[Letters] Korean Reciprocity in Cooperation to PakistanIn the case of Pakistan, the rationale behind Korea’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) and cooperation is not only limited to humanitarian responsibility, rising global issues and increased interdependence among states. It is more focused on its responsibility as a past recipient of development assistance from the world including Pakistan in times of need in 1960s.
The average economic growth rate of Pakistan was higher than the average growth rate of the world economy during 1960s. Its average annual real GDP growth rate was 6.8 percent at that time.
During the same period, Pakistan, and especially Karachi (Pakistan’s largest coastal city), was seen as an economic role model around the world. Many countries sought to emulate Pakistan’s economic planning strategy and Korea was one of them. They replicated the second “Five-Year Plan”, and the World Financial Center in Seoul was designed and modeled after Karachi. It is also said that Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, a renowned Pakistani economist and the originator of the Human Development Index (HDI), gave the five-year plan to Korea, which helped Korea progress rapidly.
At present, Korea has progressed in all spheres of national development and is ranked the 26th country in the world with an HDI of 0.937. Pakistan stands at 141st with an HDI of 0.572.
Korea graduated from the World Bank’s lending list in 1995 and became a member of the OECD donor countries the year after. Pakistan is yet striving to pass from the lending lists of donor agencies. Therefore, the most valuable asset of Korea is its experience of making the transition from aid recipient to an emerging donor.
Given the contemporary situation of both countries, Pakistan is also keen to replicate this model, and the Korean government has helped by providing opportunities to Pakistan through various programs under the Korean Official Development Assistance (ODA) and other cooperations. Korea has provided $20,755,400 in aid ($15,944,400 in grants and $4,811,000 in loans) since 1991 to assist the development of Pakistan.
Both countries have cooperated on various development activities and have many excellent illustrations for this. The construction of Islamabad-Lahore motorway (M2) is one of them. The construction of M2 has not only vitalized communication between the two important cities but also contributed to the enhancement of road construction technology of domestic Pakistani engineers and mechanics that later were able to pursue their own projects without outside help.
It is very encouraging that there are growing numbers of Korean enterprises that are interested in seeking investment opportunities in Pakistan. KP Chemical Corporation, a subsidiary of the Korean conglomerate Lotte, completed its acquisition of the majority stake in Pakistan PTA Ltd. (PPTA), investing more than $75 million.
In addition, Koica (Korean International Cooperation Agency) has planned to invite more Pakistani officials to Korea for their capacity building. One hundred officials will be invited in 2010, and 200 will be in 2011 and 2012. Country-focused programs will be established to cater the specific needs of Pakistan.
It is envisaged that in the years to come Korea will continue reciprocating its assistance and cooperation to Pakistan so that the country will set another example in the world for graduating from the donors list.
former Koica participant and management consultant in the public sector organization of Pakistan