History of Pakistan's Business and Industry

Pakistan's $1.1 trillion GDP ranks the country as the world's 24th largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP).  Pakistan has come a long way since independence in 1947 when it was a poor agrarian country struggling to survive. Business and industry sectors now account for more than half of Pakistan's economy while agriculture's contribution is down to 20% of GDP.

The story of the country's business and industry parallels the ups and downs in its national history. It is the story of business individuals and families dealing with uncertainties. It is also the story of how the captains of business and industry were impacted by major events in the nation's history, particularly the breakup of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. It is the story of survival in the midst of political instability, policy discontinuities and the fight against terror in recent years. It is the story of how the businesses and industries thrived under pro-business rulers and suffered under anti-business governments. It is the story of how the country's economy has performed under pro and anti-business policies.

Pakistan Growth By Decades. Source: National Trade and Transport Fa...

Captains of Industry:

The United States had Rockefellers, JP Morgans, Carnegies, Fords and others who built American business and industry. Japan has Hitachi, Honda, Mitsubishi and other big names credited with building its business and industry. South Korea is home to recognized global giants like Samsung, Hyundai and others. A handful of individuals and families, aided by their governments, have played outsized roles in industrialization and economic growth in most major economies.

Sitting L to R: Riaz Haq, Syed Babar Ali, Javed Patel, Sikandar Naqvi

The captains of business and industry neighboring India are also a few known large families including Ambanis, Birlas, Hindujas, Jindals, Mittals, Tatas, and a few others. They have contributed to economic growth in their country.

L to R:  Imran Qureshi, Nazim Kareemi, Husain Dawood, Riaz Haq, Farouk Ahmad

Pakistan had the so-called 22 families which began the process of industrialization in 1960s but they were devastated by the 1971 war.  What was left of their business and industry was nationalized by the PPP government led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto  in 1970s. Many of these families have since recovered and rebuilt and several new ones have now emerged.  Their continued growth and Pakistan's economic progress depend largely on the continuity of business-friendly government policies in future.

Source: KASB Securities. Courtesy: Faseeh Mangi of Bloomberg News

Business and Industry in Pakistan:

Here are the top 11 publicly traded groups of companies listed on Karachi Stock Exchange. These groups make up a little over one-third of the total market capitalization of all the companies listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange.  The market caps here represent a snapshot and vary daily with stock trading:

 1. The IGI Group tops the KSE listed groups. Headed by Syed Babar Ali, it is a diversified conglomerate that includes IGI insurance, IGI Life, Packages Ltd and other businesses with a combined market cap of Rs. 677 billion making up 7.4% of KSE.

2. Dawood Group includes companies such as Engro Corp,  Engro Fertilizers, Engro Polymer, Engro PowerGen, Dawood Hercules, and Dawood Lawrencepur with a total combined market cap at Rs. 442 billion adding up to 4.8% of KSE.

3. Pakistani military's Fauji Foundation owns Fauji Fertilizer, Fauji Foods, Fauji Cement, Askari Bank, and Mari Petroleum. The Fauji Foundation Group has a total market cap of Rs432 billion, and a a total KSE share of 4.6%.

4. Mian Mansha’s Mansha Group includes MCB Bank, DG Khan Cement, Nishat Mills Adamjee Insurance, Nishat Chunian, Lalpir Power, and Nishat Power. It has total market cap of Rs. 408 billion, or 4.4% of KSE.

5. Habib Group includes Indus Motor Company, Thal Limited, Habib Insurance, Habib Sugar Mills, Bank Al-Habib, Habib Metro, and Shabbir Tiles. Total market cap for the group is Rs326 billion making up 3.6% of KSE.

 6. Bestway Group includes United Bank Limited (UBL) and Bestway Cement with total market cap of Rs. 310 billion, or 3.4% of KSE market cap.

7. Tabba Group has total market cap of Rs. 298 billion or 3.3% of KSE. The group includes Lucky Cement, ICI Pakistan and Gadoon Textiles.

8. The Atlas Group which includes companies such as Honda Atlas Cars, Atlas Honda, Atlas Battery, and Atlas Insurance has total market cap of Rs. 143 billion  or 1.6% of KSE.

9. Chinoy Group includes Pakistan Cables, International Industries, and International Steel. It has market cap of Rs. 90 billion or 1% of KSE.

