National Dialogue Forum

Political Economy

To increase exports, Pakistan must restructure its economic policies to benefit the many, not the few

Pakistan’s export growth is meagre when compared to peer-economies in the region. The main reason for this is the country’s political economy, which incentivizes real estate development over agriculture and other productive sectors. To increase exports, Pakistan needs to restructure its domestic political economy and reallocate resources from non-productive to productive sectors. This can be done by progressive taxation on unproductive sectors, agrarian reforms, and urban land reforms.

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Crimes against logic

The mainstream economic prescriptions for Pakistan, such as market liberalization and export-oriented industrialization, are not sustainable or equitable. The author proposes an alternative programme of structural change, which would involve delinking from global markets and reorienting investment and industrialization towards national needs. This would require a shift in the coalition of class forces in power and a fundamentally different role for the state.

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Rethinking urbanisation: What’s wrong with development in Pakistan?

Urbanisation in Pakistan is not a by-product of industrialization, but rather a result of agrarian distress, conflict, and natural disasters. The buying and selling of land is a more reliable and effective strategy to accumulate capital than productive investments in manufacturing. This has led to urban sprawl, which has dispossessed locals from their livelihoods and imposed huge social and ecological costs. The contemporary model of urbanisation in Pakistan is predicated on dispossession, exclusion, and environmental degradation.

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Non-fiction: Coercion from above, consent from below

Aasim Sajjad Akhtar’s The Politics of Common Sense: State, Society and Culture in Pakistan is a much needed addition to the political economic literature on Pakistan. In line with most heterodox literature on Pakistan, the point of departure for The Politics of Common Sense is the late social scientist, academic and political activist Hamza Alavi’s work. But it marks a major break from Alavi’s statist approach by offering a dynamic and dialectical understanding of the post-colonial social formation of Pakistan.

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