THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
At the outset let me thank Professor Hashmi for his kind words about me in the welcome address. It is a matter of great pleasure for me to inaugurate this conference. I congratulate the Pakistan Society of Development Economists on organising its 16th Annual Conference with such wide and distinguished participation. The conference’s theme “Growth, Poverty and Decentralisation” is highly relevant for Pakistan in view of the urgent need to pull the country out of the vicious circle of poverty and indebtedness. I hope this Conference will come up with concrete recommendations to strengthen the economy by addressing the issues confronting us in this matter. The importance of economy in the emerging global scene cannot be overemphasised. A country’s sovereignty, political stability and diplomatic weightage largely depend upon its state of economy. Pakistan can take genuine pride in its achievements since 1947. We started from the scratch and today we are proud to be the first Islamic country and 7th in the world to become a nuclear power. Our industrial sector, communication infrastructure and agriculture have attained reasonable levels of development. However today when we look back at our achievements, we see that we have not made judicious use of our scarce resources. We borrowed heavily and went on a spending spree without proper planning. Wastage and injudicious use of resources coupled with lop-sided planning have now landed us in economic crises. Our debts have become difficult to service, our population growth rate outpaces our economic growth, and disparities in incomes have increased the gap between the rich and the poor.