By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Mar 06 - 12, 2000
Zafar Aziz Osmani, SEVP, Pakistan-Kuwait Investment Company, did his
Masters in International Relations & Political Science, LLB. Specialization in HR from
Cornell University. He is a trained facilitator in Leadership, Management Skills, TQM,
Change Management, Competency Based Selection, Re-engineering, Compensation Management and
several other programmes.
Currently he is involved in bringing change in corporate culture,
developing and implementing HR strategy, business development, corporate planning, systems
implementation, legal department and support for setting up of Al-Meezan Investment Bank,
a premier Islamic bank with foreign collaboration in Pakistan. He carries a diversified
experience of working in various capacities with public and private sector. Beside serving
in Pakistan Taxation Service, he worked with Exxon Chemical, Gulf International Bank
Bahrain, American Express Bank, Director American Express Asia Pacific Regional
Compensation Singapore, Head HR American Express Bank and TRS for Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Keeping in view of his rich experience in HR, corporate planning and
special interest in free banking, PAGE asked a few questions regarding smooth transition
from present banking system to interest free banking following Supreme Court's verdict
declaring that all present laws repugnant to the injunctions of Islam shall cease to have
effect by June 30, 2001.
PAGE: What steps are being taken in the banking sector
to make shift in accordance to the verdict of the Supreme Court.
Zafar Aziz Osmani: Neither any visible action or
initiative on training of the staff working in the banking sector has been taken so far in
that direction nor a sense of urgency prevails towards implementation of the specific
directions of the Supreme Court's in our financial system. He felt that little awareness
of the magnitude and dimensions of the issues in the financial and business sector exists
probably because of complacency among the top professionals who have a major role to play
in the transitory period, Osmani observed.
PAGE: Would you identify or suggest ways and means to
be adopted by the financial sector to accomplish the task in line with the court's
Zafar Aziz Osmani: A joint initiative by all the
financial institutions for developing a training strategy, needs analysis and utilization
of resources can be helpful. Constitution of a common committee or a team could be the
answer. In order to groom and training future professional in Islamic banking, the
curriculum already developed by Dar-ul-uloom can be used while assistance can be sought
from institutions like IBA, LUMS and Hamdard for structuring and administering the
training programmes. An specialist in HR, Osmani also said that while selecting the
trainers to produce a crop of professionals in Islamic banking, it is important that these
trainers should have a commitment to the vision, understanding the concept of interest
free financial system with a firm belief in its practicality. These qualities of the
trainers are necessary for training and improving skills of innovative thinking in
bankers. These trainers would be required to develop ability among the bankers to identify
the gaps between the current product and the share requirements.
Osmani recommended that there is a strong and urgent need for
developing high quality banking professionals for Islamic Banking. The Islamic financial
institutions will have to share the responsibility of providing product and market
PAGE: Would you like to highlight the role of
Pakistan-Kuwait Investment Company(Pvt.) Ltd (PKIC) in building up Pakistan's economy
specially in view of a joint venture between the two Muslim countries.
Zafar Aziz Osmani: Its a matter of pride that the
establishment of Al-Meezan Investment Bank which is a joint venture between PKIC and
Islamic Investment Company of the Gulf, Bahrain and other sponsors from the Muslim world
with a paid up capital worth Rs721 million is one of the largest investment banks in
Pakistan in terms of capital. This joint venture is strictly operating in accordance with
the principles of Islamic Shariah. This project, Osmani said in fact is a step ahead in
the direction of interest free banking in Pakistan. The objective of this bank is to
establish Islamic banking as banking of first choice to facilitate implementation of an
equitable economic system in Pakistan. Al-Meezan Investment Bank will soon be launching
its new product i.e. " RIBA FREE" a pure Islamic mode of financing. This product
will provide a lead to other financial institutions to move in line with Sharea, he
expressed the hope.
As far as PKIC is concerned, its objectives are to be a profitable
organization and contribute to the Pakistan economy. This company is investing in projects
which are of national importance and form an integral part in the country's economy. PKIC
is the only financial institution in Pakistan to have achieved a AAA credit rating from
DCR VIS, an affiliate of DEFF and Philip, an international credit rating agency.