Bangladesh has historically outperformed Pakistan, as recognized by reputable think tanks, economic analysts, and a variety of other international organizations. The International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRS) in Toronto recently expressed its appreciation for Bangladesh.
The Canadian think tank neatly summarized the opposing arguments of national advancement in an article released on July 30 titled "Bangladesh and Pakistan - Once One Nation, Now a World Apart." The article provides an overview of how Bangladesh has developed into a 'miracle story' and Pakistan into a 'disaster story'.
Nothing could be more fitting for a country celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence and the centennial of the man who supported the Bangalee cause politically in a way that no one else did, paving the way for the formation of a sovereign nation.
Indeed, the father of the nation was outspoken from the start regarding West Pakistan's exploitation of then-East Pakistan. He was fully aware of the Bangalee nation's potential at a time when many domestic and international observers dismissed the idea of the Bangalees becoming a self-governing nation as a non-starter. Consider how Sheikh Mujib's political vision has been justified in the aftermath!
Bangladesh has not only surpassed Pakistan in terms of distance but has also surpassed several of its larger and more advanced neighbors. The worldwide think tank has focused exclusively on the two countries because they were one country 50 years ago and the unjust conflict imposed on the developing Bangalee nation rendered it economically and infrastructurally bankrupt. From that point forward, the two countries took divergent paths.
Most significantly, as the IFFRS notes, the two countries are poles apart in their understanding of national interests. While Bangladesh places a premium on human development and economic progress to secure a better future, Pakistan places a much lower premium on human development.
Bangladesh's objectives, as detailed by the IFFRS, include 'raising exports, lowering unemployment, improving health, reducing reliance on loans and help, and expanding microcredit.' Pakistan's major objective, on the other hand, is to contain India and to foster non-state entities.
It's unsurprising, then, that Pakistan was 70% wealthier than Bangladesh 50 years ago and has since reversed its fortunes, with Bangladesh now 45 percent wealthier. The nation whose viability was questioned by corrupt men such as Henry Kissinger, who dubbed Bangladesh a 'basket case’, could not have responded more appropriately.
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Bangladesh currently has a per capita income of $2,227, while Pakistan has a per capita income of $1,543 significantly less. Bangladesh's per capita GDP increased by 9.0% in 2021, even though the majority of economies dropped owing to the impact of Covid-19.
Bangladesh's per capita GDP has expanded 500% in the last two decades, the think tank estimates, making it two and a half times that of Pakistan. Over the last two decades, the former has surpassed the latter on several key economic indices.
The IFFRS then mentioned Bangladesh and Pakistan as examples of economic and entrepreneurial management vs mismanagement. Without cotton agriculture, Bangladesh has thousands of garment companies that import cotton for several hundred million dollars and export it as readymade clothes worth $35 billion.
The procedure contributes significantly to the company's foreign currency earnings. Pakistan's exports of clothes and textile items, on the other hand, have fallen short of the $10 billion mark. However, Pakistan is primarily known for its cotton cultivation. Even worse, it now requires cotton imports. Agricultural product mismanagement appears to be at an all-time high.
Nonetheless, if only economic metrics are considered, Bangladesh's miracle story remains incomplete. Bangladesh outperformed not just Pakistan but also India on several human development indicators.
On the economic front, Bangladesh may lend $200 million from its forex reserves for the first time in its history to assist Sri Lanka in replenishing its diminishing foreign exchange reserves. Bear in mind that this is occurring during a time when the world is hurting from the effects of economic recession!
All of this should instill pride in this nation. However, some gray areas require attention before it is too late. If Pakistan's aristocratic and tribal structure continues to obstruct its economic development, Bangladesh also has grounds to be concerned about its economic inequities.
Who benefited the most from the 9.0% increase in per capita GDP? Without a doubt, not the middle class, the lower middle class, the destitute, or the marginalized. Individuals from these categories and classes have lost jobs, trade, and have fallen into poverty or even pauperism.
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According to global trends, the wealthy and ultra-wealthy have increased their fortune during the pandemic. This concentration of wealth in a few hands is not indicative of sound economic health; rather, it is a concerning development for a country whose founding fathers pledged to promote economic justice for all citizens through equitable wealth distribution.
The fact that the nation has comprehensively defeated Pakistan should not lull the nation into complacency. It must first set its house order to avert the negative implications of growing economic inequality. If corruption and money laundering were eliminated, our nation would present an even more favorable picture of itself.