Sunday, March 31, 2013

Who's Better For Pak Human Development? Musharraf or Politicians?

Pakistan's HDI grew an average rate of 2.7% per year under President Musharraf from 2000 to 2007, and then its pace slowed to 0.7% per year in 2008 to 2012 under elected politicians, according to the 2013 Human Development Report titled “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”.

Source: Human Development Report 2013-Pakistan

 At 0.515, Pakistan's HDI is lower than the average HDI value of 0.558 for South Asia which is the second lowest among the various regions of the world tracked by UNDP. Between 2000 and 2012, the region registered annual growth of 1.43% in HDI value, which is the highest of the regions. Afghanistan achieved the fastest growth (3.9%), followed by Pakistan (1.7%) and India (1.5%), according to the United Nations Development Program.

Overall, Pakistan's human development score rose by 18.9% during Musharraf years and increased just 3.4% under elected leadership since 2008. The news on the human development front got even worse in the last three years, with HDI growth slowing down as low as 0.59% — a paltry average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent.

 Who's to blame for this dramatic slowdown in the nation's human development?  Who gave it a low priority? Zardari? Peoples' Party? Sharif brothers? PML (N)? PML (Q)? Awami National Party? Muttahida Qaumi Movement?  The answer is: All of them. They were all part of the government. In fact, the biggest share of the blame must be assigned to PML (N).

Sharif brothers weren't part of the ruling coalition at the center. So why should the PML (N) share the blame for falling growth in the nation's HDI? They must accept a large part of the blame because education and health, the biggest contributors to human development, are both provincial subjects and PML(N) was responsible for education and health care of more than half of Pakistan's population.

Source: The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World
Source: The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World

Going further back to the  decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP,  the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.

Acceleration of HDI growth during Musharraf years was not an accident.  Not only did Musharraf's policies accelerate economic growth, helped create 13 million new jobs, cut poverty in half and halved the country's total debt burden in the period from 2000 to 2007, his government also ensured significant investment and focus on education and health care. The annual budget for higher education increased from only Rs 500 million in 2000 to Rs 28 billion in 2008, to lay the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy, according to former education minister Dr. Ata ur Rehman. Student enrollment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutions increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008. In 2011, a Pakistani government commission on education found that public funding for education has been cut from 2.5% of GDP in 2007 to just 1.5% - less than the annual subsidy given to the various PSUs including Pakistan Steel and PIA, both of which  continue to sustain huge losses due to patronage-based hiring.

Pakistan's High-Tech Exports Tripled as % of Manufactured Exports. Source: World Bank

Source: Pew Surveys in Pakistan

Looking at examples of nations such as the Asian Tigers which have achieved great success in the last few decades, the basic ingredient in each case has been large social sector investments they have made. It will be extremely difficult for Pakistan to catch up unless similar investments are made by Pakistani leaders.

Primary Enrollment Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan

Youth Literacy Rate Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan

As Pakistanis prepare to go to the polls on May 11, it is important that the voters demand an explanation from the incumbent political parties for their extremely poor performance in the social sector. Without accountability, these politicians will continue to ignore the badly needed investments required to develop the nation's human resources for a better tomorrow. Forcing the political leaders to prioritize social sector development is the best way to launch Pakistan on a faster trajectory.
Here's a video discussion on elections in Pakistan:

Upcoming Elections in Pakistan: How different parties are positioning themselves from WBT TV on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Saving Pakistan's Education

Political Patronage Trumps Public Policy in Pakistan

Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman Defends Pakistan's Higher Education Reforms

Twelve Years Since Musharraf's Coup

Musharraf's Legacy

Pakistan's Economic Performance 2008-2010

Role of Politics in Pakistan Economy

India and Pakistan Compared in 2011

Musharraf's Coup Revived Pakistan's Economy

What If Musharraf Had Said No?


hamid said...

Is your numbers right?? How come india is higher than pakistan??? Musharraf is good but he cannot win today.

Anonymous said...

Even before this article I had made up my mind to support Musharaf in this election. Only he is a genuine leader with a proven record. Imran Khan wont be able to survive more than 6 months if he wins elections.

Riaz Haq said...

PPP's government, in an MOU with the IMF, hailed the performance of Pakistan's economy under President Musharraf's watch as follows:

"Pakistan's economy witnessed a major economic transformation in the last decade. The country's real GDP increased from $60 billion to $170 billion, with per capita income rising from under $500 to over $1000 during 2000-07". It further acknowledged that "the volume of international trade increased from $20 billion to nearly $60 billion. The improved macroeconomic performance enabled Pakistan to re-enter the international capital markets in the mid-2000s. Large capital inflows financed the current account deficit and contributed to an increase in gross official reserves to $14.3 billion at end-June 2007. Buoyant output growth, low inflation, and the government's social policies contributed to a reduction in poverty and improvement in many social indicators". (see MEFP, November 20, 2008, Para 1)

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on filing of nomination papers for parliamentary elections in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: As many as 143 candidates, including former President Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Javed Hashmi, filed nomination papers for the two National Assembly seats of Islamabad.

The likely contestants belonged to almost all prominent political parties except the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q). Kamil Ali Agha, a PML-Q leader, said because of seat adjustment with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), his party was not contesting from Islamabad.

A large number of independent candidates also filed nominations as the deadline ended on Sunday night. Most of the political parties have not yet finalised their candidates.

According to the statistics of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the total registered voters in both the constituencies of NA-48 and NA-49 are 614,176 – 330,777 males and 283,399 females.

Six candidates of the PML-N filed their nomination papers for the two seats. They included Anjum Aqeel Khan and Chaudhry Mohammad Ashraf Gujjar from NA-48 and Tariq Fazal Chaudhry from NA-49.

Faisal Sakhi Butt, Imran Ashraf, a brother of former prime minister Raja Parvez Ashraf, from NA-48 and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar from NA-49 are among the eight candidates of the PPP.

Dr Israr Shah, Dr Shahzad Waseem, Ilyas Mehrban and Hassan Ayub Khan are among the 10 candidates of Pakistan Tehrik-
i-Insaf (PTI) for the two constituencies. Late on Sunday night, PTI central leader Javed Hashmi also filed nomination for NA-48.

