Proudly bayghairat

“Pakistan would get the status of Least Developed Country (LDC) in 2014 and subsequently get the opportunity to export duty-free textile products to European countries.”

So begins a news article that appeared in the Business Recorder recently. Read the rest here

So this is what it has come to. Yay. We are now part of the elite club of Least Developed Countries.

Being the notoriously “resilient” nation that we are, we sure look at the bright side of things.

So what if 15 people were randomly killed in Karachi today? More than 99% of the population survived. So what if polio workers, instead of polio itself, are being “eradicated”? Vaccines are a western conspiracy to make men sterile anyway. So what if mobile communication gets blocked unannounced for hours at a stretch, bringing life to a near-halt? At least it gives us an excuse to skip work and be completely untraceable for the boss.

And so, what if the past few years have seen all economic indicators go down south?  We will soon get the khitaab of Least Developed Country, and profit from it.

Does this imply that we are an inherently positive nation then?

It’s misplaced optimism, rather. Or just plain bayghairati.

What is this LDC business which our Federal Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin seems to be so proud of?

The UN classifies those countries as LDCs which exhibit ‘the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development” in terms of three criteria covering poverty, human resource weakness, and economic vulnerability.

All through my university years, we would talk about how Pakistan was making considerable progress on all these three fronts. However, all that has gone into reverse gear over the past five years since then. Ab haal yeh hain kay regressing to an LDC status is a milestone for our leaders. Admittedly, I am taking the term at face value. I am aware of potential economic benefits in terms of preferential trade, debt relief and other forms of international support of this “development” for us. I say ‘potential’ because the benefits accruing to member countries, although significant, are still widely debated.

But the pride in this soon-to-be-achieved status is not just ironic, it’s also unfortunate.

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