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For the record
Science &
Chinan's internet
Nisar A. Memon
Politics & Policy
National Accountability

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 Karachi.

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 start with?

NISAR: The Reformers have identified five priority areas which include Education and Literacy, Empowerment of Women, Health, Help Centres and Enabling Environment.

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 sectors.

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.