fact,
Pakistan is ravaged by the blight of underdevelopment.

There are several causes and effects of underdevelopment of Pakistan but a few are
noteworthy.

First, the (national) security consciousness hogs most available space. Immediately after
the formation of Pakistan, the country’s priority shifted to become a security state rather
than a welfare state. The shift in priority was noticeable because the primary objective of
country’s formation was not an armed empowerment of the Muslims of the subcontinent but
to have a piece of land where interests of the Muslims could be secured. At first, fortifying
the state security was declared a means to achieve that objective but afterward the state
security became an end in itself. The shift initially made the military a partner to the political
regimes but later on the shift graduated the military to the position of a surrogate for any
ruling regime. Further, the shift has been gobbling up a major chunk of the budget.

After May 12, 1998, it was expected that the priorities would be normalized to keeping a
qualitative defence force only – to actualize the ‘minimum deterrence’ doctrine. Moreover, it
was expected that room would be provided to social sectors such as education and health
to make up for the lag in their progress. Unfortunately, that has not yet happened. To cope
with the devastation caused by the recent flood, funds allocated to the HEC and public
universities have been slashed. The education sector is used as a contingency head to
offset any loss in other sectors. Pakistan Education Task Force has declared an ‘Education
Emergency’ in Pakistan and rightly so. Nevertheless, who will declare the ‘Health
Emergency’ is yet to be known.

Second, a culture of consumption is rampant. The habit of conspicuous consumption
bequeathed by an agro-society is unleashed on the industrial produce which is mostly
imported. Consequently, the import bill has made inroads into national savings and struck a
trade imbalance. That means if imports keep on outnumbering exports, the economic
sufferings of the country are interminable. Further, the volume of imports and people’s
preference for subsequent extravagant utilization has together made the indirect tax,
including General Sales Tax, a tax of choice for the government to levy and engorge the
exchequer. People fail to learn how to economize their purchase bills and why they should
focus on production of goods for export. Both China and India are banking on their
production strategies (for export) to boost up their economies.

Third, medievalism is cherished by people while modernism is despised. Modernism is a
thinking pattern which brings about specific changes in the attitude and action of a person;
modernization is a process to achieve modernism. Hence, merely buying and utilizing items
of luxuries like cars and cell phones, travelling in aeroplanes, and living in posh areas is not
modernization. In the presence of all material things one may not be modern while in the
absence of all material things one may be modern. The difference lies in the ways of
thinking translated into specific behaviour.

In Pakistan, most people live mentally in the medieval age but survive physically in the
current age, the twenty-first century. The paradox is goading Pakistan into smarting under it
because people tend to sanitise their homes but are averse to keeping surrounding areas
clean. Vehicles of the latest models are plied on the highways but traffic rules are not
observed. Violation of the law and then getting away with it is considered an affirmation of
offender’s clout while abiding by the law is reckoned a point of disgrace. Standing in a
queue is deemed a matter of demeaning oneself while bypassing the procedure entails a
degree of prestige.

Interestingly, most Pakistanis reconcile themselves with medievalism considering
modernization equivalent to westernization which in turn is abhorred. Conceptual update of
Pakistanis is, therefore, essential. People should be helped in the task of harmonising time
with the space they are living in.

Fourth, corruption and nepotism have been rationalized. The twin evils are contemptible
because they promote an inequity in society leading to dispiriting the talent and hard work.
Consequently, adequate contribution to society by all cannot take place. In the past, the
pretext of corruption was employed to dethrone political regimes. The anti-corruption thesis
of General Musharraf belied him twice at least when he forced the NAB to lend him a hand
in doing political make-and-break and when he promulgated the NRO to perpetuate his
rule. Owing to such malpractices, it is considered that anti-corruption slogans are more to
defraud people than to edify society. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if another
military general takes over the country touting the self-professed anti-corruption mandate.

Fifth, the fatalistic approach is relied on. Taking spiritual measures to crack temporal
enigmas is a repudiation of the fruits of science. Generally, chanting incantations to treat
Hepatitis is preferred to consulting a specialist doctor. One hardly ever hears voices calling
for installation of water purification and sewerage treatment plants in housing schemes (to
ensure supply of clean water and safe disposal of sewerage) to quell the endemic of
Hepatitis. People also declaim invocation to end the power outages instead of launching a
people-to-people contact campaign for forging a trans-provincial consensus to build dams.
One hardly ever hears people demanding to know how the solar and wind energy can be
utilized. It seems that people have abandoned themselves to the swerves of fate.

In short, Pakistanis have yet to wake up to the realities of the present age.

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