ISLAMABAD - Describing the country “a clear winner” of this year in terms of the world’s most underrated economies, a report carried by Bloomberg said Pakistan, contrary to the predictions about its progress, was one of the world’s most pleasant surprises.

“Each year I perform the exercise of picking what I think is the most underrated (and overrated) economy in the world. Past winners have included Germany, Mexico and, more recently, the Philippines. The designation is tricky, because it can go to an ailing country with an excessively bad reputation or maybe to a known star with virtues beyond what people understand. This year I see a clear winner: Pakistan,” Tyler Cowen said in his article published by Bloomberg.

“It’s obvious the country does not have a great external reputation. In a recent poll of favourability, Americans ranked Pakistan at number 136 among 144 nations. As an experiment, I typed “Pakistan” into Google’s news search and the leading entries referred either to terrorism issues or to the possible extension of President Donald Trump’s travel ban,” he stated.

“Yet most of Pakistan’s developments are fairly positive. For instance, the stock market has put in a good performance, rising 46 percent over the last year. Emerging-economy equities are not in every way representative of how the broader economy is doing, but again we are talking “underrated” here,” the article maintained.

“Gross-domestic-product growth has hovered in the range of 4 percent and now may be reaching 5 percent. That’s not going to rival recent Chinese performance, but it is enough to put the economy on a fairly positive path,” the report said. “Since 2002, the rate of poverty has fallen by half, and over the past three years the rate of terrorist deaths has declined by two-thirds. It’s now the case that 47 percent of Pakistani households own a washing machine, up from 13 percent in 1991, and retail is booming more generally,” it noted.

On the macro side, the report added, “Inflation is not a problem, the country has staved off a foreign-exchange crisis, and it is rebuilding its reserves.

 The debt-to-GDP ratio is high at more than 60 percent, but the country has graduated from its adjustment programme with the International Monetary Fund and appears to be in a stable fiscal state,” the article mentioned.

Comparing the economic performance of Pakistan and India, Tyler said, “Pakistan’s improvement matters because, with approximately 200 million people, it is the sixth most populous country in the world. It is also a nuclear power, and arguably a key to peace in the region. I don’t know many people who were predicting Pakistan’s progress in 2001, and so is one of the world’s most pleasant surprises.”