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January 25, 2022

A New, Emerging Pakistan

The end of World War-II witnessed the beginning of the era of decolonization. Many new independent states emerged on the map of the world. Under the sagacious leadership of the father of the nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Muslims of the subcontinent passed the historic Pakistan Resolution on 23 March, 1940 at Lahore vowing to strive for an independent state comprising Muslim majority areas of the subcontinent where they could live their lives according to their faith and distinct social and cultural values. To achieve their cherished goal of a separate state for themselves, the Muslims of the subcontinent waged a valiant struggle. Within a short span of seven years, a new state by the name of Pakistan was born in August, 1947. The people of Pakistan celebrate 23 March as the day to commemorate the historic struggle of their elders for independence.

Since then Pakistan has come a long way. Its geographic location, dynamic population, vast reservoirs of natural and human resources, diverse topography and climate have transformed it into an attractive market for investors and a paradise for tourists and travelers. Situated at the crossroads of the Middle East and Central Asia, Pakistan has been prized for its economic potential. It is a market of 200 million consumers. It has a dynamic population of youth between the age of 15 and 25 years comprising half of the total population. Its hardworking and efficient workers are engaged in constructive economic activities in the Middle East and other parts of the world which also act as bridge between Pakistan and other cultures. Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the country has seen strengthening of democracy, growing invertors’ confidence and remarkable upturn of the economy that had been suffering from inertia for the past many years due to a myriad of problems such as energy shortages and lack of incentives for both the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. The Prime Minister has taken revolutionary steps to develop infrastructure network, construction of new power projects to overcome the energy crisis and stamp out terrorism from the country.

Today’s Pakistan offers tremendous opportunities for trade and investment. It is the sixth most populous country in the world. The economy is 26th largest in the world.  It has the seventh largest population of scientists and engineers. About 25 percent of Pakistan’s total land area is under cultivation and is watered by the largest irrigation system in the world. It is ranked 4th in terms of broad band network growth in the world and 25th in terms of overall agricultural production. It is the 5th largest milk producing country in the world, has fourth largest coal and seventh largest copper reserves in the world.

Pakistan presents a remarkable success story of economic revival. The economic growth is linked to the improved security climate, burgeoning middle class and political stability. The core statistics of the economy’s revival are: GDP growth rate crossing 4 percent in 2016 and is expected to surpass 5.2 percent in 2017. The Karachi Stock Exchange Index is up by more than 52 percent over the past year and rising. The exchange broke through the vaunted 50,000 mark in January, 2016- a first in history. Foreign exchange reserves have grown to a record $20 billion. This year Pakistan will graduate from its frontier-market category to the more prestigious- emerging market index by joining 23 countries representing 10 percent of world capitalization.

Like many developing economies, Pakistan has seen considerable growth of its middle class. Pakistan’s consumer market is expected to attract investments from abroad to the tune of 1 trillion dollars by 2030.  Recently, Renault, a prominent French car manufacturer has shown interest in investing into automotive industry of Pakistan. Prime Minister’s Vision 2025 aims at transforming Pakistan from a lower middle income country to high middle income country by achieving the target of per capita GDP of  $ 4200.

One of the latest post BRICs acronyms of rising economies making the rounds in the world is VARP (Vietnam, Argentina, Romania and Pakistan) which represents a collection of geography, languages, histories and business centers with one thing in common: each offering major growth opportunities. The VARP economies are showing remarkable economic growth of 3-6% with young population keen to spend money.

Our vision of regional cooperation through connectivity is exemplified in the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) agreement.  CPEC is a 3,218 km long route, to be built over several years, consisting of highways, railways and pipelines. It is a win-win for both states with ultimate objective of peace, prosperity and well being of not only the peoples of the two countries but for the region and the world. Pakistan is set to become the hub of business and trade in Asia.

The CPEC will open new vistas of development and prosperity leading to creation of jobs, poverty-reduction, development of transportation sector and boosting industrial growth. The Corridor will link Kashghar in Western China with Gwadar in Pakistan through a mesh of communication networks comprising of a world class seaport, commercial sea lanes, airports, highways, railways, fiber optic cables as well as oil and gas pipelines.  For China, CPEC is part of a wider “One Belt, One Road’ strategy to develop its western region and link the Silk Route Economic Belt to the 21st century Maritime Silk Route.

The energy sector has been assigned top priority to help Pakistan overcome energy shortages in order to achieve higher growth rate for speedy development. The Corridor project has envisaged $34 billion investment in energy sector.  The energy projects also include Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park and several wind farms and hydro power projects to help generate clean, environmental friendly energy.

The infrastructure projects are worth $11 billion under CPEC.  An 1100 km long motorway is being constructed between two of the largest cities of Pakistan- Karachi and Lahore. Karakoram Highway linking Northern Pakistan with China will be completely reconstructed and overhauled. The Karachi-Peshawar main railway line will be upgraded to allow for high speed trains.  A network of pipelines to transport liquefied natural gas and oil are being laid down from the port city of Karachi to the rest of the country.

Pakistan has breath-taking locations with stunning tourist spots and historic places worth visiting. It has four of world’s fourteen highest peaks in the world. Some of the most famous destinations are: Neelam Valley, Shangrila, Skardu, Gojal Valley, Deosai Plains, Hunza Valley, Ghanche District etc. Tourism in all regions, especially in the 73,000 square km Northern Areas will eventually benefit from the opening of this economic corridor.

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