Catalyst: Shattering Future

Two weeks ago we had a guest speaker Dr. Akber Zaidi a renowned economist who came to TIP to speak about development. As good as the talk may have been, for many of us it was like someone had flipped open the top of one’s head and filled it with rushes of factual data.

A report on world development report published by the World Bank in 1991 stated:

“The challenge of development is to improve the quality of life. Especially in the world’s poor countries, a better quality of life generally calls for higher income s- but it involves much more. It encompasses as ends in themselves better education, higher standards of health and nutrition, less poverty, a cleaner environment, more equality of opportunity, greater individual freedom, and a richer cultural life.”

In another report by M.P. Todaro on world economic development in 1995:

“Development must represent the whole gamut of change by which an entire social system, tuned to the diverse basic needs and desires of individuals and social groups within that system, moves away from a condition of life widely perceived as unsatisfactory towards a situation or condition of life regarded as materially and spiritually better.”

Unless if you read the above very carfully, you will be confused. Very confused, as am I. This was what Dr. Akber wanted us to get out of his talk.

Well lets not get more confused and come down to talking about it in our own words.. Who doesn’t want the military rule to end? Most of us here do, but I simply don’t because, frankly, is there another option? Ok lets not even go there (democracy is our choice, robbing us is theirs…).

The data sheet provided to us was at least 5 years old if I’m not mistaken. And in 5 years a whole political system changes and were blaming Mr. Musharraf? Only 7 years ago Mr. Musharraf had just come into power and the effect of the military coup was still fresh.

While we were partying our very own president was behind bars hopefully singing “Invisible Sun” by The Police (quoted at the beginning of this column) – the point is that while we are far behind our very neighbor for basic reasons such as India is at least 7 times larger and isn’t developed, but its also that their government is much more stronger than ours.

Where our speaker said that we are spending a little too much on defense and that is what we have for the past god-knows-how-many years it is cause of our sub-continental pride we somehow have and have been at war with them since eternity and as they say China and India are the next super powers hopefully by 2025, hmn I’m feeling a lil’ bit vulnerable (aren’t you?). I’m seeing us as the next South America by 2030.

I agree it is a bit too much and wrong to spend our parents’ money on arms and ammunitions (sounds scary remember the government campaign “say no to guns”?) if it would have been given to us we could have at least bought a pair of designer jeans or 2 decent meals for a whole semester man I hate taxes the opportunity cost to it is so high.

Enough digression. What Mr. Musharraf has to foster is coming to peace with India in someway to reduce conflicts regarding Kashmir issue and others so that he may divert public spending to other sectors. Time is what it needs my friend everything cannot just happen over night after all Rome wasn’t built in a day and it will take Pakistan some time to get there. So don’t loose hope its us who will and can make a change so don’t think of packing your bags up and being on the next flight to foreign lands seeking a better life cause then you’ll be no different than our politicians.

I must say the report was very confusing as it showed percentage spending on health, education and defense, just think 10% of Pakistan’s budget spending on defense and 10% of India’s budget how different would the amounts be? We are a developing nation and so is India the only difference is that India is developing faster and Bangladesh is too and it has been at peace with India since for a long time.

My aim was just to facilitate your knowledge on what was presented in front of us, as good as it was it shouldn’t rob us of our ability to think and assess (and that was what I think Dr. Akber want us to do). Indeed development has a very individualistic approach and economists themselves have been on very shaky grounds with each other where each individual has a different opinion. Dr. Akber’s being more of an unpromising future well that is how most of ours is. So if you think they’re only going to change this place by killing everybody in the human race and they would kill me for a cigarette well I don’t want to die just yet. Until next time Auf Wiedersehen.

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life
Looking at the barrel of an armalite
I don’t want to spend the rest of my days
Keeping out of trouble like the soldiers say
I don’t want to spend my time in hell
Looking at the walls of a prison cell
I don’t ever want to play the part
Of a statistic on a government chart

Invisible Sun, The Police

4 Replies to “Catalyst: Shattering Future”

  1. During that lecture , one point touched me and made real sense. Mr Akbar said everytime there has been a millitary ruler ,there was stability for time period but the aftermath always resulted in a tragedy. For example Ayub Khan s 10 years were glorious but it costed us East Pakistan.Similiarly Zia-ul-Haq s decade gave birth to violence, terror and lawlessness ( in the mid 90s)..
    this Musharraf s reign will surely make Pakistani economy , politics and society stable for a time period but its going to cost really bad and tragic in the long run. ( Greater Balochistan , indian bully and dictation or maybe war with afghanistan).
    Bright future lies in democracy and Musharraf is not sincere with his promises and his words so down with musharraf and millitary rule.

