By NISAR A. MEMON
Nov 29 - Dec 05, 1999
After doing his Masters in
Science from University of Karachi, Nisar A. Memon started his career as a lecturer in
Adamjee Science College before joining IBM as Marketing Trainee in December 1968. He held
various management positions before being selected for international assignment to IBM
Europe headquarters and then to IBM Middle East, Kuwait. Nisar returned home as Country
General Manager which position he held until June 1999 when he took early retirement from
IBM with a passion to devote his time and energy for the betterment of the citizens and of
the country as a whole. Nisar, however, continues to enjoy the position as the Director in
three leading enterprises including Engro Chemicals Pakistan Ltd, Karachi, Capital Asset
Leasing Corporation, Lahore and American Life Insurance Company, Karachi. He is also
member at the Board of Governors, Foundation for Advancement of Science and Technology,
Islamabad, member Advisory Board CPLC, Karachi and member Syndicate, University of
Currently he is the president of The Reformers, an organization
dedicated to work for socio-economic reforms in the society. PAGE interviewed him
in the second half of October 1999.
PAGE: Would you like to highlight motivating factors
for bringing The Reformers into being ?
NISAR: Pakistan is facing a most serious social and
economic crisis mainly due to failure of the leadership as well as general apathy of the
majority of people of Pakistan, including the professionals and technocrats. This has
contributed to weakening of almost all the institutions and promoting the personality cult
which is in vogue. The Reformers feel that there is an urgent need for effective action by
honest, enlightened and committed citizens, who have so far abstained themselves from the
process of governance and have been low impact citizens. There is a need to introduce a
new culture of true representation in Pakistan by bringing in a change by the silent
majority of good citizenship and good governance at all levels.
PAGE: Which are the areas The Reformers have chosen to
NISAR: The Reformers have identified five priority
areas which include Education and Literacy, Empowerment of Women, Health, Help Centres and
PAGE: Would you elaborate how The Reformers would work
in Education and Literacy sector?
NISAR: Practically speaking, the literacy rate in
Pakistan as it claimed at 45 per cent is not true. Actually the literacy rate is much less
than it is claimed. In order to overcome this basic problem, The Reformers have already
launched "Home School" programme. Home Schools have started working in different
localities of Karachi such as Baloch Colony, Manzoor Colony, Malir and other areas of the
city where the members have offered their own premises where the schools are housed. These
schools are meant for those children who do not attend any school. The Reformers would
provide them primary education in the morning hours while at evening the same schools have
launched a 6 month adult education programme for the mothers. Education is of the vital
importance specially for the mothers as they can deliver the goods of cultivating a crop
of educated citizens in future.
PAGE: What would you suggest for immediate economic
reforms in Pakistan?
NISAR: Devolution of power at all stages is a must for
resolving socio-economic issues in Pakistan. Powers should be delegated to the
institutions at all levels so that they could take immediate decisions at their level.
This would also help reducing the complexities of the system at one side while giving a
sense of involvement and participation among the citizens at the provincial, district and
city levels on the other side. Nisar spoke at length regarding reforms in taxation,
agriculture, Oil and Gas sectors and said that The Reformers have a plan to hold different
Conventions, Seminars etc. to suggest workable solutions of the problems faced by these
Nisar said that agriculture is the most important segment of Pakistan's
economy which contributes over 25 per cent of its total GDP. He regretted what he called
steady decline in agriculture growth and suggested that all out efforts be made to achieve
sustainable development of agriculture to meet the challenges of globalization with WTO
regimes. He referred the recommendations evolved at the seminar organized by The Reformers
on Oct. 18,1999.
"Arrangements for proper drainage be reviewed, strengthened and
implemented by government as well as farmers including lining of water channels."
"Desilting of Tarbela Dam to increase its holding capacity be undertaken as advised
by the consultants and to activate the two tunnels for this purpose."
"Livestock development has tremendous potential which must be
properly and urgently exploited to earn foreign exchange for the country." Education
of farmers by introducing agriculture subject at primary and secondary levels in all
schools of the rural areas.