In the course of the last month or so I have seen a number of economists on the media and I am afraid they do not have the foggiest idea of what is going on and the where and why are more difficult questions at this stage. However, despite their ignorance of local knowledge they keep on repeating themselves as infinite as if they were the last word. It is disturbing to say the least because they will be stirring up views that are meaningless. They have spoken of urbanisation as a requirement because they feel that growth is only possible in the concrete sector. They have forgotten the economic drawdown due to urbanisation. This is the agenda of the west and of the international institutes bent upon making this system vulnerable in all economic respects. Let me elaborate. The urbanisation that they speak of means that expensive heavy machinery will have to be imported and this machinery is made only in one or two western countries: a loss in our already over burdened forex reserves. Once that happens then the agricultural land will be under urbanisation. We have already lost three million hectares to urbanisation. We will lose some more given our appetites at acquisition. In this the players are the powerful politicians who aim to make a buck without working. I was recently in Lahore and the news came to me that a certain politician had links with a notorious property dealer and he had carried out a number of criminal misappropriations. On apprehension by the powerful politician the apprehending law officer was taken to task for doing his duty.
Besides the other ills that urbanisation will bring is the issue of climate change. As temperatures soar to unprecedented levels the rise in temperatures will be due to the concrete cemented buildings and roads that we will have. As it is I asked these sages that are propounding dams what the run off water from roads is if there is one inch of rainfall and the road is end to end in width with no soils to absorb that rainwater. I will have to wait till eternity. Our engineers will not be able to deliver on any such calculation.
If you go to Rewat where the new airport terminal is under construction you will find that all transaction in the four mouzas that touch Rewat have had land transactions suspended. Why? The right to private property is a fundamental protection in a capitalist system. Why then are the property revenue authorities sitting in the CMs office. In Sindh I had asked that the records of rights be safeguarded at each change of government. CMs are notorious at usurping other people’s lands and properties. Why is the CM responsible for the transfer of a patwari – the lowest ranking revenue official? Does the CM have nothing better to do?
Pakistan is in a mess. Democracy requires a higher level of censorship system of the self. It is in Pakistan’s case a Herculean case. The system of governance is full of cheats. There is no exception. There is a lot of deception. The land acquisition is linked to urbanisation. The economists should be well advised to study the collapse of the US housing industry. In any case the sort of urbanisation that these Western educated rural oxymorons want is to get rich at the expense of the poor ruralite. Yes and why not when the example set before them is one of these kinds? The monsoon is said to have shifted by 100 kilometres to the west. That means that there will not be river floods in the country but flash rain floods because we will not have the ability to counter rain-based run-off floods. Sindh had it a couple of years ago. The consequences for the poor stand out again. The poor who have no means of getting their next meal will be under stress from this climate change. Urbanisation eats into all that is for the poor. Agriculture will suffer the most and amongst them the poor farmers with small land holdings will be the worst sufferer.
The third flaw in that thinking is that the large urban centres are already hogging all the finances so there is no investment left for the rural areas. Lahore has been made beautiful but go to 40 kilometers out we will see utter rubbish living conditions and poverty of an extreme kind. Yes the mujra spots of the powerful will be protected as will be their doodh dahi ki dukan (milk and yogurt shop). Forget the chicken rumblings and the fact that H1N1 seems to start from some where in the rural areas proximate to Lahore. Well next time have a slaughter house and try some mean tricks with the local population.
Governance is such an unselfish act. News is now coming of through some Pakistani politician buying apartments in Ilford in Surrey. Why not put a clause in the constitution by mutual consensus that any one who has property abroad should be debarred from taking part in an election.
Pakistan’s problems are to do with the greed of the rich and powerful. They do not seem to be satiated by any amount of assets that they illegally acquire. I challenge the legal and the political authorities to check on their acquisition methods. If they do not protect the poor from being exploited the consequences for our social system will be drastic. Already the minor provinces are up in revolt. Sindh is now in readiness to start making overtures as to bad governance by the centre. Balochistan is already under stress. The unemployment promised by the FM has not been actually on the ground. The younger generation is frustrated and the powerful economic masters are not pushed. You and I can have our benefits and pie but for how long. The social consequences catch up sooner than later.
The political government is supposed to operate at the grass root level. If that were so why not have local council elections. In 1947 we inherited a local council system that had its roots in the Morley-Minto reforms of 1862. We destroyed whatever little edifice we had. We will keep on doing things that will not work the system. Personalities matter to us and reason does not have even the back seat.
These are serious issues at hand and we still keep on playing games. All of us will be losers of sorts. There are no winners in such an end game. What then is required is an augmentation of the productive resource base in which the regulatory authorities should try and make them competitive. Such will never be the case. Take my word for a sea change is required. And a sea change requires thoughtful leaders. Just look at the meanderings of the leaders? They are everywhere and yet nowhere. This is phantom governance. The two upfront government personnel are the policeman and the revenue patwari. What kind of attitudes do these people have? The patwari has been for the last so many years the best of friends with the powers that be, go to them and try to get to first base. Try your luck. Will you let the economists get away with third rate Western concepts? The wisdom of the East is what I would like to see.Dr Zafar Altaf, "The erring views of the economists," Business reorder. 2014-05-31.
Keywords: Economics , Economic issues , Economic systems , Agricultural issues , Property issues , Property revenue , Political issues , Political system , Economists. Pakistan