Why and how Pakistan was surpassed by its poor cousin Bangladesh?

By J.K.Verma    13 February 2019

New Delhi. 13 February 2019. In 1971 when Bangladesh was dissected from Pakistan, it was in a miserable condition. Pakistan Army before surrender, destroyed roads, bridges, railways and industries of the then East Pakistan. Big industrialists left the country and millions of Bangladeshis were displaced, killed and mutilated during independence struggle. Not only this in November 1970 East Pakistan also suffered a horrific cyclone, which killed about five hundred thousand persons and destroyed property worth $ 86 million, as expected Central government at Islamabad has not rendered enough assistance to the cyclone hit areas.

 However, from last few years Bangladesh is constantly earning more GDP, than its main rival Pakistan, by investing more in women empowerment, children education and healthcare. The government and NGOs constantly worked to improve at the grassroots level. The success of readymade garment industry is closely linked with the success of Bangladesh. Consequently, in the recent fiscal year Bangladesh GDP per person became $ 1538 while Pakistan’s GDP was $1470 only.

It is projected that GDP growth of Bangladesh in Fiscal year 18-20 will be between 6.5 percent to 7 percent, while Pakistan’s GDP growth in the corresponding period will be 5.8. percent only. The annual growth of Bangladesh from last ten years is about six percent and last year it was 7.8 percent, little less than India, but much above Pakistan which had 5.8 percent only. The foreign exchange reserve of Dacca is $32 billion, while Pakistan which is passing through an economic disaster is only $ 8 billion. The prime minister of Pakistan has already approached Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for monetary assistance. Imran Khan the prime Minister of Pakistan will be meeting IMF Chief Christine Lagarde on February 17 at Dubai and will again request for a bailout package. Although the population of Pakistan is more than Bangladesh but still the per capita debt liability on Bangladesh is just $434 while Pakistan’s per capita debt is more than double i.e. $974.

Bangladesh with sustained efforts have enhanced its export. In 1971 the export was negligible but in 2018 it enhanced to $35.8 billion. According to IMF the economy of Bangladesh is rising, and it will be $322 billion by 2021, from present $180 billion.

Bangladesh also successfully controlled the population explosion. In 1951 the population of East Pakistan was 42 million while the population of West Pakistan was 33.7 million, however at present the population of Pakistan is 200.81 million while the population of Bangladesh is about 166.36 million. Unfortunately, because of rise of Islamic fundamentalism no government can implement family planning measures in Pakistan. The population growth in Pakistan is highest in the region.

Dacca is much ahead of Islamabad in women employment and immunisation programmes which improved the health of female and children. Life expectancy is 72.5 years in Bangladesh while in Pakistan it is only 66.5 years. Bangladesh received much lesser foreign assistance from United States, China and Saudi Arabia in comparison to Pakistan, which has a geographical advantage, but it is still doing much better than Pakistan.

Pakistan Army which considers itself as the saviour of the country had to suffer heavy losses in 1971, when more than 90000 soldiers surrendered to Indian army. Punjabi dominated Pakistan Army usurps large resources of the country on the name of protecting the country from India. Pakistan spends lot of resources on the purchase of arms and ammunition instead of investing in the upliftment of poor masses. Pakistan spends three percent of its GDP on defence while Bangladesh devotes only one percent of GDP on defence.

Bangladesh surpassed Pakistan because it devoted money in poverty alleviation, human development, creation of jobs, augmentation of exports and lessening its dependence on foreign aid and loan. It also sorted out some problems with India while others were kept in backburner. Begum Hasina developed cordial relations with India and terrorist training camps controlled by ISI and their henchmen were destroyed and Indian terrorists took refuge in Bangladesh were handed over to Delhi. It all reduced tensions between India and Bangladesh and both the countries were able to devote more time and money in the development of the country while Pakistan is spending its meagre resources in taking revenge from India. Pakistan should devote more time, energy and financial resources in the development of the country.

Pakistan Army has convinced the fundamentalists in the country that military controlled Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has launched several covert operations in Kashmir and Pakistan will snatch it from India. The deep state has also assured the poor, illiterate, Madrassa educated Islamists that they will install puppet regime in Afghanistan.

The sinister ISI has launched low-intensity war against India and assisting diverse terrorist outfits which are carrying-out terrorist activities in Afghanistan. Pakistan should stop all these clandestine operations and should invest in the development of the country.

The elected representatives in Bangladesh do not work under the dictates of army hence they have to work for the welfare of the electorates while in Pakistan Army rules the country directly or indirectly and neither, they have to face elections nor the masses.

Pakistan should try to cultivate friendly relations with its neighbours and should eschew the path of abetting terrorist outfits. Pakistan is considered as a terrorist state in the world hence it is not getting the investments and foreigners including industrialists of Pakistan origin settled abroad are reluctant to invest in Pakistan due to poor security situation.

In the previous year Bangladesh earned $21 billion by exporting garments which is 90 percent of its foreign exchange and gives employment to about 13 million persons. China earns about $ 80 billion out of $200 billion West spends in the import of garments. The daily wages are increasing in China and it is expected that soon it will start losing the business. In that case Bangladesh will be the biggest beneficiary as Islamabad will not get much business as importers are afraid of visiting Pakistan. Pakistan figures in the top twenty on the Global Conflict Index while Bangladesh is not in the list. The other countries including India will not be benefitted much because of diverse reasons.  

The deep state of Pakistan is happy by exploiting the scant resources of the country without caring about its financial hardships, poor image in the international arena and the pitiable condition of the masses. The deep state cannot apologise Bangladesh for its atrocities as it will reduce the malicious propaganda against its arch-enemy India. Pakistan’s foreign as well as internal policies are formulated by deep state, Islamic fanatics and drug-mafia hence the country is maintaining the Jihadi image.

In Pakistan there are several nationalities, but all rights and privileges are grabbed by Punjabis. All other nationalities are exploited and downgraded. In fact, Bangladesh was created because of maltreatment, exploitation and denying of the rights of the residents of East Pakistan. At present Balochis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Muhajirs, Kashmiris, residents of Gilgit and Baltistan, Saraikis etc are either fighting for separate states or for more autonomy. Pakistan should try to resolve the genuine grievances of these discontented nationalities otherwise it will again blame its eastern neighbour for the disintegration of the country. The rulers in Pakistan must also realise that two nation theory is failed, and religion alone cannot keep these diverse nationalities together.

(Jai Kumar Verma is a Delhi-based strategic analyst and member of United Services Institute of India and Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. The views in the article are solely the author’s. He can be contacted at editor.adu@gmail.com)

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