Washington—The United States, whose endeavor to bring peace and
security to Afghanistan and larger South
Asian region depends critically on Pakistan, should invest in developing infrastructure in the South Asian
country, a political economist said.
“If Pakistan is to serve at the center of trade
between South Asian countries and the Central Asian region, then the U.S. and
its allies must devote resources to helping Islamabad step up the process of
building roads, bridges and rail links as
well as energy projects,” Dr Shahzad Latif said in an interview.
The Chicago-based economist cited President Dwight Eisenhower’s achievement in
this respect, saying in 1930s the American leader envisioned and embarked on a
plan to build roads stretching all across America thus connecting all of its
cities and towns to each other.” This proved to be a major reason in making the
United States an economic might.”
Besides, infrastructure facilities help bridge the divide between the rich and
the rural underprivilged communities as the network gives everyone a big chance
to transport their goods and intrdocuce them to the main market. Islamabad, he said, should present to its friends
in the international community a plan to
build road infrastructure that would establish new economic hubs and
fuel both agricultural and industrial growth.
Dr Latif noted that a network of infrastructure will give economic opportunity
to people and help reduce real estate
inflation and also help subside migration pressures on urban areas. Besides, he
said, having good and safe roads to tourist destinations boosts tourism economy.
“It is very important to strategically plan the infrastructure keeping in view
different factors such as ports, connection with international roads,
availability of production input factors like agriculture, minerals, stones, and
tourist spots in order to makes the most of resources.” —APP
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Comments on Indian Trade Policy
(Per invitation of US Congress Ways and Means Committee)
Ways and Means Committee
India with population of 1.15 Billion has the potential to be a huge market for
US goods and services.
However, India is continuing to pursue its first Prime Minister Jawarherlal
Nehru’s ideology of inward looking. While the rest of the world is moving
towards free trade, India is holding on to its old ways. Unfortunately, India’s
protective trade practices even this day and age, are hurting export
opportunities for US companies.
Indian government has made it next to impossible to attain import licenses by
India’s hegemonic design culminating from Hindu-extremism, is certainly not good
sign of its future policies either. One extreme example of this is blockading of
neighbors’ water resources.
Exchange rate in respect to US Dollar has been artificially lowered to make
There are other covert trade barriers in place those are hurting exports of US
companies to India.
Low minimum wages, lack of and un-enforced labor laws, child labor all are
impetus to reduced imports. These not only keep domestic products in India
cheaper than imports but also keep the consumption of imported goods at
drastically reduced levels.
Additionally, these give unfair trade advantage to India in other markets.
Un-enforced intellectual property laws in India, are hurting US producers
because India indiscreetly allows manufacturing of US brand name goods. One can
see these goods being sold which are illegally manufactured in India.
As a Political Economist and a businessman, I recommend certain restrictions be
placed against Indian imports until India takes concrete steps to relax its
import policy towards US goods and services.
Dr. Shahzad Latif
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PAKISTAN: A LAND OF OPPORTUNITY (For Corrupt)
Suggested Steps to Eradicate Corruption
It is a common practice among political parties to condone corrupt acts of
previous government to ensure there is no political instability during their
tenure. This way there is continuity of democracy thence they can complete their
five years of government. This period of stable governance bestows opportunities
of such corruption on them as well.
Condoning of corruption is a heavy cost of democracy in Pakistan. It would
be safe to assert that Pakistan has the most expensive democracy per capita in
the world! Writer leaves a question for readers to ponder upon: Is it worth to
have such an expensive democracy?
Our political system with multi-layered redundant governments, gives such
corruption opportunities and helps hide these acts as well, to these political
actors and their beloved bureaucrats.
It is simply amazing, politicians who have had meager means have become
multi-billionaires and no one questions them about the source of all their
Similarly, bureaucrats whose salaries are known fact, drive around in
expensive cars and live in big bungalows. For God’s sake that should be easy
enough to figure out that this all came from corruption! Yet no one is there to
Trillion of rupees have been looted by these politicians and bureaucrats
in last few years alone, but no steps have been taken to retrieve such huge
amount. National Accountability Bureau, essentially an arm of the government is
expected to be neutral, fair and actually go after perpetrators of corruption.
But can it be?
This situation gives others encouragement that they could indulge insuch
corruptionand not be questioned let alone punished.
Why would businessmen and other income earners pay taxes? They know that a
big percent of the money government collects is wasted and looted in corruption.
In writer’s view there are two kinds of corruption that prevails in
Pakistan; financial and non-financial:
Non-financial corruption could be explained as position holders not owning
their position meaning; not doing job properly or use their position to drive
non-financial benefits such as giving jobs to people of their liking whether
they are qualified or not, in other words indulge in nepotism.
On the other hand, financial corruption is when a position holder takes
advantage of his position to make money which he is not supposed to.
Steps Needed to Drastically Reduce Corruption:
Like they say when there is a will there is a way. Here are certain stern
steps need to be taken to eradicate this menace from our society.
---Reduce Size of Government by Changing the Structure: We have
multi-level overlapping redundant government structure. This provides
opportunities for corruption in many different levels, i.e; from top to bottom
and many levels in between.These are further multiplied at provincial levels and
local government levels.
This multi-level government structure sophisticatedly help the hiding of
corruption by playing the blame game.
We are a poor country thus cannot afford such government structure.
Pakistan must adopt a simplistic hierarchical government structure
proposed by the writer elsewhere, in order to ensure least chances of corruption
and save funds so they can be usedon the betterment of poor masses.
---Eliminate Develop Funds: Develop funds are intended for developmental
and social programs. However, the most of these funds are used for political
gain or end up in personal pockets of MNAs or MPAs. These funds must be expended
on the people in proportion of population by pertinent ministries instead of
giving to members of the parliament.
---Disallow Discretionary Funds be expended by Politicians: These funds
must be appropriated to department budgets rather than leaving on political
leaders’ discretion to give when and how they will. Examples being announcing
rewards to players who perform well in a certain sportor announcing help to
flood victims, however, not promulgating a concrete policy and making funds
available for sports teams and planning to control floods.
