There was a time in the 1950s when Pakistan’s exports were more than South Korea’s, and a time in the 1990s when our exports were more than Vietnam’s. Today, South Korea’s and Vietnam’s exports are 18 times and six times more than Pakistan’s, respectively.
Gen. Pervez Musharraf Era
When Gen. Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law in 1999, our exports were 16 percent of the GDP. When General Sahib at long last left, our exports had decreased to 12 percent of GDP.
In 2007-08, the government propped up the rupee to an unsustainable value of about Rs 60 to a dollar, sold gasoline at a loss, and ran the highest current account deficit in our history.
When the new PPP government came, it had to devalue the rupee and run to the IMF. Although there wasn’t much that was stellar about its governance except for the Benazir Income Support Programme, the PPP should get credit for increasing exports to 13.5 percent of GDP.
Next came the PML-N, and whereas it did solid work in building energy and transport infrastructure and ushering in CPEC, our exports declined by a debilitating 38 percent to only 8.5 percent of GDP, and we ran the second-largest current account deficit in our history.
Again, the issue was a currency pegged to the dollar that highly subsidised imports and made them surge even as our exports were getting priced out.