  2. It has happened a lot of times that when ever people try to pin point negativities of the policies of the current military regime; they tend to highlight areas that play with the emotional aspects of an “Illterate” nation, thus portraying a villainous face of a government, which has done alot more positive things to talk about, other than a few repeated harsh comments they recieve every day!

    I must give reference to a two page report published in the 12th week edition of the internationally acclaimed english weekly, NEWSWEEK.
    Page 32, 33 and 34 covers the excellent economic growth that Pakistan has seen since the military coup in 1999, calling the economic turn-around ” the world’s most surprising econimic success story!”

    Iqbal Ahmed, a business tycoon who has bid some $400 million (equal to twice the annual turnover of GulAhmed Textile Mills)to buy controlling interests in Southern Sui Gas, says” “We’re enjoying a sea change in economic conditions and opprtunities.” “Pakistan is open for business.”

    Syed Babar Ali who heads the joint venture companies like Coca Cola and Nestle regards the present regime as “the best goevernment in the past 30 years”

    Mr. Salman Taseer who is a business Tycoon from Lahore and publishes the Daily Times newspaper and is constructing Lahore’s tallest office building says “Not long ago, we would have waited at least three years to get a loan from an international bank. In the last two years there has been more economic activities in Pakistan than in the past 50 years”

    It is not out of context to mention here that the past two years are the one in which Mr. Shaukat Aziz had been the Prime minister for Pakistan; with NEWSWEEK comenting the move as the smartest one by Musharraf’s regime appointing Shaukat Aziz as the minister of finance and giving him free hand to revive the country’s economy!

    Late 90’s when Pakistan was ejoying the leadership elected by democratic means, the power ful (more than 2/3 majority of Sharif); country was a practically failed State with a near 0 GDO growth. Pakistan was the world’s most sanctioned Nation after Libya. The Islamabad Editor of DAWN,Ziauddin, says” We were in a real soup shwen Musharraf took over”

    In 2005 the GDP growth rate for the country hit 8.4% the world’s 2nd Highest behind CHina, following a solid 6% growth in 2003 & 2004. This year it is expected to expand by 7.2%!

    Pakistan’s shift towards USA in its war against terror after 9/11 attacks; largely crticised by so called preachers of democracy; was the best thing that ever hppened to Pakistan.

    The USA and EU immedietely listef all sanctions with the former giving $600 millin for to meet urgent debt payment and forgave $1.5 billion in debt.

    The sale of two cellualr fone liscence to Varid and Telenor, netted the government around $600 million and in the year 2006 Pakistan is expected to recieved $3 billion as foreign investment.

    In 1999 the foreign exchange reserves were a pethatic near $ 800 million today they are a good above $11.4 billion. This is enough to carry out imports for 54 weeks. In 1999 the goevernment was finding it impossible to meet it’s oil bills!!

    I think alot has been written and still alot needs to be written, My main idea is for the students to counter check the information and comments given by the visiting lecturers so atleast the minds thinking in a positive way and we do not become pessimists about the coming future.

    There are many -ve points too; obviously no body is 100% perfect but its better we also appreciate the many good things happening around us!

  3. You r right. There should be constructive criticism for the sake of improvement not for the sake of negation. But y also has given a one side picture of a report published in Newsweek. It’s also mentioned the poor infrastructure, increasing inflation and filtering of these benefits at grass root level. This is a established fact that there is always enormous economic progress in military regime but the questions is what happens when its over. This gov is also trying to rule by hook and crock.using force as only instrument.

  4. Please compare economic growth of the country during Ayub’s, Yahya’s and Zia’s tenure with that of Musharraf’s. I dont find any of the above i mentioned happening in the first three martial law regimes.

    I am trying to collect data for my support. If you come up with some thing before me. i would love to read it.

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