These kinds of announcements provide photo-ops and helps leaders with
political point scoring. Similarly for floods, nation faces flood disaster every
year but no planning is done and no money is spent on permanent solutions. This
is a prime example of political corruption.
---Enforce Accountability: State should confiscate all the assets of
politicians and big bureaucrats say from past 25years (randomly selected) which
reflect beyond their filed income taxes. Let them prove (burden of proof be on
them) that they made these assets through legitimate means and then get their
assets redeemed. However, then state must question their taxes filed (whether in
Pakistan or abroad) if their income reported does not reconcile with their
----All Systems must be in Place: All systems starting from exposure,
conviction and public punishment of corrupts should be in place and applied
consistently. Exemplary punishment should be given to convicted corrupts so no
one will consider doing even iota of corrupt act.
Laws should be enacted and fiercely enforced. If a foreign or domestic
company offers kickbacks to politicians or bureaucrats then that company should
be banned for life from participating in state business.
----All Institutions must be made Small, Strong and Independent: Every
effort must be made to make institutions strong and independent. Reduce size of
institutions but make them stronger. Judiciary, FBR, FIA, Police, etc. must be
independent of political pressures. Bureaucracy should be replaced with
technology as much as possible.
---Bring in Transparency by Extensive use of Technology: Transparency is
one of the best ways to control if not totally eliminate corruption. If
technology is used to show flow of finances intra and inter-departments then
people cannot hide funds and use ways to get them in their pockets.
All the government departments should have a website with complete details
including finances that department is handling.
Decision making must be computerized by point-system or Yes/No answers so
decisions are not on total discretion of power that be. This will help control
or eliminate nepotism as well as awarding of business to companies which do not
qualify against kickbacks.
Organizational structure of all departments must be made public so
unnecessary hiring is checked.
Use of extensive technology will help place internal controls within
---Watch & Tell and Whistle Blower Protection: Laws must be enacted that
will give full protection to people who watch within an organization and tell
what is going on. People should feel at ease to expose corrupt acts of their
colleagues whether they are their bosses or subordinates.
---Give Public Access to Technology at grass root level: Public must be
able to get their business done with the government using technology so they are
not on the mercy of bureaucrats. Public should be able to access records of
different departments and be able to question in case of being incorrect.
---Computerization of All Public Records: Computerized records cannot be
easily manipulated. Bids on projects and auctioning of state owned assets should
be put on department websites so public knows who bid what and who ended up
buying the asset. Similarly, same procedure used be employed when purchasing
goods or services.
----Departments e.g., NADRA & FBR, FIA, Police must be interconnected:
Information sharing between departments makes it easy to check on records and
makes it easy to catch miscreants.
----Journalist Duty: Journalists feel they have done their job by pin
pointing corruption. However, they fail to follow through and ensure these
corruption episodes are brought to justice. They must stick to their story and
force departments or people in charge to take action.
---Social Engineering: Graph of corruption has gone up many folds over the
past 50years of our nation’s history. In order to control it, we need to educate
coming generations about corruption, what corruption does to society, how this
damages the very fabric of the nation and work on ways to keep our coming
generations from indulging in this nuisance.
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Democracy has become a cliché in Pakistan
Politicians do not get tired of telling again and again in media how much
they have done for “democracy.”
Some politicians have become “shaheed” and some proudly claim they have
spent many months or years in prison for the sake of democracy yet poor are
getting poorer, people are selling their kids, babies are dying!
Politicians are backing each other to preserve democracy because its
present form suits them. We have lost the essence of democracy i.e. democracy by
the people and for the people. Alas! We don’t want this type of democracy.
Believe you me we’ll be better off under autocracy like the kind they have
in Arabian Gulf countries rather than the current form of democracy we have. At
least the general public’s basic needs like food, shelter, education and health
needs are being met by those states.
Think in terms of psychologist Abraham Maslow’ theory of Self
Actualization or Hierarchy of Needs. According to Maslow the basic need an
individual has is of food and security/shelter. Self-respect and actualization
come towards the last stages.
Under our democratic system the very basic needs of food and shelter are
not being met. How can masses achieve the stages of self-respect and
That is perhaps the motto of our political parties that to keep the masses
dwelled in the rat race of constant efforts to attain basic needs.
Two major parties in Pakistan under Charter of Democracy (COD) have
a covert pact that they will do whatever necessary to back each other so that no
third force, any reformist party or military comes in a position to take reign
of government away from them.
Everybody knows Zardari & company and Shareef & company have stashed away
billions of dollars of corruption money but no one is doing anything or willing
to do anything to bring the money back.
Billions of rupees are spent on political supporters to keep them as
political party workers. They are given political bribery, on whose bases these
parties win elections.
Even recent deal in name of economic development and cooperation with
China, so called Shareefs are benefiting and also awarding close political
associates. These deals are bringing Pakistan under further financial burden.
In a nut shell these politicians are worried about their own selves or
their political carriers rather poor masses.
Hundreds of poor children are dying because of malnutrition in their
constituencies yet these politicians are playing the blame game instead of doing
something about it. There is no proper nutritional or health support available
for these down trodden people. Pakistan People Party whose slogan is “Provision
of Food, Clothes & Shelter”, is itself not doing anything for their people. They
have ruled Sind for past decades but they have not delivered what they were
Yet these politicians are proud to have democracy!
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PAKISTAN RELATIONS WITH INDIA: Accept the Status Quo or Dictate the Change
India has never accepted existence of Pakistan. It is interested to have
continuous cold-war like situation by not resolving any outstanding issues
between the two countries.
We feel content and at ease when India accepts our request to have leadership
meeting. Hands are shaken and meetings at certain levels are agreed to. Nothing
concrete comes out of these meetings. This has been going on for years.
All the issues are pending as is with resolution for none. India is not serious
about resolution of issues like Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachen, Distribution of
India does not spare an opportunity to overtly or covertly hurt Pakistan
economically and politically in international fora and try to isolate Pakistan.
