The decade of 1960s is described as one of the most successful events in our short history. Every government talk about it as model of development. We can find many die heart supporters of this argument in every walk of the life. Glorification of the decade led to less focus on decoding the real outcome on country and society. There is no second opinion about the rapid growth of industry during the 1960s. Financial sectors also took major turn and many institutions, private and public emerged on national landscape. The other show boy of that era is “Green Revolution” which is being termed as agriculture booster. It changed the productivity and helped country to tackle issue of food security. These are good points, which is being quoted, but what about negative impacts of this decade on country and society.
First, of all green revolution introduced two major problems, 1) un-sustainable agriculture practices and 2) income disparity among framer community. Rashid Amjad, a well-known scholar pointed out in 1984 that green revelation increased the income disparity among farmers. He argued that it was only beneficial for landlords and big farmers. Small farmers could not benefit due to lack of resources and less support from government. The outcome of industrial revolution was not different from the green revolution. It also led to the accumulation of wealth in few hands. The lesson from the analysis is that it focusses too much on industrialization and mechanization of agriculture with less focus on income distribution. Private sector became the major beneficiary. It could not manage to ensure trickle down affect and society at large suffered. It perfectly fit the argument of “un-planned planning”. Second point is that it also led the process of diversion from the economic vision of father of the nation. As father of the nation wanted a model rooted in the Islamic principles and values. This era relied on Western economic model, which, according to father of the nation was cause of in-equal development.
The 1960s decade was followed by socialization of economy. Mr. Bhutto, who was one of the major beneficiaries and admirer of 1960s, abundant it in 1970s, and introduced the concept of socialism. He started to change the landscape of national economy. Nationalization was poster boy and government went for nationalization at larger scale. This phase used the slogan of equality and created huge buy in among masses. However, it forgets to apply basic principles of management of industry to nationalized industries. Nationalized industries were run through the close allies and favorite personalities. Pakistan could not learn from the concept of State-Owned Enterprise (SOEs) form China. China used SOEs to turn around the landscape of country contrary to Pakistan. Nationalization demoralized the private sector and nationalized industry lost the momentum due to lack of skills and hunger to compete. Competition is key to run any business entity, for private and public sector without any distinction.
Government created two-sided sword, demoralized private sector and less competent SOEs. Lack of competence led to deterioration of these industries. Again, the lesson is that the planning was un-planned. It focused on one dimension (slogan equality) and lift the other (better planning and management of economy).
Zia Ul Haq introduced a new domain of un-planed planning. He tried to reverse the nationalization process. He also used the slogan of Islamization of economy. However, he could not introduce the real concepts of Islam. He carried on, on the wave of international cooperation and favorable global political economy. World was blindly supporting Pakistan due to its role in the Afghanistan war during 1980s. World community was generously helping Pakistan. However, he could not turn this period into long period of sustainable development. In other words, he could not think beyond his times. So, it was another period of un-planned planning.
Pakistan will have to come out of event-based management. Lack of comprehensive planning has hurt Pakistan and it is the single most important factor which impacted the development
From 1988, onward a series of un-planned planning drama started. The situation got further complicated by the un-certain political land scape. Successive prime ministries continued to present themselves as champion of privatization. It was being done without understanding the difference between privatization and private sector. Privatization became a buzz word, which is till haunting country. Pakistan also started to focus on big infrastructure without focusing on creating backward linkages. Backward linkages are key to determine the relevance and benefit of big infrastructure projects. Competition came to end with another dictatorial regime. Another problem of that era is blind following of IMF’s Structural Adjustment Program. It shakes the roots of economy and Pakistan is facing the negative impacts.
Musharraf again tried to re-enforce his ideas. He accelerated process of liberalization. He also went for privatization. He promoted the “consumption” led growth without releasing the importance of production sector in growth. Global political economy helped him to sustain good outlook of economy. Musharraf also followed the suit and un-planned planning remained visible. He presented consumption led growth as a grand strategy to turn around the economy. Services sector benefited from the era but production sector could not get required impetus. Musharraf’s era ended with introduction of worst load shedding and economic crises.
The successive governments of PPPP and PLM-N were excellent in following their own past doctrines. They carried on their legacies where they left. PML-N got excellent opportunity in the form of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Unfortunately, they could not turn it into economic game changer. They implemented the infrastructure related projects which are benefiting Pakistan. Pakistan managed to control the load shedding and some infrastructure gaps. However, the un-planned part was that PML-N could not design the real interventions for trickle down impacts. For example, big infrastructure cannot produce beneficial affects without backward linkages and Pakistan’s most big projects lack backward linkages.
CPEC long term plan is another document of planning. It has all the ingredient for the revival of economy and sustainable development. It also shows us how we can produce financial resources. China offered a generous package to achieve the objectives of the plan. The un-planned part is that Pakistan could not implement the required programs or initiate programs. Pakistan is still struggling to operationalize the SEZs. Pakistan could not design backwards linkages of big infrastructure leave alone the creation of infrastructure. Agriculture sector, which is one part of TLP, entirely depends on backward linkages of infrastructure. We can hear a lot of noise but on actual ground there are very few steps taken.
PTI government is not different from the previous governments. It added the spice to the recipe. It usually talks about big things and turning around the economy. However, the practical interventions are like previous governments. PTI is in government for 18 months but still struggling to find the way, rather, it confused the system and people. It has announced many times for ground breaking of Rashakai SEZs. But there is no plan or deadline for provision of basic services. Moreover, there is no concrete plan or steps to create the backward linkages. It would be very critical as main industries at SEZ would be fruit processing, food processing, marble, house building material etc. These all industries would be dependent on the quality of backward linkages for timely and quality supply of raw materials. Pakistan can also use Rashakai SEZs as an opportunity and game changer for Newly Merged Districts by Wholistic planning. It can be done by building backward linkages of SEZs with Newly Merged Districts and ensuring a quality supply chain for raw commodities.
Hence, Pakistan will have to learn to plan in a comprehensive way, strategically and by keeping in mind the wholistic picture. Pakistan will have to come out of event-based management. Lack of wholistic and comprehensive planning has hurt Pakistan and it is the single most important factor which impacted the development. Remedy is simple, start focusing on wholistic planning or continue to suffer, choice is with policy makers or ruling elite. However, the ruling elite must understand one fact, time has changed, their failure will lead to disruption and ultimate loser would be elite class.
This article was originally published at: https://dailytimes.com.pk/589238/un-planed-visionless-planning/
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.