Does Pakistan constitute any place amongst the ever changing global economic thinking? I think probably yes, but certainly not. Being 6th most populous with 192 million population, 36th largest in area, 7th largest army, a nuclear power with high advanced missile technology, largest contributor in peace keeping under UN crown, Pakistan has ignored focusing on the bedrock of social and economic developments- education, health, nutrition and sanitation. The biggest problem we confront today, that is damaging every aspect of public sector organisations is the three-pronged top-level poverty trap; poverty of thinking, poverty of learning and consequently poverty of doing.

The Finance ministry’s,Pakistan Economic Survey(2014-15) claims Pakistan’s positive ranking. Germany is nearly Pakistan’s half of area, less than half of population, still world’s fourth largest economy, world’s largest exporter or second traditionally rivaling with China’s, pushing world’s first (USA) and second (Japan) economies far behind.

A British economist had high hopes for Pakistan’s economy. He calculated that Pakistan may jump from its current 44th position among world economies to 18th in 2050. From its current $225 billion economy size it may reach $3.33 trillion to Germany’s current by 2050. On purchasing power parity, it is 26th. On remittances inflow with $18 billion Pakistan is 7th in the world but its both neighbours India and China are number one and two respectively in the international race. If Pakistan has done well on MDG or SDG targets it  have had received applause in UN’s recent summit. On SGDs consultative sessions its contributions were remarkable. On both, it failed to gain attention.

George A. Akerlof feels that the warmth of global warming will be the biggest challenge in 21st century.  To him “there are two inconvenient truths. The first is global warming itself. The second is that we are not yet telling ourselves the stories that compel us to combat it”.

Robert Solow highlights the issue of secular stagnation. Michael Spence emphasizes on inclusiveness that will require changes in mind-sets, policy responses, and institutions- international and domestic. The goal is to make the rise of the developing world as comprehensively beneficial as possible.

Harlan Ullman in an article “ Pakistan’s future” questions the current government’s quest to impose real macro-economic reforms. Ullman bases Pakistan’s future with genuine and sustainable reforms in economic and governance spheres. Niaz Murtaza (2015) establishes a casual chain between good governance and societal inegalitarianism.  He advises current government to “study the more sedate and gradual progress achieved by similar countries like Indonesia, India, and Brazil”.

Replying to the critique made by Mr. Bill Gates on the book, authors Acemoglu and Robinson upheld and explained their premise: “Our point, by which we stand strongly, is that what distinguishes societies is not whether they are centrally planned or capitalist, but whether they are extractive or inclusive” with certain observations like lacking empirical evidence in support of nations’ failures because their politics is badly shaped.

Cohen has identified five scenarios of Pakistan’s future in the time span of next five to eight years and has arguments in the support of each. He sees Pakistan either as a moderate, democratic state, where authoritarianism may rise up. As things stand now in Pakistan, it appears that Cohen was too quick to jump to the conclusion. After passing of more than a decade, Cohen’s last three possibilities do not seem making any sensible place. Despite not focusing too well on the social sector, Pakistan has strongly empowered threats to the federation stirred by domestic and foreign-based terrorism. The elected government completed its mandatory legal tenure of five years in 2013. The current political set up is not confronted with any political upheaval and is sure likely to complete its term by 2018. The year 2018 will pave way for another five-year term of the government having the support of the people through ballot. Voting mechanism in Pakistan is under transformation and voters are now educated enough to reject any organised rigging. Election Commission of Pakistan is regathering confidence of the political parties it badly lost after 2013 general elections.  Stiglitz with a dose of arrogance castigates IMF’ affirmed fundamentally flawed policies which played havoc mostly with the recipient poor countries including Pakistan.  Friedman goes further and opines “the story of failed development does have a villain, and the villain is truly detestable: the villain is IMF.” Pakistan has been resorting to IMF for macro-economic stability in a mad fashion.  IMF’s traditional policy tools have been fiscal austerity, high interest rates, trade liberalisation, liberalising capital markets, privatisation and creating a fear of default. To Stiglitz these recommendations were massively misleading aggravated human sufferings of the compliant countries. IMF’s “Cookie Cutter” approach is contrary to the economic circumstances of individual countries. Instead of rapid and simultaneous reform suggested by IMF, Stiglitz prefers gradualism.

Paul Krugman, another academic contemporary of Stiglitz hovers around the same line in “End Depression Now” and presents the evidence that fiscal stimulus works and fiscal austerity measures solely makes things worse.

Keynes once said “the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood.” In Pakistan’s case both are spineless. Their thoughts are least bothered in the whole policy formulation mechanism  where everything comes from top down and hardly anything comes from bottom up. Evidence is enough to suggest that in most cases top down policies were not policies but fancies and the wishes of the extractive institutions. The poorer were the dividends. Domestic sanity and maturity can determine Pakistan’s standing in the global economic thinking and that is not possible in the presence of the three-pronged poverty of the institutions. Lee Kuan Yew was blunt to conclude that South Asian leaders listened to him patiently but were equally lethargic to implement what he had suggested to improve their economies.

Zafar Haider Jappa is based in Islamabad; he is an alumnus of PCPM, Potsdam Germany and GCSP, Geneva Switzerland.