How dare India accuse Pakistan of supporting terrorism while her leaders have
openly admitted supporting separatist forces in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)
and recent and ongoing case of RAW funding and training political party and
separatist forces in Pakistan.
President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani recently declared that RAW is involved in
spreading unrest in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is a concrete evidence of
such illicit actions on part of RAW.
India is employing among other means of terrorism, water blockade and flooding
strategically in order to ruin Pakistan’s agriculture.
We must bring India to comity of nations and make a case that India is directly
involved in state terrorism within its own boundaries against Muslims and in
Pakistan must stop economic cooperation and cease imports from India
immediately. We can, in order to get our issues resolved buy from other
countries at little higher prices.
We must absolutely not agree to provide India access to Afghanistan through our
Pakistan must stop cultural exchange immediately and ban showing Indian movies
in Pakistani cinemas. These movies are being used unfortunately successfully, to
nullify two nation theory.
No Aman Ke Asha. It has not worked and will not work. Just a few individuals and
organizations are driving benefits out of it.
Pakistan should unilaterally abrogate Simla agreement, as India has violated
many agreements numerous times. And we must run strategic campaign among comity
of nations to push United Nations to enforce its resolution on Kashmir.
If these steps are taken then I am certain India will come to its senses and get
serious about resolving outstanding issues.
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LONG TERM SOLUTION
Revolutions Do Not Take Place every Day. Imran
Khan & Dr. Tahir ul Qadri must hold their Ground!
Our nation of about 200 million has been waiting for a revolution to get rid of
corrupt political system for almost the time Pakistan came into being. Now that
efforts are being made by two forces, we should support them wholeheartedly.
People who believe change will happen gradually, are wrong. Instead of problems
of people being tackled properly corruption is rampant. Situation in Pakistan is
going backwards instead of improving. Leaders who are multi-billionaires are
paying taxes in thousands of rupees!
It will take (like any real revolution does) bloodshed to bring about real
and concrete change. Else the status quo will prevail with no end and Pakistan
will continue to go down.
BoBoth Imran Khan and Dr. Tahir ul Qadri should join hands and come up with one
united agenda and fight for it.
This agenda should be to change the political system to that of Presidential and
devolution of provinces into division level. These both ideas go hand in hand as
having simply Presidential system will not resolve all the issues we have.
I understand Dr. Qadri has been using some of the ideas I presented four
years ago. I take that as an acknowledgement. For details see Proposed
Government Structure on www.PakRevolution.org
I propose the following course of action for this revolution;
1. Firmly negotiate an amendment to constitution for conversion to Presidential
system and further amendment for devolution of provinces to divisional level
2. Keep the assemblies working and Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister during this
process (Maximum time limit of 8months to hammer out details).
3. After these constitutional amendments have been made, elections should take
place under a care-taker government for President between Imran Khan, Dr. Qadri,
Nawaz Shareef, whoever People's Party nominates and others (since a limit cannot
be set). Have a run off election if one individual does not attain a simple
All parties involved should agree to and announce an agreement together on live
TV transmission, so that the whole nation is the witness, then the dharnas
should immediately be stopped.
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Dr. Tahir Qadri endorses Govt. Structure Plan proposed by
Dr. Shahzad Latif, a Pakistani Political Economist based in Chicago, USA.
Dr. Latif proposed a comprehensive plan three years ago. See: http://www.pakrevolution.org/ProGovtStructure.aspx
Dr. Latif, who resides in US but is a Pakistani citizen, considers adopting some
of his ideas by Dr. Qadri as an endorsement. However, he said a reference would
have been appropriate.
Dr. Latif proposed, simply changing Parliamentary system to Presidential system
is not enough unless dissolution of Provinces to Divisional level takes place. This dissolution will help bring equal and uniform
economic and social benefits to every Pakistani throughout the country.
This will help reduce the difference that exists between haves and have-nots.
And will further eliminate the feelings of inequality in different parts of the
This proposed structure will bring government by the people-for the people
closer to each individual.
Dr. Latif also suggests providing job opportunities to Pakistanis from one part
of the country to the other so that lingual portions those have been established
are diminished over the long term.
Dr. Latif believes fundamental changes to the constitution need to be made in
order to ensure these changes are permanent and not left on the discretion of
the government of the time.
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Economic remedy hinges on oil prices, political will
One of the major causes of
the current global economic slump is higher price of the crude oil. Oil prices
have doubled over the past five years.
Gas (petrol) is proportionally a high cost production factor in millions of
different products and also is used to bring the product to the consumer,
affecting the final cost significantly.
Currently, a major portion of disposable income is being expended towards
buying gas (petrol), and buying other high-priced necessities, mainly because
the oil prices have soared so high.
During this time of global contraction, where incomes of people are
considerably down this continuing oil prices trend is a major worry.
Even governments are forced to not promulgate job-creating fiscal policies.
Poor and developing countries particularly are at the rough end of the stick.
The trend gives rise to fears that the world will spiral into stagflation where
the prices will continue to rise while economies will become stagnant. Let us
take United States as an example, where recent reports show increase in
unemployment while it desperately needs to have an improved labor market.
Higher inflation reduces the net worth of people causing even further reduction
in economic activity as psychology comes into play.
At this stage of supposed recovery, the US economy should be growing at the
least rate of 3.5 to 4% but recently revised numbers show it hovering around 2%.
Several economists argue if the situation does not improve fast enough, the US
economy might go into a double dip recession. This is also true with majority of
economies around the globe including the fast-growing economies like China and
Though demand for petrol and petroleum products have doubled, the production
cost of these have remained virtually unchanged.
The only beneficiaries of this global scenario appear to be the group of oil
producing and exporting countries and oil companies while people are being
pushed into a vicious economic cycle.
A crucial remedial step towards boosting the global economy could be for the
OPEC to voluntarily increase oil production to an equilibrium where prices
subside to a level of prices in 2005.
This global issue needs to be addressed rather swiftly. In absence of some
quick measures, the world will continue to face double dip prospects.
Another factor that could help the world in these tense times could be the role
of major political players of the world towards resolution of longstanding
disputes. The world powers should try to work out solutions in a peaceful
manner but outside the media limelight. That would reduce the chances of an
excuse for oil companies to artificially increase prices.
