Vision 2025: A holistic view of where we are and where we need to be

For any project to be successful, there needs to be a comprehensive, well thought-out plan to get to the goal. The project in this case is a progressive, responsible, and stable 100-year-old Pakistan in 2047 and the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Reform’s Vision 2025 is the plan to create that country.

#Vision2025 is an attempt to break free from the cycle of economic despair that has hindered Pakistan’s growth since gaining independence in 1947. While recessions are part of the economic cycle of all economies in the world, the stronger ones are not only able to recover but also learn lessons along the way that strengthen them against the adverse effects of future recessions. This resilience – the ability to bounce back – is what Vision 2025 seeks to build into the Pakistani economic structure.

To this end, one of the crucial strengths of Vision 2025 is that it connects national security to not just the militant threat inside the country but also to seven other social and economic pillars that require equal attention and urgency to secure the nation’s future. It is these pillars that will create a Pakistani economy that is capable of recovering from economic, social, and political setbacks, the kind of which have slowly chipped away at our high-potential economy and left it weak and struggling.

The first pillar is to develop human and social capital, a top priority given Pakistan’s steadily-growing population, and within that the large number of people under the age of 25 who need not just employment opportunities but also educational training to excel at those jobs and increase productivity. This is an important point that Vision 2025 seeks to address by laying down specific goals for investment in primary and higher education, and public health.

The second pillar seeks to ensure that growth is not just sustained but also inclusive. Too often in economic success stories, we see that benefits of rapid economic growth end up being concentrated in the hands of the few rather than accrue to those at the margins who are most in need. Economic reform policies also historically tend to focus on groups that are easier to lift out of poverty. Thus, Vision 2025 places a special emphasis on vulnerable, needy groups that are harder to reach, such as women or members of religious minorities.

Keeping in step with the global trend of renewed focus on cities as engines of sustained economic growth, Vision 2025 seeks to transform Pakistan’s urban areas into “smart cities” that are adaptive and responsive to the needs of their citizens. Improved land use (i.e. vertical expansion), city governance, and zoning laws are just some of the thorny aspects of successful urban revitalization that Vision 2025 seeks to tackle. The seventh pillar seeks to connect Pakistan to the region through superior transportation infrastructure, from roads to ports. This will not only open up new markets, but also bring in more talent into Pakistan, making its cities hubs of cultural, political, and economic diversity, which requires good quality and affordable urban services such as housing and sanitation.

The third pillar leverages Pakistani pride in the seamless democratic transition the country made last year. It attempts to lay down a roadmap for modernization of Pakistan’s cumbersome bureaucracy and the public sector, through a new collaborative approach towards governance necessitated by increased provincial autonomy under the 18th Amendment. It seeks to shift focus towards an “open” form of governance, where instead of stepping in as provider of goods and services, the government concentrates on better regulation of private sector work.

This is directly connected to the fifth and sixth pillars, which seek to provide a conducive atmosphere for the private sector and developing an export base of value-added Pakistani goods. Vision 2025 seeks to support entrepreneurship-led growth, which can particularly help in the production of value-added goods, as innovation born from the entrepreneurial spirit can lead the Pakistani economy towards high-quality production techniques as well as innovative products.

The fourth pillar focuses on natural resources and Climate Change, and links the Pakistani economy’s competitiveness to them in terms of energy production, water supply and food security. Vision 2025 seeks to build on the progress already made on energy production, while promoting the use of a diversified mix of energy sources. It takes into account that we are fast moving towards the dangerous trend of water scarcity, and that food insecurity and malnutrition are causes for concern in terms of Pakistan’s economic progress.

Comprehensiveness aside, whether or not the plans laid out in Vision 2025 are implemented in their entirety, the document would have set Pakistan on an irreversible course towards reaching the end goal of a modern state. It would shift focus towards delivering economic and social benefits for all its people and also prove that brokering a consensus between provinces and stakeholders is not only possible but also beneficial for everyone.

This blog originally appeared here as part of a series of blogs about the Vision 2025 document written by summer interns at the Pakistan Planning Commission’s Young Development Fellows program.