Economic Independence & Pakistan

Today when we celebrate 14th August after fifty three years of our Independence, every thinking mind has various questions over the manner in which we have been administered and continue to be so, which raises hundreds of questions, which need immediate attention of the ruling elite because people in the present age of Information technology have aright and are not a bunch of cattle herd any more, they have eyes to see, ears to listen and on top of it, they have a thinking mind with passion and conscience. So they should be led as a nation and not driven like cattle herd.

Our fifty-three years history has a different story to tell the so-called leaders in our democratic and autocratic system have miserably failed to deliver the goods. The cross road on which we stand as a confused nation is due to an overall national character of national apathy and carelessness shown towards requirements of good governance and rule of law for petty personal gains and expediency involved therein. Now the nation has pinned high hopes in the Army as an institution to rescue the situation which our so-called champions of democracy have failed, the first and foremost requirement today is of economic revival, how to remedy our economic malaise is the worry of each and every citizen, the rulers attention on priority is required on this vital issue. It is fact that people who attain power through Army intervention can retain their grip more firmly to deliver the goods, if their intentions are honest and they are sincere in nation building programme. So far General Pervez Musharraf has done a yeoman job on Kashmir, which will continue in future. Yet another item which requires the attention of General Pervez Musharraf is the economy of Pakistan. Unless the country is economically strong and the matter of its revival is tackled on war footings, all political targets will end in fiasco. The Chairman Wapda has recently said that electricity is sold at the highest price in Pakistan as compared to rest of the world. Is it not a slur on any government whatsoever. So far as the democratic governments are concerned they were thick skins and they will continue to be so because they have been and they are bereft of sincerity and honesty.

Now, let us take the position of petrol. The cost of which is Rs. 13/- per liter with twenty rupees as incidence of taxation, which brings the price in retail market as Rs. 33/- per liter or so. According to reports the revenue collected on petrol is Rs.18 Billion in the preceding year and the estimated revenue / surcharge income in the current financial year on petrol is Rs.32 Billion or so. How? The nation wants to know, does it mean to increase the price of petrol more than 100% or massive devaluation is in the offing. The private petroleum companies have been given the responsibility to regulate increase and decrease in retail prices of petroleum on their periodical calculation basis. Transparency demands that this modus operandi of calculation be made public before embarking upon any change in prices. In the absence of Transparency, all the rhetoric about the budget is only a financial comedy for the consumption of the poor nation. All the champions of Trade and Industry are silent on this issue. Why? Simply because they have self-styled themselves as the B-Team of the government. Are the office bearers in trade bodies aspiring for ministerial slot.

Every government has been crying hoarse to put an end to multiplicity of taxation and introduce one window operation, these two essential items for the progress of trade and industry is still a far cry, they have been busy in political wangling and political adventurism, this needs the attention of the man at the highest level above whom the nation can not go. He is responsible and answerable like Amirul Momineen to Allah and Allah alone. This is the position Nawaz Sharif aspired for; he gazed at the stars and lost his sight and now lives in self-exile in Saudi Arabia.

The worst economic crises is when the nation is rich and the government is poor, and this is the position in our unfortunate country, if every body does his job honestly and every body pays his taxes and other dues honestly as they do in America. Pakistan does not have to stand at the doors of IMF and World Bank with a beggar’s bowl. The nation hopes now that the General will again play the same role on these vital issues as he has played in Agra in his encounter with the Indians. The tax evaders and the corrupt officials are the enemies within and they are more dangerous and harmful then the enemies outside the borders of Pakistan first crush the enemies within and then grapple with the enemies outside. How and when, the answer lies in the famous epithet ” Shaher Sikahey Kotwalli ” meaning that your chair is your best teacher.

Time and tide waits for no body, our friends and foes have been making prophecies about Pakistan standing into a failed state. It is when the law and order situation is un-controllable and economy is on a downward trend and the country is friend less abroad, then it is a failed state. The purpose of this column is not to stress on every thing being hanky dory, but to call a spade a spade, so far as the foreign policy is concerned, Pakistan is surely not friendless, our staunch and brotherly ally is China, who is all the time ready with tun man and dhan to help their brother Pakistan, we shall also never betray them. Our ties with Iran are very cordial.

