For a country that has been expected to be on the brink of failure, predictions that Pakistan may be the fastest growing economy in the Muslim world is good news. In the world in general, Pakistan is predicted to have fifth place, with India expected to be world number one followed by Vietnam.
In the past few months, Pakistan’s stock exchange has been on the rise, showing unprecedented growth and investor confidence. It is both important to be hopeful as well as tread with caution. All growth and economic success must also bring with it social change that ensures better standards of living for all.
As a society, we must continue to ask who the economy is growing for? Who does it benefit? If the benefit is only to a small minority and the right to housing, education and quality healthcare remain out of the reach of ordinary citizens, then this success will not be of much worth to most of our people.
If the numbers of beggars on the street or homeless people is any indication, then it does appear, from a general overview, that class barriers are worsening in Pakistan. Real estate prices have gone so high that it is becoming out of reach for even middle-income families to live within the cities.
Over the years we have seen signs of development with roads and bridges, but development that helps the majority and makes basic necessities within reach for all does not seem to be in sight.
Moreover, it is also important not to limit our comparisons to being the best in the Muslim world because shared majority religion and economic growth are two different things. The ‘Muslim world’ is not a unified block that can be compared, but a number of countries with different histories, politics and geographical locations. We hope that Pakistan continues to grow for the better not only when compared to countries that share a common religion but in Asia and beyond.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2017.