Guest Post by Amjad Noorani
Like any young nation, Pakistan has been on a roller coaster ride. Things are looking up now -- and TCF is doing its part.
Here are sample facts about an emerging nation and its modest progress, through sources that underscore Pakistani business, its economy, education, social programs, democratic institutions, an improving infrastructure and quality of life.
TCF is doing its part by addressing the challenges of high illiteracy, access to quality education for the poor, the need for education reform, and providing a replicable model for better education management. Our goal is to make high quality education possible for all children and our commitment was recognized recently by the Clinton Global Initiative.
Good news rarely makes headlines and media stories often depict Pakistan as a problem country subscribing to extremist ideology. Certainly Pakistan has had its ups and downs, reckless spurts and grinding halts. But, against heavy odds, Pakistan is resilient and its people recognize that it must do better to thrive in a competitive world.
From Forbes, there is good news in business. Consumer prices and inflation are checked. Exports in 2011 were up sharply. Despite global recession, its annual GDP growth was 2.8% for 2008-2011 and as high as 7% annually for the period 2004-2007. About 40% of the country's labor force is in services, 40% in agriculture and 20% in industry.
Economists project a 4% GDP growth rate. Sales of consumer electronics is expected to grow 13.3% annually. International icons like Nestle, Pepsi and Unilever are common household names. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most developed hi-tech sectors. In July 2011, a growing middle class pushed car sales up by 61%.
Democratic processes seem to be taking hold. Tax revenues are going up and there are signs of improving infrastructure in many aspects of daily life. College education is more accessible and overall quality of education is steadily improving. Telecom technology is introducing education to far flung areas, with phenomenal growth in media and communications. Also read about women leading a silent social revolution and a new cadre of excellent journalists and writers on social issues. These are solid indicators of Pakistani progress despite the roller coaster ride of the last 64 years. With 60% of its population under 30 years old, huge challenges remain in critical areas such as education, workforce training, employment, housing, water management, healthcare, etc. Gradually, these are being chipped away with homegrown solutions.
We hope to bring you more good news about TCF and other positive initiatives in Pakistan. Do let us know what you think. Support for TCF is the best route to helping Pakistan. Let's make 2012 a great year for Peace and Progress in Pakistan.
Note: The author is a board member of The Citizens Foundation USA.
Here's a video clip of The Citizens Foundation's brief presentation at a recent Clinton Global Initiative meeting:
Here's a short film about Pakistan: