It has travelled a long distance since then, but, with 8.5 million people currently unemployed and around 40 per cent surviving below the poverty line, its economic performance has been far from being enviable.
Pakistan ranked a low 129th amongst 193 UN member states in the 2021 Sustainable Development Report, slipping 14 steps in five years since 2016.
Pakistanis deserve better. What has kept the fifth most populous nation which is naturally resourceful, geographically well-positioned, and harbouring a 990km hot water coastline, from realising its potential? Was there a systemic fault, mishandling of national diversity, weak institutional setting, capacity deficit, deepseated corruption, culture of patronage, political immaturity, democratic miscarriages, fragile legal framework, some genetic flaw in the citizenry, incompetent political and corporate leadership, archaic power structure or a delusional economic policy framework compromising the very fundamentals of market economy? Better performing peers, like India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Brazil, South Africa, and South Korea, are all inflicted with their own complex sets of problems. They have seen several bouts of turmoil in the past, but still managed to do better.