Our economic dilemma ? | By Tariq Khalil


Our economic dilemma ?

WHY we rise and sink economically periodically. Sometime the best growing economy, and next we are on the verge of default.

Leaving aside foreign influences, in the succeeding paras weexamine this strange phenomenon. Pakistan suffered security syndrome ever since its creation.

1947, three months after its birth in October Pakistan was at war with India on the issue of Kashmir.

The refugee problem following partition and the killing spree created a huge human and economic tragedy. The division of the provinces of Punjab and Bengal was a set back to Pakistan.

Not only around two million Muslims got mascaraed, millions became homeless and they had to be looked after.

It was a colossal economic burden . Stopage of canalwaterby India, as all the Head Works were located in India created a war like situation.

Pakistan had to challenge Indian closure of the canals with a threat of war. 1965 war was an added burden on the treasury of Pakistan.

The period between 1966 in 1969 was invested in civil turmoil against Ayyub Regime. It was further accentuated after 1970 elections in which two parties attained majority inEast and West Pakistan.

The failure of the political parlays culminated in to end of Yahya regime.  The country got sucked in to civil war which ended on 16th December 1971in the dismemberment of Pakistan.

East Pakistan was invaded by the India by one to forty ratio including rebelled EB regiments and MuktiBani.

Having embroiled in civil war for nine months, ill equipped and under supplied with no relief was fighting a losing battle from day one.

1971 drained the country financially and economically with lasting effects persisting till today.

Unfortunately, it was a tragedy of error. The period between1971 to 19 79 was subjected to experiment of social democracy by Bhutto.

Bhutto’s nationalization program played havoc with the industry and trade. The country went into spin creating economic turmoil in the country and still suffer remaining on foreign aid mercy.

In eighties country again got sucked into Afghan war. The consequent inflow of the refugees into mainland Pakistan created tremendous socio, strategic and economic upheaval.

Four million refugees are still on Pakistanis soil. Following 9/11 was Pakistan embroiled in another war of not its own, it gave birth to terrorism at its worst.

Pakistan lost billions economically and destruction of infrastructure beside colossal human loss.

While this mayhem was occurring, there are other factors infected the society and the nation.

Mismanagement, primarily, resulted country getting further and further in the debt trap. It has been happening as Michael Robin in his recent article indicated the trauma of Pakistan is so dangerous that the bubble will burst anytime.

The consequences are frightening for Pakistan. The reasons dilated by him are not unknown to Pakistanis.

We will examine these in the succeeding paragraphs. It is unfortunate, that we never learn from the history and tend to repeat it.

This has been the cause of the downfall, as in the case of most of the nations and empires . Ottoman and Moghuls are recent. First, the tug of power in our politics.

Consequently in 1971 Pakistan got into civil war at the altar of the ego of the politicians who wanted power at all cost.

Elected majority was denied their right . It resulted in the stalemate in March 1971 culminating into a civil war.

50 years down the line we have not learnt any lesson and continue to repeat the same mistakes again and again.

Democracy is nothing but patience and listen to the point of the difference of others. In the absence of tolerance democracy turns into fascism.

Unstable political climate never allow economy to grow . Lack of long-term policies create uncertainty in the trading and industry.

The second most important aspect emanate from the first, the habit of consumerism and living beyond means.

China and other countries have overcome poverty by sheer hard work and living a simple life.

Almost fifty years the Chinese government did not allow exorbitant expenditure to its citizens and concentrated on the economic and infrastructure growth.

Leadership in Pakistan is from elite class (totally divorced from masses) The third most important factor is the agriculture.

Pakistan has never been able to develop agriculture or the modern lines. The farmer is using the same tools which probably thousand years ago his ancestors used.

Earlier, we used organic materials to grow crops now stand abandoned. We have not been able to modernize the agriculture.

It’s time universities look for the collaboration with the West. They have developed extremely sophisticated technologies to grow crops many times more than the normal.

For example, it is standard now to grow 80-100 kilo wheat per acre. Pakistan average is only 40 kilos.

Pakistan has a very rich coastline or the plantation of palm oil trees palm trees yet we have failed in spite of the Malaysian offers support.

Result we continue to import edible oil edible oil worth billions of dollars putting pressures on meagre foreign exchange resources.

The fourth important factor is corruption. Corruption has penetrated into body and soul of the Pakistani nation from lowest to top.

A lot is written on this malaise. Corruption has many dimensions, financial moral and intectual.

It is a cancer which has penetrated in every segment of the society. It is a major reason that we are stuck in time and space and not developing in any segment and economy.

The investor will not come to Pakistan unless he is sure of his security, transparency and ease of business. And, that he will not be stuck in the bureaucratic complexities.

Pakistan needs a national action plan, broadening human resource (to include importance of dialogue, integration of diverse culture, interfaith harmony, freedom of speech, improving moral values, media reforms and complete restructure the existing education system which dish out worthless degrees.).

The other most important area is political dimension. There is no doubt the colonial western style democracy has failed to deliver in Pakistan.

Scores of amendments in the 1973 constitution have disfigured it. Karachi is the engine of growth, its pre one unit status be restored.

Structural changes in laws be made to implement the plan. Pakistan can follow a Chinese /Islamic model to implement various laws to ensure the implementation in each segment.

There is no shortcut. Sacrifice is required and economic emergency be imposed. Let there be no doubt the way things are our neighbor India has within the last 15 years elevated itself as fifth largest economy in the world.

It is a matter of shame for us that having all the resources we have failed in our endeavors. We have to mold ourselves into as a nation and responsible state.

—The author, a retired Brigadier, is veteran of 1965 1970 wars with gallantry decorations. He carries 28 years of corporate experience in business and industry.


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