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Pakistan : Deepening Schisms

Pakistan is a country that has undergone tremendous changes, but it is difficult to interpret the nature of these changes. Urbanisation and globalisation are important factors contributing to economic and social changes in Pakistan. It is not clear whether these alterations can be termed 'progress' or whether they are indicative of deeper schisms in the path of development.

If we were to compare Pakistan three decades ago to what it is today, the extent and nature of the differences would be of startling proportions. Despite pleas by some to ‘forgive and forget’, Pakistan today constitutes less than half the country it was just three decades ago.

Change is perhaps the most ordinary, though consistent, process that we observe. Yet there is little understanding, leave alone agreement, of what has changed and on the nature and direction of that change. There are reasons for this, perhaps rooted in an academic and intellectual tradition which no longer encourages scholarship, enquiry or dissent. Perhaps the nature of change in society has resulted in academic and scholarly values and a culture which is far more suited to the requirements of donors and consultants than to the pursuit of knowledge. This itself is a manifestation as well as a consequence of that change. In fact, if we read the few published writings of Akhtar Hameed Khan, or recall our individual meetings with him, what is likely to strike us most is that we realise that he belonged to the ‘old school’, and was an individual acutely aware of how change was taking place, understanding and recognising the nature of that change, and in fact, even pre-empting it. It is unlikely that any consensus about the nature of economic and social change in Pakistan can be arrived at. An attempt is made here only to point out a few important transitions and transformations that have taken place in Pakistan over the last three decades or so.

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