Mar 29 - Apr 4, 2010

On the economic front, Pakistan has a chequered history. We have performed in bits and pieces. The policy and implementation gap was never narrowed down. We have never tried to set out our economic priorities.

The country has been ruled intermittently by the democratic and autocratic forces ˝ the latter essentially spearheaded by army Generals. The economic growth data when segregated on the basis of form of governance, reveal some interesting facts that can be appreciated only by those whose intellect is not affected by the system-bias.


1951-58 (Democratic era after Liaqat Ali Khan) 3.03 NA NA NA
1958-69 (General Ayub Khan rule) 5.84 92.74 118 NA
1969-71 (General Yahya Khan rule) 5.51 (5.65) 173 46.61
1971-77 (ZA Bhutto democratic era) 4.42 (19.78) 170 (1.73)
1977-87 (General Ziaul Haq rule) 6.60 49.32 346 103.53
1988-99 (Benazir & Nawaz democratic eras) 4.13 (37.42) 412 19.08
1999-2008 (General Pervez Musharraf rule) 5.4 30.75 709* 72.09
* $1085 in 2007-08

Agriculture is Pakistan's bread-earning sector. The statistics suggest that the potential of this sector was never explored, and if explored, never put on policy anvil and as a result of it the sector has been left at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Is it not unfortunate that inherently a potential sector recorded such wide variances as 4.1 per cent growth in FY07, 1.1 per cent in FY08 and again 4.7 per cent in FY09?

The past data suggest that the sector is already capable of yielding a growth rate of 7 per cent which can further be upped through professional and scientific management. Energy is yet another sector that has been neglected for political and profiteering motives. Pakistan's failure to timely construct sufficient number of dams has given India yet another front to exploit national docility.

Water and energy shortages have not come in the country from the heaven. They are the finished products of incompetence. We were often seen caught in the confusion of sector priority. For a number of years, we gave priority to manufacturing over agriculture. Then, opting for consumption-led growth, we shifted entire focus to service sector.

The recent global economic events have amply proved that Pakistan must give priority to its agriculture sector which can guarantee food security first and then take the role of the leading foreign exchange earner in the world. All three major sectors of the economy should grow simultaneously and in accordance with their potentials.

The social sector has always remained under the scanner of the ruling elites, be it a democratic setup or an autocratic army rule. The minimal allocations to these sectors over a number of decades prove that rooting out the feudalism at the time of the creation of Pakistan was the surest way to prevent the post birth economic and social pains that have enveloped the lives of its people.

With the exception of General Yahya Khan, the all other three Generals can boast of a far-better economic performance vis-a-vis the team of democrats raised by the feudalistic society of this country. The paradox is that the same feudalistic democrats, in different combinations, dominate the autocratic rule of Generals, with the only exception that they don't get a free hand and most of the times its is the General who calls the shots.

For the last two years, the country is being democratically governed and one wonders what tangible benefit the changed system has given to the masses. Higher and unaffordable food prices, removal of essential economic subsidies to send the energy prices sky high, unprecedented outflow of domestic and foreign investment resulting in a 40 percent rupee devaluation with terrible economic side effects, termination of masses-friendly local government system, is all the democratic setup has under its belt.

The demise of LG system has been caused by the typical feudal mindset that abhors all sorts of public betterment programs be it on the educational front, or on civic side. Mahmood Sham, one of the most venerable and unbiased journalists, has beautifully analyzed the move of feudal lords. He states that since the system warrants participation of common man and ordinary political workers and since none of the feudalistic political parties can afford this for the simple reason that it weakens their administrative strangleholds on the party, getting rid of this anti-feudal system is the best option available to them.

One striking difference between the autocratic and democratic forms of governance is that the General can be chosen from amongst the entire lot of country talents without any party biasness. This is why that the team of a General's economic managers has had always been superior to those of his counterparts.

The present government took a bold decision by ignoring its party aspirants to select Shaukat Tarin to look after countryÝs economic and financial affairs. Shaukat Tarin's subsequent departure reasserts the point that talent never gives way to foolish compromises. The government didn't care much either about his leaving the scene as he had already put the economy back on track for the next phase of its not-so-pleasant journey.

The bitter fruits of feudalist democracy are falling into the laps of the masses like a windfall. As if the umpteen energy price hikes were not sufficient, the government is bracing in the wing to deliver a killing blow to the masses of this country by announcing a five percent increase in petroleum products and 16 percent increase in electricity tariff with effect from April 1. What is a way to make fool of a poor nation!