A time to live by
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
August 16 - 22, 1999
The "Independence Day" can be described as the most happiest
occasion as nothing else could be precious, but, a "sense of freedom" for an
individual or a nation.
Despite all odds and evens, the country has passed through during its
chequred history of 52 years, Pakistanis are set for a grand jubilation, this year too, in
the hope of better days.
Looking back the days when Pakistanis as a newly born nation celebrated
the first independence day on August 14, 1947 with tears of gratitude in their eyes and
hearts filled with joy and happiness. On this historic day, regardless of the price they
had paid to make the struggle for Pakistan a success, they were happy to have a separate
homeland. They were happy with a sense of freedom from the religious, economic, political,
administrative and social slavery of Hindu Raj. They were happy because their dreams had
Today, while celebrating the 53rd independence day, the eyes are still
wet due to sorrow and grief over their shattered dreams of enjoying to live respectfully
under good governance in an economically prosperous society. A society where the future
generations would be allowed to live free from corruption, mal-administration, injustice.
The nuclear status achieved by Pakistan is of course a matter of pride
for the nation. Militarily speaking, the nuclear status has brought Pakistan at par with
neighbouring India which has always posed a threat for the security of Pakistan on account
of Kashmir issue. The credit for this great achievement goes to present government 'no
doubt'. However, the nuclear status has made it rather more imperative for Pakistan to
become economically strong as well.
Currently, the national economy is heavily indebted. Debt servicing has
become a major problem to deal with. Pakistan has to pay Rs287.4 billion for debt
servicing. Though, the present government has managed to convince the international donors
for rescheduling of the debt payments which has given a breather, formidably increasing
size of debts and their servicing would continue to threat our economic independence.
Since a major chunk of our budget (Rs.642.2 billion for the current fiscal year) goes into
debt servicing, it will continue to hamper our economic growth in future unless committed
steps are taken to get rid of the debt retirement.
According to official figures, Pakistan's outstanding external debt
(medium and long term) is close to $23 billion, however, the unofficial sources estimate
the external debts at $31-32 billion. This debt registered an increase of 1.6 per cent
over 1997-98. The debt servicing liability increased by 9.5 per cent to $2,577 million as
a result of higher cost of borrowing and lower maturity of loans. The commitments of
foreign aid during 1998-99 is estimated at $2,698 million which is higher by 28.1 per cent
and disbursements are expected to fall by 18.9 per cent to $272 million.
Consequently, mismanagement of huge foreign debts, over the years, by
different governments in Pakistan, mainly on political considerations, has burdened the
people with acute poverty.
Since the early 1990s, the problem of poverty has been intensified
because of slowing down of economic activity. The structural adjustment programmes and
macro-economic stabilization measures have imposed heavy burden on the poor. Moreover, the
burden of increase in indirect taxes has also fallen disproportionately upon the lower
income groups. Furthermore, reduction of development expenditure has also contributed to
growing level of poverty in Pakistan. The targeted anti-poverty programmes are limited
with spendings on Social Safety Nets amounting to a mere 0.2 per cent of the GDP.
The most outstanding feature of the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad
Ali Jinnah, the Father of the Nation, was to bring Muslims of different sects, regions and
ethnicity from all corners of the sub-continent at one platform which provided fuel to a
successful Pakistan Movement. His dynamic leadership, based on the golden rules of 'Unity,
Faith and Discipline' proved to be a binding force among the Muslims. When Pakistan came
into being, the spirit which embarked the struggle for Pakistan to a great success, was
still alive. There was no Sunni, Shia, Devbandi, Barelvi, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pakhtoon,
Balochi or Mohajir etc at the time of Independence. It was one nation, committed to build
a strong Pakistan to live respectfully among the comity of the nations.
Unfortunately, the most horrifying and torturous feature of the day is
that the spirit induced by Quaid-e-Azam, is rapidly vanishing out of the national scene.
The elements of small vision have poisoned the national unity by unleashing provincial,
sectarian and ethic slogans to achieve short term political gains.
Pakistan, perhaps, is the only country where the disgruntled political
leaders and pressure groups can dare to issue public statements that if their demands were
not met the country would disintegrate. They always tie up country's integrity with their
party interests. While in power they do not tire to talk about national integrity but they
suddenly change their instance on the other side of the table. Issuing public statements
about disintegration of the country, which are also carried by the national press, is a
cruel joke with the sentiments of the patriots who believe in "live and die for the
solidarity and integrity the country".
