On a recent visit to inspect the Lahore-Abdul Hakeem Motorway, PM Nawaz Sharif stated that with the completion of ongoing projects, Pakistan is on its way to become an Asian Tiger. Many Pakistanis would love to see this vision of the PM come true so that the country can move up from being a ‘failed state’ to an Asian Tiger. However, only infrastructure projects can never help a country move up the economic ladder. Consider the example of one Asian Tiger, Singapore: at the time of its separation from Malaysia in 1965, the country was just a small seaport and a financially poor state. Under the leadership of PM Lee Kuan Yew Singapore was transformed from a third world country into a first world country. He led a system of meritocracy, highly effective and incorrupt government and civil service. Civil servants in Singapore were the best of the best and the most highly paid of all professionals. PM Lee had all government offices air-conditioned as he believed that would make people more productive. The Singaporean government focused on education and health. Today Singapore has 96 percent literacy and in 2016 it spent 20 percent of its budget on education. Two of its universities are ranked amongst the top 13 universities in the world.
Singapore’s health services are ranked as the second most efficient health services in the world. Whereas in the case of Pakistan the latest results of the CSS 2016 exam show that out of the 9,643 candidates who appeared in the written exam, only 202 candidates passed. The number of vacancies to be filled is 199, resulting in almost no competition. This indicates two things. First, the poor quality of the education system. Second, bright people are unwilling to work as civil servants. Many prefer to move and work abroad. It is hoped that the prime minister will start to focus on health and education along with the infrastructure projects. Without an educated and healthy work force, the Pakistani nation can never become an Asian tiger.
Syed Hussein El-Edroos