Artificial Development?

by Waleed Ali Khan

When you step into the “new Lahore”, it is hard to tell that the city is going through a difficult phase. Little is there

indication that the city is going through a security and energy crisis, and that people are largely unsatisfied with their lives. Why? Because we just opened Pakistan’s first Cinnabon,that too with with a celebrity red carpet event. What is

amusing is that when the Pakistani finance minister was asked about the poor state of the economy, he responded by denying that the economy had retarded growth by giving the example of the number of McDonalds opening in Pakistan.

Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with places likes these opening here; of course there is a segment of the population that is a market for such products and services. However, what

I do have reservation against is that people consider projects like this as a sign of development. You would only be kidding yourself if you think like that.

I was wondering about why this is the case when I stumbled upon this recent TED talk titled “Measuring What Makes Life Worthwhile” by Chip Conley:

This is one of the most inspirational talks I have ever heard. It talks about how we should concerned about Gross National Happiness (GNH) instead of economic indicators such as GDP, which don’t say anything about how the government is doing on public welfare. Pakistan is probably not so economically weak; the 45th highest GDP in the world does not even begin to explain how dire our situation is.  When I was in Rwanda (Note:  139 on that list), I thought people were happier there. It is really heartbreaking to see the people of my country with miserable faces, and I did not quite see the same expressions from the people in Rwanda. The country has done really well for itself, for this very reason. In places like Tanzania, when I asked Tanzanians why there is no McDonalds there, they answered by saying that they don’t need it. It is this kind of self confidence that every Pakistani should possess. We should truly believe that the western way is not the right way for every country. It saddens me to see that Pakistan is no.6 from the bottom on the Legatum Prosperity Index.