Global Agenda Council on Pakistan 2012-2013
With over 170 million people, a burgeoning and educated middle class, and an economy that has shown resilience despite instability in recent decades, Pakistan is a key actor in the South Asian region, both economically and politically. However, Pakistan faces significant issues, including domestic challenges such as education, employment and corruption, for example, and regional challenges. Limited collaboration and trade with neighbouring countries, in particular with India, compromises the country’s economic development potential.
Looking more specifically at human capital development in Pakistan, statistics indicate that as many as 40% of Pakistani children are not in primary school, while the dropout rate among those who do attend is very high. The consequences of this are potentially devastating in terms of youth unemployment, a widening income gap and, more generally, for economic growth. According to regional cooperation statistics, trade between South Asian countries represents 5% of total trade in the region, making it one of the least economically integrated regions in the world. The potential gains for Pakistan from increased collaboration are estimated to be high both for the economy (trade could increase between 5- and 10-fold) and the acceleration of human capital development, for instance by joining efforts with India to address similar problems in the field of education. In September 2012, Pakistan and India signed three trade agreements that are expected to significantly accelerate commercial exchanges between the two countries over the next three to five years.
- In 2010, the overall net primary school enrolment rate in Pakistan was 74.1%, while the overall rate for South Asia was 88.1%.
- On average, gender parity is not met in primary and secondary education: the Gender Parity Index in 2010 was 79.6.
- Although cooperation with neighbouring countries, in particular with India, could potentially accelerate economic and human capital development, South Asia remains one of the least integrated regions in the world.
“There is a serious mismatch between the jobs demanded by the emerging needs of the economy and the supply of skills and trained manpower in the country. While the economy is moving towards sophisticated sectors such as telecommunications, information technology, oil and gas, financial services, engineering goods, the universities and colleges are turning out hundreds of thousands of graduates in Arts, Humanities and languages.”
Dr Ishrat Husain Dean and Director, Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Pakistan
“Better qualified and trained human capital, especially in the education sector, is the need of the hour and perhaps it is the private sector which needs to be supported by all stakeholders of education.”
Mehnaz Aziz, Chief Executive Officer, Children's Global Network Pakistan, Pakistan
“We need two kinds of educational institutions: formal and vocational. The government can’t do it. Civil society has to step forward.”
Hussain Dawood, Chairman, Dawood Hercules Corporation, Pakistan
In light of the multiple challenges Pakistan faces, the Global Agenda Council will focus on one national and one regional issue. First, the council will examine how human capital development can be prioritized, with a particular focus on the education system. Delivering quality primary education for all children – and ensuring that both girls and boys alike benefit from it – will be a key indicator of a more inclusive society. Second, the Council will continue its work with the Global Agenda Council on India on enhanced trade relations between the two countries and extend the focus from merely goods and services to also include increased human-to-human exchanges through, for example, student exchanges and internship programmes. While acknowledging recent efforts to remove trade barriers and move towards most favoured nation status, the Councils on India and Pakistan plan to encourage the Indian and Pakistani Member companies of the World Economic Forum to offer students from both countries the opportunity to do internships in their respective organizations.
Research Analyst: Isabel de Sola, Global Agenda Councils, email@example.com
Council Manager: Sushant Palakurthi Rao, Senior Director, Head of Asia, firstname.lastname@example.org
Forum Lead: Borge Brende, Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board, email@example.com