SOCIOECONOMIC DOMINANCE OF PUNJAB
PROF. SAEED AHMAD SIDDIQUI
Dec 5 - 11, 2011
All the rivers (Indus, Sutluj, Bias, Ravi, Chenab, and Jehlum) flow in Punjab. Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan containing 7,25,85,000 people with density of population 353 people per square kilometers while average density of the country is 164 people per square kilometers. The famous cities of Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, and Multan are also in Punjab.
The province is the custodian of ancient civilizations of Harappa and Taxila. Forts, castles, parks, mosques and mausoleums are the heritage of Muslim art of architecture, which narrate the story of Islamic glory in Indo-Pak subcontinent.
Punjab is the most prosperous, most developed, and most populous province of Pakistan. Its economy, is the largest one has been quadrupled since 1972. Although the industrial sector is well developed, the economy is agriculture based. The province has always contributed a lot in the national economy and still has the dominant share in overall economic progress of Pakistan.
Punjab's contribution in 1972 was 54.4 per cent of total GDP of the country, which increased to 59 per cent in 2010. The provincial economy dominates the national economy especially in services and agricultural sectors.
It was making 57 percent of GDP in 2009 while the share of economy of Sindh was 27 per cent only. The contribution of Punjab in GDP of Pakistan was $89 billion in 2007 and it is estimated that this share would increase to $100 billion by 2020.
This province contributes 52.1 percent to 64 percent in service sector while 56.1 percent to 61.1 percent in agricultural sector. The skilled manpower play decisive role in the development and growth of an economy and since Punjab is the most populous province, its contribution of skilled manpower is also dominant.
Punjab has large manufacturing sector, which provides lowest 44 percent and highest 52.6 percent of manufactured items.
Growth rate of Punjab was 7.8 percent in 2007, which increased to seven to eight percent between 2003 and 2007-8. The aggregate growth rate of the economy of Pakistan was four percent between 2003 to 2007-8 while the growth rate of Punjab was six percent during the same period.
Although Punjab has no coastal area, it is the largest industrial economy of Pakistan.
SMALL- AND LARGE-SCALE MANUFACTURING
Textile, sports goods, heavy machinery, electronic appliances, bicycles, floor coverings, processed foods, etc. are the major industries. Punjab produces 90 percent of total paper and paper board, 71 percent fertilizers and 69 percent of sugar produced in Pakistan.
Punjab is the revenue generator for the agro-based economy of the country. The share of agriculture in GDP of Pakistan is 24 percent in which Punjab contributes dominantly. Since the soil of Punjab is highly fertile therefore, 48 percent working force is attached to it.
Punjab provides 97 percent of high quality rice, 63 percent of sugarcane and 51 percent of maize production. In other words, in the production of all food grains Punjab leads.
Despite tropical climate, land of Punjab is highly fertile for cultivation due to ample irrigations. It is because of the canal network constructed during British regime, which is the best canal irrigation system in the world.
Punjab, approximately 250 years back, used to be called 'gold bird' due to its highly fertile soil. The canal system was constructed during British rule for harnessing on the fertility of soil. The main crops of Punjab are wheat and cotton catering dominantly the food and clothing needs of Pakistan. Not only this, but cotton is the important source of foreign exchange earning. Other crops include rice, sugar cane, millet, com, oilseeds, pulses, vegetables, and fruits.
Moreover, Punjab also dominates other provinces in livestock and poultry products. Despite religious differences, farmers of Punjab still use Hindu calendar for crop sowing and reaping them.
Punjab contributes 76 percent of total grain production of the country. Cotton and rice are the main crops on the basis of which Pakistan is regarded as 'Rice-Cotton Based Economy'. Both rice and cotton are the cash crops.
Having achieved self sufficiency in agricultural sector, now the economy is concentrating on small and medium farming, construction of roads from farms to markets, electrification of tube wells and controlling water logging and salinity.
Fifty five percent of total industrial sector is concentrated in Punjab earning substantial foreign exchange for the country. There are 68,000 industrial units with 39,033 small and cottage industries. In addition to this, there are 14,820 textile units, 6,778 ginning industries, and 7,335 agricultural raw materials processing units.
Small light engineering units are concentrated in Lahore and Gujranwala districts and the district of Sialkot is crucial for sport goods, surgical instruments, and cutlery items.
Punjab is also rich in mineral wealth where coal, petrol, gas, dolomite, gypsum and silica sand reserves are found. The biggest rock salt mine of the world is also there in Punjab. The Punjab Mineral Development Corporation is working on many profitable projects. Machine products include cement, plastics, and other goods.
Literacy rate has constantly been increasing right from the inception of Pakistan. Punjab has the highest literacy rate. Literacy rate in 1972 was 20.7 percent, which increased to 59.6 percent in 2009. There are 18 public universities and 18 private universities in Punjab. Contribution of Punjab to the education sector is also undeniable.
The province is rich in every sector but the majority of masses of this province is poor, illiterate and the victim of malnutrition. Why? It is because two percent population of this province (feudal lords, Zamidars, Jagirdars, Vaderahs) occupy the vast area of land and most of the resources for the last 65 years.
People who take hold of agricultural lands also occupy the industrial sector of Punjab. This privileged class is also the owner of flour, edible oil, textiles, sugar, and rice husking mills. These mill owners, hoarding the agricultural products, earn undue and illegal huge profits through the sale of hoarded items on high prices. Political parties send them in parliaments on their tickets to decide the fate of 98 per cent population.
A revolution has now become indispensable and Punjab should be the epicenter. This revolution would come through ballots guaranteeing political, political, social, and economic prosperity. This is a prime time to bring lower and middle classes in the mainstream politics.