10. The Saigol Group includes companies such as Pak-Elektron, Maple Leaf Cement, and Kohinoor Textile Mills.  It is worth Rs. 79 billion accounting for 0.9% of KSE.

11. JS Group includes Jahangir Siddiqui Company, JS Bank, Bank Islami, JS Investments, and JS Global. It is worth Rs. 43 billion or 0.5% of KSE.

In addition to publicly traded companies, there are several large highly valued privately held business and industry groups like Jang Group, Hashoo Group,  Bahria Town and others.

Dawood Group:

Dawood Group is the second largest among the top 11 publicly traded business groups which make up a third of the total market capitalization of the Karachi Stock Exchange.

In a keynote address at OPEN Forum 2018, the annual conference of Pakistani entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Husain Dawood of Dawood Group in Pakistan told the story of his family's business starting in 1947. This story is probably representative of most of the rest of business and industry groups in the country.

Seth Ahmad Dawood, the patriarch of the Dawood family, started his textile business in India before 1947. He lost everything when he fled to what became Pakistan after the partition of India. He rebuilt his business in both East and West Pakistan. The family lost half its business in what became Bangladesh in 1971. What was left of the business was confiscated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto government in West Pakistan.

The Dawood family was able to rebuild its business under General Zia ul Haq's pro-business military government that followed after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was deposed in a military coup.

The best days for Dawood Group came during General Musharraf's pro-business government in years 2000-2007 under Husain Dawood who took charge after his father Ahmad Dawood's death. He led the diversification drive from textiles into chemicals, foods, fertilizers, power and communications businesses.

Dawood Group invested $1 billion in world's largest fertilizer plant and took on a lot of debt. Musharraf government committed gas supply as incentive for the group to invest.  The PPP government led by Asif Zardari demanded payoff to deliver on the commitment to supply gas for the fertilizer plant. Dawood's refusal to pay off the PPP officials meant that the group's investment sat idle until 2013 when Nawaz Sharif's pro-business PMLN government came to their rescue.  Dawood group and other business and industry groups have thrived since 2013 with a pro-business government in charge.


Growth of business and industry in major American, European and East Asian economies has been led by a few large families aided by pro-business government policies.  Ford, Hitachi, Honda and Samsung are now household names but they all started small and built up in stable environments favorable to business. Pakistan had the so-called 22 families which began the process of industrialization in 1960s but they were devastated by the 1971 war.  What was left of their business and industry was nationalized by the PPP government led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto  in 1970s. Many of these families have since recovered and rebuilt and several new ones have now emerged. Their continued growth and Pakistan's economic progress depend largely on the continuity of business-friendly government policies in future.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Who Owns Pakistan?

Pakistan Military Industrial Complex

Brief History of Pakistan Economy

OPEN Forum Silicon Valley 2018

Asian Tiger Dictators Brought Prosperity

Democracy vs Dictatorship Debate in Pakistan

Musharraf's Legacy

Is This a 1971 Moment in Pakistan's History?

Pakistan's Lost Decade of 1990s

Views: 669

Comment by Akhtar Hussain on May 21, 2018 at 9:46am

Dear Riaz Sb.

Thank you for this information.  It is vital for people

looking to invest in Pakistan.  My country of birth is

becoming more and more attractive and I plan a visit soon.

Thank you.

God Bless and Pakistan Zindabad.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 21, 2018 at 9:48am

Thank you Akhtar sahib. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 21, 2018 at 5:20pm

Couple of interesting excerpts from Dr. Kaiser Bengali's lecture:

"As I said we started with less than a dozen manufacturing plants in Pakistan and they were also medium-sized manufacturing plants. One of them was Dalmia Cement Factory in Karachi. I remember that factory, it wasn’t functioning even when I first saw it but you could see that it was a very small old-fashioned kind of factory. The cement factories now are very technologically advanced but that was the kind of industrialization Pakistan had then. After we became independent, Pakistan was importing everything: toothpaste, toothbrushes, shoes, matchboxes, just about everything was being imported because we produced nothing. Even most food items were imported because we grew little. I remember in 1968, West Pakistan was not producing bananas; we couldn’t buy bananas in Karachi. So that was where we began, but by the end of the 50’s, we were producing a large variety of agricultural and industrial consumer goods."