There is a dire need for development of a national consensus that
whatever the circumstances may be, no political party, pressure group, member of the
national media, will issue and publish statements threatening to the existence of the
country. Such statements not only inflict a sense of dejection about country's stability
but also invite the enemies to conspire against Pakistan.
To achieve their nefarious designs through fragmentation of the
society, the people of vested interest are already out to divide the nation into ethnic,
sectarian and regional groups. The erosion of the national sprit of course is a great
national loss. A loss which is much bigger than the economic loss. We can overcome the
economic problems through concerted efforts as a nation but "how to overcome the loss
of national sprit" should always be placed on top of our national priority agenda.
The corrupt officials working on a single point agenda to mint money
'by hook or by crook' have added fuel to the fire. Their deliberate failure to dispense
justice while dealing with people is one of the greatest factors eroding the national
spirit. Love and respect for the country evaporates when people do not get justice. Now is
the time that organizations and officials should not be allowed any more to trifle with
the sacred cause of national unity. The solution of the problem lies in complete
overhauling of our national institutions and public sector organizations which should be
totally made free from politicization in the larger national interests. It is the trend of
politicization of the public sector organizations at a massive scale by different
governments, which consequently ruined the objective to work for a strong Pakistan. The
political workers who managed to grab their place in different organizations worked in the
interest of the party they belonged to instead of working in the interest of the country.
Besides cleansing the national institutions of such elements there is a need to evolve
future policies in accordance with the objectives of Pakistan's creation and interests of
the people. Pakistan needs a leadership having a characteristic to unite the whole nation
on common objectives, to mobilize public opinion for a struggle to achieve objectives of
economic independence and national solidarity.
The situation is sounding a note of warning that out of frustration,
people have started identifying themselves with their provincial affiliations. Instead of
taking pride to be Pakistani, feelings of hatred fanned by anti-national elements have
psychologically poisoned peoples mind against other groups.
Generally speaking, people who love Pakistan, seriously feels about it
rather speak more harshly off the record as against the sophisticated written words but
also feel helpless themselves. "How this trend, if allowed to prevail, could be
harmful to the national integrity?" should be realized as early as possible by the
people at the helm of affairs. The situation demands that nation should once again revise
the forgotten lesson of Unity, Faith and Discipline given by
Analyzing the situation, a university teacher who requested not to be
quoted said that the disgruntled elements who failed to make place for themselves through
different means in politics succeeded in dividing people in the absence of consensus
national priorities. The first thing needed to be done is to decide our national
priorities and make them a part of our Constitution. We have to evolve clear policy
objectives to give a direction to the nation. These priorities and policy objectives have
to be implemented through creation of a harmonized culture and also through legislation.
Federal Minister Sheikh Rashid, while realizing the importance for
revival of the national spirit, has said that this year "Jashn-e-Azadi" will
carry a message of national unity and determination to fight against foreign aggression to
achieve the ultimate goal of liberating Kashmir, by extending all possible moral and
political support to Mujahideen. The nation, he said would also resolve to move forward
with greater vigor and zeal for achieving socio-economic prosperity.
The segment of human resource development through introduction of
radical changes in our education system is almost a neglected sector in Pakistan. The
obsolete examination system and syllabus continues to prevail in our education.
Universities are continued with issuing degrees in subjects like Social Work, Sociology,
General History, Political Science and a number of other subjects which have no place in
practical life. The degrees generally issued in these subjects cannot help the students to
get a job. If it is not too harsh to say, generally speaking, these degrees are used for
the decoration of drawing rooms. There is a need to convert university resources for more
practical subjects which could economically help the students as well as the national
economy instead of walking on the beaten path.
Government, however, claims that Pakistan has made progress in the
education sector in terms of expanding the number of educational institutions and raising
the literacy rate from 26 per cent in 1981 to the current level of 45 per cent. In order
to revamp education sector a new education policy has been introduced last year which is
under implementation. The policy broadly aims at increasing literacy rate, reforming the
examination system, enforcement of compulsory primary education act by 2004-5 and raising
total expenditure on education up to 4 per cent of GNP by the year 2010.
