among 42 countries of the Asia-Pacific region. The Heritage Foundation says inefficient regulatory agencies inhibit business formation in Pakistan. "Access to bank credit also undermines entrepreneurship, and the financial sector's seclusion from the outside world has slowed innovation and growth," it noted.
The Index of Economic Freedom is not the only index that paints Pakistan's economy in a bad light. For example, the World Bank Group's Doing Business 2015 report also ranked Pakistan 128th out of 189 economies of the world in terms of the ease of doing business that it offers to entrepreneurs.
However, the collective weight of the Heritage Foundation's research and observations from the World Bank mean little to an economist like Kaiser Bengali who has strong leftist leanings. It may arguably be one of the most prominent think tanks internationally, but Bengali says its research and findings stand discredited because of a clear right-wing bias.
"By economic freedom, Heritage Foundation actually means the liberty of multinational companies to loot and plunder in developing countries. I'm happy that it doesn't consider Pakistan to be economically free," Bengali said.
Bengali currently serves as the head of the Balochistan Chief Minister's Policy Reform Unit and has previously served as an economic advisor to the Sindh government.
Balochistan, with its abundant mineral resources, would stand to benefit tremendously if its mining laws were liberalised to become more investor friendly, but leftist populism like that of Bengali has so far prevented that from happening. Indeed, it was a populist uproar that forced Chilean mining company Antofagasta and Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold to abandon their planned $3 billion joint venture to develop the Reko Diq copper and gold mine.-Agencies