EPZ to boost defence exports
Balochistan as a whole can be developed as
future Arms Manufacturing Base of Pakistan
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Nov 27 - Dec 03, 2000
The first ever international defence exhibition
recently held at Karachi under the title of 'IDEAS 2000' believed to
be the brainchild of the Chief Executive Gen. Pervez Musharraf has
opened attractive avenues for massive investments from the private
sector in the field of traditional defence production in Pakistan.
Echoes of the exhibition, a brilliant idea for
aggressive and effective salesmanship, were received across the globe
with varying reactions. Recently, the official reaction of the United
States imposing certain sanctions against Pakistan in fact endorses
the capability of Pakistan for producing quality defence productions.
The Chief Executive has rightly identified the defence production area
for augmentation of our exports.
In order to know how the private sector feels about
IDEAS 2000, PAGE had a special session with Sheikh Javaid,
Chairman Export Processing Zones' Investors Council to discuss the
participation of the private sector in defence production.
Sheikh Javaid, really excited about the prestigious
occasion of 'IDEAS 2000' came out with the remarks that the uncalled
for restrictions imposed by the developed world against Pakistan have
proved to be the blessings in disguise by making Pakistan self-reliant
in quality defence productions. The IDEAS 2000 has infused feelings to
be proud of being Pakistanis, he observed.
One feels elevated with a pleasant surprise of the
tremendous achievement in the field of manufacturing light and medium
type weapons. The occasion has given strong messages to the nation and
also to the international community that Pakistan is not only self
sufficient in producing light and medium type weapons but has the
capacity to export the same to the international buyers. It also
disproved the clamouring foreign media generally painting a horrible
picture about the law and order situation in Karachi. The foreign
visitors observed by them selves how conducive atmosphere the city of
Karachi offers for investment. Sheikh Javaid endorsed the remarks of
finance minister Shaukat Aziz that despite the fact that Karachi holds
the position of an attractive investment point it remains one of the
most unsold cities of the investment world.
Sheikh Javaid having special interests for rapid
developments of export processing zones at the strategic locations of
the country feels such exhibitions can attract massive foreign
investment if the proposed export processing zones at Gawadar and
other coastal areas of Balochistan are chosen as the venue for next
exhibitions. The idea can be sold to investors in Arm manufacturing
sector to invest in Export Processing Zones.
Unfortunately, the existing EPZ unit has failed to
attract its major objective i.e. foreign investment, Hi-tech and
transfer of technology, and sufficient employment opportunities. Under
the circumstances, as well as security reasons at the existing zone,
we badly need to change our policy for establishment of EPZ units in
future. The coastal cities of Balochistan, despite having enormous
potential for investment and boosting up our exports are so far not
fully exposed to the foreign investments. These future Units are
needed to be designed in a manner that availability of all the
required infrastructure required for producing weapons or components
Sheikh Javaid feels that the EPZ units can play a
vital role in producing and marketing our defence productions the
world over if zones area developed exclusively with this idea. The
prospective investors may be allowed to enjoy the package of
incentives unprecedented in other industrial areas of the country.
Pakistan is right on the crossroads today hence
great responsibilities lie on our policy makers to successfully bail
out the country from economic crisis. The policy makers in the past
had almost ruined the economy especially the industrial sector
reflected in every third unit relegated to the status of a sick unit.
One of the major causes for disaster was the wrong location policy by
completely ignoring Balochistan, the largest province of the country.
Plenty of land lying wasted in Balochistan should have been used for
industrial investments instead of disturbing the agricultural lands in
the provinces with agriculture stakes. This would have saved the
cherished agricultural lands in the province of Sindh and Punjab on
one hand and served the poverty alleviation objectives in Balochistan.
The coast of Mekran is still waiting for potential
entrepreneurs who could invest in the neglected region of the country.
Much has been said on the issue but a very little has been done,
Sheikh Javaid regretted.
Having a wide exposure in export processing zones,
Javaid feels that ports like Gawadar, Pasni and Ormara have the
tremendous potential to become the hub of economic activity in this
region. The export oriented industries and the trade can bring about a
visible change in the socio-economic life of that province as well as
of the country. Taking a lead from the success of IDEAS 2000, Shaikh
Javaid suggests that Balochistan as a whole can be developed as future
Arms Manufacturing Base of Pakistan which would naturally enlarge the
export base of Pakistan. A cherished economic goal of Pakistan.