Having a separate homeland with peace and harmony
was the earnest desire of the Muslims of South Asia while
"Unity-Faith-Discipline" was the clue given by the father of
the nation to achieve that cherished goal.
Though the price was too high as millions of the
people from all corners of the sub-continent sacrificed the precious
life, property and honor during struggle for Pakistan, yet value of
freedom cannot be overestimated whatsoever the price paid for our
Pakistan came into being on August 14, 1947 under
the dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam, yet the spirit of
unity-faith-discipline and dream of the people for peace, prosperity
and harmony phased out during the journey of 58 years.
It is perhaps the most painful aspect of the day
that we as a nation failed to develop a consensus among ourselves on
certain priorities especially related to the integrity and solidarity
of the country, hence we do not stand united. Unfortunately, the
political forces do not hesitate to declare that country would be
disintegrated if they were not returned to power. This claim is
usually made by the majority of the political parties. People have
developed a tendency to disregard even some good decisions and
policies made by others. The good decisions are opposed only for the
sake of opposition. The yellow cab scheme introduced by Nawaz
government perhaps is the best example of such hatred among political
That was the scheme at micro-level which had
provided respectable job opportunities to the educated youngsters
besides resolving the acute transport problem especially in the urban
areas of the country. However, that scheme was scrapped by the next
government by labeling the charge of financial scam.
Usually speaking, the highhanded attitude of the
people having some sort of authority has drawn a line between them and
the people so that they are paid to serve. Instead of getting a sense
of protection, people generally feel a sense of insecurity and avoid
coming into their contact. This sort of situation has encouraged the
crime rate as 80 percent of the cases go unreported as people have no
hope for justice. Instead of getting problems resolved they are
entangled in complexities of the cumbersome procedures.
The nation observe the Pakistan Day as an annual
feature to pay homage to the father of the nation, yet the guiding
principle of Unity-Faith-Discipline which was the soul of the Quaid's
will to the nation was missing from all spheres of social, economic
and political life in our country.
The dream of the people, to achieve a homeland
where they could live in peace and harmony, has yet to come true even
after 58 years of inception of this country. Those who were supposed
to be a role model on religious, social and political fronts
hopelessly failed to deliver. Unfortunately, they served their
personal interest, party interest or sectarian interest instead of
protecting the basic rights of the people.
The loss of credibility of the leadership in all
spheres of life perhaps is the greatest loss. If it is not
exaggeration the slogan of serving the people has become the most
effective tool to earn money, name and power. Whether it is social,
religious, political or trade union leadership all of them have become
a trade and people who join these becomes rich with in shortest span
of time. They are from shanty hutments to posh areas soon by the
virtue of servicing the people!
Today, an economic turnaround is rightfully claimed
by the government which sounds true to some extent.
It is true that the exports have crossed the mark
of $12 billion for the first time in the history of this country. The
large scale manufacturing sector has started remarkable growth. GDP is
well poised to hit the mark of 7 percent growth rate, home remittances
are expected to over $4 billion, revenue collections are above the
target. The economy has successfully come out of the debt trap and the
capital formation at the stock market has attained a height of $40
billion as compared to merely $5 billion in 1996.
Despite all these remarkable achievements, the
masses of this country are deprived of the benefits as they were not
reaching down to the earth. However, those already have resources
were, however, enjoying the sound economic conditions at macro-level.
As money begets money, they are using their money and optimizing their
resources. There is no harm in yet a balanced and justified
distribution of resources is lacking which raises the questions in the
minds. It seems to be a pertinent question that why the level of the
chronic issue of unemployment is on the decline especially in the face
of stronger economic growth. Why poverty, health and education
continue to haunt the people of meager resources. Why the street crime
is on the rise. The regional, provincial, ethnic and sectarian hatred
with its ugly face continue to erode the harmony and keep threatening
social and national fiber.
Poverty reduction is one of the top priorities of
the economic reforms agenda presented by the government of the day.
The government has introduced some good schemes like micro financing,
SMEs and initiating huge development projects to achieve goal of
poverty alleviation. However, during last 4-5 years the micro finance
scheme has made a little headway and only 6 percent of the total poor
house holds have benefited of the scheme. This needed to be
accelerated at a higher pace. Though these schemes may produce some
positive results in the short-term, yet the issue is so serious that
it calls for sound steps to achieve concrete results in the long run.
And the most effective steps towards that goal could be to allocate
national resources for the purpose of spreading education at level. It
is the education alone that can cure all social and political ills
prevailing in our country. There is no second opinion that it is
ignorance that generates disease, crime and other social and political
disorders. There are examples set by other countries that they have
made education free instead of using it as a commercial venture to
mint money as is being done in our society.
It is perhaps the unique achievement of this
government to come out of the IMF regime, yet we continue to take
advice from that international donor agency which mercilessly
recommends imposition of government taxes to hit the revenue
collection targets. Revenue no doubt provides fuel to run the
government yet it should not be at the cost of the kitchen of the
common man. The tax collection policy needed to be enabling the people
to pay easily and not to evade and escape from them.