"By the end of the 1950s, government offices were built up. In 1947 there were no government offices in Karachi. You probably hear your grandparents talking to you about how most government offices were operating out on the street. Residential housing was created; Pir Illahi Bux Colony and PECHS in Karachi were set up in 1950. Industrial and agricultural output had risen, and in fact by the end of the 1950’s, most of the very basic consumer goods were already being produced in the country like matchboxes, toothpaste and shoes and some textile units had already come up and we were producing cloth, etc. So there was some level of development that took place and we were no longer as deficient as we were a decade ago.

Then came the 1960s. The 1960s development effort moved into a higher gear. First of all the whole experience with the first 5 year plan: making the plan and implementing it, seeing the deficiencies, the flaws, the mistakes, and learning from them. Some people were sent abroad for training and they came back. One of them was Mehboob ul Haq. You know, he had gone abroad for his PhD, he came back. So there were some trained people who were now involved in the process of preparing plans. The fundamental thing that happened was that there was a planning board in the 1950s, which used to do the planning work with a minister for planning who headed it. In the 1960s, General Ayub Khan who was the President, created a planning commission with the president as its chairman. So you can see the political importance of this commission going up. From the planning minister now the president was actually chairing it and Ayub Khan was a very active chairman."

" So what happened since the 1990s? When you don’t invest, everything begins to creak; the infrastructure began to crack. And in the 1990s the growth rate began to decelerate. The governments in the 1990s also could not put money into investment and the rehabilitation of infrastructure because the debts that were incurred in the 1980s matured in the 1990s. And both Benazir’s and Nawaz Sharif’s governments had no fiscal space as they had to repay Zia’s debts. Every time the economic team met, the economic team meeting included the Finance Minister; the Secretary General Finance; the Secretary Commerce; Secretary Economic Affairs Division and Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission that’s the economic team all they discussed was when was the next payment due, and where will that money come from?"


Comment by Riaz Haq on September 14, 2018 at 8:46am

#Pakistani giant #Engro to bet big on rising #middleclass in #Pakistan. Engro weighing acquisitions and starting new businesses in #agriculture, #healthcare, #realestate , #communications and other #consumer-linked sectors to profit from rising #incomes. https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/368531-in-shift-pakistani-giant-e...

Pakistan’s chemicals-to-energy conglomerate Engro Corp has seen its fortunes rise on the back of massive Chinese investment, but plans to shape its future growth around the country’s vast population and expanding middle class, its chief executive said.

Engro Corp, best known for its fertilizer and petrochemicals factories, as well as engineering projects, is Pakistan’s largest listed conglomerate, and after recovering from a brush with bankruptcy in the early part of this decade is now sitting on a $500 million cash pile.

It has been a major beneficiary from Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative splurge, working with Chinese firms on coal and power projects worth billions of dollars.

Engro’s rising fortunes since 2012, when its factories were crippled by gas shortages, mirror the improvements in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation where economic growth has accelerated due to vast Chinese investment and a sharp drop in militancy and power outages.

In the near term, Engro’s outlook is linked to a mile-long $1.5 billion coal mine in the Thar desert near the border with India, part of Beijing’s pledge to invest about $60 billion in Pakistan.

But with Pakistan’s new government hinting it may review Belt and Road contracts due to concerns they were too expensive, some analysts see risks on the horizon for Engro and say planned power plants around the mine may struggle to obtain financing.

Ghias Khan, Engro’s chief executive, told Reuters this week he was “pretty confident” the government would not re-open deals with sovereign guarantees.

“If they do, that will have a very negative impact,” Khan said.

This year Pakistan’s economy has also been shaken by a shortage of dollars, and speculation Islamabad may turn to the International Monetary Fund to ease current account pressures.


Undeterred by Chinese investment jitters and the recently wobbly economy, Khan said Engro was weighing acquisitions and starting new businesses in agriculture, healthcare, real estate, communications and other consumer-linked sectors to profit from rising incomes in the Muslim majority country of 208 million people, 60 percent of whom are aged under 30.

“We’ve come to a realization what has gotten Engro where it is today is not good enough for our next phase of growth,” Khan said in an interview at Engro’s ocean-front headquarters in Karachi, an Arabian Sea metropolis.

“What we are proud of is our ability to execute large-scale projects and put up large industrial complexes. But we are mindful we have to get into businesses which are more related to the population growth, and take us closer to the consumers.”

