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Sovereignty – the task ahead

The people of Pakistan have given their verdict – PML (N) in Punjab, Balochistan and the Centre, PTI and JI in KPK and PPP and MQM in Sindh. Once again providence has given another opportunity to us to set aside differences to achieve unity and work for the welfare of the common man. The Quaid visualised Pakistan as a state having equality of man and social justice this vision is expressed in his last speech which was delivered on 1st July 1948 at the opening ceremony of the State Bank of Pakistan:-

“The opening of the State Bank of Pakistan symbolises the sovereignty of our State – I will watch with keenness the work of your Research Organisation in evolving banking practices compatible with Islamic ideals of social and economic life. The economic system of the West has created almost insoluble problems for humanity – The adoption of Western economic theory and practice will not help us in achieving our goal of creating a happy and contented people. We must work our destiny in our own way and present the world an economic system based on true Islamic concept of equality of manhood and social justice. We will thereby be fulfilling our mission as Muslims and giving humanity the message of peace which alone can save it and secure the welfare, happiness and prosperity of mankind. May the State Bank of Pakistan prosper and fulfil the high ideals which have been set as its goal.”

The State Bank did hardly anything in fulfilling the goal set for it by the Quaid. I doubt if the Banking Institute of Pakistan includes the above speech as a part of its curriculum. It was only when Islamic Banking was introduced in some Muslim countries that we woke up and started introducing it a few years ago.

The Quaid’s opening remarks are very significant because he equates the opening of the State Bank with national sovereignty that is independence. In essence it means that the lack of economic independence compromises national sovereignty. Within a few years after the assassination of the first Prime Minister in October 1951 the civil bureaucracy came into power and it did not take long in compromising national sovereignty by accepting foreign economic and military aid. But when the military assumed power they went a step further and gave bases over which Pakistan had no control.

The time has now come to reassert our sovereignty by first regaining economic independence and doing away with all foreign aid. This is a matter of political will because foreign aid is certainly not an economic necessity. This is very eloquently expressed with convincing facts and figures by the well known economist Dr Ishrat Husain in his article “Is US assistance really so critical for Pakistan” published in both Dawn and the Business Recorder in April 2007.

“The result of this analysis shown in Table II indicates that even under the worst case scenario of zero aid flows and no reimbursements for logistics services rendered to the US troops the diminution in foreign exchange receipts or budgetary resources would be insignificant – varying between 4.5% of total foreign exchange receipts to 7.2% of total budgetary expenditures. The other two indicators ie the proportion of total value of imports and current account receipts financed by US assistance account for 6.4% and 5.8% respectively – not worrisome amounts – the main argument of this analysis is that the pundits in the US who believe that they can use the leverage of US official aid to paralyse Pakistan’s economy are sadly mistaken as they have an exaggerated sense of the importance of these official flows. Any attempt to impose conditions that impinge upon the sovereignty of Pakistan or conflict with our own national interests can be resisted without creating a serious dislocation to our macro economic stability or growth prospects. This analysis explodes the popularly held myth that Pakistan is so dependent on foreign assistance for its economic survival that pulling the plug would force it to yield under this pressure.”

For the guidance of the civil services I reiterate what the founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said on 25 March 1948; “I know you are saddled with the old legacy, old mentality, old psychology and it haunts our footsteps, but it is up to you now to act as true servants of the people even at the risk of any Minister or ministry trying to interfere with you in the discharge of your duties as civil servants. -Wipe off that past reputation; you are not rulers. You do not belong to the ruling class; you belong to the servants. Make the people feel that you are their servants and friends, maintain the highest standard of honour, integrity, justice and fair-play. -Now that freezing atmosphere must go; that impression of arrogance must go that impression that you are the rulers must go and you must do your best with all courtesy and kindness and try to understand the people”, (Dawn 26, March 1948)

Today these instructions of the Quaid are especially applicable to the politicians. The people of Pakistan are fed up with the arrogant behaviour of the politicians and the members of the establishment who think that they are above the law. As the Quaid had said; “That freezing atmosphere must go; that impression of arrogance must go that impression that you are the rulers must go and you must do your best with all courtesy and kindness and try to understand the people.”

The above speech of the Quaid, his speech to civil servants in Peshawar, the speech of 30, October 1947 in Lahore and the speech of 25, January 1948 in Karachi must be included in the curriculum of all the institutions for new inductees in the civil services and the armed forces of Pakistan. They must know what is expected from them by the founder – Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

There are accusations afloat of foreign ownership of some members of the press and the electronic media and that they project the agenda and that their narrative is against the national interest. No one can deny that the owners determine the policy and the narrative of the media/paper. It is therefore in the national interest that PEMRA publishes the full details of the ownership of all TV channels because the people have the right to have this information.

Now we have an independent and free press/media which must act responsibly and do away the sensationalism with which it is obsessed today. It should instead offer critique rather than just criticism of the policies and actions of the government. The electronic media has a special responsibility in changing its narrative in the national interest in the right direction.

True the task before the new governments is beset with many challenges but with political will, sincerity, selflessness and honesty these challenges can be overcome. The people of Pakistan have time and again risen to the occasion and have not flinched from any sacrifice for a national cause. To obtain the confidence and support of the people it is essential that this ostentatious VIP culture of the past twenty five years must be discarded forthwith by adopting simplicity in dress and transportation by the political leadership.

It is essential that several think tanks are established consisting of a broad cross section of economists, entrepreneurs, technical experts, retired diplomats, retired officers of the armed forces, educationists and former Chief Justices to prepare position papers for public debate and the guidance of the government.

If the political leaders visibly demonstrate the political will by acting in public interest then the 160 million hardworking people of Pakistan will once again prove these voices and lobbies of doom wrong by putting their shoulder to the wheel and sustaining rapid growth and achieving prosperity sooner rather than later.

Inam Khawaja, "Sovereignty – the task ahead," Business recorder. 2013-08-14.
Keywords: Social sciences , Social crisis , Social issues , Social problems , Political issues , Political parties , Political problems , Social justice , Economic policy , Economic issues , State Bank-Pakistan , Military aid , Terrorism , Terrorists , Pakistan