From All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), General (retired) Pervez Musharraf and Ahmed Raza Qasuri filed nominations for NA-48 and Dr Mohammad Amjad for NA-49.

The Jamat-i-Islami has awarded tickets to Mian Mohammad Aslam and Mohammad Khalid for NA-48 and NA-49, respectively.

The MQM candidates for the two seats are former cricketer Sarfraz Nawaz, Changez Khan and Umar Farooq.

Tehrik Tahafuz-i-Pakistan, the political party of renowned nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadir Khan, has fielded Aftab Hassan and Rafique Ghuncha in the two constituencies.

Mufti Abdullah and Abdul Rashid of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) also filed nomination papers for NA-48 and NA-49.

Mohammad Asghar Khan from Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen and minority leader J. Salik are also among those who filed nomination papers from NA-48 on Sunday.

The constituency of NA 48 Islamabad-I covers mostly urban area of the federal capital but it also comprises small villages situated on the western side of Islamabad.

In 2008 elections, Anjum Aqeel Khan of the PML-N secured 61,480 votes against PPP’s Dr Syed Israr Shah who got 26,485 votes.

Though Khan is also contesting the lection from the constituency, his nephew, Hassan Ayub Khan, a young journalist and an activist of PTI, has also filed nomination papers for the same seat.

The PTI leader Dr Israr Shah is considered to be a strong candidate in this constituency.

During 2002 elections, Mian Aslam of the JI was elected from NA-48 by defeating Dr Babar Awan of the PPP.

NA-49 Islamabad-II consists of urban as well as rural parts of Islamabad.

In 2008 elections, PML-N’s Tariq Fazal Chaudhry won the seat with 45,482 votes while Chairman Senate Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari of the PPP got 44,726 votes and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar of the PML-Q remained third with 34,546 votes. In 2002 elections, Mr Bokhari defeated Mustafa Khokar....

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "Without accountability, these politicians will continue to ignore the badly needed investments required to develop the nation's human resources for a better tomorrow."

But Musharraf, as a dictator, by definition, did not have any "accountability".

So how did it work then?

^^RH: "Forcing the political leaders to prioritize social sector development is the best way to launch Pakistan on a faster trajectory"

Who "forced" Musharraf? As a dictator, by definition, he could not be "forced".

So how did it work then?

The more you think about all these things, the more it becomes OBVIOUS that our country is NOT ready for democracy.

Perhaps, we should follow the Korean model of 1960-1980 and go for a sustained period of military rule.

Let us assume PML(N) comes to power and the PPP is defeated. What do you think is going to change?

All the PPP has done in 5 years is distribute handouts to their supporters and their biradaris. They have done nothing in terms of a long-term development plan for the nation as a whole.

If PML comes to power, they will spend the next 5 years doing EXACTLY the same.

The basic socioeconomic problems will just continue as before.

For example, you can be sure the Pashtuns, Sindhis and Baloch will keep fighting the Punjabis accusing them of oppression, theft, discrimination. Nothing will change.

The Deobandis will keep killing Barelvis. Sunnis will keep killing Shia. Baloch will keep killing Punjabis. Taliban will keep killing everybody who is not Taliban. Nothing will change.

MQM, AMP, PPP & now Taliban gangsters will keeping battling on the streets of Karachi. Baloch, Hazara and Pashtun will hate each other in Quetta. Christians and Ahmadis will live in fear under siege in Lahore. Nothing will change.

Democracy CANNOT work in Pakistan. Unlike India, the Muslim League was not a middle-class led MASS participation political party. Democracy has slowly taken root in India because of the revolutionary mass-mobilization nature of the congress. Nothing like that has ever happened in Pakistan and we remain a feudal society.

We are just foolishly trying to impress the West by trying to make democracy work in Pakistan. We should reject these absolute truths and not worship democracy as if it were some kind of god or holdy truth.

We should not be afraid try something different; perhaps something more suited to our unique socio-historical conditions. We could even try an Islamic Emirate or something like that if that is what people want. But this blind idol-worship of the goddess of democracy under the supervision of the Western brahmins is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE.

We must stop mindlessly chanting "democracy, democracy". We must Think. We must not be afraid to think outside the box of these limited Western paradigms.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "Democracy CANNOT work in Pakistan. Unlike India, the Muslim League was not a middle-class led MASS participation political party. Democracy has slowly taken root in India because of the revolutionary mass-mobilization nature of the congress. Nothing like that has ever happened in Pakistan and we remain a feudal society."

I disagree.

Pakistanis have made too many sacrifices for democracy to abandon it now.

Democracy, which has until now been stunted by feudals and military, is beginning to grow roots with the emergence of independent judiciary, independent media, decline of feudal power, and rising middle class in Pakistan.

In addition to the voters, the powerful media and independent judiciary are there to improve accountability of the po0liticians.

Democratically elected parliament has completed its full term for the first time in Pak history and caretaker PM sworn in to conduct free and fair elections.

I agree with Time Magazine's recent piece titled "Two Cheers for Democracy", not three cheers because it'll take a while to realize democracy's full potential.

Ras said...

A very interesting twist for today:

Forget the Pope—We Need a New Caliph!
But how to make the choice? We have a few ideas.

Ras said...

Watch The Throne
Nawaz Sharif on the cusp of power

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on improving education in Pakistan's Punjab province:

ISLAMABAD: Most of the 36 districts in Punjab have made significant progress in education and 31 districts now have 90 per cent attendance, says a report prepared by Sir Michael Barber, a global expert on education reforms.

In his report entitled “The Good News from Pakistan”, Sir Barber has explained the story of the Punjab education sector reform programme, calling it “Punjab Schools Reforms Roadmap”.

He says teacher presence has risen steadily since the blip of October 2011 which was partly a result of the dengue fever outbreak. This level of teacher presence is far higher than elsewhere in Pakistan. In fact, it is now higher in Punjab than in any of the other 22 countries supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). These improvements are largely because of much-improved management and particularly due to squeezing unauthorised absence to below 1 per cent, the report says.

The report, however, says much remains to be done, especially in the south-western districts such as Rajanpur. Even so, it is worth pointing out that even Rajanpur now exceeds the province-wide average of two years ago.

