This blog explores the multifaceted aspects of ‘The Future Of Pakistan.’ Where its citizens have access to quality food, health care, education,internet, a thriving democracy, with their human rights protected and respected.Pakistan’s potential and the transformative possibilities that lie ahead.
Human Rights and Democracy: Ensuring Dignity and Equality
Before we delve into ‘The Future of Pakistan,’ let us conduct a self-reflection as a nation based on human rights. Social, economic, and cultural rights require states to take different actions at the operational level in order to guarantee them to their citizens.
Here are some fundamental human rights that pose challenges even after 76 years of Pakistan’s existence:
For further information you can refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the United Nations website.
“Grave human rights violations continued, including enforced disappearances, torture, crackdowns on peaceful protests, attacks against journalists and violence against religious minorities and other marginalized groups.” (AMNESTY)
PART A: Challenges and the Path Ahead:
With a POPULATION of 241 million, Pakistan is currently the fifth most populous country globally, with two-thirds of its population under the age of 30. This makes it one of the world’s youngest nations. The median age of Pakistan’s population is 20.6, and 49.6 percent of the total population is female. Pakistan is experiencing a continuous increase in its young population, a trend projected to continue until at least 2050. (Source: UNDP)
The only way forward which is sustainable lies in good governance, which allows for citizen participation, accountability, and inclusive decision-making at all levels. Long-term economic policies and a shared vision are necessary to address real problems concerning health, nutrition, education, population management, and the ongoing impact of climate change.
Free and fair elections, an independent judiciary, and citizen participation are crucial for fostering progress and ensuring ‘The Future of Pakistan,’ as a thriving democracy. It is vital to strengthen democratic institutions at the grassroots level, promote civic engagement, uphold gender equality, protect the rights of religious minorities, and preserve freedom of expression.
Health and Nutrition:
Alarmingly, 8 out of 10 children in Pakistan do not have access to the right type and quantity of food. Over 40 percent of Pakistan’s under-five children are stunted,, 30% underweight, and 49% of women experiencing moderate anemia. Furthermore, over half of children under the age of five are anemic, and 39% are zinc deficient.
The Future of Pakistan?. To address this issue, it is crucial to focus on the most vulnerable children, utilizing cross-sectoral platforms such as Early Childhood Development (ECD) and the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative. UNICEF is collaborating closely with federal and provincial governments at all levels to support national and provincial priorities and achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets. The situation is especially concerning in some villages in Sindh province, where 66% of under-fives are affected. Stunting has a severe impact on brain development and physical growth, with irreversible consequences if not addressed before the age of two. Additionally, the UN Human Rights Council recognizes children as one of the most affected groups by climate change due to their specific metabolism, physiology, and developmental needs.
Pakistan currently has the second-highest number of out-of-school children globally, they are also ‘The Future of Pakistan.’ With an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending school, representing 44% of the total population in this age group. Gender, socio-economic status, and geographic disparities significantly contribute to this issue.
Acknowledging the limited access and inequities in pre-primary education, Pakistan is increasingly prioritizing early learning through the development of policies, plans, and standards in several provinces. Government investments based on equity remain essential to ensure inclusive education systems that cater to the most disadvantaged girls and boys.
Human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels and industrial agriculture, have significantly increased greenhouse gas concentrations, driving climate change. Pakistan, despite being an almost negligible contributor to global warming, ranks among the top-ten countries most vulnerable to its devastating effects.
Climate change poses a threat to a wide range of human rights, including the right to life, adequate housing, clean water, sanitation, nutritious food, self-determination, equality, and non-discrimination. In 2022, flooding engulfed one-third of the country, displacing 8 million people. The costs of climate change for ‘The Future of Pakistan’ continue to escalate due to severe economic challenges.NAP – Pakistan
Climate action thus far has centered around: mitigation, adaptation and more recently, loss and damage. However, economic interests and lack of sustained political will have undermined efforts to address these three issues.Specifically drawing attention to good governance in the need to reduce emissions, protect groups most at risk from the impacts of climate change and ensure their participation in climate decision making. Given the growing and cross-cutting challenges posed by climate change, Pakistan needs to urgently prioritize adaptation and building resilience.
PART B: Embracing the Promise of Tomorrow
Agriculture and Climate Resilience
Food security has long been a major concern in Pakistan, with a significant portion of the population experiencing food insecurity. This issue is influenced by various factors, including poverty, unpredictable weather patterns, limited access to resources, and inadequate farming practices. Additionally, Pakistan’s vulnerability to natural disasters like floods and droughts further exacerbates the situation.
To establish a strong foundation for food security, it is imperative to address these challenges comprehensively. This can be achieved through the following measures:
- Improving irrigation systems
- Implementing climate-resilient agricultural techniques
- Providing financial support to small-scale farmers
- Promoting crop diversification
- Enhancing storage and transportation infrastructure
- Creating social safety nets to assist vulnerable communities
Furthermore, effective governance, policy reforms, and international collaborations are necessary to overcome these issues and establish a reliable and sustainable food system in Pakistan.
Human Capital: The Key Driver
Pakistan’s future prospects heavily rely on its human capital. The country’s education system is consistently recognized as a significant obstacle preventing it from reaching its full potential.
