Dec 31, 2007 - Jan 06, 2008

The present changing outlook reflects in the tangible exhibition of progresses contributed by the last government, which has left no stone unturned to revamping socio-economic structure of the nation altogether. This was stated by Arif Ali Abbasi, who is at the helm of executive affairs of Sindh ministry for labour, transport, industries, commerce and cooperation during an exclusive interview with Pakistan & Gulf Economist. Being a caretaker minister of the provincial cabinet and despite having a short tenure for managing heterogeneous portfolios at once, he is determined to put in his life-earned experiences and struggles to persist on the social and economical welfare agenda put up in the erstwhile governing system. He has been the managing director of Pakistan International Airlines thrice. Moreover, he has been the chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board. With a sportsman spirit, he told his ministry focuses on to implement policies for transport, labour, and education sectors as initial moves.

Illustrating the third area primarily, he said there is a dire need to rectify our direction in terms of educational priorities. Vocational training and technical education should be inserted as an important agendum of education action plan. To make labour force productive and to transform them into the agent of economic growth, it is necessary that technical education has to be encouraged nationwide. Population of Pakistan abundantly composes of illiterate people who can not write or read at a certain standard. And, when this heavy proportion is needed to run the industry for example, illiteracy puts a halt in moving about routine jobs. Illiteracy also correlates to person's inability to perform a certain job due to no knowledge of any field. In our context, every person can not be sent to conventional education for fetching up degrees. But, they should also be educated about different trades that are required in regular routines. For example mechanical, plumbing, and various other emerging trades can be selected to start with mentoring. Teaching should be in conformity with the dynamics of the market. We should stress on the technical and vocational development of our workforce. A very less number of Pakistan's labour force attains higher education. Neither every body can afford to go for higher learning. This implies that productivity of manufacturing and service based industries (formal and informal) is directly contingent upon the rest of the labour force. Consequently technical education should be promoted to utilize repercussions of good education. The ex-government did commendable jobs in this regard. It established several mono and poly technical institutions with gender consideration. This would give an impetus to expand cottage industry. In an addition, technical training would promote entrepreneurs hip as well as generate a source of earning for people. It is noteworthy that small and medium sized cottage industries constitute major portion of the gross development products and gross national products in many developed countries. Caretaker Minister supports the school of thought that establishment of magnificent edifices are not required to carry forward vocational training and technical educational activities. Ali Abbasi advocated that with limited monetary budget the outreach of technical training can be expanded. He opposed the idea of building up of large technical institutes to develop people's interests. This might detract potential candidates to enrol in, he remarked, who would become too overpowered and panicked to visit such scenic fort-like academics. He said this in reference to people who are actual target students of these technical training and vocational education institutes.

To strengthen liaison between workforce and government policy makers, Sindh Minister opined, that labour union ought to be activated in a full form. Labour union is an entity which abridges gap between employer and employees. It composes of elected representatives from labours. These representatives portraying certain group's demands can more undoubtedly be identified than a group of people in fragmentation, Ali Abbasi detailed while substantiating his pro-labour union ideology. In public sector, bargaining agent can be accosted to reconcile on issues instead of every individual of workforce. It is an all accepted mannerism of running corporate and government affairs. Smooth functioning of labour union is equally important to allow administrative works to move on smoothly, he added. Referring to an example, Sindh Minister said, labour union of a crisis-hit airline in a country meddled in a resisted successfully to call off one administration's decision of selling of air jets to PIA. It did so rightly to protect overall interests of the employees. He wished labour union in Pakistan to be this much strong.

While talking about transport sector in particular of Karachi, Ali Abbasi said, he has been supporting importers of public transports since he got into power. Unequivocally he exclaimed all public transports over an age of 10 years must be grounded immediately. Public transport should never be allowed to consume gasoline (diesel). Rather, environment-friendly gases as an alternative energy source should be harnessed. He is of the view that private investors should never be barred to pour in money in public transportation. There must be an open-market mechanism yielding preferential benefits and incentives to private sectors. He appreciated ex-government's financial reforms, which were practiced to persuade private investments in trade and industry. Public should be provided with substitutes and various modes of transportation. Ali Abbasi viewed revival of Karachi Circular Railway and enlivening of Karachi Mass Transit would reduce agonies of commuters to a greater extent. Furthermore, he said, trams should be reinstalled across the metropolis, which is attracting influx of population across the country. He enquired if this kind of transportation system is active in many other densely populated cities around the world then why it can't be operated in Karachi? Normally a worker gets too exhausted upon reaching his workplace after travelling in buses and wagons to perform his job effectively and efficiently. Therefore, his ministry plans to line up investments in public transport sector.

The development works being carried forward by CDGK is unprecedented in Pakistan's history. He expects an economic turnaround if the pace of activities continues unabatedly and if it does not fall in the way of political chicanery. He appreciated administration works and its endeavours to bring renaissance of work-holism in managing city's affairs. It is certainly an uphill task to replace sewerage lines, which were laid uncared for decades around the Karachi city.