S.H. Hashmi, Chairman Orient Advertisers, while
commenting on the recent wave of increase in oil prices which has
consequently fanning the high rate of inflation in our country has
strongly recommended that the prevailing fashion of revising oil
prices at every fortnight needed to be done away immediately by
scrapping the Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC).
It is the oil and electricity which plays a pivotal
role to make or mar the economies.
A FOREIGNER'S POINT OF VIEW
Recently, Somini Gupta, who is the Bureau Chief of
New York Times had visited Karachi where she met people from all walks
of life especially in relation with economic social development in our
country. On her return, she wrote a piece on the economic and social
conditions prevailing in Pakistan which was published in the New York
Times recently. She had tried to be objective and has been successful
to a great extent:
Following are her views:
Umar Sheikh, 31, British-born, New York-trained and
married to a woman from New Jersey, long dreamed of running his own
London was too expensive. New York was too risky.
Karachi seemed just right. His gamble, in this restive port city
better known for its religious radicals than its ravioli, has worked
Limon cello, Sheikh's cozy Italian-inspired fine
dining spot with lemon-colored walls and a kebab-free menu that
features arugula and Norwegian salmon, is thriving.
Its success reflects an unexpected post-Sept. 11
boon: prompted by a mix of government policy, serendipity and changing
global tides brought on by the American campaign against terrorism,
Pakistan's economy is booming. The well-off, at least, are living
In its first two months, Limon cello has brought in
revenue that Sheikh did not expect for several more. Already, three
investors have offered to pitch in on his next venture. One recent
Friday night, nearly all of the tables were occupied. Dinner for four
— not including wine, since alcohol is banned at public
accommodations — came to $70, substantially more than a Karachi
housemaid's monthly salary. "I'm getting a lot of corporate
heads, a lot of nouveau riche, people who come from abroad who are not
necessarily wealthy but are educated about cuisine," said Sheikh,
the son of Pakistani immigrants to Britain. "People want high-end
The country's economy grew 6.4 percent during the
last fiscal year, and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, a former Citibank
executive, projects 8 percent annual growth in two years' time.
"Pakistan is a country today that has gone through a very
intensive five-year reform," Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said in
an interview in the capital, Islamabad. "We are seeing the
There are many factors behind the boom. Remittances
that Pakistani expatriates once sent home through informal banking
channels are now landing in the banks, lifting the country's foreign
reserves to $12.7 billion a year, compared with $1 billion in 2001. As
an important ally of the United States, Pakistan has been able to
slash its external debts. In the last five years, export earnings have
doubled to more than $13 billion, mostly from textiles, according to
the State Bank of Pakistan. "There's a lot of confidence in
Pakistan's economy," said Ishrat Husain, the state bank chief.
Wealthy expatriates jittery about their futures in
the United States and Europe since Sept. 11, 2001, have set aside nest
eggs back home or returned.
Despite the current setback mainly due to risk
management regulations introduced by Security and Exchange Commission
of Pakistan (SECP) the Karachi stock market soaring high. The real
estate market has exploded in Pakistan. A residential plot that Sheikh
bought two years ago in his mother's native Lahore has tripled in
"People are feeling more optimistic,"
Muhammad Yasin Lakhani, chairman of the Karachi Stock Exchange, said
in a recent interview. "People want to put their money in a
growing economy any day rather than in a developed economy."
Yasin Lakhani had a cause for optimism. That morning, the stock
exchange had jumped a record 295 points. Its market capitalization had
reached $40 billion, up from $5 billion in 1998. Much of the stock
market's rise, analysts say, is a result of the government's moves to
privatize state-owned assets.
The big question now is whether such impressive
growth can lift a majority of Pakistanis. Poverty grew steadily in the
late 1990's, according to the last government study, conducted four
years ago. In 2001, 32 percent of Pakistanis lived below the poverty
line which remains the most widely cited and reliable barometer of
A smaller survey done in 2004, Prime Minister Aziz
said, showed a decline in poverty, but people outside the government
noted that the survey was smaller in scale and therefore not
comparable to the earlier studies. "The trickle-down effect has
not really taken place," Lakhani said.
In a working-class enclave pressed against one of
Karachi's high-toned neighborhoods, small girls filled up big buckets
of water from a neighbor's tap and heaved it home on their shoulders.
Only some houses here are connected to the city water supply. Those
who can get water from their neighbors do so; others pay to have it
It is not that people here are unaware of
Pakistan's economic boom. "What's the change for us?" said a
laconic Ishtiaq Malik, 28. "The house rent has increased. The
petrol price has increased. The electricity bill has increased."
