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The adverse impact of intangibles on economics

I have never been a passionate student of economics and I do not like the ways in which economists that have studied in prestigious overseas university throw their Oxford and Cambridge batch around. In fact I used to joke with Oxonians [a brother and a sister had studied there] by saying that I suffered Oxonians all my life. My cricket captain was an Oxonian [Skipper Hafeez Kardar]. The best PM that I worked with BB was an Oxonian, President Leghari was an Oxonian and Governor Kamal Azfar was also from there. They had one aspect that was solid in their favour and that was that they lived in Veritas [truth] and never tried to seek verbal advantage because of their articulate abilities. The cricket captains of England used to be from these two universities till Len Hutton was made the captain for the Australian tour in 1955. The England team was never to be the same. A gentlemen’s game was made into a professional money oriented one. I argued with each of them on economics. I do not buy the western system as relevant to Pakistan and developing countries.

That aside I do not think that equations can determine human aspects and that the capital investment ratio provides a yardstick for investment. I have seen defunct politicians [past and present] being overawed by the economists. My education came as a result of living experience and after I had joined the civil service and experienced massive poverty and living conditions akin to animal living. It was experience based and my experience was exponential and not cumulative. My revenue training was under the harshest of conditions and I was camped in the bed of Mithawan hill torrent. I came to respect the torrent for its culture and its independence. Sardar Farooq Ahmad Leghari wanted to harness this hill torrent as it did a lot of damage. He asked the Japanese to do it. I disagreed on technical grounds but I was brushed aside. A year a later and 24 crores of rupees short the President agreed that a mistake had been made and that the Japanese did not understand the culture of the hill torrent. I was advocating the receiving of water [like a guest being received rather than a confrontation with it]. Justice Holmes of the USA Supreme Court was to say that law is in the living of experience. Mine was to live the experience of the difficulties that I saw and experienced in public life, and in the process suffered but never [I hope wilted] under pressures. When the bureaucracy is blackmailed the outcome is a service structure that is oriented by eunuch [Zankha is perhaps a better word] like behaviour and performance. It is obvious in the bureaucracy of today. Not only this government but all governments in the past have had intriguers and blackmailers. All have been of the view that the bureaucracy is dragging its feet. What they want is that their orders and directions should be implemented like instant coffee. They-the power block have never read the rules of business. In fact they have never read anything and rely on verbal transactions. Glib they are. The Electronic media has not helped in any way. Barring President GIK and Sardar Farooq Ahmed Leghari no one has really worked on the President’s desk or the PM’s desk. Its nonuse is intact. Orders are by walkabout.

I have strayed a bit. But what impact will this performance of the government have on the investors generally. The budget has almost become inconsequential even for the rich and the powerful given the recent state of affairs. Who will come here no matter what the centre and the provinces do. I see new puppets on the TV giving their opinions without ever having travelled to the area about which they have opined. Hush puppies from the political system and scions of powerful people trying to give them a head start in politics. Is this kind of chaperoning allowed? I was looking at the assets of the politicians and my word what a jackpot they have hit. In some cases the scions have more assets then the father politician. Then you look at the shajra of those that talk too much and one sees the reason for the canine loyalty.

Economic impact of this is visible but if we chose not to see then despite having all the faculties one is blind. Visibility is not in question but the question is of being blind in the mind. Reason then takes a back seat. Which entrepreneur would like to invest where the social conditions are what they are? The deterioration that has taken place will take a long-time to recover, if ever. When social systems break down then these systems can only come back in a different form. It is pointless to talk of the old organisational structure for it cannot be resuscitated. The district magistrate’s functions were given to the lower judiciary but where were they when they were needed? They are not supposed to be in the field and they cannot manage such gigantic tasks. The training of the civil bureaucracy is for that one critical day when they have to show their courage. We were thrown in the deep end of the pool when we were posted to East Pakistan where we were in a human jail and at that time we were not very fluent in Bangla. We learnt it and managed the long march of Bhashani and of Mujib’s resurgence. The present day politicians have made a mess of the organisational structure. Pakistan’s bureaucracy was cheap and this was our usual crib. But that was as it was.

The satisfaction of and the motivations were different. The police force was made answerable to the district magistrate. Police inspections were in order; all that has changed because of the so called reforms that were carried out. Do you have any one with the ability to manage the changing circumstances and to provide for organisational fairness? Do you have to be of a particular ethnicity to have a good job or any job whatsoever? Is that our commitment to Pakistan? Is this what we were asked to do and sully the name of the leader that gave us Pakistan?

Can we now hold Balochistan? Please do not give me supercilious answers like the Ministers do on TV shows. Their mouth is in so many places. Can the government state how much Foreign Direct Investment has been brought in? Can they say whether the field, any field, is open for local entrepreneurs? Are there sharks in the system? Do ministers qualify as sharks? The evidence will be out soon. The ill-gotten wealth that people have within their system will sooner or later emerge from the secret vaults. How does one person from the Panwali Gali have assets worth many hundreds of crores and prize bonds worth Rs 4 crores. Where is the FBR? The sources of whitening black money these days are two – prize bonds and stocks and shares. Why cannot FBR show some courage and locate the means of unfair assets? They won’t? They do not have the stomach for it? They cannot put their job on the line. I commiserate with them. Courage is not everyone’s pie.

Democracy has many burdens but the biggest one is a corrupt and incompetent political system. The others have already been done in. Mentally sick and retarded should not be in the political system. Just listen to who speak on law and order not the Interior Minister but all those who are lackeys – railways, water and power, information and what not. Let me share this with you. One of the rules considered by foreign companies is – what is the ratio of paramilitary and military forces to the population? When it goes to the level at which we are no one will come. You can have your elite force, your force against terrorists and your FC and the Baloch levy and you can have any number of high designations but they have not graduated in life as yet. Water eventually finds its own levels. I would like to be informed when my thesis is proved wrong. Folded hands do not create a viable government.

Dr Zafar Altaf, "The adverse impact of intangibles on economics," Business recorder. 2014-06-28.
Keywords: Economics , Economic issues , Economic system , Economic policy , Social issues , Social problems , Political issues , International issues , Legal system , Bureaucracy , Pakistan