The Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s billionaires are basic billionaires. They are sugar and edible oil, fertilizer and packaging, cement and steel billionaires. They are private education and housing real estate billionaires. They are old-school banking and ambient logistics billionaires. They are mid-20th century-technology automobile manufacturing billionaires. Most started off as and still are textile and leather goods billionaires. None of them is a social media or telecommunications billionaire.

None of them is an aircraft manufacturing, advanced defence-tech, precision engineering, or aviation billionaire. None of them is a biotechnology or research-and-development-based pharmaceuticals billionaire. None of them is a renewable energy or electric car-manufacturing billionaire. None of them is an artificial intelligence, robotics, fintech, or e-commerce billionaire. None of them is even an IT services or BPO billionaire.

All of Pakistan’s billionaires are therefore basic billionaires.

The United States of America also used to have basic billionaires, like the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, and the JP Morgan family. However, these billionaires thrived back in the late 18th and early-to-mid 19th centuries. It has been more than a hundred years since then.

The billionaires of America today are highly sophisticated and futuristic billionaires. Examples of the US’s next-generation billionaires: Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Steve Jobs (Apple), Brian Chesky (Airbnb), Elon Musk (Tesla / Space-X / Paypal), and Travis Kalanick (Uber) along with dozens of other such billionaires.

These entrepreneurs are at the forefront of enabling America’s quantum leap into the intensely technological and exponentially sophisticated next 100 years. Their high intellect-based, innovation-driven, futuristic, tech-savvy, and risk-taking approach is not propelled by their government. The United States government is there only to create an enabling environment, in order for these amazing individuals’ entrepreneurship and ideas to flourish.

Their qualities are driven by a deep desire to see their country remain a global leader for the next 100 years and for their countrymen and people around the world alike to benefit from their forward-thinking and innovativeness.

Due to this unending quest for greatness and discovery, they continuously reinvest and start-up new businesses. They persistently search for the next frontier and new opportunities within and outside their existing businesses. They keep thinking, taking risks, investing, making mistakes, learning, and reinvesting again until they get things right.

In this beautiful entrepreneurial process, major research and development takes place, groundbreaking new technologies are invented, and patents registered. Innovation thrives, and America remains the world’s leading nation-state.

Pakistan’s billionaires, on the other hand, are hoarding hundreds of billions of rupees in cash at the moment. They are all real estate billionaires as well, despite the majority of them having nothing to do with the business of real estate development. They owe this cash and property to their country and its people. After all, the country allowed them to practice their trade freely and expand their businesses, in most cases in a highly protected and cartel-based environment, and the people of Pakistan bought their goods and gave them new business year-on-year over the past 70 years.

However, they continue to stash billions of dollars overseas, along with parking hundreds of billions of rupees in the banks of Pakistan, which are also mostly owned by these same basic billionaires. Their cash holdings and properties are essentially dead assets, as such kind of assets are of no use to the country’s economy and future until they are actually put into proper economic use.

America’s billionaires, on the other hand, are the real reason behind their country being able to establish itself as the world’s most powerful military and economic power ever. How have they achieved this feat? By being forward-thinking and constantly innovative, by taking risks and betting their money on futuristic technologies, by believing in continuous improvement processes as the core of their businesses’ ethos, and by recognizing the value of talent, hiring the best brains from around the world, and compensating them accordingly.

When will Pakistan’s basic billionaires rise to the occasion?

16 COMMENTS

  1. Typical youthia thinking. Almost all of pakistani industrial billionaires (from non-feudal backgrounds) are self made men and women. They have poured their blood and sweat into their work. They have spent their lives building their business. They have taken risks and given sacrifices along the way. They and only they have the right to choose how they spend and how they invest. The author gave examples of US billionaires but on closer inspection none of them had any great love of country when they started. In fact most of them have have non-us offices for explicit purpose of saving on taxes. Oh and these billionaires you love to complain about are some of the most charitable people in this country. How many hospitals have been established solely on donations from these billionaires. The public should encouraged to thrive and become billionaires instead of breaking down the ones we already have.