Like many of his neighbors in the crowded slum of winding muddy
alleys, Ishtiaq Malik came from a village in rural Punjab to make a
living in the city. Today, as a gardener, he fetches about $85 a
month. After rent and food and electric bill, he says, there is not
much left to send home to his parents, landless peasants back in the
Kaneez Gazar, a housemaid in her 40's who came to
Karachi to escape the grinding poverty of her own village, offered a
smile when asked about her country's economic growth. "We earn,
we eat," is how she put it. Between her earnings and those of her
two daughters, also housemaids, the family brings in about $100 a
month. Half of that goes to rent. The prices of sugar and butter have
gone up. She is buying water from a private tanker. With her heart
ailment and her daughter's chronic cough, there are medical bills to
pay. Hanging over her head is a $420 debt for an older daughter's
wedding. Still, she says, life in Karachi has meant a measure of
dignity. "At least I'm feeding myself," she said. "At
least we get clothes and shoes."
It is Pakistan's deeply stratified society that
makes some analysts skeptical of how and when the spoils at the top
will filter down to those among the 150 million Pakistanis who still
barely scrapes by. A study last December by the Social Policy and
Development Center, a Karachi-based research institute, reported that
of every rupee of economic growth, 34 percent went to the richest 10
percent of the population, and only 3 percent to the poorest 10
It is Pakistanis like Limon cello's owner, Sheikh,
who have buoyed and exploited country's economic boom. Some of it, he
reckons, has been driven by overseas Pakistanis' concerns about their
futures in the United States and Europe. Some of it, as in his case,
was driven by opportunity: common sense told him there was money to be
In the last few years, his father-in-law returned
and bought up property across the country. A friend from London opened
a call center. A woman who runs a bakery in London is now opening a
patisserie, called Truffles, down the street. Recalling those who had
gone abroad before, Sheikh said, "There were all kinds of people,
of all kinds of mentality, who were leaving and taking their money
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has called on
countrymen to demonstrate "Unity, Faith and Discipline" and
work for a prosperous Pakistan having its rightful place in the comity
He urged the nation in his message on the occasion
of 65th anniversary of Pakistan Day that there is a need greater than
ever before to demonstrate Unity, Faith and Discipline, the guiding
principles given to us by the Quaid-i-Azam.
Pakistan today stands at a defining moment in its
history. The prudent and far-sighted policies of the last five years
have created tremendous opportunities for the country.
Resultantly, we are in a position where we can
truly realize that aims and objectives for which our beloved country
was created 56 years ago.
The president observed "if we continue on this
path, we will, by the grace of the Almighty, be able to transform
Pakistan into a truly modern and dynamic Islamic Welfare State, as
envisaged by the father of the nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali
There was a need more than ever before to maintain
stability, ensure continuity and stay the course. If we lose
direction, we can be overcome by the forces of obscurantism and
extremism, which can cause irreparable harm to the country and the
The choice, therefore, is very clear. The vast
majority of Pakistanis are hardworking, patriotic and moderates who
wish to see the country progress and attain its rightful place in the
comity of nations. They need to stand up and be counted.
The President was of views that we have the
resolve, we have the determination and we will not fall.
"I have complete confidence in the wisdom of
greater people and faith in their will to work towards the
objective" the President observed firmly.
While feeling honored to greet the nation on the
occasion of Pakistan Day, which was a true historic milestone in the
nations quest for independence, the President said: "For it was
on this day that the Muslims of South Asia resolved to carve out an
independent homeland for themselves, a land where they could live in
peace and harmony in accordance with the tenets of Islam, free from
repression and subjugation".
He recalled that it was the unanimous will of the
Muslims of South Asia under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam
which resulted in the creation of Pakistan. "From those momentous
days in 1940 the nation has come a long way".
The President said having attained independence on
August 14, 1947 against seemingly insurmountable odds; the country has
been confronted with many challenges both external and internal in the
"The problems have indeed been many as well as
complex", but added, it most certainly goes to the credit of the
Pakistani nation that they have always risen to the occasion and
successfully overcome adversity by demonstrating patriotism,
steadfastness, resilience and unswerving faith in the Almighty. May
the Almighty be our Protector and Guide", prayed President
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in his message on
Pakistan Day called on the nation to rededicate itself to attain the
ideals of a tolerant and moderate society and transform Pakistan into
a modern enlightened welfare Islamic state.
"Let us all rededicate ourselves in attaining
the ideals of an enlightened, tolerant and moderate society, social
justice and democracy, laid down for us by the founding father and
fashion our lives according to our consecrated values."
Today the nation is celebrating the 65th
anniversary of the adoption of Pakistan Resolution by All India Muslim
League in Lahore on March 23, 1940.
Pakistan Day reminds of the immense sacrifices
rendered by the Muslims of the sub-continent to achieve a homeland of
their own for living their lives in accordance with their religion,
culture and traditions.
The Prime Minister called on the people to express
gratitude to the Almighty for blessing them with a separate homeland.
"We pay homage to Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali
Jinnah and all the freedom fighters and workers of the Pakistan
Movement who determinedly march behind their leader to achieve their
He also asked to pay respect and homage to those
countless individuals who laid down their lives in the struggle for
Pakistan. "Let us on this day pledge to keep our covenant with
the Quaid by closing our ranks and transforming the country into a
modern enlightened Islamic welfare state which ensures justice,
rightful place of women in society, and equal rights and opportunities
for all citizens, while discouraging hatred extremism and exploitation
in forms and manifestations", he concluded.