Promoting development in Pakistan

International Alert has published two papers on the potential role that the private sector can play in promoting cohesive and sustainable development in Pakistan, with a particular focus on the mining industry.

The first paper looks at the potential of the Pakistan mineral policy to promote peace and stability in the country. Pakistan is endowed with significant mineral reserves, yet the figures show that the mineral sector constitutes less than 1% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). To begin attracting foreign investment, in 2013 the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources revised and updated the Pakistan National Mineral Policy by creating an enabling environment to attract investors, improving the international competitiveness of the industry and encouraging greater participation of the domestic private sector.

Investments in extractive industries usually occur in places where neither the government nor local communities are sufficiently prepared for the changes brought by the project. Without an inclusive and efficient economic governance framework in place, these projects can lead to social and environmental impacts that exacerbate or further drive differences between the businesses and the local communities whose fundamental rights, lands and livelihoods are affected. These differences can be minimised if:

  • all relevant stakeholders – governments, businesses and communities – work within an inclusive and socially cohesive economic governance framework;
  • businesses use the right approach to engage effectively and early on with communities;
  • the government has sufficient legislation, along with the will and skill to implement and regulate it both locally and nationally; and
  • citizens and local communities have a meaningful voice in all stages of a business project that affects them.

Our second paper looks at the role of the marble mining industry in promoting peace and sustainable development in Lasbela district. Lasbela is the most southeasterly coastal district of Balochistan province, situated between the country’s economic powerhouse of Karachi and an area affected by high levels of poverty and poor infrastructure. Lasbela’s marble industry offers a high-quality product, yet attracting investment into an area poses significant challenges. These include navigating between members of the elite to guarantee the protection of assets, inefficient production methods, weak infrastructure, low-skilled labour, and dealing with local frustrations and destructive rivalries between different tribal, political and ethnic groups.

Creating an environment attractive to investment necessitates a transformation of the economic system, security, governance, reconciliation and social services, and more effective management of competing political and socio-economic interests. This paper therefore calls for a new generation of initiatives, approaching the marble industry as a platform to manage competing interests peacefully, and to create the conditions necessary for sustainable economic growth and peace.

The research was funded by the European Union and Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

You can read our policy brief on the national mining policy here and read our background paper on marble mining in Lasbela here. Find out more about our work on this topic here.