The concept of self-reliance has figured prominently in
the debate on development. The dependency theory of underdevelopment and
development brought self-reliance into particularly sharp focus. In our
case attempts by international financial agencies and some donor
governments to influence us to alter our policies point up the urgent need
of pursuing self-reliance as a cardinal goal of our national policy.
The inability of our economy to sustain a socially
necessary high rate of growth on a self-reliant basis even after more than
fifty years of planned development can largely be attributed to the
absence of a clear vision of long-term goals in the distant horizon and
realistic targets in the immediate future, our failure to mobilize the
masses and win their wholehearted cooperation and participation in
accomplishing national development goals, institutional erosion, apathy
towards necessary structural alterations and pre-occupation of governments
with fire fighting chores and crisis management which adversely affected
their ability to think clearly and coherently about the future.
The basic philosophy underlying the concept of
self-reliance is the capacity to bear any crisis on the basis of internal
strength and resilience. Self-reliance, however, is not synonymous with
economic autarky, implying a completely closed economic system with no
international links. Self-reliance signifies the achievement of a stage of
economic development characterized by a state of economic equilibrium
based on normal commercial transactions rather than on any special forms
of economic support such as concessional bilateral loans and grants.
Basically it implies freedom from dependence on foreign assistance. It
does mean self-confidence and the capacity for autonomous goal setting. It
emphasizes the need to resist and reject all forms of dependency,
self-invited or externally imposed, that can be converted into political
pressure and weaken our national sovereignty.
Taking this as the basic premise, in Pakistani context,
self-reliance should include the following:
ó Economic self-reliance
ó Technological self-reliance
ó Strategic self-reliance
Economic self-reliance implies that the economy should
be able to support an adequate scale of investment from its own production
and savings. Normal inflow of external capital may continue but reliance
on foreign aid should be progressively eliminated.
Technological self-reliance signifies an adequate level
of development in regard to science, technology and engineering required
for the maintenance and modernisation of productive processes.
Finally, strategic self-reliance implies our capacity
to meet the bulk of our defence requirements domestically.
Self-reliance would lose much of its significance if it
were associated with a low level equilibrium trap. What is to be aimed at
is dynamic self-reliance where the rate of economic growth is accelerated
while simultaneously developing the capacity to sustain it exclusively
from our domestic resources. This means that a self- reliant economy
during its process of growth must generate enough savings and exports to
maintain the momentum of itís development at the socially necessary
rate, which in our case should be an annual growth rate of eight (8) per
cent in domestic output (GDP).
It has to be clearly understood that the journey
towards a self-reliant economy will be a long and arduous one. The
planners will have to devise and implement a coherent strategy aimed at
building up human resources and promoting positive inter-actions of growth
with savings and investment. Special attention will have to be paid to
ensure the channelling of higher savings to the most productive
investments - an aspect wherein our performance has been somewhat
In the context of mobilising resources for the
implementation of a strategy aiming at self-reliance, the importance of
austerity cannot be over-emphasised. In the past there has been a lot of
noise about avoidance of waste, ostentation and conspicuous consumption,
but little effective action. The lack of consonance between professed
ideals and existential practice has brought into prominence the growing
contrasts between the life styles of the rich and the poor. If this trend
is not decisively reversed, it is bound to unleash forces whose power and
effects cannot be anticipated and which may retard our progress towards
self-reliance, aside from generating destabilising social tensions.
In conclusion, it may be emphasised that self-reliance
has to be cultivated for both itís intrinsic and instrumental value.
Several advantages can accrue to the country directly from its
achievement. It can also make for selective international cooperation on
equal terms and break down the harsh conditions that usually accompany
dependency. Self-reliance will also make possible endogenous growth that
is relevant and meaningful in our national context. International
cooperation, of course, will remain a fact of life. Where, however, there
is a risk of inter-dependence turning into dependence and eroding our
national sovereignty, it should be avoided even if the costs are
considerable; other mutually beneficial patterns of inter-dependence
should be fostered.
Selective participation in the international system is
a pre-requisite for the application of a development strategy for
strengthening sovereignty and for fostering self-reliance.