World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, in his foreword to the report writes that Pakistan is an important country for the World Bank and the global community. Its success, whether in generating economic growth or strengthening its security, depends significantly on improving its education system.

The World Bank president paid tribute to the Punjab government for undertaking the education reform project, and said it was great to see the leadership and commitment of the provincial government in improving education results.

Former British Foreign Minister David Miliband, writing the preface of the publication, said that education could be more crucial to the future of Pakistan as well as the whole of South Asia. He said after visiting Pakistan he was convinced that Western engagement with Pakistan was unbalanced.

“Our aid programme would be rising fast — never mind that the country’s interdependence with neighbouring and war-torn Afghanistan — only added to my sense of urgency,” he writes.

British Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening stated that the Punjab Education Reform Roadmap has begun to achieve notable results in a short time through a combination of ambitious goal-setting, structured collaboration, international experience, use of evidence and sheer persistence.

Sir Barber, who is among the world’s leading education reformers, commented that “there is no reason why, in the very different context of the 21st century, Pakistan should not be famed once again for its beauty and richness. That depends above all on the education of its people.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's PakistanToday on higher education access in rural Sindh:

KARACHI - The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has paid special attention towards increasing access to higher education in remote areas of the country.
Within the last few years, out of a total of 55 new university campuses, 31 have been established in rural areas throughout Pakistan, an official of HEC said in a statement here on Sunday.
In Sindh, 179 development projects amounting to Rs 27.142 billion have been approved so far.
Per agreed share of Sindh in National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, Rs 9.7 billion out of a total amount of Rs 43.9 billion, were released within the last five years, the statement pointed out.
On the request of the HEC, the federal quota policy had been applied over indigenous and foreign scholarship programmes that would enable and encourage the youth from Sindh province to avail scholarship opportunities exclusively available for them under faculty development programmes.
As many as 868 PhD scholarships have been allocated for the faculty members belonging to various higher education institutions of the province.
This step would also enable them to equip themselves with the latest knowledge and expertise at leading universities of academically advanced countries.
A total of 571 students from Sindh have benefitted from the HEC-USAID Merit and Need Based Scholarship Programme, out of a total of about 1,800 scholarships awarded till date. About 1,447 scholars and faculty members from Sindh presented their research work in leading international conferences abroad. Rs 164 million have been approved in this regard so far, the statement added.
It said that the HEC had funded a total number of 183 conferences and seminars so far.
Commenting on HEC initiatives for Sindh province, HEC Chairman Dr Javaid Laghari said that all the federal units have effective representation in 17 members' governing board of HEC and National Scholarship Management Committeee-the main decision making body.
For effective coordination with provincial governments, HEC had established its regional centres at all the provincial capitals, where a large number of HEC activities took place, he added.
Laghari said that through the Steering Committee, which comprises of all provincial secretaries of education, HEC was closely working with the provincial governments to evolve a joint strategy for promotion of higher education in the country.
He informed that establishment of the country’s first ever Date Palm Research Institute (DPRI)/ Glass House, Herbarium and Botanical Garden at Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur, the USAID funded Centre for Advanced Studies in Water Resources at Mehran University of
Engineering and Technology Jamshoro and National Institute of Liver and Gastro Intestinal Diseases at DOW Karachi, were some of the examples of how HEC was reaching out to the people of Sindh.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Dawn story on Pakistani political parties talking about human development:

Since the HDI was launched in the midst of elections that promise change in the country, the UNDP had invited representatives from the main political parties to speak at the event, and three showed up. The political panelists were Dr Farooq Sattar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Razina Alam of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Shafqat Mahmood of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and they spoke about the problems faced by Pakistan in the human development sector.

While Razina Alam, who is the former Chairperson Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and Technology spoke about the education manifesto of the PML-N and the schools they promise to build once they are in power, Dr Farooq Sattar got straight to the heart of the matter by asking from where would the additional resources for educational reforms be mobilized? He called for extensive tax reforms, pointing out that 70 per cent of our parliamentarians don’t file tax returns. In his view, “only where there is taxation should there be representation!” He pointed out that no one party could take Pakistan out of the quagmire in which it finds itself and that there needs to be a “national consensus on a minimal reformist agenda” to empower the people of Pakistan.

Shafqat Mahmood, who is the Central Secretary Information of the PTI, spoke next about the “education apartheid” in the country where we have English schools for the elite, Urdu schools for the masses and Madrassahs for the very poor. The PTI’s education manifesto calls for one syllabus across the country and he pointed out that the opposition to this idea comes mainly from the elite. “There is an elite capture of politics in this country. Billions were spent on a Motorway which benefits the elite who own cars while the railway, which is for the masses, was neglected and is now dying”. He called for the expansion of the political system to allow for the inclusion of middle-class youth to overcome this “disconnect” between the elite and the rest of the country. It is the same middle-classes who used to welcome military dictatorships in the past and if they are included in the political process they can help strengthen democracy in Pakistan.

He also referred to the Human Development Report, which lists the “best practices all over the world – what works and does not work” and called for greater consistency in policy in Pakistan (which has not come due to social/political instability in the country). The report, in fact, highlights the case of China, which pursued a long-term vision to build the necessary institutions and capacities for transforming its economy. According to the report, countries that have made significant achievements in human development could be characterised as “strong, proactive and responsible states”. The following four features are common to such states: (i) commitment to long-term development and reform, (ii) prioritizing job creation, (iii) enhancing public investment in education and health (iv) nurturing selected industries.

“There is a strong causal link between human development and economic growth”, stated the Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark at the conclusion of the event. “Few countries have sustained economic growth without investments in human capital. Yes you can have sporadic growth which Pakistan witnessed during the last government, but that only lasts for a while”. He called for greater investment in girls’ education and for improved trade with neighbours like India. .....

Hopewins said...

^^RH quotes some European intellectual: "“There is a strong CAUSAL link between human development and economic growth”


Cuba has excellent "Human Development".

Where is their "economic growth"?

Kommie-Kuba is an example of a country where human development is high, but per capita income is low.

Can you find an example of a country in which per capita income is high, but human development is low?

Clearly, human development, by itself, cannot be the CAUSE of economic growth.

However, it is true that you cannot sustain economic growth if human development does not grow along with it.

In other words, human development, while necessary, is not sufficient.

