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Thinking Out Aloud

Politics & Policy
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Thinking Out Aloud
By Ali Haider
Universities Profile
IBA on Punjab-The leading

Sheikh Javaid
Special Report
The new manifesto

Oct 25 - 31, 1999

We have placed all of our hope in our new Chief Executive to try and drag our country out of the quicksand pit into which it was slowly being sucked. We do not doubt his motivation and intention for assuming control of our country and I'm sure that if we were polled throughout the country for our choice of leader, our current CE would win hands down. We may not have had elections, but as far as I am concerned, we are in democracy.

The first real test of our CE will occur after November 16 and how seriously he deals with the different types of loan defaulters. Although impartiality and across the board accountability is what we shall all look for, banks and the legal system need to differentiate between the different types of borrowers.

First, there are those people who have used their clout or bribes to obtain loans without ever having had the intention of repaying them. These are the people that need to be publicly shamed, who have sold themselves and country's welfare for the sake of enriching themselves. These are the people that have put us where we are today and they should be made a complete example of.

We cannot put these people in the same category as those businessmen who have borrowed with good intention. If a businessman borrows with the intention of setting up a factory that provides employment and revenues to the state and his business fails for reasons outside his control, what should be done? He cannot be treated in the same way as thieving defaulters. Obviously, borrowed funds need to be repaid but bankers need to act as the best of partners and not be ready to hack off someone's legs when the going t gets a bit tough.

To start off with the right footing, our courts and government must differentiate between these two categories and treat the two cases with drastically different levels of severity. To punish an honest man who simply can't pay his borrowings because of economic conditions or policy would be dampening an entrepreneurial spirit that we need to help boost our economy. Similarly, to let off some politico to the slightest degree would be sending the wrong message to everyone.

There is no easy answer but we must start somewhere and the key word is intention. We need to look at what a person's intention was when they borrowed money and why he or she has not been able to repay his or her dues. This may be a cumbersome and impractical procedure, but if done with the right intention, it will foster the best possible result and send the right message to all potential new borrowers and investors.