In Karachi, mushrooming shopping malls and ever-rising number of cars on the road point to a multi-year consumer boom as people’s disposable incomes have doubled this decade, analysts say.

Khan compared Pakistan’s current economic level, population growth and per capita income, which stands at about $1,600, to where China, South Korea and India were at earlier points in their development.

“If you look at sectors that did well when they were where Pakistan is today ... like real estate, automobiles, healthcare, logistics - everything is somehow related or linked to population growth or the middle class,” Khan said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 1, 2020 at 12:23pm

Philanthropist Syed Babar Ali honored in #UnitedStates as a member of the American Academy of Art and Sciences in recognition of his efforts for creating #Lahore University of Management Sciences (#LUMS) a premier business institution of #Pakistan. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/651970-syed-babar-ali-gets-rare-ho...

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. Founded in 1780, the Academy is dedicated to honoring excellence and leadership, working across disciplines and divides, and advancing the common good.

Syed Babar Ali received his education from Aitchison College in Lahore. For further studies, he went to the Michigan University at Ann Arbor until 1947 when he moved to newly-created state Pakistan. He completed his graduation from Punjab University (PU). He also briefly studied at Harvard School of Business, which later helped him in creating a business institution in Pakistan.

He created and grew Packages Ltd, Milkpak Ltd, Tri-pack Films, and the IGI Group. He brought several foreign companies to Pakistan, including Nestle (Switzerland), Tetrapak (Sweden) and serves on the board of Coca Cola Pakistan, Siemens Pakistan, and Sanofi-Aventis.

He also promoted the cause of the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature where he served in various positions, both in Pakistan and internationally, from 1972 to 1996. He was the international president of WWF from 1996 to 1999, succeeding Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The American Academy of Art and Sciences was founded during the American Revolution by John Adams, John Hancock, James Bowdoin, and other Founding Fathers of the United States.

Today the Academy is charged with a dual function: to elect to membership the finest minds and most influential leaders, drawn from science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts, from each generation, and to conduct policy studies in response to the needs of society.

Major Academy projects now have focused on higher education and research, humanities and cultural studies, scientific and technological advances, politics, population and the environment, and the welfare of children. Dædalus, the Academy's quarterly journal, is widely regarded as one of the world's leading intellectual journals.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 6:00pm

Interloop CSR Case Study In Swiss dissertation at Business University of Lausanne

With increased awareness concerning societal challenges, organizations around the globe have started realizing their responsibility towards the social and environmental concerns in addition to their economic challenges. Among these companies is also Interloop Limited, located in the sub‐continent region of South Asia, Pakistan. Interloop is an unlisted public company with majority shares owned by one family. The company is one of the world’s largest sock manufacturers and exporters with hosiery being its core business. It has an annual turnover exceeding $250 million (Company Business, 2014). Besides hosiery, Interloop is a reputed manufacturer of quality yarn. It is a vertically integrated organization with in‐house spinning, yarn dyeing, knitting and finishing facilities. Interloop Limited was established in 1992 with only 10 knitting machines on the floor but currently, Interloop houses over 3,500 knitting machines, 46,704 ring‐spinning spindles and has more than 13,000 employees (Company Business, 2014). The Company offers a wide range of socks with various quality levels and price points in line with all types of customers including brands, retailers and specialty stores, in addition to its quality yarns for denim, hosiery and the weaving industry.
In‐house designing, product development facilities and a recently established Research & Innovation Center, with a team of technical experts, have paved the way to serve Interloop customers' needs well in time. Being a full service supplier, Interloop offers a unique set of services besides offering a quality product. This includes, but is not limited to market intelligence, trend projections, product design and development support, VMI3 (Vendor Managed Inventory) services and distribution centers offering pick and pack services across the Globe (Company Business, 2014). This unique combination of product and service differentiates Interloop from the rest of the textile companies in the world and hence Interloop has the privilege of providing services to such leading retailers as JCPenny, H&M, SportMaster, Tesco, C&A, Penney, Primark,


MOU with The Citizens Foundation: For CSR purposes, Interloop cooperates with non‐profit organizations
(NPOs) which are doing something worthy for the development of the nation and which are sustainable
themselves (Interview Zulqarnain). An important achievement in this regard is the establishment of 14
schools, for less privileged children, in collaboration with a Non‐Profit Organization, The Citizens Foundation
In 2009, Interloop signed a Memorandum of Understanding with TCF which is Pakistan’s leading non‐profit
organization in the field of formal education. This was another social welfare contribution which marked
Interloop as an ethically and socially responsible organization in the minds of both the internal and external
stakeholders. Initially, 4 schools were built again in collaboration with Dobotex International and later the
number of schools increased over a period of time. Interloop proudly owns this contribution and gladly
expresses its efforts for providing quality education to the less privileged in its newsletters as well.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 6:00pm

