Dr. Faisal Bari (Associate Professor, Economics, LUMS) and Dr. Adil Najam (former Vice Chancellor, LUMS) recently co-authored a ground-breaking report on Pakistan, titled Pakistan National Human Development Report: Unleashing the Potential of a Young Pakistan. The report was commissioned and published by the United National Development Program (UNDP). In the words of the report itself:
The 2017 Pakistan National Human Development Report (NHDR) focuses on the country’s youth as a critical force for shaping human development in the country. This Report covers three drivers of youth empowerment – education, employment and engagement – with the objective of informing public policy discourse and improving the policy landscape for young people.
The report addresses one of the thorniest issues for Pakistan and its economy: the large youth population of the country, otherwise known as the ‘youth bulge’. The findings of the report are cautious. The report highlights several problems with the projected future of Pakistan in terms of education, employability, and engagement of the youth—however, it also calls the situation ‘salvageable’. According to the report:
The NHDR’s revelations include the projection that at the current annual growth rate of net school enrolments, it will be 2076 before Pakistan can achieve its goal of zero out-of-school children. And, with the highest youth unemployment in the region, Pakistan must generate nearly a million jobs every year for the next 30 years, without interruption, in order to even maintain unemployment at the current levels. Another surprising finding is that far from being apathetic, Pakistan’s youth are eager to be engaged and make a difference. They are held back by various factors including lack of quality in education and employment, and lack of opportunity.
The report has been hailed as a breakthrough in terms of identifying the development challenges facing Pakistan and the opportunities that these challenges present. It is filled with solid policy recommendations on what kinds of changes should the government roll out on an emergency basis. The report is being hailed as a breakthrough, with one commentator calling it “a magnificent starting point for a serious exploration of the lives, aspirations and future of nearly half of all Pakistanis”.