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Politics & Policy
Pakistan's image abroad

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By Prof. Dr. KHAWAJA AMJAD SAEED
Sep 17 - 23, 2001

The image of Pakistan has been changing with fluctuating fortunes. The decade of 1960s saw Pakistan as a model country in development. Her GDA was 8.3% second to Japan in Asia. Several developing countries looked to Pakistan for adapting her development plans for implementation in their countries. South Korea is said to have made Pakistan's Second Five Year Plan (1960-65) as a foundation for her economic development.

Several new initiatives were taken in various sectors which developing countries followed. However, beginning May, 1998 many events followed resulting in isolation of Pakistan from main stream in the world and produced negative image abroad.

NEGATIVE TRENDS

Although May 28, 1998 put Pakistan on the nuclear map of the world, yet the outside world viewed it differently. This was primarily done as a response to India's nuclear testing of early May, 1998. The objective of Pakistan was to demonstrate its capacity of deterrence. The international donors and other funding agencies stopped grants, aids and foreign assistance. Later Dollar Accounts of Pakistanis (domestic and overseas Pakistanis) maintained in Pakistan in banks were frozen by the then Government in 1998. This was a stunning shock and dried up the pipeline of the flow of foreign remittances.

The confidence of overseas Pakistanis was rudely shaken. At that time Pakistani banks were holding US $ 11 billion ($ 9 b relating to resident Pakistanis and $ 2 b relating to Overseas Pakistanis). The foreign exchange reserves were around US $ 1.60 billion. It would have been advisable to have handled the position carefully. The Dollar account of overseas Pakistanis should not have been frozen. To Pakistanis living in the Country, a different package of payment in future or issuance of ten year long term Dollar Bonds would have been announced. Unfortunately this was not done and Country's image was tarnished in the minds of overseas Pakistanis. This slowed down the inward remittances. Later October 12, 1999 marked the take over by General Pervez Musharraf. This again was not well received abroad particularly in the west as democracy is always preferred to military rule. However, General Pervez Musharraf has announced road map to democracy on August 14, 2001 and steps are on the way to put Pakistani on the path of democracy. This is being well received abroad.

POSITIVE TRENDS

With the passage of time since October 12, 1999, positive trends have been witnessed. Image of Pakistan abroad is steadily improving. Some of the facts in this respect are as under:

The Economist. London (March 03. 2001)

Economists assembled by Price Water House Coopers in January 2001 developed an Opacity Index. This index measures weights relating to the effect of unclear legal systems and regulations, macro economic and tax policies and corruption on Capital markets. Thirty five countries were included in the survey. Pakistan ranked 15 out of 35 better than India which ranked 12. The best was Singapore ranked 35th at the top.

Table 1 presents the overall ranking of 35 countries.

The Economist, London (August 11, 2001)

A stock market turnover ratio measures how often shares change hands. Some emerging economies have very high turnover. Pakistan had a ratio of 487% of market capitalization in the year 2000. This puts Pakistan as number one in the world. South Korea, Taiwan and India had a ratio of over 300%. USA had a ratio of 200%. The lowest was 5% relating to Argentina. Besides, with the financial assistance of Asian Development Bank, Manila, Capital Markets of Pakistan are being modernized under the leadership of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

Transparency International (Paris: June 27, 2001)

Transparency International first launched the survey in 1995 and started releasing Corruption Perception Index (CPA). Research methodology followed by including 14 surveys from 7 independent institutions. It is a poll of polls. The survey is a reflection of business people, academics and Country analysts. For a Country, a minimum of three surveys is undertaken. A ten point scale is used. Ten represents highly clean and zero represents high corruption. Nine Points were scored by Finland, New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore and Sweden. Fifty five Countries scored less than five. Countries which scored less than two included Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bolivia, Kenya, Uganda and Bangladesh. Table 2 shows the ranking of some selected Countries.

Pakistan was given a rank of No. 3, later it improved to No. 5 and now, based on the latest survey its position has improved to No. 12. This shows that the level of corruption is declining in Pakistan and consequently is a positive sign for steadily rising image abroad.

Conclusion

The image of Pakistan abroad is improving steadily. This is a welcome sign and augurs well for the Country. Now opportunities for foreign investment will improve. Positive signals are reaching investors to accept the challenge of privatization in Pakistan. The steadily growing trend of expression of interest in telecommunications and banking sector in Pakistan is an indication of improved image.

With sound policies of the Government, improved economic performance at home and Pakistan now in the mainstream, her image will continue to upswing in future.

Table 1

OPACITY INDEX RANKING

Rank

Country

01

China

02

Russia

03

Indonesia

04

Turkey

05

South Korea

06

Czech Republic

07

Romania

08

Kenya

09

Ecuador

10

Thailand

11

Guatemala

12

India

Rank

Country

13

Poland

14

Venezuela

15

Pakistan

16

Argentina

17

Brazil

18

Taiwan

19

Colombia

20

Japan

21

South Africa

22

Egypt

23

Lithuania

24

Peru

Rank

Country

25

Greece

26

Israel

27

Uruguay

28

Hungary

29

Italy

30

Mexico

31

Hong Kong

32

Britain

33

Chile

34

United States

35

Singapore

Source: Extracted from: The Economist, London, March 03, 2001

 


 

Table 2

Corruption perception Index (CPI):Selected countries

Country

Points scored on a scale of 10

Finland

9.9

Canada

8.9

Australia

8.5

U.K.

8.3

U.S.A.

7.6

Germany

7.4

Japan

7.1

Taiwan

5.9

Country

Points scored on a scale of 10

Italy

5.5

Malaysia

5.0

South Korea

5.0

Turkey

3.6

India

2.7

Pakistan

2.3

Russia

2.3

Bangladesh

0.4

*Dean: Executive Programmes, Punjab College of Business Administration, Lahore.

E-mail: kasaeed@brain.net.pk
E-mail: icmalhr@brain.net.pk