Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
In an interactive session organized by the Chinese embassy, Mr. Victor Zhikai Gao, Vice President of Centre for China and Globalization CCG today (13.11.2023), outlined a Chinese recipe for Pakistan’s fast-track development. He advocated six factors which according to Chinese experience are pivotal for making fast track development for Pakistan.
The first factor which he termed as a bedrock of fast track development was the stability which encompasses political, financial, economic, and social aspects. The stability he said was paramount for attracting investors and fostering economic growth. While highlighting, Mr. Gao cited his own experience of encountering numerous checkpoints from landing at Islamabad airport to the Chinese embassy, signaling instability. He urged Pakistani leadership to prioritize stability in all facets of national business, as it is a key indicator of a country’s attractiveness to foreign investors and traders.
Stability, characterized by calm, order, and security is an all encompassing word. It signifies political coherence, indicating an effective government and absence of major political crises, economic steadiness with low inflation and sustained growth, social harmony fostering cohesion among diverse populations, security maintained through the rule of law, and diplomatic stability in international relations.
Pakistan grapples with a myriad of challenges that impede its ability to enjoy stability. Persistent security threats, including terrorism and cross-border insurgencies, coupled with ongoing regional conflicts, particularly the Kashmir issue and the instability in Afghanistan, contribute to a fragile security environment. Economic disparities, high levels of poverty, unemployment, and corruption further strain social cohesion. Political instability, frequent changes in government, and governance issues disrupt policy continuity, fostering an atmosphere of uncertainty. Ethnic and sectarian tensions, along with historical and geopolitical rivalries, particularly with India, add complexity to the country’s internal and regional dynamics. Environmental challenges, water scarcity, and the role of non-state actors further compound the multifaceted nature of Pakistan’s stability issues.
Addressing these interconnected factors necessitates a holistic approach, encompassing political stability, social and economic development, diplomatic resolutions to regional conflicts, and effective counter-terrorism measures.
The next factor he outlined was peace, which was indeed very important. A country is at peace which it is “Peace, whether within a nation or in its interactions with the global community, embodies a state of tranquility and cooperation.
Internally, it signifies the absence of civil unrest and conflicts, with effective governance, respect for human rights, and social harmony prevailing. Externally, a peaceful country engages in diplomatic and economic relations without resorting to military aggression, adhering to international laws and norms. It actively contributes to global cooperation, addressing issues through dialogue and negotiation rather than force.
Pakistan faces persistent challenges in achieving peace, both internally and in its external relations. Domestically, the country grapples with internal security concerns, including terrorism and insurgencies. Regionally, the longstanding Kashmir conflict with India remains a source of tension and military confrontations. The situation in neighboring Afghanistan further complicates Pakistan’s security landscape, with cross-border movements of militants and refugee issues. Water disputes, economic challenges, and geopolitical factors also contribute to the complexity of achieving peace.
Addressing these multifaceted issues demands a holistic approach, encompassing effective governance, social harmony initiatives, and diplomatic efforts to resolve regional conflicts. It requires a concerted effort to foster stability, both domestically and internationally, for the collective well-being of Pakistan and its standing on the global stage.
The third factor he outlined was development. Economic development serves as a key indicator of a nation’s well-being, reflecting the improvement of living standards, poverty reduction, and increased access to essential services such as education and healthcare. The development fosters stability and security within a nation, correlates with advancements in science, technology, and innovation. A developed country is better equipped to address environmental challenges and contribute to sustainable practices. Development enhances a country’s soft power. A developed nation is more likely to be an active participant in international collaborations and organizations.
Pakistan’s struggle to achieve sustained development is rooted in a complex interplay of political, economic, and social challenges. Frequent political instability, governance issues marred by corruption, and security concerns, including terrorism and regional conflicts, have diverted resources away from development initiatives. Economic inequality, inadequate education, and infrastructure deficits further impede progress. The water scarcity crisis, rapid population growth, and dependence on agriculture exacerbate the strain on resources. Ongoing regional tensions and geopolitical factors add complexities to Pakistan’s development landscape.
Addressing these multifaceted challenges demands a comprehensive and sustained approach, encompassing political stability, anti-corruption measures, strategic investments in education and healthcare, infrastructure development, and regional diplomacy.
The Fourth factor outlined by Mr. Gao was a Hard Work which is a foundational element for fostering the development of a robust nation. Serving as the engine of economic growth, it propels productivity and innovation, contributing to the nation’s economic strength. Beyond economic realms, hard work cultivates a culture of responsibility, discipline, and resilience, crucial for building a self-reliant society. This strong work ethic is indispensable for achieving long-term developmental goals in various fields, including science, technology, education, and infrastructure, ensuring the nation remains at the forefront of progress. Moreover, it plays a vital role in enhancing human capital, fostering adaptability and competitiveness globally.