If we follow Cuba-like policies in which human-development is pursued at the cost of optimal, efficient industrial investments (for example), we will never get that "economic growth" we desire and then further human-development will stall.

In the end, we must remember that the only reason a nation desires economic growth (MEANS) is to improve human development (END). No nation desires human development as a MEANS in order to achieve economic growth as an END.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on British Council sponsored survey of Pak youth:

Government, parliament and political parties are all held in overwhelming contempt by Pakistanis aged 18-29, while the army and religious organisations are the two most popular institutions in the country. The survey of 5,271 young people is a sobering reminder of the challenges posed by Pakistan's peculiar demographics, where 46% of the population is aged between 15-29.

The troubled nation's vast youth bulge has been seen as a cause for optimism by some observers, with hopes pinned on a wave of young people pouring into the workforce in the coming decades that should trigger dramatic economic growth and development.

But the report warns that Pakistan faces a demographic disaster if it fails to use its young people. Talent was wasted by an "education emergency", a poor climate for business investors and high unemployment – half of the "next generation" does not work, according to the report.

"Pakistan could be one of the first countries ever to grow old before it has grown rich," it said, pointing out that the country will start to age by mid-century.

It also makes depressing reading for the politicians gearing up for general elections on 11 May, when more than 30% of the electorate is aged 18 to 29.

The survey found 94% thought the country was going in the wrong direction, with much of the blame laid at the door of the civilian institutions that have run the country since power was seized back from the army in 2008.

It said 71% had an unfavourable opinion of the government, 67% of parliament and 69% viewed political parties unfavourably. By contrast, 77% of young people approve of the army, while 74% were favourable inclined towards religious organisations.

Only 29% of young people believe democracy is the best political system for Pakistan. Military rule would be preferred by 32% and Sharia law by 38%.

With 13m new votes up for grabs among an army of first-time voters, there is a "transformational opportunity for any party that succeeds in motivating young voters to go to the polls", the report said. However, only 40% are certain to vote.

Imran Khan, cricket star turned politician, hoping to pull off the unlikely coup of going from zero seats in parliament to enough to lead the next government, is banking heavily on young people who flock to his mega rallies.

The survey shows the primary youth concerns are economic, with people worrying about soaring inflation, a jobs crisis and poverty.

Because fewer than half of young women are expecting to vote, the report branded housewives a "potential game-changer" if more of them could be inspired to take part in elections.

"Basically the ideal candidate to get the housebound women out is Margaret Thatcher in burqa," said Fasi Zaka, a columnist who was a member of the taskforce that helped produce the report for the British Council.

"They are fundamentally worried about their economic position and they are conservative, they want someone that talks about values."

According to the report, moderates and liberals are a minority among Pakistan's youth, with two-thirds of women and 64% of men describing themselves as religious or conservative.

Some commentators fear the most likely result of the election will be a hung parliament, or a shaky coalition led by one of the two established parties, that would struggle to deliver the economic growth and jobs that young people crave.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from the HDR blog:

South Asia: The average HDI value for the region of 0.558 is the second lowest in the world. Between 2000 and 2012, the region registered annual growth of 1.43% in HDI value, which is the highest of the regions. Afghanistan achieved the fastest growth (3.9%), followed by Pakistan (1.7%) and India (1.5%).

Another excerpt from the report summary mentioning Pakistan is as follows:

The figure below plots improvement in HDI value4 against the change in trade to output ratio, an indicator of the depth of participation in global markets. More than four-fifths of these developing countries increased their trade to output ratio between 1990 and 2012. Among the exceptions in the subgroup that also made substantial improvement in HDI value are Indonesia, Pakistan and Venezuela, three large countries that are considered global players in world markets, exporting or importing
from at least 80 economies. Two smaller countries whose trade
to output ratio declined (Mauritius and Panama) continue to trade at levels much higher than would be expected for countries at comparable income levels. All countries that had substantial improvement in HDI value and increased their trade to output ratio between 1990 and 2012
are highlighted in the upper right quadrant of the figure. Countries in the lower right quadrant (including Kenya, the Philippines and South Africa) increased their trade to output ratio but made modest improvement in HDI value.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Express Tribune blog on Musharraf period:

Even if I try to use sasti (insubstantial) Pakistani political arguments, I cannot refute the fact that during the Commando’s era, economic conditions were much, much better. The economy, in general, was doing great; there were more jobs and businesses were recording higher profits.

“I remember the Musharraf period was great in terms of business and political peace; we were hiring extensively as compared to now. Actually, not only us, the software industry, were hiring, but job-seeking graduates were more comfortable at that time about getting jobs as compared to now. That’s my observation”, Salim Ghauri, chairman and CEO at NetSol Technologies told me in a brief conversation.

According to the reports by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan was the third fastest growing economy after China and India during that era.

In 2002, the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) was declared the “Best Performing Stock Market of the World for the year 2002”.

Our industrial sector registered 26.5% growth on average. Manufacturing and construction sectors recorded a 30 year and 17 year high, respectively. The highest increase in tax collection of around Rs1trillion was injected in government revenues.

Amazingly, Pakistan railway was making profits. Other indicators include a drastic decrease in poverty. CNG fuel, information technology and especially the telecommunication sectors registered massive growths, and the dollar was just at Rs60.

Musharraf even played a significant role in transforming the infrastructure of this country. Four dams (Subakzai, Gomalzam, Khurram and Tangi) were constructed during his period.

He initiated the plans to work on seven motorways in different areas of Pakistan; some were completed during his period and others remained under construction. Advanced Gawadar port, Kachi Canal Project, Lyari Expressway and a 650km long coastal highway are also among the many achievements of Musharraf’s period.

Pervez Musharraf can also be hailed as the liberator of the media; being a dictator, he was the only one who seemed confident enough of himself and his countrymen to have given Pakistani’s the freedom of speech as well. He took major steps to empower the Pakistani women in our local and national assemblies and his aggressive education policy contributed to major positive riffles in Pakistan’s education system; our literacy rate improved by 11% during his period.

Nine well equipped engineering universities and 18 public universities, all over Pakistan irrespective of ethnic orientations, were made during his time. Several technical colleges and institutions also spurted during his reign.

