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Economic decision-making: Illusion and reality

Modern technology has not helped and the higher education made available by Ata-ur-Rehman, despite his good intentions has worsened matters. The question is why has this happened? Is it because the necessary and sufficient conditions for ethical norms have not been followed? Who and what leads a country matters. Any civilisation that does not differentiate between illusion and reality is considered to be at its tail end of its existence. Had our civilisation evolved structures that found answers to simple and vexatious issues and problems we might have had a better deal. The political structures that we have developed are based on advisories expertise (PM’s advisors not elected representatives) and these in turn made the simple matters more complex so that their advisory capacity remains intact. Our reality revolves round elites (however defined) and they have called the shots be it the LNG, the KASB Bank, or the energy crisis, to name only a few scandalised efforts of the elites. I have not mentioned Nandipur power plant, nor the coal gas plants nor the other mental incapacitated decisions. The fashionable thing to do is to find perverted reasons to justify what has been done with intent that was criminal in nature. Why is KASB Bank offered for peanuts to a Middle East party and not to the Chinese? My good journalist friends may lament the fact and they have been doing investigative journalism but who cares. The elites have long hands and they are outside the reach of reason. They might as well let it pass. The custodians of power have been cut off from the realities of power. The main failing of the state has been that reality no longer seems to matter. The majority of the Pakistanis seem to allow the pass-over in silence. What can they do? Pakistan is a ruthless country devoid of decency. It’s rogue behaviour has shifted from the external to the internal dynamics of the country. Death by artificial means is a common phenomenon. The answer does not lie in use of coercive power of the state but in inclusive economic policies for the ones left to die in poverty.

When a crisis comes the political system tries and dilutes its responsibilities but never its authority to siphon-off resources. These guys are adept at manipulating words and never miss an opportunity to fire word missiles at the opponents. Institutionally the Minister for Information is the one that calls the tune. All of them once they have lost their ministerial jobs have become redundant and obsolete never to be heard of again. Governments are supposed to be involved in governance and not interfere in the functioning of the system. The social systems in a country are very much dependent on the culture and character of the populace. At difficult moments in the life of a political system when policy options are difficult the leaders become deaf and dumb. Pakistan is going through such times. The custodians of the rod have been cut off from the realities of power. The politicians are involved in grand ideas that either have long gestation time or whose results are at best vague and hazy. These infrastructural projects do not fill stomachs and are anti poverty at best. Grand automobiles are what they are built for. These grand projects do not change societies.

Our enormous elites try and control knowledge not through their own increase of relevant knowledge but through censorship and coercion. Thus the use of regulatory bodies in Pakistan has become synonymous with oppressive behaviour of governments. Adopted western democracy has become a mockery in the political system of the country. The strength of money and its flouting have become obvious of late. The strength of money that stinks and is actually the result of money laundering and due corrupt practices continue to add misery to the people of Pakistan. The decent word is extremely fragile and people of the rod (anchors) hide behind all kinds of defence mechanisms.

Language – not money or force – provides legitimacy. So long as the actors on the scene do not manage language the world will be at odds with various factions in a country. The public’s imagination has a different perception of what is going on. Go to a panwala’s shop and hear the long lectures that develop over there. No one is sacrosanct. Uncontrolled words are consistently more dangerous for once uttered they continue in human memory. The uttered word can never be recalled no matter how many times one feels sorry for what one has said. Pemra has now been inducted into the system but few if any such advice will be followed for long. The current advice is not worth the paper on which it is written for they have not been able to define the word ‘hateful speeches’. The lawyers will have a feast at the expense of the regulatory body. Repetition will be built and lost. Free speech and coercive power have alternated for long in history and will no doubt continue. Unholy alliances in political system break down just as language’s use is affected. Our wordsmiths are not as devoted to use of words but they will learn as the import of this word will become obvious.

How does this impact on economic for the common man? When local investment is denied to the ordinary Pakistani and only the cronies are allowed the use of the resources of this country then there will be in time hell to play. This has gone worse since the FDIs that have come from other countries are not for the welfare of the public but part of the egos of the powerful. The word again has been misused by these goons as they go on making fissures in society. The periphery is already on fire in this country and now is the time for the urban areas to go the way of the periphery. The vestiges of governance are not visible anywhere. Elimination by force is the order of the day. Mercenaries are available that do the trick without any qualms or conscience.

If dictators were not able to tolerate criticism then democrats are no better and this is visible in the Pakistani scene? Tolerance does not come with a political system but is inherently a function of upbringing. Rogues we are and rogues we will remain. The role of wordsmiths will always be remembered in Pakistan for creating conflict and for taking sides. But the wordsmiths of the dictators want to remain obscure for they know that one day their day of reckoning will come. Language can provide legitimacy and that is dependent on the ability of the leaders of any ilk to stay in touch with the populace. Uncontrolled words are more dangerous to established authority than even the law enforcing agencies. These wordsmiths serve our imagination as they are devoted to communication. Clarity is their method and uncertainty their aim. There is yet another kind that castrates the human mind by subjecting the language to complexity. This language is a shield that they hide behind.

The world is made up of these kinds of people and where governance is poor language takes on a coercive posture. If we allow this to continue then we will have to hang our heads in shame. Poor nation you’re about to die.

(The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the newspaper)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2015

Dr. Zafar Altaf, "Economic decision-making: Illusion and reality," Business Recorder. 2015-05-09.
Keywords: Economics , Economic policy , Economics issues , Ethical norms , Civilisation , Political structures , Nandipur power plant , Western democracy , Political system , Defence mechanisms , KASB Bank , Pakistan , FDI