Our Human Resource Is Our Best Bet

Our only hope for redemption as a nation is focusing attention on improving our human resource and empowering our people in a way that allows them to participate productively in life.

Our Human Resource Is Our Best Bet

“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.George Bernard Shaw

The present government in Pakistan that has somewhat nervously established itself, though completely fraught post one of the most questionable elections in the country’s checkered history held on February 8, 2024, has yet to overcome one of its biggest hardships—the upcoming budget for the fiscal year 2024-25.

Surrounded in an ocean of apparently insurmountable economic complexities, hyper-inflation, burgeoning debts, an out-of-control, unskilled bulge of young population, a hawkish media quick to spring upon any bit of information they can exploit, the new government has yet not provided the people with a solid blueprint on how they intend to set the future course of this country.

There appears to be no plan to address the problems of the common people, who are the real victims of extremely bad fiscal policies, causing industries to shut down, halting economic growth, rising unemployment and resultantly putting modest families in circumstances where earning some money is becoming a herculean task. Those include handicapped, widows and orphans, who until some time ago were barely eking out a respectable living, are now compelled to seek charity for not only marrying off their young daughters, for meeting emergency medical needs, but also for providing even a single meal for sustenance. Each day, more and more people are finding themselves in economic blackholes, thanks to imprudent government policies, and each day more and more people are openly or covertly begging before anyone who can give them a few rupees.

This trend is fast gaining an international dimension, as evident from a news report wherein the Overseas Ministry Secretary informed the Senate Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis, that a growing number of beggars from Pakistan were moving abroad, spurring human trafficking. More disturbing is the fact that 90 percent of beggars arrested in foreign countries were of Pakistani origin. They have been known to exploit pilgrim-visas to travel to Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. A good number of pickpockets who were apprehended at holy sites were also Pakistanis. Japan, in dire need of skilled labor, is also emerging as a country of destination for these beggars. It is not long that just as we look with disdain at paupers in the streets, the international community would also be eyeing us with the same contempt.

We always delay responding to what foreign countries need in terms of workforce. It is no wonder that Bangladesh, India and even Nepal have accelerated exporting trained manpower, whereas we are still struggling with our own human resource. On the one hand, we desperately require foreign exchange and on the other, there is hardly any cohesive attempt to produce a sufficient number of youngsters who can be depended upon to work abroad. From what is transpiring these days, the beggars, with their ill-gotten wealth, are more progressive in transcending political borders to promote their ‘profession,’ compared to our educated but unskilled lot of unemployed youth.

Rather than improving our youth, governments in power are keen to enlarge their vote bank through charitable schemes of doling out meager monthly stipends. We eagerly provide a paltry sum of money to residents of low-income groups so they can barely manage to make ends meet. However, we are quick to turn down a scheme of creating a corporate body and make hundreds more shareholders and employees in the dividends of say, a manufacturing concern, providing ample opportunity to truly grow into a gigantic holding benefitting everyone. In the absence of a level playing field for all, it is no wonder that we have multi-layered social classes where some are dependent on the generosity of the upper classes and forever at their command. This clearly speaks of the prevailing injustice which manifests itself in the form of glorified beggars. According to Ralph Nader: “A society that has more justice is a society that needs little charity”.

Justice is at the core of every civilized society and its absence causes insecurity, restlessness, dissatisfaction, the disruption of peace and retardation in economic growth as well. Pakistan is a classic example of a country where justice is present only on paper. If this is not the position, then how come there is a backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases in all judicial forums and where posthumous decisions of innocence are decreed for prisoners languishing for decades behind bars? How come nepotism is given preference over merit? How come its taxation model is an epitome of inequity? How come perpetrators engaged in different vices like murder, hoarding, adulteration, stalking, usurping rights etc. roam around freely, while the virtuous are nabbed for no fault of theirs? How come this country’s disgruntled youth is no longer interested in doing something for the country? They rather ask, “What has the country done for us?”

These are indicators that a society is headed towards self-destruction. Dr. Michio Kaku, an American physicist and author has admitted that in the United States, ones who are reaching academic excellence are basically foreign students from India, Pakistan and China. Mostly, those from India and China obtain their educational qualifications from the US and then return to their respective countries to extend their share of service in its progress but what happens to their Pakistani colleagues? 

According to StudyLink, thousands of Pakistani students are granted international visas to a variety of countries and presently around 60,000 are getting an education at universities around the world, but do they all return? If yes, then nothing could have prevented Pakistan from competing with other countries but alas, it is nothing other than brain drain on a massive scale. 

Our only hope for redemption as a nation is focusing attention on improving our human resource and empowering our people in a way that keeps them independent, lifts them up, allows them to participate productively in life, and boosts their self-esteem. This can only be done when we rise above our petty politics, desire of power and inhibiting control over the country. 

The writer is a lawyer and author, and an Adjunct Faculty at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), member Advisory Board and Senior Visiting Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)