PARCO has built and supported three schools with The Citizens Foundation (TCF) – a reputable NGO working in the area of imparting quality education – at Karachi and Qasba Gujrat, near PARCO Mid-Country Refinery. These schools employ all female staff belonging to the nearby communities. These campuses have generated employment for the local women to earn a decent living.

Amongst the above mentioned three campuses, the PARCO–TCF Campus I at Karachi and Campus II at Qasba Gujrat offers education till Grade V and are operating at full capacity. The PARCO-TCF Campus I at Karachi operates morning and afternoon shifts. In August 2012, the Company extended academic block of PARCO-TCF Primary Campus II to accommodate 180 students.

PARCO has built a third campus, a secondary school in Qasba Gujrat which commenced classes in April 2011. All PARCO-TCF campuses are built in under-privileged communities and impart quality education to around 1,080 children.


Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 6:01pm

Pakistan State Oil Company Limited (PSO), the largest oil marketing company of Pakistan, has donated Rs 12 million to The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF), one of Pakistan’s leading not-for-profit in the education sector. The announcement came at a ceremony organized by PSO where MD and CEO PSO, Sheikh Imranul Haque, presented the cheque of support to the Co-founder TCF, Mr. Mushtaq Chhapra. Chairman, PSO CSR Trust, Mr. Yacoob Suttar was also present on the occasion with other officials from both organizations.
Pakistan continues to face an education emergency. Statistics suggest almost 44% (22.6 million) children between the age of 5 and 16 are out of school. PSO CSR Trust’s donation to TCF will ensure continued provision of education for deserving students from some of the most underprivileged backgrounds. Under the support agreed with TCF, PSO is adopting five TCF campuses, also constructed with PSO support, for a period of one year. Three out of five schools are located in areas hit by the terrible 2008’s earthquake.
Other than the above donation, PSO has also pledged construction of a TCF campus in one of the underdeveloped localities of the country. Member, PSO CSR Trust, Mr Baber Hamid Chaudhary and the Vice President, TCF, Mr. Zia Akhter Abbas, also signed a memorandum of understanding to confirm the support. Senior officials from both sides attended the ceremony.
Speaking at the ceremony, Sheikh Imranul Haque, MD & CEO, PSO said:
“Millions of children in Pakistan remain out of school. This brings a huge responsibility on every one of us to ensure access to education for our children. A well-educated population is important to boost the economy, broaden their outlook, and to ensure a bright future for our country.”


Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2021 at 6:01pm

Companies which lead CSR activities in Pakistan
Some of the local and international enterprises have realized their roles concerning CSR activities in Pakistan. Let’s have a look at how they are contributing to the cause, here in Pakistan.

1- Unilever’s role in CSR activities in Pakistan
One has to appreciate the efforts of Unilever Pakistan in this regard. Its Sustainable Living Plan outlines some key goals which are crucial to development in Pakistan. The environment is in focus majorly, as efforts are envisioned which will eventually reduce the carbon footprint in Pakistan. Known as talent hunters globally, Unilever’s employment policies constitute a major percentage of its CSR activities. However, Unilever is fully aware of the moral obligations associated with such policies. This is why we haven’t come across any cases where the corporation was accused of exploitation.

Although many remain unaware of this, Unilever is the key leader of many CSR activities in Pakistan. You might remember one such example from the advertisement called Madad aik Ibadat. A popular detergent company was the key partner in this initiative. This campaign, which still goes one as we speak, is a part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.

2- PTCL’s efforts to promote CSR activities in Pakistan
Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited has also set certain goals concerning social and environmental issues in Pakistan. The much-famed telecommunication company actively participates in several CSR activities in Pakistan. The major focus at PTCL revolves around health, education, environment and community service projects.

The tree-plantation drives at PTCL reflect the efforts to preserve the environment. There are also programs for children, which aim at improving children’s character and making them responsible citizens. Human resource management at any company is indicative of how employees are treated there. The agreement which PTCL made with Collective Bargaining Agent- CBA has benefitted its employees most fruitfully.