The mix of economic downturns and festering political problems are hanging like
a double-edged sword on peace prospects and economic recovery.
A sustainable way out of trouble demands a long-term thinking based
on the action that tackles the issue of oil prices expertly and concurrently
addresses political disputes deftly. The world needs inclusive reforms on both
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US should invest, spur Pakistan trade in face of terror-related losses:
Ten years after Pakistan joined the fight against terrorism, its economy has
been severely hurt by unrest emanating from the Afghan border and the US should
now bolster American investment and trade access to help its partner regain
growth momentum, a Pakistani-American economic expert said.
At the same time, Pakistan needs to reform various sectors of
the economy boldly to attract greater inflows of international investment, Dr.
Shahzad Latif, a Chicago-based economist, said.
"The United States continues to call Pakistan an important
ally in the war on terror. For the US to prove that point, it is imperative that
it does something concrete (economically) in return (for Pakistan's anti-terror
efforts)," added the economist.
Islamabad announced last week that economic losses the
country has suffered in the decade - since 9/11 attacks on the US and subsequent
American invasion of Afghanistan - have now climbed to $ 68 billion.
Dr Latif particularly wants Washington to open up its markets
for Pakistani goods, especially agro-based products such as textiles - the
mainstay of Pakistani exports.
The economist says he cannot fathom the lack of progress
towards a preferential trade initiative for Pakistan during the last ten years
while some other countries in the region have had generous access to
the US market for a long time.
Pakistan has not only served as the key route for
Afghanistan-boundNATO and US supplies but also suffered immensely in the face of
retaliatory terrorist bombings for its anti-militant campaigns, with 35000
deaths and resultant shrinking investment in several sectors.
Islamabad has captured and eliminated hundreds of al-Qaeda
linked militants, who fled into its tribal areas fromAfghanistan after the
US-led forces toppled the Taliban government in Kabul in late 2001.
A study unveiled last week by Carnegie Endowment Fund for
International Peace in Washington made a similar case for easing access for
Pakistani textiles, reminding policy makers that employment generation cancels
out appeal of violent extremists.
"Pakistani goods suffer from extremely high tariffs that
makeit difficult for Pakistan to compete with other low-income,
textile-producing nations ----- protectionist interests in Congress have kept
the United States from reducing tariffs---- lowering tariffs on Pakistani
apparel and textiles would not be a panacea but it would help attract
investments and spur economic growth in Pakistan," stresses the study entitled
Stop Enabling Pakistan's Dangerous Dysfunction.
Dr Latif, for his part, notes that 80% of the political and
social problems stem from economic issues.
"The US needs to target these economic problems
of Pakistan and invest in industries through private companies such as
guaranteed loans by US Import Export bank --- when people have jobs, they do not
come under influence of miscreants," he said in reference to Washington's avowed
commitment to assist economic uplift of Pakistanis.
On Pakistan putting its economic house in order, Latif says
steps must be taken to curb inflation, develop human resource, encourage value
added products, enhance production, and overcome energy crisis.
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Pakistan Knee Deep in Debt: Lessons to be Learned from Greece
John Adams, sixth President of United States once said; “There are two ways to
conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
If we reflect on our past we can say that our governments’ policies have driven
Pakistan on the path of ultimate slavery to institutions such as IMF and big
powers like USA.
Pakistan is under a huge debt and digging deeper into this hole day by day. As
of now, Pakistan owes more than Rs.181,000billion! This translates into more
than debt of Rs.100,000 per person.
Debt has doubled in last four years alone. Every month for last 30months one
trillion Pak Rupees debt has increased. Current government has broken all
records of borrowing and spending on wasteful projects.
The debt-to-gross domestic
product (GDP) ratio stands at 66.4%. One of the highest in the world!
Good debt, which writer describes as borrowed money used in transparent
investment in productive projects such as job creating industries, is
fathomable. However, unfortunately 80% of the debt that Pakistan owes is either
being used in projects the nation can live without or is being looted in
Mega projects such as Orange Train and Metro Bus perhaps bring some comfort to a
few thousands of people out of 200 million estimated Pakistani population,
however, it does not generate any economic activity, or create income source for
millions who are unemployed.
Pakistan will have to service about $50billion between July to September of this
year as the bill is maturing. It is a common talk among economic analysts that
whether Pakistan will be able to pay this amount and not default.
Continuous borrowing will for sure increase the chances of default as it not
only rises the debt amount but it also help raise the borrowing cost i.e;
interest charged or discount rate. This is because higher debt to GDP ratio
alarms the creditors and thus they charge higher interest to cover their risk.
As is out of Pakistan’s national income fifty percent goes towards debt
servicing. The common practice in Pakistan is to borrow more to debt service the
This cycle is very alarming if the government puts some thought into this.
We are heading the same path where Greece found itself in 2014-15.
Writer spent a week in Greece during the economic crisis to experience firsthand
the situation. There was hardly any economic activity. Businesses were closing.
There was high unemployment. Imports were drastically cut down as the
consumption affordability was down. Government was facing resistance in its
We in Pakistan should not think that we are immune to have Greece like
circumstances. Our economic situation is unfortunately exactly same as it
prevailed in Greece.
We are knee deep in debt. Industrial manufacturing is close to none.
Unemployment has risen considerably over the past year or so. We have record low
exports with high trade deficit.
With failing financial situation, exchange rate will deteriorate thus causing
domestic prices to shoot up. Even our exports will get expensive, an unusual
result of lower exchange rate, because many of our exports use imported
materials such as chemicals, etc. Further, unemployment situation will
Overall bad business moral will tremendously hurt economic confidence and
We do not have the room to implement austerity measures to save money because as
is we hardly have any social services. If the government tries to cut any
further it will bring people out on streets and create political and social
In case of Greece, European Union had to come to its rescue because of its own
integral reasons. However, for Pakistan I do not see any institution or economic
power jumping in to help it stay afloat.
