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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Economic diplomacy is a good step but is government aware of what it takes?

News Analysis |

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi while addressing the envoys’ conference on economic diplomacy has said that Pakistan must be the part of the global production chain. “If Pakistan is to develop on a sustainable basis; if Pakistan is to break the begging bowl once and for all; if we are to become an integral part of the global value chain, then we must better leverage our diplomatic machinery and harness our regional and global linkages, in pursuit of national development agenda,” he said.

Imran Khan led PTI government had the default priority of taking the steps toward economic stability right from the first day of taking the power. Partly because of the dismal state of balance of payment issue, and rest because of the long-standing stance of Prime Minister Imran Khan of “breaking the bowl”.

The neighbor country India has realized the phenomena and now Indian doctors, engineers, and other professionals are working all around the world, sending remittances back home and complimenting Indian global soft power.

In a bid to secure the loans to stabilize the foreign reserves, Imran Khan went to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which responded to the request and the crisis was averted. But it is to the realization of everyone that such measures are just the treatment to the chronic ailment, not the cure at all.

Pakistan since the time of PPP led government after the end of dictatorship back in 2008 has been calling for “Trade not Aid”, but for the most part of it, the slogan was merely confined to rhetoric which the leaders put in front of masses in political gatherings. It is encouraging to see that the incumbent government has taken a step forward in the right direction as economic diplomacy is truly the need of the hour for Pakistan.

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It is even more encouraging to see that the foreign minister understands what it takes in the contemporary world of innovation and breakthrough inventions to remain unique and significant. Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the world over only those economies had prospered that had innovated, mel­ding ideas, knowledge, skills, and resources to produce quality, cost-effective and value-added products that captured markets.

But the question is what does the government recognizes the step which is needed to be placed in this regard to make the country stand in the top tier of producers and innovators of the world. Unfortunately, the investment in the human capital, especially for a young country like Pakistan which has a median age of 23, has never been the priority of any government so far.

The very few bright minds which are able to grasp the concepts even in this archaic education model find no incentive to stay in Pakistan and resultantly the country suffers from brain drain.

For the most part of it, the governments simply lacked the capacity to understand how to harness the youth bulge at a time when most the developing countries are growing older and Pakistan could do wonders for the requisitions of services in those countries. The neighbor country India has realized the phenomena and now Indian doctors, engineers, and other professionals are working all around the world, sending remittances back home and complimenting Indian global soft power.

Pakistan, on the other hand, has been unable to cope with the changing needs of the global services industry which led to the least demand of Pakistani workforce in the world’s job market. For instance, the visas for Pakistani workers have practically been banned by Kuwait, a country which has the strongest currency at the moment.

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A major part of the reason why it happened lied in the lack of capacity of Pakistani workers for the work demands in Kuwait. The government instead of building the capacity of the workers as per the international needs chose to turn a blind eye toward the crucial factor.

Similarly, the professional education in the Pakistani universities is way below par to offer the edge in the technological and innovation arena which Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said to bring the edge for the countries in the global market. The very few bright minds which are able to grasp the concepts even in this archaic education model find no incentive to stay in Pakistan and resultantly the country suffers from brain drain.

Read more: Can PTI’s 100-day plan overcome Pakistan’s economic woes?

There needs to be a broad strategy to incorporate all the relevant variables so that when the world finally opens its markets for Pakistan due to active economic diplomacy, the country must have something to present and sell.