Pakistan grapples with a myriad of systematic, political, and governance challenges that hinder the cultivation of a culture of hard work and impede swift development. Persistent political instability, marked by frequent changes in government and military interventions, leads to policy discontinuity and obstructs the implementation of long-term development plans. Rampant corruption across various levels of society erodes trust in institutions, resulting in the misallocation of resources and hampering effective development initiatives. Ongoing security concerns, economic inequality, issues in the education system, infrastructure deficits, water scarcity, political patronage, and global economic challenges further contribute to the impediments. Their implementation requires political stability, anti-corruption measures, education reforms, infrastructure development, and policies incentivizing hard work and innovation to propel Pakistan towards rapid and sustainable development.
The next factor which was essential for development in line with Chinese experience was the strategic generation, storage, manipulation, and utilization of big data, complemented by advanced algorithms. By delving into extensive datasets, policymakers gain profound insights into economic, societal, and governance dynamics, enabling well-informed decision-making. The incorporation of data-driven algorithms not only automates processes, reducing costs and boosting efficiency across sectors like healthcare and manufacturing but also identifies avenues for targeted improvement and innovation. Moreover, the transparency facilitated by big data enhances accountability and good governance, fostering an environment conducive to sustainable development.
For Pakistan to advance in this realm, strategic investments in IT infrastructure, particularly in cloud computing, are imperative. Focusing on comprehensive skill development in data science and artificial intelligence is crucial, necessitating educational programs and training initiatives. Government initiatives should prioritize policies promoting data-driven decision-making, coupled with robust data governance frameworks. Encouraging public-private partnerships, particularly collaborations between government, academia, and the private sector, can expedite innovation. Implementing stringent data privacy laws, security measures, and fostering open data initiatives are key to building public trust. Investing in research and development, both domestically and through international collaborations, will uncover novel applications of big data in sectors like healthcare and agriculture. Additionally, promoting innovation ecosystems, supporting startups in the data space, and fostering a culture of data literacy will collectively position Pakistan to harness the transformative potential of big data for sustainable development and innovation.
The last ingredient of Chinese recipe to make fasttrack development was to bring Artificial intelligence in all facets of life. AI, encompassing machine learning and advanced data analytics, enhances efficiency by automating tasks, fostering innovation, and driving economic growth. It empowers decision-makers with data-driven insights, optimizing governance and strategic planning. AI-driven advancements in healthcare, education, and infrastructure optimization contribute to improved societal well-being and sustainability. Embracing AI not only bolsters global competitiveness but also generates new employment opportunities. To fully leverage these advantages, countries should invest in AI research, prioritize education in AI-related fields, and establish ethical frameworks, ensuring responsible and strategic AI adoption for rapid, sustainable development.
To propel the development and utilization of artificial technology within the national discourse, Pakistan must adopt a multifaceted approach. This involves substantial investment in research and development, creating educational pathways for AI-related skills, fostering public-private partnerships, and establishing a robust regulatory framework to ensure ethical AI use. Infrastructure enhancement, government initiatives, international collaborations, and support for AI-focused startups are crucial elements for success. Integrating AI applications into public services, promoting awareness and inclusivity, implementing strong data governance, and maintaining a continuous evaluation and adaptation cycle are essential steps. By prioritizing these strategies, Pakistan can lay the foundation for a thriving AI ecosystem, driving innovation, economic growth, and sustainable development across various sectors of national significance.
In charting a course toward fast-track development, Pakistan must heed the comprehensive counsel offered by the Chinese expert. Stability, signifying political, financial, and economic equilibrium, stands as the bedrock upon which investors and businesses hinge their confidence. Peace, both domestically and internationally, emerges as a linchpin for sustained growth, emphasizing cooperation over conflict. Development, encompassing economic prosperity, technological advancement, and social well-being, marks the trajectory toward global prominence. Hard work, ingrained in the ethos of citizens and governance alike, propels the nation forward, fostering resilience and innovation. The strategic harnessing of big data and artificial intelligence emerges as a transformative force, catapulting Pakistan into a realm of informed decision-making, efficiency, and global competitiveness. Collectively, these elements form a potent recipe, urging Pakistan to cultivate stability, embrace peace, foster development, champion hard work, and harness cutting-edge technologies to unlock the full spectrum of its potential, ushering in an era of rapid and sustainable progress on the global stage.