Pakistan’s launched its first satellite, Paksat-1, in his time – Musharraf made it happen. His remarkable words cannot be forgotten:

“Pakistan’s space programme is now ahead of India after the formal launching of Paksat-1 and this is due to the hard work of our scientists, and I am sure Indians would take another 30 months to do the job.”

It was during his time that after years, the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was on the front table for talks.

In spite of all these accomplishments that he brought to our economy, unfortunately he simultaneously took some bad decisions, too, that wiped out all the credit that we owe him. Some people still blame him for the current political and social turmoil.

Is it more likely that though Pervez Musharraf did well for the economy in his tenure he simultaneously created some negative externalities too?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an Express Tribune blog on Musharraf's accomplishments:

1. Nine world class engineering universities were developed and 18 public universities further developed.

2. Pakistan was ranked third in world banking profitability.

3. The IT industry was valued at around $2 billion, including $1 billion in exports and employed around 90,000 professionals.

4. The CNG sector attracted over $70 billion in investment in the past five years and created 45,000 jobs.

5. The telecommunications sector attracted around $10 billion in investments and created over 1.3 million jobs.

6. Industrial parks were set up throughout the country for the first time.

7. Mega projects such as the Saindak, Rekodiq, marble production, coal production, mining and quarrying were pursued.

8. Foreign reserves increased from $700 million to $17 billion.

9. The Karachi stock market went from 700 points to 15,000 points.

10. The literacy rate improved by 11 per cent.

11. Poverty decreased by 10 per cent.

12. Four dams were built: Mirani, Subakzai, Gomalzam, Khurram, and Tangi,

13. Seven motorways were completed or were under construction,

14. Gwadar, an advanced sea port, was developed,

15. 650 kilometres of coastal highways were constructed.

16. A historic 100% increase in tax collection (amounting to Rs1 trillion) was observed.

17. Large scale manufacturing was at a 30-year high, and construction at a 17-year high.

18. Copper and gold deposits were found in Chagai, worth about $600 million annually if sold.

19. A new oil refinery with the UAE that could process 300,000 oil barrels a day was established.

20. The industrial sector registered 26 per cent growth.

21. The economy was the third fastest growing economy after China and India .

22. The Institute of Space Technology was established.

23. Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University Quetta was established.

24. The University of Science and Technology, Bannu, was established.

25. The University of Hazara was founded.

26. The Malakand University in Chakdara was established.

27. The University of Gujrat was established

28. The Virtual University of Pakistan was established

29. Sarhad University of IT in Peshawar was established

30. The National Law University in Islamabad was established

31. The Media University in Islamabad was established

32. University of Education in Lahore was established

33. Lasbela University of Marine Sciences, Baluchistan, was established

34. Baluchistan University of IT & Management, Quetta (2002)

35. The Pakistan economy was worth $ 160 billion in 2007

36. GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) was $ 475.5 billion in 2007

37. The GDP per Capita in 2007 was $ 1000

38. Revenue collection in 2007/08 was Rs1.002 billion

39. Exports in 2007were worth $18.5 billion

40. Textile exports in 2007 were worth $11.2 billion

41. Foreign direct investment in 2007 was $8.5 billion

42. Debt servicing in 2007 was 26 per cent of the GDP

43. The poverty level in 2007 was 24 per cent

44. The literacy rate in 2007 was 53 per cent

45. Pakistan development programs in 2007 were valued at Rs520 billion

46. The Karachi stock exchange in 2007 was $70 billion at 15,000 points

47. Exports in 2007: $18.5 billion

48. Pakistan now has a total of 245,682 educational institutions in all categories, including 164,579 in the public sector and 81,103 in the private sector, according to the National Education Census (NEC-2005).

49. There are now more than 5,000 Pakistanis doing PhDs in foreign countries on scholarship. 300 Pakistanis receive PhD degrees every year, in 1999, the number was just 20.

50. In total, 99,319 educational institutions increased in Musharraf’s era!

Anonymous said...

And yet, with all those achievements under his belt, Gen Musharraf was ignominiously ousted from power by a popular uprising. Why was that, I wonder?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "And yet, with all those achievements under his belt, Gen Musharraf was ignominiously ousted from power by a popular uprising. Why was that, I wonder?"

Up until early 2007, most polls showed Musharraf enjoyed high approval ratings.

But it's hard for him to win any elections because of the way politics works in Pakistan.

Most Pakistanis vote based on ethnic, feudal and biradri connections...not on issues or performance.

Imran Khan's PTI faces this challenge as well.

Anonymous said...

So Sir, what happened after 2007? Surely you cannot ignore the egomaniacal steps Gen Musharraf took that led to his downfall by quoting his economic performance upto 2007 only.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "So Sir, what happened after 2007? Surely you cannot ignore the egomaniacal steps Gen Musharraf took that led to his downfall by quoting his economic performance upto 2007 only."

So who got punished more?

Musharraf or the people of Pakistan who endured the loss of another 5 years after the lost decade of 1990s under PPP and PML (N)?

Don't you think Pakistanis' wounds are mostly self-inflicted?

Hopewins said...


What are the components of HDI?
(1) Income: Per capita PPP$
(2) Education: Years of Schooling
(3) Health: Life Expectancy

We KNOW that Bangladesh has considerably lower per capita INCOME than Pakistan (35% lower).

Despite this, if Bangladesh and Pakistan still have the same HDI, the it follows that Bangladesh MUST be way ahead of Pakistan in terms of Education & Health.

Do you agree?

If this is true, then it follows from standard development theory that Bangladesh should be able to catch-up with Pakistan's income-level by leveraging its better education & health.

What about Pakistan? In theory, it is possible that Pakistan could leverage its higher income level to catch-up with Bangladesh in terms of education & health. In practice, however, this is unlikely, as Pakistan has never shown any track-record of implementing social programs the way Bangladesh has in the last 30 years.

Therefore, the INESCAPABLE conclusion is that Bangladesh, having beaten Pakistan in education and health, will soon beat Pakistan in terms of income as well.

Pakistan will soon be lagging Bangladesh in ALL positive INDICATORS. The Sindhis and Baloch will be watching & analyzing all this very carefully....

Anonymous said...

