Signifies Restoration of the confidence of non-resident Pakistanis


Sep 09 - 15, 2002

The present government is justified in taking pride of its successful financial policies and reserves management, which, in a way greatly helped restoring the confidence of the non-resident Pakistanis.

The confidence of the overseas Pakistanis was badly shattered following the freezing of the foreign currency accounts by the previous government in 1988 resulting in sharp decline in the home remittances to a few hundred million dollars. Another factor for steep decline in home remittances was a yawning gap of the Rupee-Dollar parity, which offered a great temptation to the overseas Pakistanis to send their money through unofficial channels.

Whether one likes it or not, the fact remains that the situation has taken a turn around which is noticeably reflected in the ever-growing volume of home remittances. At the end of the financial year 2001-2002, the home remittances registered a respectable contribution to the tune of $2.5 billion while the reserves also took a quantum jump to $7 billion. It is certainly the most significant signal that foreign exchange reserves have reached $7.543 billion in just two months after the federal budget announced in June last.

It may be recalled that on the occasion of the federal budget for the year 2002-2003, the finance minister had said that the government would manage to achieve foreign exchange reserves of 8 billion dollars by June 30, 2003, but the fast growing reserves reached $7.543 billion in just two months after the budget.

Currently, the insignificant margin between official and the unofficial rates of rupee against dollar, stronger strength of the reserves, and improved health of rupee altogether brought a positive effect on home remittances which, have consistently gone upward and are expected to cross $3 billion mark by the end of current financial year.

The size of home remittances was estimated at $2.4 billion at the end of the previous financial year ended June 30, 2002 indicating an abnormal jump of 120 per cent over the previous year estimated at $1.1 billion in the year 2000-2001.

Unlike export proceeds which find its way back in the form of imports, the home remittances can be described as a unilateral source of cash flow from external resources hence contribute more significantly to bring financial as well as economic stability to the country.

Unfortunately, the policy makers never paid heed to the market demands while evolving the education policy in Pakistan. It is for the first time that the Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz has pointed out the most neglected area of Arabic language in Pakistan. Had we taken care of producing crop of the skilled manpower and the professional's well versed in the Arabic language, they could have produced tremendous results in capturing the job market in the Arab countries.

Nearly 2.5 million of Pakistani workers and professionals are working in the Arab countries that are the major source of remittances received in the country. However, the present number of Pakistanis working in the Arab world does not represent the real strength in view of our cultural, religious and historic relations with the Arab world. These important economic ties with the brotherly countries needed to be further strengthened. Pakistan's close proximity to the Arab world is one of its strongest strategic advantages. The situation demands for a second thought to our education policy in which the neglected Arabic language should be given equal importance as is being given to the English language. Although it is too late yet it is better to late than never that we should promote Arabic language vastly so that we can strengthen these ties on solid grounds and could secure our outer boundaries.

In the backdrop of September 11 events, the Arab world will continue to look inward and Eastward in the coming years. The West is no longer the preferred destination of Arab, be it education, business and tourism, they are either not travelling or going to the East.

Pakistan stands to benefit greatly from this New World provided it can ensure peace and stability in the country. We are already witnessing considerable interest from Arabs in different economic areas. To position ourselves, we are expanding concerted efforts to revitalize our relations with all the Arab countries. In this regard, President Musharraf has visited nearly all the Arab countries, particularly Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Bahrain. We have revived the Joint Economic Commissions with Oman, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Tunis, Yemen and Kuwait. We are confident that in the days ahead Pakistan would be better placed to take advantage to the emerging opportunities of the New World.

As far as significance of Arabic Language is concerned, for all these nations, Arabic Language would be major catalyst. In fact, it is so unfortunate that our colonial heritage has deprived us of some of our most precious cultural assets, Arabic being one of those. It was not too distant in the past that every literary person in the sub-continent knew three languages namely Arabic, Persian and Urdu. Today we are struggling to preserve Urdu from the onslaught of English, what to talk of Persian and Arabic, the Finance Minister pointed out.