I do see these powers taking advantage of the situation and try to get their way
by forcing Pakistan to for example, curb its nuclear program and perhaps do away
with it all together. This will further jeopardize our security situation.
Economic management is faulty. Managers of Pakistani economy need to look into
the future and adjust their policies accordingly. Believe me there is not much
of a time left. They need to act and rather act swiftly!
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TERRORISM in PAKISTAN: Heading towards a zero-sum result
We have to understand one thing Terrorism is here to stay until one of the
parties win; that is extremists or the state of Pakistan as we know it with
freedom of expression and choice of living our lives with liberty.
I seriously doubt there would be a win-win solution. It would end up to be a
We have let the snake out by simply ignoring overtime what these extremists
could do to the humanity.
They are there and will not be easy to overcome them because they don’t care of
their lives and are willing & prepared to take as many lives with theirs.
Our leading a peaceful life and national economy is at stake.
Just condemning and mourning is not sufficient. As usual habitual ad-hocism is
prevailing in dealing with terrorism as well. And this is very dangerous.
Short term steps will perhaps bring short term benefits however, will not reap
long term conclusive desired results.
If at any stage army operation is slowed down or stopped, I am certain all these
miscreants will come back and the terrorist activities unfortunately will
increase. So along with this operation government needs to have a concrete long
term policy not just superficial moves, to eradicate this menace for the long
Unprecedented circumstances call for unprecedented steps. It warrants concerted
effort on part of the government, army and the people to deal with them.
Pakistan needs to be a security state to protect its people. Also economic cost
must be brought into calculations in reaching policy to eradicate extremism and
terrorism for good.
Question is, how do you defend against a terrorist who is prepared and willing
to kill himself along with his targets. The answer is by taking vigorous
preemptive preventive measures and strategic steps.
Here are some suggestions;
---We need to have a national level police force in form of rangers. Police
stations are a business. They cannot be counted on to effectively pursue
terrorist and enforce laws of the land. They lack will, not properly equipped
and trained. Police is always politicized by leaders to drive political
Terrorism is a national issue. We need to have a national level force to tackle
such issue. Police functions (other than domestic and local laws enforcement),
and Frontier Core must be inducted into national rangers in all cities with a
common command and control.
Our intelligence agencies must work very closely with rangers to pursue
terrorist in all cities, towns and villages to apprehend them. Because by the
time intelligence reaches police and they plan to act against the terrorist, it
is too late. Even with red alerts by security agencies these terrorists are
successful in striking. That is what happened in Bacha Khan University and in
Lahore Park, thus we lost so many young lives.
Army, intelligence agencies and national rangers must work closely and in
---The size of army should be increased by at least 50%. Army must be in total
control of all borders and especially man the porous areas between Afghanistan
and Pakistan to stop terrorist from sneaking in. Army should be trained better
and provided updated weaponry and technology as well. Benefits of such a move
will far out way the cost.
We must keep in mind we have threats on both east and west borders.
Additionally, army is never redundant because we use army in my ways; rescuing
and rehabilitation during floods, earthquakes etc.
---There should be only one internal intelligence agency in addition to ISI,
that is to stop redundant work and reduce communication gap.
---Customs must be under control of rangers. Customs dept. is notoriously
corrupt. They will not care to let terrorist bring in weapons or any harmful
things into the country against few lakh rupees bribery.
---Immigration must be supervised by rangers to ensure only people with good
intentions are let in the country. Strict laws for immigration must be enacted.
---National Cadet Core (NCC) program to train youngsters in colleges with
military skills should be brought back. Those trained cadets should be drafted
---Licensing of ammunition must be controlled by rangers. There is no more room
for culture of ammunition in northern areas. Rangers must immediately start a
program to confiscate any ammunition out there. Politicians should not be able
to issue licenses.
---Corruption of political parties who covertly support terrorist must be
uncovered and all who are responsible must be brought to justice and given swift
and exemplary punishment in military courts.
---We tend to politicize everything: The Whole Nation Plan or National Action
Plan those political parties and army put together and agreed on is not working.
We cannot let political parties play any province or language card. Enough is
enough with politics.
---Pakistan armed forces must form a cohesive policy and work in close
conjunction with Afghan and US forces to corner all the miscreants and deal with
them appropriately. Pakistan must have open communication with Afghanistan to
ensure there is no misunderstanding when there is a terrorist act on either side
of the boarder.
---There should not be a distinction between a good or a bad Taliban. If we
treat so called good Taliban preferentially then they will for sure play us when
the time is appropriate for them. They both must be dealt with evenly.
---Pakistan must convince Afghanistan, USA and UN that India is not part of this
conflict and must be stopped to further ignite the situation. India perpetrates
Pathankot like incidents on herself to forcefully become part of the nexus to
show herself as a victim of terrorism. Her only intention is to undermine
---Government tends to be hesitant in bringing up role of RAW in terrorism in
the region. We must have a transparent policy towards India. India cannot be a
friend(period) If they do show gesture it is for their own short or long term
benefit. They want access through Pakistan to Afghanistan and other Central
Asian countries. They want to be permanent member of UN Security Council.
Pakistan government must never agree to these things because they will be very
much counterproductive for us in resolving our issues of Kashmir and terrorism.
---Perpetual bad governance will definitely will not help. Redundant government
structure is hurting us in fighting terrorism.
We have DPOs, DCOs, Commissioners, Mayors, Administrators, Home Secretaries,
Chief Ministers, God knows what else. It is so difficult to pin point
responsibility of anything anywhere. They are all there to pass the blame for
bad job or lack of responsibility.
These layers just pass the buck! And nobody owns their job, duty and
responsibility. We have to do away with these positions.
---Education in madrasahs needs complete overhaul to ensure students are part of
main stream society.
---Social engineering is needed to stop brain-washing of people especially
youngsters. Public service messages should be broadcast to educate true face of
extremism. Also to get people involved to fight these miss-guided individuals.
---Social media must be monitored carefully to ensure miscreants do not use it
to sway away youngsters from the right path. We should learn psychology of these
terrorists and deal with them properly.
---It is ok to communicate with Talaban however with stick in hand policy.
