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Ten years in Pakistan

We as a nation portray the image of our country very poorly. Rather than creating a good image, we are often portraying an unflattering picture of Pakistan. We should strive to change this mindset. In this spirit, here is an apolitical article about the major achievements of the Pakistani nation in the last ten years.

After completing my doctoral studies in UK and spending almost nine years abroad, I returned to Pakistan in the summer of 2013. I saw a country where there was massive loadshedding, regular bombings in major cities, lawlessness, tech infrastructure was in ruins etc.

In July 2013, Pakistan signed the historic agreement with China called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Through this agreement, China invested about $46 billion in developing Pakistan’s infrastructure. Some of the landmark projects from this initiative include building 1700 km of world class motorways. These motorways are at par with world standards and in fact nothing like this exists in neighbouring India even.

In the power sector, Pakistan manage to add 11,000MW of power projects, which include coal-fired power plants in Sahiwal and Karachi. These projects created about 46000 jobs. Run-of-the-river dams were built – such as Neelum Jhelum, Karot Hydro Power, Tarbela dam extension, Mangla raising, Dasu dam etc. Pakistan developed a world-class LNG infrastructure that enabled the deployment of LNG power plants. These plants are the most efficient energy plants in the world. With nuclear power plants Kanupp-2 and Kanupp-3 going live, Pakistan’s nuclear installed power plants capacity grew exponentially in the last ten years to 3530MW.

In the area of education, Pakistan has 11 universities that fall in the top 1000 universities ranking in the world. This list includes the likes of NUST, Quaid-e-Azam, LUMS, Comsats. There was not a single world class university in Pakistan till the 1990s.

In the public transport infrastructure area, Pakistan managed to launch metro bus and train services projects in six major cities. These projects ferry millions of commuters every month. From the Orange Line in Lahore to the Green Line in Karachi, millions of commuters benefit from this world class infrastructure.

In the tech sector, the licensing of 3G and 4G spectrum changed the technology landscape of Pakistan. In 2014, Pakistan had no 3G/4G users; in the last eight years we have added 118.57 million 3G/4G users. This is a world record as no nation has added so many users per capita as Pakistan. The country has seen a surge in venture capital investments post 2019. Last year, VC investments went to $365.8 million, up from $66 million in 2020.

In the defence sector, Pakistan not only managed to develop a fighter jet but also managed to export it to Nigeria and Myanmar. Only a handful of countries in the world has the capability to develop and then export fighter jets.

Pakistan is a vibrant democracy with a free media, as well as a recognized nuclear power. We have a world-class telecom infrastructure and motorway infrastructure. We have some of the largest dams in the world. In the last ten years we managed to defeat the menace of terrorism and significantly decrease loadshedding. Still, we are economically a weak country right now, but all of this can change if each of us start contributing towards the betterment of our country.

The government alone cannot fix all the ills and problems of the society. My message to the people of Pakistan, especially to the educated elite, is to stop complaining and start contributing. Pakistan is our homeland; if we will not strive to make it a better place, then who will?

Dr Afnan Ullah Khan, "Ten years in Pakistan," The News. 2022-10-26.
Keywords: Social science , Social issues , Civil society , Economic Corridor , Education , Democracy , Infrastructure , China , Nigeria , CPEC , LNG , LUMS