Sir, an observer can conclude that the people may have considered the punishment you describe to be well worth the value of getting rid of a dictator. May be the people are hoping that regular elections will permanently banish the Army to the barracks, where it rightfully belongs.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Sir, an observer can conclude that the people may have considered the punishment you describe to be well worth the value of getting rid of a dictator. May be the people are hoping that regular elections will permanently banish the Army to the barracks, where it rightfully belongs."

I agree.

People have a right to pick leaders regardless of whether they can deliver or not!

But what does it do to them and their country?

Are there better examples?

Like South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia which endured dictators to pave the way for genuine democracy through human development?

In my view, the best way to usher in genuine and successful democratic rule in any developing nation is to first unleash East and South East Asian style rapid economic growth and human development which were brought about by dictators like General Park Chung-hee of South Korea, Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia and General Suharto of Indonesia. Each of these autocrats served long enough to bring their nations in to the modern industrial era and created a large urban middle class which is now sustaining democratic rule. Until such time as Pakistan has a well educated and politically empowered urban middle class making up more than half of its population, the electoral process will continue to result in patronage-based feudal democracy of the kind that exists today.

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "Don't you think Pakistanis' wounds are mostly self-inflicted?"

I agree with you here, but 90% of Pakistanis don't.

90% of Pakistanis believe that the Pakistan's wounds have been inflicted by America, India, Israel getting together in a Zionist-Hindu-Christian-Anglo-Ahmadi cabal to malign Islam and destabilize Pakistan.

In fact, this is Pakistan TOP problem today. If most people cannot (or are unwilling) identify the problem, then it is impossible for them to come up with a solution.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "Pakistan will soon be lagging Bangladesh in ALL positive INDICATORS. The Sindhis and Baloch will be watching & analyzing all this very carefully.... "

If that were to happen, then the voters of all provinces will be responsible for it. Why? Because it'll be their elected leaders who will be neglecting education and health care which are both provincial subjects. That's the burden of democracy they all have to carry.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "90% of Pakistanis believe that the Pakistan's wounds have been inflicted by America"

America shares part of the blame for bringing war to Pakistan starting in 1980s and for arranging the NRO of 2007 that helped bring PPP to power.

Hopewins said...

Here a NEW idea....

From history we know that every military coup has been greeted with DELIGHT by the Pakistani masses. Why? Because they were fed up with the corruption and incompetence of the elected civilian governments.

However, we also know that once military rule proceeds for a while, the people again become unhappy and start demanding democracy.

And so the cycle of (illegal coup, celebration, demonstration, fresh elections) just continues...

I propose a solution:

1) The Election Commission has already proposed a "None of the Above" option on all ballots.

2) I propose another option called "Fauji Hukumat" or FH on all ballots.

3) If FH receives the largest number of votes for any given seat, then the Army GHQ >>LEGALLY<< gets the right to appoint an educated, middle-class, professional Pakistani with a track record of accomplishment to that seat.

4) If the FH seats cumulatively are in the majority (either by themselves or in coalition with some of the smaller parties like PTI or Independents) in parliament, then the executive-government (ministries) will be handed over to the Army. GHQ will then appoint all ministers and advisors from amongst educated, middle-class, professional Pakistanis with a track record of accomplishment.

5) At the end of the 5 year term, we would again have elections. If the masses are fed with Army-involvement and want civilian rule by the traditional PPP/PML types, they can freely elect them and the Army will hand over the ministries (executive-government) to the party the people have chosen.

Do you see what I mean? This way the illegal coups that the people welcomed because they were fed up of the mainstream parties can now happen LEGALLY through the ballot-box. They will not be called dictatorships. And if they get fed up of Army rule, as they usually do, they will always have the option of bringing back the mainstream parties in the next election and there will be no need for anti-dictator demonstrations.

What do you think? Do you see a flaw in the basic idea? Does it excite you? Does it offer a mid-way solution between illegal, but honest & efficacious, Army-rule and legal, but corrupt & incompetent, Civilian-rule?

Please offer your views.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday report on education in Punjab:

The Punjab has the highest teacher presence in percentage terms than any of the 22 countries in which DFID provided financial support. Teacher absenteeism has been reduced from 20 percent to less than eight percent in a matter of less than two years. This was disclosed in a report of a think-tank called “Reform”. The report will be formally released in a lecture by an eminent British Educationist, Sir Michael Barber, at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) today.

World Bank Dr Jim Yong Kim, in his foreword for the report, appreciated the efforts of the leadership and commitment of the Punjab Government for achieving such palpable improvements.

The report indicated that in August 2011, only 22 percent of schools were being visited each month by district administration authorities to check on the situation, whereas in November 2012, 96.2 percent of all schools of the province were being visited by the authorities each month for spot checking and monitoring.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Brookings opinion piece titled "Quiet Progress for Education in Pakistan":

The engagement of policymakers as well as citizens is essential to the success of any large scale public sector education reform. While the Punjab Education Reform Roadmap is involving high-level officials and community leaders, Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Pakistan is doing its part to include citizens in the dialogue. Every year, 9,000 volunteers from across Pakistan work to collect ASER data that is then shared with the government, civil society organizations, media, bilateral and multilateral agencies and other stakeholders working in the education sector. This process supports the Right to Education (RTE) campaign that has collected almost 2 million signatures from in-school and out-of-school children in an effort to pressure the Pakistani government to implement free and compulsory education for all children aged five to sixteen. United Nations special envoy for Global Education and former prime minster, Gordon Brown, presented 1 million signatures from the RTE campaign to the president of Pakistan on Malala Day, November 10th, 2012, which lead to the ratification of the first RTE bill in Pakistan. Following the death of Shahnaz Nazli, Malala started a new petition in honor of the slain teacher, which continues to put pressure on the Pakistani government to end the killings and violence that deny children their right to an education–especially for girls.