For India we are not a person to be hated, so far the foreign policy, as it appears to be, is in the strong hands of the President himself. Law and order situation is not that bad, yet it needs to be handled very carefully in as much as the powers of the police are being enhanced in the devolution plan. Unless the Metropolitan police plan is introduced, are we not creating another set of robbers with enormous powers in the hands of the police in the present set up, who have established to their credit only disrepute and ignominy. Then there are the enemies within of which police are reported to be a major partner. Let us first not only redress their morale but also redress their morals, so that the police can earn the reputation of the English bobby. Before they are invested with the authority they do not deserve.

Last but not the least is the economy of the nation and the country that goes to establish whether or not, it is a failed state. In the above lines observations have been made about the government policy on petrol.

So far not much has been done to bring about every acre of cultivable land under the plough, five years ago Effective Micro-organism ( EM ) Technology was agreed to be introduced in Pakistan under the agreement between Government of Pakistan and EM Research Organisation, Japan. Ministry of Agriculture, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, NFRC & NFRDF launched EM programme in Pakistan nationwide, EM Japan provided two plants for agricultural sector for manufacture of EM Products locally for enhancing agricultural production manifold from our existing lands under cultivation to Government of Pakistan under this agreement in 1996. Use of EM technology on a national scale would have a beneficial effect on food production. Not only does EM seem to offer a solution to another of Earth’s currently pressing problems, that of salinity and environmental pollution, it also promises better results in the area of medical health. EM has the ability to turn any type of soil, deserts included, into fertile, arable land capable of producing harvests many times greater than the current yield without using pesticides, agricultural chemicals or artificial fertilizer of any kind.

With use of EM one can claim safe food free from infections as it provides natural method of organic farming, which does not suits the interest of multinationals and their agents in Pakistan hence the corrupt officials in the government machinery has prevailed in creating hurdles in its usage inspite of clear orders from the Chief Executive of Pakistan in January 2000 for application of this technology in boosting our agricultural yeilds per acre at minimum possible cost against the high cost of pesticides and fertilizer input per acre. This I am writing after having seen personally the processes of research and experimentation at EM center in Okinhawa which I find superb, during my recent tour of Japan to attend the GRI Meeting at Tokyo in July 2001.

It is an irony of fate and due to some vested interest these plants were never used by the Ministry of Agriculture rather they were loaned to some favourite NGO’s and the cooperation under this agreement was jeopardized. This technology has brought about green revolution in Japan. This technology and its usefulness is already in the knowledge of the President of Pakistan as in January, 2000 a meeting between the Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf and the inventor of EM Technology Prof. Dr. Teuro Higa of Japan was held in Islamabad. This technology was also adopted for some defence and civilian projects in Multan Garrison area where it showed successful results.

Textile and value added exports is yet another area which is fearing the same fate due to little inter action between the exporters and Export Promotion Bureau and the Commerce Ministry, little do they realize that Pakistan is being pushed to become only a raw material exporting country because inspite of our claim of strong ties with USA no effort has been done to acquire MFN status for Pakistan, whereas Jordan, Egypt, African countries and even Bangladesh have preferential treatment on exports, whereas Pakistani exports are subject to levi of duties in US which makes our products incompitetive. Our stock market and financial market is also not worth mentioning, do our policy maker have any programme up their sleeve to combat this situation or the freedom achieved fifty three years ago has to be sacrificed due to our economic mismanagement which is landing us into the age of bondage again.

Last but not the least Pakistan must be divested of vested interest at home and abroad in order to make it strong welfare state. The President of Pakistan has to look into the causes, which have not been able to restore the confidence of the nation in the economic and industrial policies during the so-called democratic regimes and introduce revolutionary reforms. The President should also direct his Cabinet to complete the unfinished 7 point agenda given by him on 17th October 1999. Otherwise every thing said and done, we will continue to be a target of attack from different quarters and our policy of compromise will lead us to nowhere.

Mr. Ali Ashraf Khan is a Pakistani Businessman and Ex-Politician who bid good bye to politics in order to concentrate on more useful service benefit of the political intrigues prevalent in the National Political life of Pakistan. He frequently writes for English and Urdu newspapers in Pakistan.