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Zafar Aziz Osmani

For the record
Zafar Aziz Osmani
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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 decision.

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 orientation.

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.