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Government-led successful economics

All governments of the day are wary of criticism. They feel that they have not done anything wrong. To drive home this message they have recruited ‘paltoo totas (domesticated parrots)’. The TV screen is full of them. Nowadays they are also to be seen in comedy shows where the anchors that otherwise provide happiness and laughter to the watchers throw in political satire for the government in power. As one would expect there is no reasoning behind these claims. In fact reasoning is held to be void in these cases. The followers are blind in their assertions – be it N League, Imran Khan’s PTI or any other party. It has now permeated other power blocs as well – even institutional ones.

What then are the requirements for a success analysis? In seriatim these are:

1. A strict distinction between means and goals. Institutions are not goals but means to achieving things.

2. Vision must be supplemented by a feasible strategy and not trial and error.

3. Comparative advantage of gradualism and shock therapy. Optimal solutions to be worked out.

4. There could be more of these but for the present these three conditions are to be examined.

Is there a strict distinction between means and goals? Institutions have been dealt a heavy blow by these so-called democratic governments. These have been loaded by their loyalists that makes them that much more difficult to be means to an end. If the end is travel convenience then the two giant PIA and Railways have a lot to answer. I know the railways minister of India for now over 10 years. He manages more than 6,000 trains on a daily basis, two million passengers a day. That takes some doing. Pakistan’s performance is measly. A comparison of the two ministers cannot be done. PIA, the national carrier in the skies, is in a deplorable condition. Its leadership positions are a disaster. Nothing will come out of these two institutions – railways and PIA. The PM, and this is the latest, has taken a PIA Boeing out of service as he was travelling to Gilgit and then to Jhang. Three flights were affected, including one international flight. What is his responsibility actual and vicarious? His party or he should make good the PIA loss. Is this democratic behaviour?

Pakistan cannot abstract and then take the situation to the actual performance. Abstraction is a powerful tool in the hands of a visionary politician. A politician in Pakistan never speaks of the actual outcomes/ends. The latest is with regard to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Loud noises are being made as to how good this will be for all the countries of the subcontinent and beyond. The goodness part, and the time factor as well as the cost is never explained and ‘totas’ (political parrots) are awash with its performance although none has taken place. None will take place till 2030. When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were announced by the versatile Shaukat Aziz I stated then that these are not going to achieve the goals set out. There was a considerable amount of weaknesses in the abstraction. Money is never an end in itself; knowledge is and abstract knowledge is first and foremost. Where are all those highfaluting ideas? Where is the outcome? Nowhere!!

During the time of Musharraf one had heard continuously of enlightenment but where is that enlightenment. Everyone in the cabinet of Musharraf spoke of enlightenment as if it was a word coined by him. Nowadays the PM speaks of “vision”. Nothing will come out of it. The blind can hardly have any kind of vision and thought process going. The minute they advice one aspect then it is taken over by events. What about the PM’s entrepreneur programme? It is in shambles. A big bank charged with this responsibility is begging on a door-to-door basis for these entrepreneurs to come forward and accept the loans. Only five in a month come forward. That amount too will be written off as they do not understand the culture under which entrepreneurs are developed. My cook has taken a loan and when I told him that he will have to payback he laughed it off. My loan he said with some confidence will be written off. They will have to find me to take it off me. What about your guarantors? He scoffed at the idea. They are as genuine as I am. This sort of thinking is perverted thinking and does little credit to the country.

Humans exist only within nature. That means for us Pakistanis that our feet must be deeply rooted in the soils. Last week there was lament from the Minister for Agriculture that the soils have been destroyed; in what way Mr Minister? Do you have any inkling of what the policies were that destroyed the entire soul of the country what to speak of the soil? We exist in nature not as an apology but as a fact and all of us. Neither the PM nor his cabinet is exempt from this.

Does the planning minister have a strategy to achieve what he has set out to achieve or are the documents and press briefings merely verbal garbage? The poor man had very little hair when he came to this office (like me) but now he has lost what he did have. In any case he should take heart from the fact that what is inside is more relevant then what is outside. The humans are not interlopers in the scheme of things. Neither is this kind of thinking easily accepted by the professional academics. The politicians in Pakistan and I dare say elsewhere take immense pride in what is likely to happen.

The Nawaz League has to be taken to task at some stage as they have projected their image through taxpayers’ money. The Indian Supreme Court in a judgement held that the politicians cannot use public money for this purpose and that they should use their own resources should they want to project themselves.

For reason, knowledge and determinism enable the politicians to circumvent the natural order and even undo the natural order. The PM and the royal family do so consistently. In order to illustrate this one does not have to seek evidence from elsewhere but from the Pakistani scene. People – and I have said so many times in my articles – are not interested in roads and bridges and heavy infrastructure projects. What they want is decent social cover like health, education and income support. But this is all fallacious. Speculative activities are on the increase. The achievement angle has already been dealt with.

I have been writing on the ground realities for some time but it takes an ardent reader to understand and to stitch the different strands to make sense of them. The anchors with their verbosity have words that are there one minute and the next minute they go into oblivion. No one is capable of remembering what was said in the context in which it was said. The media gets away with murder.

Will we see a change? Not likely. Will Pakistan emerge in the comity of nation? You’ve got some cheek. What will tomorrow hold for our children? Not much unless they have the gumption to change most of the matters. The debt is not redeemable; the employment will not emerge on its own and to cap it all inflation will ruin what is little left of our attitudes and values. The figure quoted from Karachi on a year-to-year basis was that there were 11,400 street crimes. As the situation worsens the hungry will get hungrier and there will be further increase in crimes. Want to bet? Your property assets against mine? Any takers from agriculture ministry? They have the sort of fatsoes that will allow a knife to get stuck better.

Dr. Zafar Altaf, "Government-led successful economics," business recorder. 2015-11-28.
Keywords: Political science , Political satire , Political leadership , National income , Public welfare , Enlightenment , Agriculture , Politicians , Pakistan , India , PM , MDGs , CPEC , PIA , PTI