Mirza Shahnawaz Agha
WE need to count our blessings for what is available to us by providence both of the natural resources and the human resource. One would need to count them as a statistician, so that in essence, one can understand in the domestic and international context, where do we actually stand and what needs to be culturally done to optimise our existence from where we are, to where we ought to be economically. This exercise is necessary without any political reservations because it is one world and one people that need to be addressed and not otherwise. This one world and one people need to be viewed in the myopic limitations of the political confines called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, although our ideology logically negates political divisions.
We have a territory comprising (approximately, because of some occupied area) 796,100 square kilometres and a population (approximately, because of inaccurate census) of 207,775,000 heads. This said territory, needs to feed the people, house them, and yield a revenue stream that addresses governmental expenses and development costs. The people meanwhile, need to labour, with skills, in good health, to optimise productivity, so that they can live as equals with the best in the world. Any other theory or viewpoint is a compromise on the basic human rights and therefore unacceptable.
By the generic definition of a nation state we have territory, population and government to reckon with. Territory needs to support the population and the government both and its optimum utilization is at the root of good, judicious and able governance. This territory consists of 215,000 square kilometres of arable land, plus 8,000 under the plough, 50,000 as permanent meadows and pastures and 18,164 square kilometres of forests. Then we have 24,200 square kilometres as industrial area, plus 180,734 for mining, 164,782 for tourism and population pockets covering 110,000 square kilometres. The water surface covers 25,220 square kilometres and all added up represent the 796,100 square kilometres of our territory.
The management of the territory is necessary for supporting the population on it, so the first consideration is reverting all land in the ownership of the state of Pakistan and then begin with urbanization. We have a level of approximately of 36.38 % urbanization and that is again without any world-class standards. To support the present level of population 3463 urban units or municipal townships need to legislatively come into existence and these must carry a population of no more than 60,000 heads each, with total fiscal autarky. In fact we should consider them as municipal companies quoted on the stock exchange duly regulated and with the highest level of civic standards that material technology can present. This is the social contract that can surface where the municipal governments elected remain subject to independent audit by the people.
This can be the point of liberation for the enslaved people and where federal and or provincial laws will not over rule merit with corruption. At this myopic level all-basic facilities can be made available from potable water, to power, medical care, schooling, waste management, civil defense, policing the like. Competitively speaking ‘small is beautiful’! The biggest segment of our territory is available for agriculture and forestry and this again has to legislatively be made corporate. Agricultural companies need to be based on land productivity and strictly regulated. Limitations of land holdings is no criteria it is the productivity that is at the root of permitting land holdings by companies again quoted on the stock exchange. Fragmentation of land, the loss in productivity and feudal order will vanish with this achievement. People must be taken away into urban areas and the available land restricted to production of what ever nature it be. This is not unprecedented in the world and the current landowners will become shareholders enforcing merit over laid back absentee landlordism. This measure does also fulfil the true spirit of our ideological demand and more it offers employment in multiples of millions. A governmental master plan for water and power management across the country is all that should concern the government in addition to a regulatory regime.
A similar treatment of corporate control needs to be put into place for mining, tourism, and industrial areas. In 1989 I devised a Tourism policy, which enabled the industry to get inducted on the industrial investment schedule of the country. One can hope it is still on record some place to support this proposed structure! The point at hand is identifying, based on this structure, the revenue stream that can surface of a hundred and seven billion (in US Dollar worth) per annum for the country. These are as follows: Pakistan off-shore oil reserves 20 Billion + Shipping sector 2 Billion + Shale Gas and oil reserves 10 Billion + Mineral wealth 8 Billion + Iron ore 5 Billion + Fishing industry 1 Billion + Tourism 2 Billion + Agriculture 10 Billion + Halal Meat 15 Billion + Rice 3 Billion + Olive cultivation 5 Billion + Dairy products 10 Billion + Salt export 1 Billion + Herbal medicines export 10 Billion + Arresting money laundering 5 Billion. Total, awaiting the right policies and laws, works out to 107 Billion per annum. These figures are all documented and obtained from the official data with the government of Pakistan. This again is the tip of the iceberg as the entrepreneurial generator is not factored in, nor are other trading disciplines like IT and consultancy, banking and insurance, which could address the world and bring home revenue we have remained deprived of because of alien laws. Let the party begin let spirit of enterprise bloom!
— The writer is an entrepreneur and author based in Karachi.