Every year, policymakers in Pakistan reveal a new development policy for public scrutiny. These policies attempt to cast a silver lining over the plethora of problems that Pakistan is deeply immersed in. The five- and ten-year developmental visions that the government aims to implement appear to appease the public, providing a ray of hope for the struggling nation of Pakistan. However, these developmental policies reap little or negligible benefits and, after some time, just appear to be fancy buzzwords that are impractical to implement in the country. The main reason for this non-success is that Pakistan’s development policies are more gravitating towards the application of “one size fits all” Western dynamics and Eurocentric knowledge within the policies of the country, which are mostly non-contextual to Pakistan.
Firstly, Pakistan lacks the production of quality research and knowledge, which would aid in formulating Pakistan’s development policies. Pakistan lags in the formulation of its knowledge based on the quality research conducted by the academic institutions in the country. The majority of developmental research is conducted in Western countries. The representation of developing countries on the editorial boards of academic journals is only 2 out of 33 countries. Moreover, the crown of domination in the field of research and development is held by leading countries such as the UK and the USA (Sarah Cummings, 2017). These nations research on the factors that hinder the process of development within the developing countries without the participation of the developing countries themselves.
Pakistan’s development policies are more gravitating towards the application of “one size fits all” Western dynamics and Eurocentric knowledge.
It has been stated that the UK and USA include the greatest number of authors within the developmental studies with 32.9% representation (Sarah Cummings, 2017). Unfortunately, renowned journals such as “Economic Development and Cultural Change” and “Canadian Journal of Academic Studies” lack the representation of developing countries. Moreover, the Editorial Board of “Development and Change” includes only 6 countries from developing nations, and Pakistan does not form part of those 6 countries (Sarah Cummings, 2017). The developmental knowledge produced is said to be Eurocentric in nature because the research and developmental theory are centered according to European theories and seen through a European lens. That western knowledge is applied to the entire world without considering the context of the developing nations (Baaz, 1999).
Furthermore, the development process or modernity in Pakistan is associated with the application of Western practices in Pakistan. Unlike other developing nations, Pakistan’s development status heavily depends on the standards set by the Western world. The development standards set up by the developed world have created a challenge for Pakistan to achieve. For example, the Sustainable Development Goals laid out by the United Nations set a target for developing countries, including Pakistan, to reach development targets. Vision 2025, laid out by the Pakistan government, contains development goals that incorporate modernizing infrastructure, developing humans, and sustainable growth (Government of Pakistan, 2020).
Pakistan lacks the production of quality research and knowledge, which would aid in formulating Pakistan’s development policies.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals establish the overall success indicators for development. Some argue that the notion of “development” was created by the developed world and that its indicators and institutions were forced upon the developing nations. Arturo Escobar, a prominent Western author, argues that the nature of development was portrayed in such a manner that Westernization was seen only in terms of developing infrastructure, progressing with industrialization, and provoking urbanization (Escobar, 1995). In all of its development projects, Pakistan strictly adheres to international standards. The social development indicators used in Pakistan’s social development were also according to the standards set up by the Western world (Government of Pakistan, 2006).
Furthermore, the involvement of International Financial Institutions has made the development policy process more strenuous. Pakistan is a signatory member of International Institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, and the United Nations. Due to these agreements, Pakistan is bound by the conditions of these institutions and must follow a strict pattern of rubrics laid out by them. Pakistan’s economic policy is strongly controlled by the conditions laid down by the IMF (Rana, 2022). As the IMF states in its mandate with Pakistan, “the IMF has been supporting the government’s economic program… the EFF provides a framework for helping Pakistan retain macroeconomic stability and promote growth while protecting the most vulnerable part of the population” (IMF, 2015).
“The developmental knowledge produced is said to be Eurocentric in nature because the research and developmental theory are centered according to European theories and seen through a European lens.”Maria Erikson Baaz
IMF interferes in Pakistan’s economic policy by financially funding and laying out conditions in which the economy should be run. The IMF also imposed six financial conditions regarding the country’s income taxes and revenues and has bound the country to fulfill them or face the consequences of halted funding to Pakistan. This scenario depicts the notion of hegemony and coercion that international institutions have over developing nations, as explained by Donald J. Puchala in his writings that “the hegemon enforces established rules by meting out rewards and punishments, inducing compliant behavior by developing nations” (Puchala, 2005). Olivier Nay claims that International Financial Institutions work in a manner that shapes policy agendas and operates in a style that bolsters the legitimacy of these institutions.
Through these financial institutions, they introduce donor-led reforms that promote western policy remedies for war and poverty, which, in return, would bring peace and salvation within the country. These development aids snatch the autonomy of the developing states to formulate their own policies with respect to their culture and societal requirements. Moreover, Olivier claims that these International Financial institutions enforce themselves by surveillance and monitoring of the policies that local authorities have implemented (Nay, 2014).
“International Financial Institutions enforce themselves by surveillance and monitoring of the policies that local authorities have implemented.”Olivier Nay
The process of further development is an onerous task within Pakistan due to the prevalent application of Neo-Liberal ideology within the country. Pakistan has been a stumbling state since its conception and has been suffering from the ailments of poverty and impoverishment constantly. Therefore, Pakistan approaches the international world to adopt their policies for a better world. Pakistan adopted the neo-liberal ideology for the country since the late 90s, but it doesn’t seem to be the best medicine for the problems the state has been facing.
A famous author John Brohman claims that the neo-liberal ideology, which vouches for the privatization and free-market system, was essentially formed by the West as a cure for all sorts of diseases. The neo-liberal ideology was drafted using the conditions best suited for the western world and their political climate (Brohman, 1995). The neo-liberal ideology was then presented in a way that if every country adopts it, they will prosper. The author argues that ideologies should be drafted that best suit the country’s specific requirements since development is contextual and based on every country’s culture and society. This is evident within Pakistan since the 1980s when the country became entrenched in even more instability and poverty. Over 60 million people in Pakistan live below the poverty line and are deprived of safe access to drinking water (Sattar, 2022). The privatization of the industry has led to a more competitive environment, resulting in more unemployed youth (Sattar, 2022).
Through financial institutions, they introduce donor-led reforms that promote western policy remedies for war and poverty.
Lastly, development in Pakistan has lost its own essence and has been following colonial standards. Pakistan broke free from the shackles of colonialism in 1947 and declared itself independent. The country officially became a republic in 1956, but colonialism has left deep after-effects that overshadow every sector of Pakistan. Pakistan tries to frame development according to the standards set up by its colonizers. As stated by the author Stuart Hall in his piece of writing titled “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power,” as Europeans started their expeditions across the world and gained consciousness, they felt the need to distinguish themselves as a superior race from the rest of the world (Hall, n.d.). From there, Europeans felt the need to advance the rest of the world according to European patterns, which gave birth to the idea of colonialism.
In this scenario, another writer, Maria Erikson Baaz, claims that colonization led to the culture of the colonized being heavily subjugated, and their development standards were drowned within the standards of the West (Baaz, 1999). Pakistan’s single National Curriculum policy is based on the curriculum produced by the West. All the curricula have been designed mainly according to the Cambridge board, which has caused Pakistan to lose its unique teachings and narratives that should have been taught to students.
Pakistan is a unique country with its own distinctive blend of tradition and culture. The country has its own richness of history and cultivation that is relatable to the country. So, policies should be designed by keeping the nature and socio-economic background of the country in mind, which is more relevant to Pakistan.