  2. ”The United States government is there only to create an enabling environment, in order for these amazing individuals’ entrepreneurship and ideas to flourish.”
    Theres the answer. Give an enabling environment and we can also get Tech Billionaires.

  3. Great point of view and true indeed. Although I do believe Pakistan is at the very early stages of the start-up incubation process and young entrepreneurs will drive the next revolution. Once these start-ups gain momentum & profitability, the basic billionaires will probably invest and drive their scalability – hence in the process making new ‘tech billionaires’.

  4. The author has very rightly pointed out that people here rarely think out of the box. Business should not be solely restricted to making money, it should also bring change and make life of ordinary citizens better. On the other hand most of our businessmen are stacking heaps of cash without paying taxes , buying properties abroad so instead of doing good for others , they’re further damaging the economy. However, exceptions are always there.

  5. Billionaires are not a different species so their investment patterns more or less reflect the investment thesis of the broader population. The entire population has a mentality of investing in safe asset classes like real estate, or non-innovative operational businesses with limited social value add.

    The author is correct that there is an immense opportunity cost to society in this. The government should introduce measures to dis-incentivize hoarding wealth in real estate, or conversely, to incentivize investment in more productive asset classes. Technology is undoubtedly the biggest potential accelerator or growth and social development so greater support for the tech sector is essential.

  6. Pakistan’s tax laws post the Panama leaks are so stringent that investing in Pakistani companies is cumbersome. Repatriating any money for an investor is complicated. The laws need to make it less complicated

  7. I am surprised people are giving comments on people who are billionaires in Pakistan. Why should they comment on their being wealthy and who has given them the right to advise these billionaires where to invest.

    I feel it is the right of these billionaires to plan where to invest.

    Lets mind our own business and endeavour to become billionaires ourselves. If they earned money illegally so let God punish them and let us mind our business.

    See how in Pakistan the corrupt persons are suffering. God is not sitting idle rest assured !!

  8. A very third rate article. I’ve worked with a couple of people who fall in this category (the basic billionaire), and I can vouch for the fact that I found all of them to be very enterprising. The issue with this article is that it is very easy to critique others, but when it’s your turn to invest your own money, and invest billions which if lost, cannot be easily recovered, you start to loose sleep like a salaried man could never imagine. The same goes for every other thing that’s become the rage in Pakistan. People have an opinion on everything, from politics to hydroelectric projects. But just don’t talk about realities with them.

  9. Basic billionaires are an outcome of Pakistan’s strengths in cheap labour and agriculture. Pakistan does not have the human capital, sophistication or infrastructure to generate futuristic billionaires. There’s only so much one man can do alone. Mark Zuckerberg, had he launched Facebook in Pakistan, would never have been able to scale like he has done in the US.

  10. I strongly agree and disagree with the auther if this article. Firstly i am also a basic billionaires. so what i do, is not to keep all money in a bank or invest in property. I have the properties, petrolpumps, lands to grow agri products, trades in onions, sugar. oil cokkie, chilies, wheat, cotton and supply all over to Pakistan and etc. The point is that i dont have any type of cash with me. I invest all money and that in return creates huge amount of employment to all types of labour in Pakistan. Thus thinking in that way that i am creating lot of opportunities for employment gives me happiness and in doing that i feel motivate and gives me more satiafaction. If iam doing all these things then i dont need to do inovative projects which may get sucsess but not guranted.

  11. Very disappointing perspective.
    1) majority of high wealth individuals in the US are from conglomerates related to your basic industries
    2) Industy environment in the US and pakistan are worlds apart. Suggest try running an industry in Pakistan and then give the same prespective. Pakistan has never been conducive to such value added sectors and industry expansion. Basic infrastructure ie Typical time for an electric connection in a business friendly country is 30 days and in Pakistan its around 6 months. Energy costs, taxes etc very unfairly poised against industry

    I can go on but frankly i have an industry to run

  12. The basic differences between Pakistan and US are not the billionaire mentality but:
    1. Enabling Environment by the Government vs. Restrictions on business environment
    2. Huge Government funding for R&D vs literally no R&D
    3. Rule of law and businesses related conflict resolution mechanisms vs might is right
    4. Decentralised govt vs centralised government
    Etc

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