Amongst all the bad news coming out from Pakistan, we need to highlight some good, which hasn’t been given much attention lately.
It has become a norm in west to do a comparative analysis of countries, which although useful at times, but doesn’t reflect clear picture when not done properly.
For example when analysts look at literacy rate in Pakistan, they are shocked by low level of literacy rate. If they knew history of literacy rate in Pakistan and history of Pakistan in general, they wouldn’t be so shocked.
In 1961, fourteen years after independence, literacy rate in Pakistan was 16.3%. For female, it was even lower, only 8.2%. This shows us that we had to start from a very weak literacy base.
In 2009, literacy rate in Pakistan was 57%. I’m using same source here as used for above numbers, some sources show slightly lower and others show slightly higher numbers, but all show numbers somewhere in 50s. This shows a tremendous increase of 40.7%. When it comes to women, their literacy rate in 2009 reached 45%. Women had overall increase of 36.8%.
We could have done much better, but given the circumstance; there has been progress in this regard nonetheless, although somewhat slower when compared with some other countries.
These days most likely comparison is done with India. It is said how India has far higher literacy rate than Pakistan. If we look at 1961 numbers, Indian had literacy rate of about 29% in that year. This is about twice as much as Pakistan. It means India had much better base to start from.
India’s literacy at present is 66%, which is not that much better than Pakistan, despite having a much stronger base than Pakistan. Pakistan has done well with all the political turmoil throughout its short history; on the other hand, India has had relatively peaceful government system in its short history.
Pakistan could have done much better if only it had stable governments. It hasn’t done that bad without one.