Whither Pak­istan In­dus­try?

Enterprise - - Editor’s Desk -

Pak­istan ranks as num­ber 43-44 among the coun­tries of the world in nom­i­nal GDP, 26th in GDP with pur­chas­ing power par­ity and num­ber 55 in the world in fac­tory out­put. So where is Pak­istan’s in­dus­trial sec­tor headed? It ac­counts for only about 24% of GDP. De­spite paucity of en­ergy, cot­ton tex­tile pro­duc­tion and ap­parel man­u­fac­tur­ing are the coun­try’s largest in­dus­tries, ac­count­ing for above 60% of mer­chan­dise ex­ports and al­most 40% of labour force. Cot­ton and cot­ton-based prod­ucts ac­count for 61% of ex­port earn­ings. Other ma­jor in­dus­tries in­clude ce­ment, fer­til­izer, ed­i­ble oil, sugar, steel, to­bacco, chem­i­cals, ma­chin­ery and food pro­cess­ing. The coun­try has im­mense re­serves of var­i­ous min­er­als and nat­u­ral re­sources, such as gyp­sum, lime­stone, chromites, iron ore, rock salt, sil­ver, gold, pre­cious stones, gems, mar­ble, cop­per, coal, graphite, sul­phur, fire clay and sil­ica. The salt range in the Pun­jab has the largest de­posit of pure salt found any­where in the world. Balochis­tan has sub­stan­tial min­eral, oil and gas re­serves which have not been ex­ploited to their full ca­pac­ity or fully ex­plored. It also has sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties of cop­per, chromite and iron and pock­ets of an­ti­mony and zinc in the south and cop­per and gold in the far west. Nat­u­ral gas was dis­cov­ered near Sui in 1952. Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa ac­counts for at least 78% of mar­ble pro­duc­tion in Pak­istan which is home to some of the purest grades of mar­ble, gran­ite and slate in the world. The Pun­jab prov­ince and Sindh too are blessed with many in­dus­tries in cen­tral Pun­jab and Karachi.

Pak­istan is also a ma­jor pro­ducer of bi­tu­mi­nous coal, sub-bi­tu­mi­nous coal and Lig­nite. Coal min­ing started in the Bri­tish colo­nial era and has con­tin­ued to be used by Pak­istani in­dus­tries af­ter 1947. The coun­try has emerged as one of the lead­ing coun­tries - sev­enth among the top 20 in the world af­ter the dis­cov­ery of huge lig­nite coal re­sources in Thar, Sindh. Pak­istan pro­duced about 45 tonnes of Ura­nium in 2006. Pak­istan has huge po­ten­tial for the tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try, which in­cludes soft­ware de­vel­op­ment and elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­tur­ing. The Pak­istan Aero­nau­ti­cal Com­plex has started man­u­fac­tur­ing of Tablet PCs, Ebook read­ers and note­books in col­lab­o­ra­tion with INNAVTEK of China. Soft­ware de­vel­op­ment also has a huge po­ten­tial, which is be­ing uti­lized as a re­sult of nu­mer­ous projects ini­ti­ated by the Pak­istan govern­ment. The coun­try has ex­ten­sive en­ergy re­sources, in­clud­ing fairly siz­able nat­u­ral gas re­serves, coal and a large hy­dropower po­ten­tial. How­ever, the ex­ploita­tion of en­ergy re­sources has been slow due to a short­age of cap­i­tal and do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal con­straints. Do­mes­tic petroleum pro­duc­tion to­tals only about half the coun­try’s oil needs. The short-term na­tional en­ergy de­mand has ex­panded sig­nif­i­cantly since 2001 due to mas­sive rise in sales of durable goods like re­frig­er­a­tors, wash­ing ma­chines, split air con­di­tion­ers, etc.

A new and dy­namic global halal in­dus­try is also thriv­ing around the world and Pak­istan has the po­ten­tial to be­come its main player. The halal brand is not only rel­e­vant to food but also phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and fash­ion in­clud­ing make-up, leather bags and shoes. In coun­tries like Malaysia, the govern­ment is push­ing hard to make the coun­try a global hub for halal prod­ucts. Pak­istan is another coun­try where rel­e­vance of the halal in­dus­try is even more im­por­tant. Malaysia is a coun­try with ap­prox­i­mately 29 mil­lion peo­ple, with about 60% Mus­lims. Pak­istan, on the other hand, has a pop­u­la­tion of nearly 200 mil­lion, of which some 905 are Mus­lim. Fur­ther­more, un­like Malaysia where pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion of non-halal items like al­co­holic beverages and other food items are read­ily avail­able, in Pak­istan the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol is banned ex­cept for a tiny non-Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. Hence, Pak­istan stands a bet­ter chance of emerg­ing as a global hub for the halal in­dus­try. With so much po­ten­tial for in­dus­trial growth and hav­ing one of the world’s largest pop­u­la­tions, Pak­istan stands poised to be­come a rea­son­ably good-sized in­dus­trial na­tion, pro­vided the nec­es­sary re­quire­ments in terms of en­ergy, in­vest­ment and in­cen­tives are pro­vided. It is true that agriculture is the coun­try’s ma­jor ac­tiv­ity and Pak­istan has been clas­si­fied as be­ing pri­mar­ily an agri­cul­tural na­tion but to­day’s ex­i­gen­cies are such that the coun­try’s in­dus­trial base must be de­vel­oped , es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing it is blessed with the right in­puts.

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