July 29 - Aug 04, 2002


A veteran banker turned merit professor, Sabir Jaffery is the Director and Dean of the Institute of Management and Computer Sciences, a project of PECHS Education Foundation, affiliated to the University of Karachi. Earlier he worked for HBL, UBL, and NBP where he had successively occupied the positions of Regional Head Sindh, Country General Manager, UK, Divisional Head, among others, of Overseas Operations, Inspection and Audit, and Finance and Treasury Divisions. On retirement from NBP in 1994, he joined ABL in 1995 as Director General which office he held till 1997. Later, he joined on contract basis University of Karachi as Professor in the Commerce Faculty, and Hamdard University as Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Banking and Finance. He had also been teaching for several years at IBA and the Institute of Bankers, Pakistan. Continuously for over a decade he has been Head Examiner for Institute's Banking Diploma Examinations, and a regular contributor to the Institute's quarterly journal. He also regularly writes, both in English and Urdu, for the leading newspapers and journals of the country. Thus, in him we find a rare combination of a practicing banker, a banking academician, and a professor par excellent. He is also an eminent poet and a critic of Urdu literature.

PAGE: How do you manage to combine so many activities of diversified nature?

Jaffery: Immediately after I joined banking as a career more than half a century ago, I realized that most of my colleagues, and even my seniors, by and large, were routinist. They were highly proficient in what they were doing but they had little or no knowledge as to why were they doing that way, and why not otherwise. What I mean to say is that they were mere practitioners, not professionals. They could tell me that a post-dated cheque is not paid, but they were unable to answer why it is not paid, or what are the hazards in paying it. I then decided to get deep into the academics of the profession and, by virtue of the job, simultaneously retained the status of the practitioner. While posted at Head Office, I had the opportunities to write systems and procedures, and when in the field, I was exposed to real life problems. I also had the inborn flair for literature, and writing and teaching. This made me what I am today.

PAGE: Is it not impracticable to combine so many diversified activities? Can one really achieve proficiency in several disciplines at a time?

Jaffery: It is a matter of interest and commitment. At least I don't feel any difficulty. However, full justice can not be done to all at a time. This is why I could not fully meet the demands of my literary aptitude. Some times I don't compose a single verse for years together. As regards proficiency, I don't think I have achieved any. I don't claim that either.

PAGE: Financial indiscipline is the hallmark of Pakistan economy. How can this be managed?

Jaffery: An answer to this question entails a three-fold exercise: (i) To determine the size and nature of the problem; (ii) To identify the root cause of overall derangement, and (iii) To prescribe the remedies.

In size and nature, it is massive and multidimensional. The master flaw that is the root cause of all the failings, and which counters the entire corrective measures, is corruption. And, the mother of all sorts of corruption is the Financial Corruption. To check this menace, we have so far resorted to accountability and punishment, ignoring the fact that punishment targets only the wrong doer. It does nothing to counter the process that permits or encourages the wrongdoing.

Corruption is an attitude of life. It is behaviour of living beings. It has, therefore, to be dealt with in consonance with the human nature that prefers material possessions and physical comfort to moral values. Strengthening accountability alone, therefore, is not an effective way to eradicate corruption. The issue calls for a detailed discussion.

PAGE: Business schools have spread like mushroom. How do you feel about this?

Jaffery: Education has become an industry. Its natural outcome is what you see around. However, genuineness has its place secured that gets recognition, sooner or later.

PAGE: Lately, a trend has developed to buy higher qualifications foreign degrees. Being a professor yourself, how do you look at this?

Jaffery: It is indeed shameful. Quite a few senior people have resorted to this practice. This does not remain secret. Every concerned person comes to know about it. People hatefully criticize them. It has badly damaged whatever little respect they had.