In short, systemic changes must be made to deal with extremism and terrorism in
order to bring about peace for the long haul.
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WE THE PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN: In Need to Make Fundamental
Change & Reshaping of the Narrative
They say people get leaders they deserve. Looking at the leaders we have,
what do you see?
Pakistanis have been saying for past 70years that we need change, a
revolutionary change. However, have we taken concrete steps on that path?
The answer is vehemently, No!
Unfortunately, the things instead of improving are going backwards. The
situation is bleak.
We celebrate Aug 14th, our independence day as if there is no
tomorrow. However, if we get an opportunity to steal something from our beloved
country we will not hesitate. We lack sincerity towards Pakistan. Exceptionism
in reality is replacing nationalism.
Hardly a few percent pay income tax. Businessmen do everything possible to
pay least amount of customs import duty.
Corruption is rampant from top to bottom. We cannot get our rights unless
we bribe someone. Not just super rich, middle class or the poor, the whole
nation’s attitude is corrupt. We must accept the reality.
“Shareef (noble) is one only who didn’t get a chance” (with exception of
Education standard has gone down. Our teachers, who are supposed to be the
builders of nation get their attendance registered while they remain at home.
They rather teach in private tuition centers to make extra money.
Contractors who are awarded projects use substandard materials to cut cost
so they can pocket more money. They are indifferent that it might kill a fellow
citizens because of their bad work.
People in a very responsible institution are willing to issue National ID
cards for money, to non-Pakistanis and on top who are terrorists.
Political parties rely on corruption to come in power. They use the money
they loot using corrupt means to stay in power, by distributing this wealth
amongst political workers and by feeding them “khapae”. Just analyze our state
of mind; that we are willing to vote for and bring in power political leaders or
political party who fed us good food!
We want to bring in power political party who gives us jobs in
institutions where we do not have to work. It does not matter we ruin these
state owned institutions in the process causing billions of rupees loss to
Cheating and lying has, unfortunately become our national trait. There is
no such thing as thinking about integrity when it comes to illicit activities.
Because of this we as a nation has become so cynical that we don’t trust
who we should.
Value of life has become just negligible. We are willing to ignore a
patient and let him/her die rather than do away with our protocol. Our leaders
say things those are simply unfathomable. “Kids die every day in Pakistan, so
what a few die in Thar”. Simply incredible!
We suppress our conscience in order to do what our heart desires which in
most cases is bad. Bad for the society and the country.
Unfortunately we are on top of many world indices such as level of
corruption, uncleanliness, nation who pays the least tax, least law abiding etc.
Our attitudes and behaviors have rendered us weak and vulnerable. So much
that others dictate us their terms and we find ourselves in situations that we
do not have a choice but to abide by. We have become dependent on others.
It is our common rhetoric to blame others for everything we face. We must
blame ourselves before others. We are turning ourselves into conspiracy
theorists, rather than focus on our own faults and weaknesses.
We need to get out of self denial and must own our shortcomings and
mistakes we the people of Pakistan have made over the past years and are
We need to pause and think do we continue on this path or make fundamental
and concrete change in ourselves, in our attitude towards our fellow countrymen
and the country itself.
If we induce change in ourselves we can eliminate extremism/terrorism, fix
our economy and our social issues.
We need to make Pakistan our identity and ensure to actually celebrate its
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THE LEAST COMMON DENOMINATOR OF ALL ISSUES IN PAKISTAN IS THE LACK OF
OWNERSHIP OF POSITION ONE HOLDS
When someone attains a position he makes a moral pact that he will do a job that
is expected of him. However, the question is in our society does anyone actually
keeps that promise?
Failure of performance at any level is a common denominator be it a leader
governing the country or a worker sweeping the streets.
Unfortunately, all the efforts are made to attain a position so that the
individual can get power or be able to get income rather than putting any effort
towards the performance.
There are thousands of examples of lack of performance at all levels. However,
it is not the writer’s intention to cite examples of such, but to indulge and to
prove his thesis that it’s not the lack of education that is commonly thought of
as the main cause of all issues in Pakistan but rather failure of ownership of
It is the least common denominator of all the issues we are facing in Pakistan.
We can see millions of educated individuals earning handsome income but their
job results are practically equivalent to zero. An individual who is educated
enough to be hired as a teacher is shirking from his duties and producing
students who are inadequately prepared to be a good citizen of the country. They
could care less if they are destroying the generations to come.
A policeman who is there to protect and serve lacks the interest to do what he
is expected of him. However, he will do that if he is paid under the table
beyond his salary.
A bureaucrat who is made responsible to take up a project perhaps millions of
dollars’ worth, will not care if all that money goes down the drain because the
money did not come from his pocket, yet if opportunity knocks he will do
everything to make money for himself from that project.
Politician will not perhaps mind to touch feet of his constituents when begging
for votes at time of elections. However, if he does win, same constituents will
hardly see the elected individual let alone he does anything positive for them.
People want to have titles such as President or Director of organizations,
however their performance leaves much to be desired even if Pakistan as a
country holds a great stake in their position or organization. People lack the
drive to do something good and positive.
Everyone acts like a monarch from top to bottom because he knows there is no
accountability if he does not perform at his job or not as per expectations.
Corruption that we are facing today is due to lack of such ownership in
different departments. People lack the intention and drive to do justice to
If everyone does his job properly and performs as his position calls for, then
almost all of the problems Pakistan faces will vanish and she could progress
economically and socially.
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Political Economy of Pakistan: A review
Political economy management by simplistic definition means economic decision making keeping in view political benefits to the decision maker who is most likely a political actor and/or a bureaucrat on behalf of a political party.
Political economy decision making could be short term or long term, depending on how long such benefits need to be had and their effectiveness. Other form is indecision which also has such benefits and would be discussed as this topic is expanded below.
Political economy managers also manipulate figures to show health of economy and social trends to their desire. Some of the agencies inside or outside the country use data provided by the government to interpret how well the country is doing.
