Ishrat’s book traces reason why Pakistan’s economy declined

‘Governing the Ungovernable’ launched

Zubair Qureshi

Dr Ishrat Husain’s latest book, ‘Governing the Ungovernable: Institutional reforms for Democratic Governance’ traces the reason why Pakistan turned from top developing economy to a laggard in the last 70 years. This was viewed by Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Sartaj Aziz who was the chief guest at the launching ceremony of the book here at Serena Hotel on Tuesday.
Dr Ishrat’s main purpose in this book is to ask if Pakistan can become governable again – his answer is yes, it can and then he goes on to present a long term agenda for institutional reform which is both complex and difficult to implement but if achieved will result in growth and equitable development, said the chief guest.
Dr Husain is the former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and has served as Dean and Director of the Institute of Business Administration till 2016. On the occasion, noted personalities and eminent economists shared their views about the book and the author. Among those who spoke on the occasion included World Bank Country Director Illango Patchamuthu, CEO of Macroeconomic Insights, Sakib Sherani and Dr Sania Nishtar.
Sartaj Aziz further said Dr Husain’s book examined the reasons why Pakistan was a top performing developing country for the first forty years of its existence and in the subsequent thirty years became a laggard. Pakistan, since its independence in 1947, had to face tumultuous years for the first four decades. Despite the many challenges, both internal and external, the country was able to register a 6 percent average annual growth rate during the first forty years of its existence. The country was ahead of India and Bangladesh in all economic and social indicators. Since 1990, the country has fallen behind its neighboring countries and has had a decline in the growth rate.
The book attempts to examine the reasons behind this slowdown, the volatile and inequitable growth of the last twenty-five years, and through a process of theoretical and empirical evidence argues that the most powerful explanatory hypothesis lies in the decay of institutions of governance. It also suggests a selective and incremental approach of restructuring some key public institutions that pertain to accountability, transparency, security, economic growth, and equity.
Sartaj Aziz added that he greatly admired the work and agreed with the gist. The decline is the resultant interplay of many factors and Ishrat does, however, rule out many factors – I feel that his passion for institutional reform is so great that he has downplayed the significance of some factors which have bearing on the cause and effect of economics”.
Illango Patchamuthu said the book provided great reference point for the first 70 years of Pakistan’s existence with the first 40 years as a success, and 30 years as stagnation. Pakistan is a resilient economy that stays at a low equilibrium performance.
Dr SaniaNishtar thanked Dr Ishrat for his scholarship, for his integrity and for the manner in which he has represented the country abroad. The book is apolitical emphasizing policy continuity and the crux is, of course, institutional reform. The book examined some of the well-entrenched and popularly held myths about the Pakistani economy, ruling out factors such as security and terrorism, foreign assistance, military rule, the global economic conditions, all of which may have played some role in the poor performance but empirical evidence did not support them as the determinants of the performance.

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