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Knowledge Economy: Pakistan’s Path to Progress and Prosperity

Uzma Rana

A few years ago, a country’s strength was determined solely by the number of arms it possessed and the technology of its missiles. However, in today’s world, science and technology have surpassed these traditional indicators of power. We are now living in an era dominated by scientific knowledge, where security, economy, power, politics, and even social life are all interconnected with knowledge. The true measure of a superpower today lies not in its high-tech weaponry, but in the brilliance of its intellectual minds. Countries endowed with vast natural resources but lacking in intellectual capacity find themselves economically suppressed by those with limited resources but great minds brimming with innovative ideas. Fortunately, Pakistan has recently recognized the importance of a knowledge-based economy and has made efforts to join the ranks of developing countries. Numerous autonomous projects have been initiated within the country, as well as collaborative ventures with friendly nations. It requires the combined determination and efforts of the government and its citizens to fully appreciate and embrace the concept of a knowledge economy in order to thrive in this new world era.

The progress witnessed in the world today is the culmination of a long process of evolution. We did not stand where we are today since time immemorial. Mankind has made tremendous efforts and traversed diverse stages to reach this point, where we are ready to embark on journeys to other worlds. What was once a nightmare for early humans is now an absolute reality. The industrial revolution brought about a radical change in the history of humanity, leading us through various stages until we arrived at the third wave of industrialization, encompassing information technology, trade, business, and artificial intelligence. Throughout this journey, knowledge has remained the driving force behind each progressive stage. It is through knowledge that humanity has gained superiority over all other creatures in the universe. The game of the mind is fueled by knowledge, ultimately shaping the world we inhabit. As Claire Fagin aptly put it, “knowledge will bring you the opportunity to make a difference.”

The progress of the world today is collectively proportional to the knowledge economy of all countries combined. What were once utopian ideas have become the beautiful realities of today. Man is diving into the depths of the oceans and exploring space, developing chemicals that render him invisible, conducting surveillance on enemies without leaving a trace, practicing agriculture in saline water, and even turning deserts into fruitful lands. All these miracles are the language of growth. Humanity is doing an incredibly great job, innovating in every sphere of life, leading to an economic boost. Education, health, shelter, food, infrastructure, and governance all directly link to knowledge and innovation. Just take a look around you; all the successful individuals today started with a single great idea that changed the course of their entire lives. The truth of the ages is that investing in innovative minds is much safer than investing in weapons. Today, enemies no longer fight on battlefields but in laboratories and libraries. Similarly, in the economic sector, the more you learn, the more you earn. Countries like China, Russia, America, and Britain have recognized this fact and are investing in the development of intelligent minds. They have transformed their education systems to meet modern requirements and equipped them with the necessary resources. They now prioritize the education of their citizens over harming the people of their enemies. It is high time to follow the blueprints of Plato’s education system.

Currently, the top twenty countries in the world contribute to 75 percent of the global economy. An economy based on knowledge is enduring and secure, devoid of the threats of loss or depletion. As a developing country, Pakistan is gradually realizing the importance of a knowledge-based economy in its path to progress, but there is still a long way to go. Countries committed to progress value their people and ensure their protection both within and outside their borders, whereas the treatment of our national heroes is no longer a secret. Dr. Abdul Salam, Dr. Abdul Qadeer, Abdul SattarEdhi, and many others are real assets to our country, but we have lost them. However, we haven’t lost them all. Our country is filled with brilliant minds and determined youth who have the potential to bring greatness to our nation. They simply require the right platforms and opportunities to thrive. Education and information infrastructure serve as the new foundations for progress. Economic incentives within institutional frameworks and innovative systems act as catalysts for the idea of a knowledge economy.There is no ambiguity in accepting the fact that the global village is based on the internet, and e-commerce plays a significant role in national revenue. In Pakistan, we are still far from experiencing an industrial boom. Having loyal leadership alone is not enough; we need educated guidance in this race. We can no longer rely solely on land resources. In a knowledge economy, a successful business is a community with a purpose, not just a piece of property.

Recently, the government of Pakistan has taken commendable initiatives to enhance the country’s knowledge economy. Four major initiatives deserve special mention. The Prime Minister Technology Driven Task Force encompasses projects such as the Pak-Austria Fachhochschule University in Haripur, which is collaboration with eight foreign universities. Two more universities with similar objectives have been established in Islamabad and Sialkot. Scholarships worth 13 billion rupees have been awarded for PhD programs. Other projects under this initiative include the Punjab Information Technology Board, the Save City Project, Smart Policing, and the collaboration with China to manufacture Bullet Trains. The HEC budget has witnessed a 600% increase, and the improvement in tax collection can be attributed to these projects. Notably, major departments such as NADRA and FBR have been linked for better functioning. Additionally, the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) initiative promotes virtual learning, enabling students to learn online from universities around the world while residing in Pakistan. The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) project has established 30 new schools in the Islamabad Capital Territory, where students are taught basic subjects at a primary level, expanding their career options and fostering specialization among responsible citizens. The Matric Tech Program combines traditional and vocational training with formal education, while the Go School e-project introduces e-learning through Zoom classrooms, making education accessible to a larger number of students who are unable to attend physical schools. Moreover, it facilitates access to international-standard education while residing in Pakistan.The Pakistan Digital Vision Policy 2019 aims to transform numerous public departments from manual to digital working systems. This includes the digitization of the land record system, the implementation of the Pakistan Citizen Portal, the digitalization of the tax system, the incorporation of ride-hailing services like Uber and Careem, telehealth services, virtual education, E-courses, video sessions, the utilization of biometric systems, improvements in the police system, the introduction of e-challan systems, and many other endeavors.

The Pakistan Electric Vehicle policy seeks to promote the use of electric vehicles to reduce fuel consumption and combat the adverse effects of climate change. This is achieved through the implementation of low taxes on the import of electric vehicles, encouraging their adoption and usage.The Presidential Initiatives for Artificial Intelligence and Computing is a federally administered program aimed at promoting schemes related to artificial intelligence and computing to enable Pakistan’s growth and excel in this field in competition with the rest of the world. Currently, artificial intelligence has surpassed human capacities.Given Pakistan’s weak economy, the prevalence of poverty prevents a significant portion of its population from accessing schools and colleges. Therefore, efforts to promote a knowledge economy are the wisest decision of our time. Literacy serves as the most fundamental currency in the knowledge economy.

Lecturer University of Okara

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