In some ways, one is delighted to see the old guard resume duties in the newly-appointed cabinet by the Prime Minister. But in the domain of economic affairs, it will be interesting to see whether this experienced lot has kept up with the changing economic dynamics in the world and remained abreast on the new attempts at diversified globalisation. The Washington Consensus, neo-liberal market fundamentalism and shock therapy are academic economic models premised on ideology. The world (especially the developing countries) is now crying for a new consensus. Activists and social entrepreneurs across South Asia are challenging the underlying values of self-centred neo-liberal measures of economic success, such as Bhutan’s concept of “gross national happiness” as opposed to that of gross national product. The new initiative from our regional context is one referred to as the ‘Himalayan Consensus’, which primarily focuses on inclusiveness on a sustainable basis.For decades, American think-tanks and academics advocated neo-liberal economic assumptions that premised all humanity as motivated by greed alone. Through de-regulation, they argued, the “invisible hand” of greed would always bring all markets to a state of equilibrium. Such thinking relied on unfettered capital flows under the lofty label of ‘globalisation’, the cookie-cutter notion that one model fits all. The global financial crisis of 2008 proved that this model was not only far from being perfect, but in fact it also needed significant changes. These past 20 years of neo-liberal market fundamentalism and self-proclaiming global prosperity has left more than 40 percent of our world’s population still living in poverty and one-sixth of our planet living in extreme poverty. Pakistan has been one of the hardest hit in terms of persistent poverty, greater gaps between rich and poor, and resultantly a disenfranchised middle class. This is something that our new economic team will need to understand carefully, because if they just blindly follow the course of ‘market based system’, embark on an aggressive selling of the public sector enterprises and naïvely diminish the role of governmental oversight, the results of such policies over the long term in economic environments such as ours can be disastrous.Pragmatism demands a middle way and the story of this pragmatic behaviour began in China with the evolution of fusion economics. China despite all of its problems, demonstrated that an alternative is possible by unabashedly using both tools of market and planning to transform their economy from scarcity to over-supply and from poverty to conspicuous consumption wealth. China’s experience is not a model, but a set of experiments. Some worked extraordinarily, while failings of others are hotly debated even in Beijing itself. Its experience cannot necessarily be repeated in Pakistan; nor should it. In our context, however, what we have to learn is that the real ‘China take-away’ is: ideologically premised economics is impractical and sometimes it is advisable to dump theory and instead do what works. Eyeing the China experiment, other countries across Asia began adopting their own version of fusion economics, mixing tools of market and central planning, sometimes more, sometimes less. Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia and Malaysia have been examples of mixed economies. Each did it in their own way, based on their own local circumstances. They sought “sequenced” reforms - step by step and not by acting in an instance. More importantly, the evolving notion of fusion economics is not just about top-down policy. It also includes bottom-up grass roots initiatives, which can offer transformational options as well. Often a surprisingly little money in the right place can do wonders in changing lives of people, while saving resources. Based on this, activists and social entrepreneurs across South Asia (our neighbourhood) are challenging the underlying values of self-centred greed as the end-all driving motivation for economic successes.This implies that if this new Pakistani government is to truly serve the people, then it will need to stop thinking about only capital markets and return to the basics, supporting small and community-based businesses. Meaning, it will require a shift from monolithic globalisation to diversified localisation. Further, while austerity within its own ranks may be a good ploy to improve the perception of good governance, its implications on the other hand in the state’s public sector spending requirements need to be carefully evaluated. It is time that we evolved a more practical growth model based on finding ways to save energy and primarily making ‘existing’ resources more efficient - a model that is effective, yet not capital intensive.New corporate responsibility and renewed focus on the principles of ‘good corporate governance’ holds the key for successfully reacting to the changing global economic and social needs. Going forward, green technology and social enterprise funds are elements that the new economic managers will have to grapple with in order to connect Pakistan with the mainstream global economic activity. Finally, the government will have to respond with trade policies and fiscal incentives that guide corporations and businesses towards a new pattern of behaviour. Development funds need to be invested into communities, education, upgrading infrastructure and switching energy grids to more viable alternatives. To make this happen, our economy will need to be linked with: new monetary instruments (to address financing challenges), cooperation platforms and trading markets. All this will require a visionary eye on the future where two important developments are at present taking shape: Green growth is tipped to be the next economic driver in the world, and b) The pendulum of economic activity, and especially ‘capital’, is shifting from the West to the East. This fresh economic paradigm is spreading fast with a new consensus based on fusion economics, which emphasises community over individual, greater social benefit over self and a level of state oversight that maintains fair play without stifling the potential for private entrepreneurship. While we all realise that Pakistan cannot afford to miss out on these developments, the question is who will lead it to achieve this?

nThe writer is an entrepreneur and economic analyst.