In Pakistan, political actors use political economy decision making very effectively to present themselves doing well and also to use these economic decisions for their personal or party advantage. They have unfortunately put the interest of Pakistan as a nation on back burner.
On top of this their ineptness and corruption has played a big role in keeping Pakistan from attaining its full potential. These factors also have created wide gap between haves and have-nots resulting in many political, economic and social issues such as rise of deprivation feelings in certain groups.
These groups (especially Baluch and muhajirs) must understand that these political leaders have not intentionally been depriving them. It is the ineptness of these leaders that has instilled this sense of deprivation in these groups. If you look overall, the whole nation has been deprived by these politicians. Punjabis themselves who are commonly blamed for this, lack jobs, basic necessities like clean water, health, proper sanitary etc.
Since these groups are in minority they feel they are being ignored intentionally and Punjabis are better off on their expense. Which was and is far from the truth. This claimed ignorance is based on fallacy.
It would be safe to assert that our political leaders have been “equal opportunity” depriver.
Political economy managers also tend to avoid difficult decision (or indecision) so they have smooth tenure of government. One prime example of political economy indecision is to not levy any tax on agriculture production. This is to protect interest of many political leaders as many of these are landlords owning agriculture land. This one sector alone if taxed fairly it can get Pakistan out of the debt.
Pakistan is a poor country and falls in 3rd world group. It must enhance its tax base to generate funds to use on development projects. In order to not deplete its vote bank politicians instead tend to rely on borrowing rather than enact and vigorously implement existing tax laws.
Money is being borrowed on record levels like there is no tomorrow and creating huge debt. If this debt is used in a right way to establish industries then it is understandable. However, one cannot see this money being invested in a manner that would be beneficial and productive for the long haul. In fact most of it is being looted in corruption.
Unemployment is very high. Inflation is high. Corruption is way up there!
All this debt instead of helping the economy will further exacerbate the economic and social issues of the country. There are an array of barriers, including poor power, lack of logistics infrastructure, high administrative burden, high interest rates, etc. that are making our manufacturers uncompetitive.
It is imperative to have a well thought-out manufacturing sector-led job creation strategy in place to fire up the country’s jobs market. Unfortunately, government’s concentration is on political strategic projects simply because those suit them.
This has been and will continue to widen the gap between haves and have-nots. This is pure and simple failure of political economy management.
Instead of having set policy to do something corrective for the long haul, for example plan in a way that floods do not bring destruction to poor masses every year, politicians rather have the opportunities to get in water with long boots, to have pictures taken showing themselves giving away tents and food to affected. They use this help as a tool to portray their party cares for them and woo votes. If politicians do something about the floods for the long haul and once for all, it’ll not help them politically on perpetual basis. This is political economy decision making at its worst!
Political economy decision making is time-sensitive also. Politicians make economic decision when it suits them the best.
Pakistani nation tends to have short term memory. Politicians know and use that to their advantage. Current prime minister recently announced that his government will establish 39hospitals. Alas! Why wait until next to last year to work on public health which is such a crucial sector? Think about it.
Also now government is guaranteeing that load shedding will be done with by 2018, the election year! One must understand our industry has hurt a great deal due to lack of electric power. However these politicians have the audacity to wait till year before last of elections to work on electricity projects.
To political economy manager his elect-ability is more important than plight of masses.
Even CPEC is somewhat delayed to have its inauguration towards the end of 2017, closer to election year. This way government can decorate another achievement award on its chest just before elections.
It is safe to say that these political economy managers think of themselves first rather than the nation.
Instead of having a long term strategy for education government rather give laptops because that helps them gain votes. This is pure form of political economy decision making to gain political benefit on the expense of nation’s treasury.
Our supply-side led inflation has caused high inflation and also our exports to be expensive. Our many political economy managers are also landlords and industrialists. One example that can be cited is of sugar. Many sugar mill owners are political leaders. By controlling production or put a check on supply it helps keep price artificially high. Thus help increase wealth for the political actors who own mills.
Stock market rise is not due to any current government’s extra ordinary steps. The increased confidence in stock market is due to betterment of army led peace and security situation especially in Karachi which is the hub of our economy. People have started to invest in companies whose products are in demand such as food, cement, power, etc. However, writer does not see any concrete change that would give stock market a reason to go up steadily. Remember, most of the moves in stock markets are speculative. And it would be safe to predict an unfortunate bubble-burst in short term, since writer sees stock market as artificially inflated to show how well the economy is doing.
Regional politics also plays a role in political economy decision making.
Government projects such as metro bus and orange train are concentrated in a very small area of the country where ruling party has better chance of getting votes and parliamentary seats. While these projects have eaten up very high valued investment these projects will not going to create any long term jobs. On top these projects will be continually subsidized at the expense of other people who will not be using these transportation means.
These projects are awarded without any tenders to benefit political supporters, yet another form of corruption. These projects drive good political economy benefits for these politicians.
One must understand that in our country only 2% of people hold about 80% of the wealth. Most of this wealth this 2% people are holding came from corruption. This money is either being held idle or has been illegally transferred overseas which could have been used on projects for the betterment of economy and social services level for the masses.
This corruption helps the governments under the prevailing political structure, because this looted money is used for political purposes such as elections. Our current political government structure provide political parties and leaders to hold positions at different redundant levels. It is not in the interest of any government in power to work effectively to eradicate corruption because they use this money to fund cronies to run in elections.
Unless new government structure is adopted (as proposed by writer elsewhere), Pakistan will not develop uniformly as it must and at pace it must.
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In Afghanistan-India nexus, Afghanistan is on the losing side
(Published in Times of Islamabad)
When Soviet Union back in 1970s & ’80s occupied Afghanistan, Pakistan played a vital and ultimate role in having it liberated. Also, Pakistan let in millions of Afghan refugees thus over burdening its frail economy as well as deteriorating its security situation and social fabric.
India on the other hand was part of Soviet Union block during that time and essentially had kept quiet.
Now that Afghanistan needs Pakistan again, instead of cooperating and seeking help from Pakistan, it has sat in the lap of India. India cannot help Afghanistan in getting it out of this predicament it is facing currently rather most likely India will further push it into the quagmire.