These advances are important for the people of Pakistan and the 5.1 million children out of school throughout the country. But these efforts also offer lessons for the international community. The Punjab Education Reform Roadmap as well as the work of ASER Pakistan and courageous individuals like Malala and Shahnaz Nazli show that even in the face of daunting challenges and an uncertain future, ambitious goal setting, collaboration and the effective use of evidence can deliver impressive results in a relatively short amount of time. Governments and partners working to improve education systems everywhere should take note.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's GDP as percentage of world GDP remained flat 0.58% from 1990 to 2000, and then increased to 0.63% in 2010, according to Global Finance website.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a Tribune Express Op Ed by Prof Hasan Askari Rizvi on relentless pursuit of Musharraf:

As the Islamabad High Court has taken the initiative to nail down former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, most civilian political leaders are happy and blame him for Pakistan’s political ailments. The Senate passed a resolution on April 19 asking for initiation of legal proceedings against him on the charge of high treason that carries the death sentence. Some of the civilian leaders want Musharraf to be tried as a common criminal so as to show that everybody is equal before law.

It is interesting to note two ironies of history. First, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has never delegitimised a military ruler when he was in power. Yahya Khan was declared usurper in April 1972, four months after he was forced out of office. General Pervez Musharraf was declared to have acted in violation of the Constitution in November 2007 by imposing what he described as an emergency, in a Supreme Court judgment delivered July 2009, only 11 months after he lost power.

Second, whereas Musharraf who demonstrated the arrogance of power while in office is now down and under, the key issue is to maintain a distinction between justice and revenge on the part of the political forces who suffered during the Musharraf years. There is a long tradition in Pakistan for seeking ‘exemplary punishment’ or death sentence for former rulers. In all such cases, the argument is that it would establish the supremacy of law in Pakistan.

Now suddenly, this caretaker government is faced with the unexpected question of the arrest and trial of Pervez Musharraf. The Supreme Court wants the caretaker federal government to explain its position on initiating the trial of Pervez Musharraf on high treason under Article 6 of the constitution....Given Pakistan’s delicate civil-military relations, it is important that the political leaders and civilian state institutions ensure that overenthusiasm to pin down Musharraf does not turn into a propaganda drive against the military. Any strain in civil-military relations can be destabilising, especially when the military is doing election duties and fighting terrorism.

Riaz Haq said...

A 2010 UMich study found that misinformed people exposed to corrected facts rarely changed their minds

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News Op Ed by Dr. Ata ur Rehman Khan on Musharraf's time in office:

In the agricultural sector a number of important irrigation projects were initiated. The Diamer Bhasha Dam was launched. The Mangla Dam was raised by 30 feet increasing 2.9 maf water storage capacity and 100MW electricity. A number of new dams and canals were built (Mirani Dam for Balochistan, Subukzai Dam for Balochistan and Gomal Zam Dam for KP; Kachi Canal from Taunsa to Dera Bugti and Jhal Magsi to irrigate 713,000 acres of barren cotton producing land, the Thal Canal for Punjab, Rainee Canal for Sindh).

Overall three million acres of barren land were brought under cultivation. The Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD) was constructed through Sindh, thereby saving Indus River and Manchar Lake (Sind) from pollution. The steps taken led to an increase in wheat production from 14 million tons to 22 million tons, and increase in cotton production from nine million bales to 13 million bales.

Price control was exercised on essential items. The prices of edible household items (flour, naan, milk, tea, sugar, meat, vegetable oil etc) have tripled or quadrupled in the last five years. A rotational loan system was introduced through banks for poor farmers and loan facility for farmers increased from Rs35 billion through ZTBL only, to Rs160 billion from all other private banks.

Overall 2900MW of electricity was added to national generation capacity. The new energy projects initiated included the Ghazi Barotha hydro electricity project (1600MW), the Chashma-II nuclear electricity plant (300MW). The Neelum-Jhelum hydroelectricity project was initiated (1800 MW), the Satpara Power project in Skardu, and the Naltar power project in Gilgit.

A true revolution was brought about in the telecommunications sector. The number of mobile phones increased from 600,000 in the year 2000 to over 7 crore in 2006. Tele-density was increased from 2.9 percent to over 70 percent, and millions of jobs were created in the telecom sector. The IT sector also saw a phenomenal growth with internet connectivity spreading rapidly, particularly during 2000-2003 from 40 cities to over 2000 towns of Pakistan.

Fibre optic connectivity increased from 30 cities to over 1500 towns of Pakistan in the same period. The bandwidth cost of two megabytes was reduced sharply from $86,000 to $3,000 per month. Pakistan’s first satellite PakSat 1 was placed in space. Industry prospered as never before and industrial growth was in double figures throughout the nine-year period.

A revolution was brought about in the higher education sector with the establishment of the Higher Education Commission. The annual allocation for higher education was increased from only Rs500 million in 2000 to Rs28 billion in 2008, thereby laying the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy. Student enrolment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutes increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008.

This rapid transformation deeply worried India and a detailed presentation was given to the Indian prime minister on July 22 about the dramatic progress in Pakistan.

A number of steps were taken to strengthen democracy at the grassroots. A large number of new TV channels were allowed and the media given full freedom. The local government system was launched to empower the people through a third tier of government. Women were empowered politically through reserved seats at all tiers of government. Minorities were provided with the system of joint electorate. ....

Riaz Haq said...

The annual UNDP human development index is out for the year, and it is not good news for Pakistanis. We stay at the same position as last and many previous years at 146th among 187 countries. Pakistan is 11 points lower than India, which starts at 135. India and Bangladesh have each improved one position. Bangladesh has slightly better ranking than us. The Human Development Index offers the best method of measuring human progress and ranking of countries thus far. The index takes into account multiple factors like gender equality, poverty, education, health, access to primary services, infant mortality and life expectancy. Covering a broad range of dimensions of human progress or lack of it, the index has become an acceptable international standard.
Unfortunately, the announcement of the index for the past several years has passed without serious debate and comment in our political circles, media and the think tank community. Barring few occasional comments and review in a few policy-research institutions, no discussion takes place in a serious fashion. Why? Because those who are responsible for human development planning, and more importantly execution of policy at the provincial and district levels, can get away with their failure.
How we can do better depends a lot on knowing first why we are doing so poorly in human development. Three reasons are important to ponder over. First, the demand pull from the peoples and communities at the local level is neither well organised through community organisation, nor is it strong enough to get the bureaucracy at the district level and the political bosses at provincial and federal levels sensitive to basic human needs. The first step should be sensitising people and communities about their rights and energise them enough to question the quality of services at the local level. In my view, when communities become more and more development conscious, they put more and more pressure on the bureaucracy and the public representatives to provide services.

