Pakistan Rich in Resources, Poor in Management

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Pakistan is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources but also one of the poorest among them in its management. The country is abundant in vital resources including that energy, agriculture, minerals, population, and geography, but unlike the developed countries, these have not been properly exploited due to poor management. This demoralized situation is caused due to several, both chronic and acute, flaws which have led to poor governance of the country since its inception except for some brief spells of economic prosperity. Predominant political rivalry and instability, worsening law and order, and rampant corruption have catalyzed the situation to resource development impasse. Contrary to the economic potential of its natural resources, Pakistan is depending on foreign aid and debt, it is facing a deficit in trade, an acute energy crisis to run industry, and water stress for agriculture, to name a few challenges. However, the daunting challenges and the mounting public pressure caused due to awareness of civil society are increasingly influencing political decision-making. Eventually, there is a sign of hope for devising an effective strategy to exploit the natural resource wealth of the country for its self-sufficiency and viable economic development. It is sufficient to say that the proper exploitation of this wealth would lead to the prosperity of this nation. Being situated at one of the best geographic and geostrategic locations on the map of the world, Pakistan is wealthy in its natural resources. It has enormous energy surplus resource potential for both renewable and nonrenewable, which is greater than that of oil-rich countries of the Gulf. Among the world’s 200 plus countries it has the second largest salt mines, second-largest coal reserves, fifth-largest copper and gold reserves, and seventh-largest wheat and rice production capacity. It is the sixth most populous country in the world having a large share of a young population. Had these resources been properly managed, this country would have been one of the richest economies in the world. The detailed account of the natural wealth of Pakistan shows how such great potential has been untapped due to mismanagement. There are plenty of nonrenewable energy resources like oil, gas, and coal in Pakistan. It has more than 436.2 million barrels of oil, according to the CIA World Fact Book, and 31.3 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves. The current oil production is 65,997 barrels per day while gas production is 4 billion cubic feet per day. Though it is not enough to meet the needs, it can save considerable outflow of currency. Moreover, there is a resource potential of 27 Billion Barrels of Oil and 282 TCF of gas reserves in the country which has not been explored due to a lack of vision and flawed policies. Pakistan has the world’s second-largest coal deposits of 185 billion tons. These are estimated to be equivalent to 618 billion barrels of crude oil. This is more than twice if we compare it with the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. If it is converted into oil by gasification, it will generate 650 barrels of crude oil which at an average market rate of eighty dollars per barrel, would generate 5.2 trillion dollars. But the policy-making elite of the country has not only been oblivious to the potential but also indifferent to the slow pace of efforts to harness this source for energy production and exports. The energy deficit is badly affecting the industry in the country but no serious initiative is taken for electricity production from coal. China imports its 65 percent of coal requirements but despite being an ‘all-weather friend’, this giant energy importing economy does not import coal from Pakistan. Besides, the geography of Pakistan enriches it with renewable energy resources. Wind and Solar energy are other unused lifelines of Pakistan. 1046 km long coastal line gives the potential of 40000 MW of electricity. The vast lands of Baluchistan can be utilized for solar electricity generation. But unfortunately, these resources have barely been used due to technological backwardness and lack of innovative policies. The hydropower potential of the country is also enough to satisfy the needs for energy. Only 33 percent of around 20,000 MW generation capacity is produced from this resource which has the potential of producing 40,000 MW. No concrete steps have been taken to harness this resource mainly because of political differences and distrust prevailing in the country. The lack of vision and policy planning in the utilization of water resources is also severely affecting agriculture. Despite having one of the largest irrigation systems in the world, Pakistan is facing water scarcity for crops. The storage capacity of water reservoirs is quickly depleting because of annual sediment inflow and a substantial quantum of available water is lost in seepage as the canals have not been cemented. Out of 77 million acres of cultivable area, only 55.5 million acres have been plowed. The country is blessed with four seasons and a variety of crops but due to a lack of research, the productivity remains low. The above analysis reveals that Pakistan is not a poor, but poorly managed country. The factors which have caused the poor management of natural resources include political instability, political indecision making/divergence, lack of vision and planning, flawed policies, bureaucratic bottlenecks and corruption, lack of human resource development, and worsening law and order situation. These factors have led not only to the poor management of natural resources but also to the poor governance of the country.

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