To unlock its potential and create opportunities, Pakistan must prioritize quality education, skill development, and technology adoption. Additionally, it is crucial to address existing educational gaps and gender disparities. Supporting legal reforms that increase women’s workforce participation is also essential. (Source: World Bank)
“A lack of inclusivity and digital literacy, one of the biggest global gender gaps in access and a struggle to stay online.” (‘Pakistan’s Internet Landscape 2022 by human rights and advocacy organization Bytes For All.)
Citing the Inclusive Internet Index of 2022, commissioned by Meta and executed by Economist Impact, the report pointed out that Pakistan ranked last out of 22 countries in Asia overall, and 79 globally across the key indicators of availability, affordability, relevance and readiness.
Referring to the findings of the GSMA Mobile Gender Gap 2022 Report, the Bytes for All’s report said they highlighted Pakistanʼs poor standing in terms of access for females, though noting that the gap had narrowed slightly over time.
The youth’s inclination towards social media has the potential to fuel the emergence of a wave of young entrepreneurs. By creating opportunities for entrepreneurship and ultimately enhancing employment Pakistan can cultivate a capable workforce that drives economic growth and fosters innovation.
Harnessing Technology and Innovation for Change
As Pakistan embraces its digital transformation journey, sectors like e-commerce, fintech, and health-tech are poised to revolutionize business operations, service delivery, and problem-solving. Thriving initiatives like tech incubators, startup accelerators, and hackathons are cultivating an ecosystem that fosters innovation. However, it is crucial to address ongoing challenges with clarity and vision in order to succeed.
According to a McKinsey report, the integration of AI has the potential to contribute $150 billion to Pakistan’s GDP by 2030….Read More:
Sustainable Utilization of Natural Resources
Pakistan possesses abundant mineral resources, including coal, natural gas, and various minerals, which can be harnessed responsibly for industrial development. This presents a significant opportunity to enhance the country’s economy, including its potential for exports. It is important for the state to implement measures to protect individuals from human rights violations caused by business activities, including those arising from their contributions to climate change. Effective remedies should also be ensured when such harms occur.
Pakistan boasts extensive mineral reserves stretching across 600,000 square kilometers. Among the 92 identified minerals, 52 are commercially mined, with an impressive annual production capacity of 68.52 million metric tons, as reported by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan. Foreign investment can contribute to unlocking the potential of Pakistan’s estimated $6 trillion worth of natural deposits. Notable examples include the Khewra Salt Mines, the second-largest salt mine in the world, and the Reko Diq mine in Balochistan’s Chagai district, which is one of the largest untapped copper-gold projects globally. These highlights underscore the immense potential waiting to be explored.
Pakistan’s First Minerals Summit
Driving Towards Renewable Energy
To prevent ongoing and future violations of human rights caused by climate change, the state must take immediate and comprehensive measures to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. This includes phasing out fossil fuels and embracing renewable energy sources.
For example, improved energy efficiency, changes in management practices and consumer behavior. Further, building insulation, and investments in low-carbon public transportation. This shift towards renewable energy will not only stimulate economic growth but also reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
The energy sector plays a pivotal role in a nation’s progress, and Pakistan is no exception. With abundant sunlight, wind, and hydroelectric potential, the country has the capacity to revolutionize its energy mix by transitioning to renewable sources. Investments in solar and wind energy projects can help address power shortages while contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable environment.
Read More: Expanding Renewable Energy.
Renewable Energy in Pakistan’s Electricity Mix (World Bank )
Global Trade and Partnerships
Traditionally, Pakistan’s largest sector Textiles and its history of a steady decline in exports can be partly linked to reduced demand. That is to say, from key export markets, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, and Germany. Firstly, almost always limited to a handful of territories,. Secondly, the lack of value addition or/ and innovation. Thirdly, almost certainly without investing in Brand Pakistan.
CASE STUDY BRAND PAKISTAN: I’ve spearheaded two impactful initiatives to promote Pakistani fashion and textiles on the international stage. One such effort involved organizing, negotiating, and launching the Pakistan Fashion Week. Additionally, in a groundbreaking move, I facilitated Pakistan’s debut at India’s prestigious Lakme Fashion Week in 2007. This event attracted renowned global buyers of fashion brands and garnered significant attention from the international media. Consequently, it created avenues for collaboration at the highest echelons of TRADE for Pakistan’s leading fashion brands.“
I believe that targeting the THE AFRICAN MARKETS WITH BRAND PAKISTAN presents a promising opportunity NEXT.
Cultural Heritage: A Source of Soft Power
Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage is a valuable source of soft power that can enhance the country’s international reputation. Its diverse cultural tapestry that spans the entire country, Pakistan’s heritage acts as a bridge, fostering global understanding and promoting tourism.
With improved road and air networks and enhanced security conditions, the government should collaborate with public-private partnerships to identify and develop more historic, sightseeing, and religious sites. Additionally, facilitating private tour operators will further promote tourism, a sector that not only contributes to the economy but also creates jobs and improves Pakistan’s international image. It is anticipated that the land component of tourism will experience significant growth in the years ahead.
In the same vein, preserving and showcasing this heritage not only presents trade opportunities, but also fosters a sense of pride and identity among citizens. This contributes to establishing the brand image of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s future holds immense potential, and the realization of that potential relies on upholding human rights, strengthening democracy.
As a result, using human rights-based mechanisms, tools and tactics can provide and promote policy coherence, legitimacy and sustainable outcomes.This requires measures that strengthen the capacity of the people and communities to participate in decision making process that that concern them.
More from the writer: Narrative How To Build One That Sells.
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