There are several other CSR activities in Pakistan in which PTCL engages actively. These include medical services for employees, blood donation drives and post-retirement beneficial schemes.

3- How Coca Cola highlighted the need for increased CSR activities in Pakistan
Bottle of change was a campaign that aimed at fundraising for Pakistan’s biggest social welfare service, The Edhi foundation. The brand leader for this mega CSR activity in Pakistan was Coca Cola. The most amazing feature of this campaign was Coca Cola’s paramount interest. The brand promised that it will double any donations it received during this fundraiser. Women Entrepreneurship Program, a gold winner at SABRE gold awards 2016, is another hallmark of Coca Cola’s CSR activities.

These two fine examples show that Coca Cola is a key leader in CSR activities in Pakistan. It will be wondrous if more companies could follow the suit!

4- MCB’s major contributions in CSR activities in Pakistan
It would be unfair, not to mention the contributions of MCB in this regard. Several Corporate Social Responsibility activities in Pakistan wouldn’t have been possible, had it not been for MCB’s active participation. These activities target various aspects of governance, culture, sports, health, and education.


Comment by Riaz Haq on March 10, 2021 at 9:01pm

One Pakistani Institution Places His Faith in Another


“You can’t build a country if you’re not thinking beyond your own lifetime,” Syed Babar Ali said. Pakistan’s biggest problem, he believes, is one of leadership.

SYED BABAR ALI, a businessman and philanthropist, is two decades older than his country, Pakistan. He has witnessed every turn in its tumultuous history. Now, at 83, he feels he has earned the right to give it a bit of advice.

Mr. Ali is an institution in Pakistan. He has started some of the country’s most successful companies. But perhaps his most important contribution has been his role in creating the Lahore University of Management and Science, or L.U.M.S., begun as a business school but now evolved into the approximate equivalent of Harvard University in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s biggest problem, he believes, is one of leadership. A corrosive system of privilege and patronage has eaten away at merit, degrading the fabric of society and making it more difficult for poor people to rise. The growing tendency to see government positions as chances to profit, together with the explosion in the country’s population, has led to a sharp decline in the services that Pakistan’s government offers its people.

“Nobody is bothered about the masses,” Mr. Ali said.

It did not start that way, he says. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s visionary founder, criticized Pakistan’s system of feudal power, in which rich landowners reaped profits from land worked by impoverished peasants, calling the system “vicious” and saying it made the rich “so selfish that it is difficult to reason with them.”

Pakistan was created as a haven for the Muslim minority of the Indian subcontinent, but Mr. Jinnah was adamant that the country should protect all faiths and be a fair society, where the poor, through hard work, could advance themselves.

But 62 years later, many of those ideals seem just as distant. Attempts at dismantling the feudal system were halfhearted, and decades later it is still more or less intact and landowners still form the bulk of the political elite. Other powerful groups that have governed, the military and wealthy industrialists, fared no better.

“You can’t build a country if you’re not thinking beyond your own lifetime,” Mr. Ali said.

Pakistan’s education system has been one of the casualties. Good public education can create opportunity in societies, but in Pakistan it has been underfinanced and ignored, in part because the political class that runs the country does not consume its services. Fewer than 40 percent of children are enrolled in school here, far below the South Asian average of 58 percent. As a result, Pakistan’s literacy rate is a grim 54 percent.

For Mr. Ali, education was the country’s most urgent need, and in 1986 he helped create L.U.M.S. Founded as a business school, it later added a rigorous liberal arts program, one of the strongest in Pakistan. Breaking with the tradition of rote learning, the school encourages its professors, many recruited from abroad, to foster debate in classes, and its graduates tend to be critical thinkers with open minds.

These days the university attracts many offspring of wealthy Pakistanis, who would otherwise have gone to the United States or the United Kingdom for their undergraduate studies.

THAT was the case for Mr. Ali, who was studying at the University of Michigan in 1947, the year Pakistan became a state. He returned to Pakistan in December of that year, ultimately earning his bachelor’s degree from Punjab University in Pakistan, but he kept his ties with the United States. His brother later became Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington, and Mr. Ali’s wedding was held in the embassy there — benefits bestowed by a system he now criticizes. The ceremony was attended by Richard M. Nixon, then the vice president, and was photographed for Life magazine.


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