Investing few millions of dollars by India perhaps will show Afghanistan that India is interested in its development but the case is totally opposite.
India in reality is not out to help Afghanistan, but to drive strategic benefit on expense of Afghanistan’s peace. India’s main target is Pakistan. It wants to use Afghanistan’s permeable boarders to perpetrate terrorism in Pakistan.
NDS (Afghan intelligence agency) is playing in the hands of RAW (Indian intelligence agency) and helping India in this cause. Indian consulates across the border from Pakistan play a vital role in training of miscreants and cross border terrorism within Pakistan. Capturing of Indian agents within Pakistan with malicious intent, carry clear evidence of such Indian intentions.
The reason India is so desperate that it is using terror as a weapon to destabilize Pakistan and the region as whole so it does not let Pakistan drive potential benefits of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the regional economic cooperation which is on the cards. Additionally India wants to divert attention of the rest of the world from the atrocities it is perpetrating on Kashmiris, who are fighting for freedom from India for past 70years.
Afghanistan playing a part in this terror nexus and hurting Pakistan will prolong this war on terror in the region and hurt Afghanistan itself for the long haul as coming Afghan generations take up arms.
Pakistan is on the road to get into a regional cooperation with China, Russia and Iran. There is a very good chance other Central Asian countries will also join as there are great deal of economic benefits to be had by being part of this regional cooperation. If Afghanistan does not come to its senses then it will be isolated as India will be in coming years.
Afghanistan must foresee what future holds for this region and do away with helping terrorists perpetrate terror acts inside Pakistan and instead join hands for betterment of its own people.
Economic prosperity will only come when Afghanistan grabs such opportunities rather than by becoming a colony of India.
By making use of such economic opportunities Afghan government will create jobs thus Afghans will earn livelihood for their families and educate coming generations rather than have perpetual uneducated extremist generations.
Government of Pakistan and its foreign missions need to workup a steadfast approach to ensure powers that be are made aware of true intentions of India. They must be convinced that in order to have peace in the region and globally for that matter, Afghanistan must be taken out of grasp of India and forced to sit down with Pakistan to sort out bi-lateral differences.
On the other hand United States of America must understand that it cannot have its cake and eat it too. Either it needs to work wholeheartedly to bring peace in the region or collaborate with India for its own geo-politics.
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Perhaps a Surprise but not so Pleasant: The reality of Pakistani Economy *
(Published in Kashmir Times)
We Pakistanis tend to rejoice when we hear news about Pakistan doing well in certain fields. Unfortunately commoners lack knowledge and ability to question the basic facts mentioned in reports those are so celebrated by the government.
It is given that Pakistan is a developing country. By definition a developing (a real process of being on the road to development) country must attain at least 7 to 7.5% GDP growth annually. Pakistan is lacklustering at 3 to 4.5% over the past 5years!
This performance leaves much to be desired.
Pakistan is an agrarian country or at least perceived to be one. Over the past decade in Pakistan which is the hub of agriculture no reforms have been implemented to stabilize let alone enhance agricultural production. Situation of farmers is real sad.
There is a huge agricultural and dairy market both domestically and internationally which is not being explored.
No land reforms have been done. No tax reforms on agriculture has been done. Cities are getting over crowded because of sad situation in rural areas. Farmers are leaving agriculture and moving to cities to find better economic opportunities. This exodus is causing cities to have problems of their own such as sanitation and social issues.
No export enhancement reforms have been done. Exports have dwindled down and trade deficit has sored to one of the highest levels in decades.
Stock market rise is not due to any current government’s extra ordinary steps. The increased confidence in stock market is due to betterment of army led peace and security situation especially in Karachi which is the hub of our economy. Most of the moves in stock markets are speculative. Some improvement in the stock market could be attributed to CPEC’s potential benefits.
Government is totally counting on CPEC. It is a good project, but it will take at least six to eight years before its fruits can be fully enjoyed! However, we should keep in mind the benefits will come if we plan better. Simply having road links between Gawader and China will not do us any good. Government needs to establish job-creating industries. Find new export markets.
We do need to produce products cheaper than China in order to stay safe from the effects of this corridor, else Chinese products will take over the domestic market and further ruin our industry or what is left of it.
Debt already is very high. This could have very drastic results in near future. Government is borrowing like there is no tomorrow both domestically and internationally creating crowding out effect for the public. Public cannot borrow at good rates and invest in job creating industries.
Government is continuing to sell bonds at high discount rates. Money borrowed is being used in non-developmental projects. Additionally, putting future of Pakistan at stake.
Corruption is rampant with no let. No concrete action is being taken to eradicate this menace. Money looted in corruption is being sent off shore in record levels thus depriving the potential projects those need funds so desperately.
Increasing oil prices will have further very negative effect on our competitiveness and exports. This along with continuous borrowing by the government will have drastic effect on balance of payments and budget deficit.
Electricity and gas situation has not improved much.
Inflation which writer believes in Pakistan is supply-driven rather than demand-driven as in many other countries, is not being dealt with properly. Manufacturing as well as service industry has rendered exports expensive because of overall inflation.
Foreign investment is minimal. Government’s performance has been poor in making Pakistan a welcoming country. For a developing country investment to GDP ratio should be around 25% however in Pakistan it is hovering around 15%. In order to enhance its industrial base government needs to take rigorous steps to invite and encourage both domestic and foreign direct investment.
No concrete steps have been taken to market our young labor. There is no training programs in place for new potential industries. Graduates coming out of colleges with BA and BS degree are no good unless they are trained for specific industries and equipped with skills.
Government needs to focus on value added industries. For example, Pakistan is positioned highly in milk producing countries. There are so many potential value-added products those could be produced for both domestic and foreign markets.
Since there is high unemployment government needs to encourage entrepreneurship. It should direct banks with certain guarantees to loan new start-up ideas.
Cost of production factors must be kept low so that items manufactured in Pakistan can be competitive.
In short there is a lot to be done in order to have a pleasant economic surprise.
* In response to an article by Tyler Cowen in Bloomberg
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