Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province of lush mountains and greenery-filled valleys, is the third-largest province in the country with an average contribution of 10% to the economy of Pakistan. In fact, the economy of the province reaps a hefty revenue from three major sectors, i.e. agriculture, industry, and services.
Moreover, the department of the mining, as well as forestry, have a great deal to do with the revenue generated from KPK. Despite a number of internal as well as external hiccups to the economic activity taking place within the province, the people of KPK have managed to maintain an average of 4.5% growth rate. Major avenues through which the province adds its fair share of revenue to the national exchequer include Manufacturing, Construction, Agriculture and Livestock, Mining and Tourism as well as foreign remittances. Moreover, in view of the immense potential of KPK and its human resource, the province has a lot more to offer than a mere 10%of GDP. There is a dire need for institutional and policy reformation so that the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can contribute to the economy of Pakistan with full potential and might.
Among the major sectors in which KPK makes a contribution, the agriculture sector is the most prominent. The agriculture sector accounts for around 22% of the provincial GDP as well as employs around 44% of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s labor force. For a country that is predominantly agrarian in nature, the significance of agricultural production cannot be overstated. Since 88% of the population of KPK is rural, the province can invest an even bigger share in this sector. Luckily, the sector has seen gradual progress. The sector grew at a rate of 4.29% during the financial year of 2016-17 whereas, in the previous fiscal year 2015-16, the average growth rate was at 2. 5%. The main cash crops of the province include wheat, maize, Tobacco, rice, sugar beets, as well as a wide variety of fruits that are grown in the fertile land of the province. Along with contributing to the economy of the country, these cash crops also take care of the food security of the region.
Contribution to the industrial production of Pakistan is another feather in KPK’s cap as manufacturing accounts for a whopping 17% of provincial GDP. The country heavily depends on progressive export stability for economic sustainability and the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has a major role to play in it. Within the province, major industrial centers are located in Peshawar, Hattar, and Gadoon along with an export processing zone in Risalpur. Moreover, the government of KPK has been pursuing an agenda of rapid industrial development within the province through the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Along with industrial manufacturing, the department of mining also produces a hefty sum of refined products to add to the economic might. KPK has been blessed with an extensive variety of minerals and gemstones. Prominent minerals of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa include deposits of antimony, arsenic, polymetallic sulphides, gold, radioactive minerals, scheelite, dolomite, limestone marble, coal, graphite, and gemstones, aquamarine, topaz, tourmaline, ruby, spinel, pargasite, epidote, garnet, etc. This sector contributes to a 3% value addition to the provincial GDP in the year 2 012. It generates direct revenue for the province through leasing out the mines without any financial liability.
Another significant avenue through which Khyber Pakhtunkhwa plays its role as a viable provincial economy of the state is through the sector of tourism. It is regarded as a key source of poverty reduction and inclusive economic growth, especially in third world countries like Pakistan. It has the capacity of providing employment opportunities to people in even the most remote of locations as the exotic beauty of such areas attract the tourists. Even the unskilled or semi-skilled workers can get an opportunity to earn a decent livelihood. Such is the case with the tourist industry of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which employs thousands of SMEs. Recent statistical evaluations reveal that the total number of domestic tourists visiting KP annually is around 8.8 million, which makes up to 19% of total national domestic tourist traffic. Although the province gets a handsome sum of domestic tourists annually, the potential that the lust green valleys and ice-packed mountains of the province hold way more potential, even enough to attract a hefty sum of foreign tourists. The fact is that geography has blessed KP with a rather competitive edge over other provinces with respect to tourism. The province has a number of beautiful sights of natural beauty such as Malam Jab ba, Lake Saif-ul-Malook, Nathiagali, Mushkpuri, Ayubia National Park, Swat valley, etc. Moreover, there are a number of destinations, though filled with alluring natural beauty, yet are unexplored and untouched. The government needs to take incentives, allocate budgetary resources, and developed these amazing tourist destinations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in order to generate revenue for the province as well as the country.
The above-mentioned statistical analysis and factual details show that the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has a great deal of contribution already invested in the economy of the country. Moreover, there are a number of other unexplored avenues which, if focused on, can reap a great deal of fiscal surplus for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Therefore, there is a dire need for the governing bodies to take notice of the unexplored beauties, minerals, and potentials of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa so that a better Pakistan can be created with the assistance of KP.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.