During the year 1998-99 the number of primary schools increased from
156,545 in 1997-1998 to 163,746; Middle schools from 15,747 to 17,007, and the number of
High schools increased from 10,183 to 10,519. In addition, there were 498 Secondary
Vocational Institutions; 735 Arts & Science Colleges, 265 Professional Colleges and 26
Universities including one female university in the public sector. The enrollment at the
primary stage in 1989-99 increased by 5.9 per cent (4.6 per cent male and 8 per cent
female); the Middle stage enrollment has increased by 3.3 per cent (1.2 per cent male and
6.8 per cent female); and High school by 7.7 per cent (7.4 per cent male and 8.3 per cent
The value addition in manufacturing sector either stagnant, is showing
a weak progress. According to an official assessment value could register only 4.7 per
cent increase in 1998-99 as against an impressive recovery of 7.9 per cent in 1997-98. The
large scale manufacture grew by 2.7 per cent in July-March 1998-99 as compared to 7.6 per
cent growth achieved last year. The small scale manufacturing continues to grow by 8.4 per
cent. Factors like economic sanctions, the side effects of the measures such as
encouragement of non essential imports, decline in domestic and foreign investment due to
uncertain economic environment and lower demand for exports because of global economic
recession, adversely affected the growth of large scale manufacturing. The government, on
its part to combat the situation, has intensified its efforts to improve investment
climate by taking a series of measures. It has also established Small and Medium
Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) to encourage small and medium enterprises to
attain a sustainable higher growth in the manufacturing sector.
The net foreign private investment inflows stood at $300.7 million
during July-March 1998-99 as against $639.9 million in the comparable period last year,
registering a decline of 53 per cent. The portfolio investment declined to $4.7 million
during July-March 1998-99 as against $203.8 million last year. The declining trend in
foreign direct investment inflows declined to $ 296 million during July-March 1998-99 as
against $436.1 million in the same period last year indicating a decline of 32.1 per cent.
The South East Asian crisis, the post-May 1998 developments, freezing of foreign currency
deposit and the IPPs controversy were responsible for the decline.
The agriculture sector also suffered a set back due to unfavourable
weather conditions and virus attack and as such has registered a meager growth of 0.35 per
cent as against 3.8 per cent last year.
Sector-wise analysis, indicates that the production of rice increased
to 4.7 tonnes as compared to 4.3 million tonnes last year, while sugarcane production
reached to 55.2 million tonnes from 53.1 million tonnes last year showing an increase of
9.3 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively. The maize production increased to 1.3 million
tonnes as compared to previous year's production of 1.25 million tonnes showing a growth
of 4.1 per cent. The production of wheat during the current year is estimated at 18.5
million tonnes as against the last year's production of 18.7 million tonnes. The decline
in production of wheat is mainly attributed to long spell of dry spell during the sowing
season. The production of cotton is estimated at 8.8 million bales as compared to 9.2
million bales of last season. The decline in cotton production is mainly due to leave curl
virus attack, adverse weather condition and decrease in the area under the crop.
Pakistan's exports have been stagnating at around $8 billion during the
last five years. One of the major structural problems of Pakistan's exports is that its
export-base is not only narrow but it is also undiversified and concentrated in relatively
low value added products. The role of trade policy in promoting exports will remain
limited if country's export base retains its current status. What would require is a major
focus on Pakistan's competitive strength and a consequent diversification of its export
base and upgrading of its production capacity. Trade policy reforms and appropriate
implementation programmes will be able to facilitate an export expansion strategy, based
on sound fundamentals.
Despite rapid strides towards industrialization, the agriculture sector
holds an important position in the national economy. For sustaining the agricultural
growth there is a need to develop agricultural exports and not only of traditional export
items, i.e. cotton textile, rice sugar fruits and vegetables but some non traditional
exportable agricultural items as well.
It is the responsibility of today's leadership to protect the dreams of
the masses to enjoy a respectable life through good governance which has been spoiled by
the corrupt bureaucracy and public administration.
Practically speaking, the civil servants, contrary to the basic concept
of serving the people, rule them literally. This situation adequately answers why there is
no tax culture in Pakistan and why there is a trend of tax evasion in the country. The
salary of these public servants and public administration is paid by the people through
their tax contributions to the exchequer. But in return instead of serving and working for
the welfare of the people, who are the real pay-masters, the government machinery treats
the tax payers badly. This was the main reason why people do not pay taxes willingly.
It is the time to revive the same spirit which had motivated the Muslim
population to get united during the struggle for a homeland. Pakistan demands of the
nation for another struggle for socio-economic well being of its people.