Pakistan: from security concerns to potentiality
파키스탄 International THE NEWS
Dr Song Jong-hwan
Monday, February 24, 2014
From Print Edition
The general perception of Pakistan is that it is a dangerous country associated with terrorism. The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who came to power for a third time, is carrying out stringent operations and holding negotiations to restore peace but terrorist activities are not subsiding.
Apart from terrorism, Pakistan is facing other problems like low economic indicators. The low GDP growth rate of 3.6 percent during the fiscal year 2012-2013, national per capita income of $1,368, foreign exchange reserves of only $8 billion, imports of $45 billion with $24.5 billion of exports are a few of the concerning issues. And the major share of trade deficit of $20.5 billion is being filled up largely by $13.9 billion through the remittances of overseas Pakistani workers.
However, the majority’s vision about Pakistan is positive. The first peaceful democratic transition of government through the general elections of 2013 has given political stability to the country.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is known for his business-friendly policies and in his third term it is clear that he has again focused on giving new life to Pakistan’s economy.
Foreign investment in Pakistan from July to December last year amounted to $502 million. The Karachi Stock market ascended an amazing 49 percent last year, large-scale manufacturing and production index rose by 8.4 percent from July to September, 2013.
Standard and Poor’s, an international credit rating agency, has rated Pakistan’s economy as ‘stable outlook’.
Earlier, Goldman Sachs, while announcing BRICS as the world’s emerging economies, added Pakistan in a group that will follow them. On February 26, US Secretary of State John Kerry while talking to Prime Minister Shari’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan had the potential to become a future economic tiger in Asia.
The reality is that Pakistan has abundant mineral resources such as coal, gas, copper, gold, iron ore and more, and over 108 million low-wage workers aged between 18 and 40 years comprise 57 percent of the total population. In the agriculture production, Pakistan ranks fourth in cotton, fourth in milk, sixth in wheat, sixth in sugar cane and 12th in rice in the world which shows its growth potential as well.
In addition to that, Pakistan’s geographical location is very strategic, a connecting gateway to Southwest Asia, Central Asia, China and Middle East. Its 190 million population, which is sixth largest in the world and 3.6 times bigger than that on the Korean peninsula, makes it a big consumer market.
Chances can be occupied when all the enterprises and people call it difficult and in crisis situation. Before establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties with China in 1992, Korean enterprises entered the Chinese market by sensing its potential despite knowing the fact that the then closed communist China was not allowing the remittance of earned profits. In the same way more Korean companies should come to Pakistan where remittance of 100 percent profit is allowed at least.
Many Korean companies have already entered in the fields of electronic, chemical, confectionary, steel, infrastructure development mainly in the areas of railroad, harbour and road construction. They should enhance their participation in hydro and thermal power development projects, based on the government’s declaration to get rid of the energy deficiency by 2017.
Considering the fact that 66 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture, there is a big potential for Pakistan to adopt Korea’s ‘New Village Movement’ to gain rural economic uplift, as Korea did.
Korea’s first high-level delegation, comprising both ruling and opposition party members and led by the speaker of the National Assembly, paid an official visit to Pakistan on January 30-31, 2014. I hope such collaborations between our two friendly countries governments, parliaments, peoples and business circles will be increased in the years ahead.
In sum, Pakistan and Korea can enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship as they enter a new era of friendship and Pakistan certainly will turn into another land of opportunity for Korea.
The writer is ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Pakistan.