One legacy of colonialism in countries such as Pakistan is the perennial debate over what form of growth or development strategies these countries should adopt, so that they too can join the hallowed bastion of developed and westernised states. This conversation has manifested itself in Pakistan in the various development policies ranging from the ‘doctrine of functional inequality’ espoused by Ayub Khan, to the neoliberalism that has come to increasingly characterise Pakistan’s development strategies since the first IMF program in 1988. These strategies of growth and development, however, have never truly questioned what it means to ‘progress’ as a society, and have adhered to a myopic, westernised notion of development. This, in fact, is the central problem plaguing the policies that the IMF and the World Bank now champion, for they ignore the history and the local characteristics of post-colonial nations. This obsession with a cookie-cutter style, neoliberal form of development has in fact emerged throughout the world since the advent of neoliberalism in the 1970s and 80s. Ever since Keynesianism failed to deal with the hitherto never seen phenomenon of rising unemployment and inflation — called ‘stagflation’ — neoliberalism and an obsession with the free market have come to dominate models of growth. These neoliberal models of development envisage a society running solely on the workings of the free market, and view the influence of the state as being highly inimical to growth. More ominous than simply rolling back the state, however, is neoliberalism’s proclivity to imagine states and humans simply through numbers and economic data. This is exactly why a country is now increasingly characterised by what its GDP growth is, how ‘productive’ its labour force is and how lucrative a market the country is for investors. Neoliberal development, moreover, has a history of violence that further highlights its oppressive tendencies. As Naomi Klein chronicles in her astounding book, ‘The Shock Doctrine’, neoliberalism emerged in countries such as Chile and Argentina through military coups and through violence that served to ‘shock’ the people. Neoliberal policies were then promulgated in the wake of these shocks when people were still recovering from the aftermath of the shock and were thus unable to resist reforms that rolled back state subsidies, public goods, and that privatised even basic services such as food aid programs and water. Pakistan too has had its dose of shock followed by the neoliberal ‘medicine’ when neoliberalism emerged in the wake of Ziaul Haq’s 1977 coup, and after the trauma of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s hanging in 1979. The history of progress and growth in countries such as Chile, Pakistan, and indeed developed nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States highlights the inherent contradictions and instability that mar the form of development these countries have adhered to. The rise of Donald Trump in America, and Brexit in the UK, for instance, can be attributed in large part to the inequality and uncertainty that gripped these countries after the 2007 global recession.The recession itself can be blamed on how neoliberalism allowed finance capitalism to grow unfettered, and how large banks operated without any supervision. Pakistan too continues to remain in the throes of neoliberal development which has significantly damaged the country. A large part of the responsibility for the present energy crisis and the seemingly interminable issue of circular debt, for instance, lies with the privatisation policies of the governments of the 90s. Contrary to popular belief, moreover, the neoliberal policies of the Musharraf regime are also largely responsible for the fiscal and foreign exchange crises that currently plague Pakistan. The ’60 rupee dollar’ that the Musharraf regime likes to tout as a major success, moreover, was also artificially enforced and led to the import export imbalance that blew out of proportion as soon as the Asif Ali Zardari led government came to power in 2008. Incidents like Brexit, the Trump phenomenon and Pakistan’s own economic struggles suggest that it is high time we rethink what it means to achieve development, and move towards policies that put equality and inclusiveness over quantitative efficiency. For this to happen, however, we must move away from a paradigm of growth that reduces countries to mere corporations with their balance sheets of debt, and towards a model that looks at individuals as humans, and not simply as capital, as Wendy Brown argues in her book ‘Undoing the Demos.’ The first step, therefore, should be to question the very foundations of modern economic theory and to put to test claims that the free market ‘knows best.’ While capitalism has indeed led to astounding innovation and growth, this progress has come at the heavy price of destroying societies, deracinating traditional indigenous cultural systems, and altering human psyche and rationality. Progress that guarantees higher standards of living for the few while compromising on the lives of the many, therefore, must not be considered progress any longer. To alter our definition of progress, we must place academia at the vanguard of this struggle, since it is the very corporatisation of universities and academic centres that is contributing to a proliferation of neoliberal thought. We must revert to an academic culture that values education for developing human beings and that emphasises the humanities over the present penchant for an education focused on business and other ‘lucrative’ degrees.The first step, therefore, in formulating a new form of development is to reassert our humanity by jettisoning an economic rationality that views us solely as human capital, labour or as entrepreneurs. This will then allow us to pursue reforms and establish systems that prioritise the needs of the people. This step, in fact, involves undergoing a complete transformation in our approach towards public and social policy. This can only happen if we move towards a system that envisages a greater role for the state in areas such as healthcare, education and public transport, and that promotes a form of growth that is inclusive, equal and that benefits all. The state should in fact ensure that services such as healthcare and education are accessible and affordable for all. The incumbent government’s decision to implement medical insurance is well-intentioned, but is plagued by cases where healthcare providers added extra costs simply to consume the patients’ insurance amount. This system, therefore, is not adequate enough to meet the peoples’ demands for healthcare. What the government should instead focus on is cooperatives run by doctors which are funded by the state. Such a system will not only cater to local demands, but will also empower doctors and local communities to influence the healthcare they are provided. It will also serve as a bulwark against the inefficiency that has traditionally come to define state-run institutions. Pakistan also needs to rethink its approach to urban planning, since this planning becomes the physical embodiment of our economic ideology and physically perpetuates inequality. This is nowhere truer than in Lahore, which once held the sobriquet of ‘the city of gardens’, but now resembles a concrete jungle. Public and accessible spaces have given way to commercial enterprises and private housing societies, while pedestrians find it increasingly difficult to navigate the city’s roads. The first step in formulating a new model of development is to reassert our humanity by jettisoning an economic rationality that views us solely as human capital, labours or entrepreneurs We must, therefore, eschew this neoliberal urban planning that sells off public land to corporate interests, and must instead focus on developing our cities in a way that caters to the needs of the people. This involves developing public housing schemes for the middle and lower-middle class, developing parks and recreation centres in traditionally marginalised societies, and enhancing the public transport sector in urban areas. Pakistan can only rescue itself from the grips of poverty and devastation if it jettisons models of development that continue to view states and societies merely as engines of growth and as areas of investment. We must, instead, look towards a form of progress and development that prioritises the needs of the people, and emphasises inclusiveness and equality. The writer graduated from Aitchison College and holds a double Bachelor’s degree in economics and history from Cornell University. He also studied at Oxford University, and his interests include studying the politics of class, gender and race, and the political economy. email@example.com Published in Daily Times, May 9th 2018.