Riaz Haq said...

Aggregate indices like UNDP's Human Development Index (HDI) or the Center for Global Development (CGD) and Foreign Policy (FP)'s Commitment to Development Index (CDI) are becoming commonplace. This reflects the usefulness of simple numerical measures of performance for advocacy, for analysis, and for straightforward,
non-technical comparisons. At the same time, these indices are open to many criticisms ranging from concerns with the underlying data to questions regarding the weights used to construct the aggregate indices from their constituent components. This paper addresses two concerns linked to the weights used to construct these two indices and develops alternative weighting schemes.

Both the HDI and the CDI apply a very simple weighting scheme: equal weights for each component. This is obviously convenient but also universally considered to be wrong. The ideal approach would presumably involve using as eights the impact of each component on the ultimate objective. For the HDI, this means that each of the
components should receive weights according to its contribution to human development, and for the CDI, it means that each of the components should receive weights according to its contribution to the development of developing countries. This is theoretically
correct but obviously infeasible given the present state of knowledge. The first question
addressed in this paper, therefore, is whether there is an intermediate solution. In this
context, intermediate means a solution that lies somewhere between equal weights and
the ideal; and somewhere between convenient and infeasible.

Riaz Haq said...

The post 18th Amendment federal budget exercise remains the same, however, with no changes made to make it clear to the people that most of their concerns and questions regarding what impact the budget will have on their lives should be put to the provincial capitals and not to Islamabad. If the provincial assemblies are unable to respond to the needs of the people then what was the point in devolving power to the provinces?

Today the federal government has fewer resources as well as less authority in social sectors yet the post-budget analysis remains focused on their role. It is odd that when Pakistan’s progress on the Millennium Development Goals is reviewed as a whole it is not the provinces who are asked to explain why these goals have not been met. The point that the communications strategy of the federal government as well as the post-budget analysis has failed to get across is that if there is rampant inflation, lawlessness or a lack of everyday facilities such as drinking water and sanitary services, it is solely the failure of provincial administrations.

For the first time after the 18th Amendment local bodies elections have been conducted in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa only; it is now imperative that budgetary allocations of these two provinces reflect funds for the local bodies. Only this can ensure development to be people-centric and the fruits of democracy to benefit people at the grass-roots level.

The most used phrase in post-budget analysis is undoubtedly ‘pro-poor’; however this term is more relevant for provincial budgets rather than the federal budget. In order to gauge how the country and its people are faring it is imperative that the budgets of the provinces are scrutinised as minutely as the federal budget. Not only should the provinces be generating their own revenues to undertake projects for the wellbeing of the people but also improving their capacity to implement these projects as well as their election promises.

All seven budgets that are presented annually must be prepared after extensive stakeholder consultations so that the allocations reflect the needs of the people in different sectors and districts. Transparency is required not only in the allocation of funds, but also in their utilisation and in order to measure how much of a difference has been made to the lives of ordinary people. The provincial budgets should be presented with as much fanfare as the federal budget and must be scrutinised more than the federal budget.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s generational shift
By Dr Ayesha RazzaqueMay 22, 2022

In this generation only 18.7 per cent of rural women are without an education, down from 75.5 per cent from their mothers’ generation. Nearly 50 per cent have an education ranging from a primary to secondary education, up from just 20 per cent in the previous generation. A stunning 22.9 per cent have a higher secondary or above education, up from an almost nothing 0.3 per cent in their previous generation.


Last year saw the publication of ‘Womansplaining – Navigating Activism, Politics and Modernity in Pakistan,’ a book edited by Federal Minister Sherry Rehman to which I was able to contribute a chapter. It connected education with women’s rights and argued that indigenous movements like the Aurat March should focus on education as a core part of their agenda.

Detractors of Pakistan’s women’s rights movement have been taking potshots at it by claiming that the issues it raises are not the issues of ‘real’ (read: rural) women. Put aside for a minute the fact that Pakistan’s rural population now accounts for 62 per cent, down from 72 per cent in 1980, and is on a steady decline. While the numbers may differ, and women’s power to negotiate may differ, rural and urban women share basic challenges and better education can yield similar opportunities and improvements in life circumstances.

Indigenous progressive and women’s rights movements have adopted the cause of education as an agenda item but should make it front and center, specifically K-12 education for girls in rural areas. New data further substantiates that connection with numbers. Education up to the higher secondary level, just the education that rural schools offer today, is the enabler that brings increased women’s labour force participation, delayed first marriage, lower rates of consanguinity, increased income, increased spousal income, and is a contributing factor to greater freedom of movement and communication – all positives.

Studies exploring the relationships between levels of education and life circumstances around the world are plentiful and capture the situation at a point and place in time. The Learning and Educational Achievements in Pakistan Schools (LEAPS) programme is qualitatively different because it already spans a period of almost two decades. The LEAPS programme has been tracking lower- and middle-income households in 120 randomly selected villages across three districts in rural Punjab since 2003. It has been revisiting them since then, most recently for the sixth time in 2018, roughly once every three years. That makes it one of the largest and longest panels of households in lower- and middle-income countries. This study is also unique as it looks at return on investment in education beyond an individual’s income and looks into the possible spillover into life circumstances and quality-of-life which is especially interesting for those interested in women empowerment and feminist movements.

In this latest round it surveyed 2006 women now aged 20-30. All these women were from the same 120 birth villages and have been tracked to their marital homes within or outside the village if they have married, migrated or moved for any other reason. Preliminary descriptive results of the long-running LEAPS study tell interesting stories. The headline finding of LEAPS investigators is that Pakistan is in the midst of a ‘generational shift’ where, for the first time in its education history, we have a ‘critical mass of moderately educated women’.


Existing plans, at least in the domain of education, remain unguided by some of the very excellent evidence that is available. Meanwhile, the Planning Commission is organizing a ‘Turnaround Pakistan’ conference perhaps as early as May 28 to conduct national consultations. Whether a hurriedly thrown together conference can change the way business is done remains to be seen.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada
Doesn't look good for Pak: the human capital index has stayed flat since 2005. While "avg years of schooling" has increased from 4 years in 2000 to 6 years in 2015 (Barro-Lee dataset), the quality has not improved. Worse, the gap with regional countries has increased since 80s.