The Economic Survey of 2009-10 released on June 4 presents a gloomy picture of the economy, although the PMs Advisor on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, has tried to show a different picture. Apparently, he had to since a number of his predecessors had to resign on health grounds, without making it clear whether it was their own health or the dismal state of the ministry and the countrys economy. Before the debate on the Finance Bill ends in the National Assembly, I intend to hold a post-budget seminar where eminent economists, including some former Finance Ministers, will try to forecast the new budgets fallout on the nations health. Meanwhile, in this column I will mainly focus on the fate of education, along with the failure of the government to achieve the national targets in literacy, primary, secondary, college and finally the post-graduate level ending with the sad saga of thousands of PhD scholars studying abroad. According to the Economic Survey just issued, education stands nowhere in the list of high priorities of the government. The official data reveals that Pakistan allocated to the education sector 2.5 percent of GDP during 2006-07, 2.47 percent in 2007-08, 2.1 percent in 2008-09, and only 2 percent in 2009-10. That is a clear indication of the incumbent governments non-serious attitude towards the education sector. During the pre-budget seminar held by The Nation in 2009, the then Advisor on Finance Shaukat Tarin had promised an allocation of 4 percent of the GDP to education. But he resigned because he could not change the governments spending spree on unnecessary non-developmental adventures. According to UNESCOs Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report 2009 and the latest Pakistans Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSML) Survey, the attention paid to education in Pakistan is a matter of shame for any civilised country in the 21st century. No less dismal is the governments attention towards higher education, either in the Economic Survey 2009-10 or the budget being presented to the National Assembly for 2010-11. The apathy of the government towards higher education is not only disappointing, but also pathetic. It is a known fact that the economic growth of a country is directly related to its knowledge capital. In Pakistan, It is estimated to be 7 percent, while in the neighbouring Muslim countries it is 28 percent - four times higher than the knowledge capital of Pakistan. As a result of this enhanced knowledge capital, the GDP of these neighbouring countries is also four times higher than Pakistans GDP. This provides food for thought to all those formulating Pakistans budget without much thought to the dwindling health of both the economy, as well as the quality of education. Let me quote some figures to prove my point: HEC had approved Rs 225 billion for its PSDP budget for financial year 2009-2010. Lo and behold that in March 2010, the government reduced this amount to Rs 18.6 billion without any substantial reason. Financial restraint is only a cover-up to justify the governments lavish spending. The worst was to follow when at the close of the financial year only Rs 10.3 billion have been actually released and Rs 8.2 billion have been frozen. Does the PM and his Cabinet realise the implication of this cut - 250 HEC projects in the pipeline and 3,000 PhD scholars abroad would be left high and dry. Finally, let me conclude by unveiling the unkindest cut to higher education that had demanded Rs 33.5 billion for financial year 2010-11, but have only been granted Rs 16 billion. If the economic managers in the Finance Ministry have turned blind to the knowledge capital of the nation, I can only hope that the PM and his Cabinet will rectify the situation and Parliament will not allow this gross injustice towards the education sector. The writer is the president of the Pakistan National Foundation.