Lessons from Malaysia.

THE visit by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad provides a good opportunity to reflect on what Pakistan can learn from the example of Malaysia. Since the 1980s, that country has undergone a profound transformation from primarily being an exporter of raw materials to becoming a manufacturing powerhouse and one of the largest and fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia. What stands out for Pakistan in the Malaysian example is the long-term nature of economic decision-making and the strong policy continuity in the pursuit of strategic economic goals. The country has had its fair share of political turmoil, and most recently, we have the example of an aggressive accountability drive under way against the former prime minister Najib Razak, who has been accused of massive corruption in a state-run fund. He faces 42 charges of corruption, money laundering and the abuse of power while in office, and though the trial continues to face delays, he has been arrested four times since losing power last May. Before him, the current deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, also faced imprisonment three times on charges that seemed political motivated, with the first sentence actively supported by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad himself. Today, Anwar Ibrahim, is back in a coalition however, and widely considered to be the successor to the prime minister himself.

In all this, we have seen a strong focus on economic improvement as the primary task of the state. Despite political storms and aggressive accountability drives by incumbents against their predecessors, economic policy sees continuity, and...

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