Opinions

Socio-economic opportunities in Pakistan

by  Syed Tauseef Shah

Reliance on science and technology will place Pakistan’s economy on a path of sustained development. There is need to strengthen science & technology as this was the critical need of the time. Value addition and knowledge input are key components for economic activity and are important determinants for growth. A 21st century economy cannot hope to grow without high contribution to GDP from the manufacturing sector. A knowledgeable and trained work force with continued applied research would help the economy produce high technology goods and superior services. These were crucial for the country’s international competitiveness.

We live in a world where knowledge has become the most important factor that determines socio-economic development while natural resources are diminishing slowly. The advanced research will put Pakistan on the path of sustainable growth. Pakistan cannot progress without focusing on three key pillars for socio-economic development of the country. These include a determined government policy and implementation measures to make knowledge based development as the center piece of all national development plans, establishment of excellent universities and research centers in critical fields of national importance, and facilitating the private sector in the production and export of high technology goods. That is why joint effort on the part of government, academia, and the private sector will be fruitful if these three work in close collaboration to achieve high targets.

It is time to move towards building a strong knowledge economy. Singapore is an example that has natural resources, a population about one-fourth of Karachi and exports of an astonishing level of over $460 billion annually, whereas Pakistan’s exports have stagnated at about $25 to $30 billion. Pakistan is into the low value added textile sector in its manufacturing and exports whereas the big money could only be earned in the manufacture and exports of high value added agricultural products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology goods, IT products and services, automobiles, ships, household appliances industrial machinery, and defense products. The developed countries had about 3,000 scientists per million population, Pakistan had only a couple of hundred per million. Under these conditions government must target to produce about 500,000 new scientists and engineers in the next ten years and put them to good use.

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For Pakistani businesses to become internationally competitive, the country must have the ability to create, acquire, and use knowledge for socio-economic development. This in turn needs good policies and effective administrative interventions. It is not enough merely to create new knowledge. The real benefit to the economy would come from translating the knowledge into new high technology products that could be exported and could help Pakistan substantially increase its GDP and provide jobs.

The writer is undergraduate student at Comsats University Islamabad, Lahore Campus.

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