Weak institutions and economic stagnation

Junaid Jhandad
DARON Acemoglu and James A. Robison have, particularly and precisely, pointed out in their treatise “Why Nations Fail” the chief reason which has enabled disparity and created poor nations. Their finding depicts that the foremost aspect which plays its role in influencing the destiny of few nations to be poorer is no other than the weak political and economic institutions of the concerned states. Success of this new initiative or any other project does not depend that how far the nation and policy makers can aim and anticipate, rather, according to most of the scholars, merely entrepreneurs, middle class, and inventors can fetch success to any economic project and subsequently to the state.
Nevertheless, it is specifically the state and its institutions which offer an environment for its inhabitants to turn into entrepreneurs and inventors. It is merely the people, ordinary people, who turn into Thomas Edison and Steve job, under particular environment provided by the state, and takes (take) their country into new heights of economic glory. How far the state of Pakistan and its institutions have been able to deliver such an atmosphere in which entrepreneurs and scientists like Steve Job and Thomas Edison can flourish, is a quite threatening query. The irony is, as depicted in “Why Nations Fail”, merely entrepreneurs and inventors can amend the destiny of a nation. Any initiative or project without the aforementioned features can solely fetch more sufferings.
There is a flawless correlation between economic and political institutions. As history depicts neither of the state in the world has been able to achieve strong economy without strong institutions. Additionally, the irony is that not a single state, around the globe, has created robust economic institutions without strong political institutions. Pakistan is not an exception and cannot be an exception, as it survives in the same global arena and fulfills all the conditions of a nation-state. Consequently, it certainly has to follow the footsteps of states that magnificently turn into success stories.
It will be too naïve and skeptical to suggest that state of Pakistan is not in a path of progress vis-à-vis democracy is concerned. Nevertheless, this quasi-democracy has failed to produce strong economic institutions. The foremost aspect, due to which quasi-democracy in Pakistan has been unable to create resilient institutions, does not differ from the root causes of other weak states in the world. The primary feature which acts as an impediment for creating strong institutions is no other than greed of state’s political elite.
History and comparison of different states around the globe depicts that it is exclusively the status-quo political elite, which enriches its own wealth at the expense of the whole nation, which plays its role in sustaining weak institutions. As weak institutions act as agents of powerful political elite, consequently, in most of the states, political elites preferred weak institutions over the stronger ones. Pakistan is not a different case, where political elite always prefer their own self-interest at the expense of the whole nation. Most of the developed states embraced strong institutions ages ago and right now political elites in developed states are unable to utilize these robust institutions for their own personal gains. It is not a miracle that developed states around the globe are creating entrepreneurs and inventors, which are continuously playing their role in ensuring economic prosperity.
According to scholars negative peace means absence of war, nevertheless, existence of structural violence. Structural violence includes not merely culture, traditions, and norms, in fact any impediment which undermines people’s ability. In a state like Pakistan where structure of the whole state system has been sustained to serve the political elites, desiring that strong institutions would flourish will be a naïve perception. Consequently, aiming that the present, weak and fragile, institutions can provide an atmosphere for entrepreneurs, middle class, and inventors, which play their significant role in economic prosperity, to bourgeon would be even more naïve. Believe it or not, merely a single project or initiative cannot bring economic prosperity in Pakistan. Till the time political elites in Pakistan grapple this fact that purely strong institutions can ensure economic well-being, only then policymakers should anticipate a worthy future.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.
Email: junaidjhandad@hotmail.com

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