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The foreign consultant

That all is not right in the kingdom of Pakistan is now apparent. There have been serious allegations about the political system and now the economic system is under clouds. The natural disasters have added anew to the avowed statement of the PM at the UN that Pakistan is committed. That was also reciprocated by the PM from across the border. The promise was well taken. The Minister for Planning is already trying to force such a situation and is now looking internationally as to whether there is need for consultants to report. Experience of Pakistan in this has been disaster. We have experimented with all kinds of Deputy Chairmen and all kinds of consultants. Development is not neutral to culture. Neither is there a universal shoe that fits all the provinces and neither the fragile and marginal areas.

So let us not seek answers that are not sustainable as they are found wanting in terms of grassroots. What does inclusive growth really mean? It means that every citizen of Pakistan will have the right to be under consideration and policies will be so devised that the maximum number will benefit from it. That by itself is a tall order. These tall objectives allow and enable one to seek higher objectives and that by itself is what we want. Machines consultants we are told are under consideration. They have been here before and the last Deputy Chairman was unhappy with their report and wanted the consultants to come and explain. They never came. In any case any foreign consultant that comes here will have to determine the ground realities and I do not think that the present elected government has the time to give them a year or two for the report and then as happened last time consign these to the dustbin. There was the Farooqi Report who served as the mentor for the agriculture ministry and he was paid handsomely by the ADB from a loan that will be paid by Pakistan. Farooqi never had a background of agriculture. He was one of the hitmen from the West masquerading as one from the developing world (Bangladesh) and even if he was well-versed the agriculture of Bangladesh was all rice (coarse-three crops) and nothing else. A consultant is defined as one who stays long enough to mess things up and before his worth is determined he leaves. That is what is happening with Pakistan. Pakistan’s issues are serious in agriculture and that is what I will be dealing with today.

Let me take up the marginal areas of Pakistan especially the coastal zone. In the early 90s when the present government was in authority, effort was made to develop coastal zone that was about 700 miles. Water was in abundance (sea water) and the experiment was successfully carried out on an oilseed crop – Salicornia. Since the crop was sown in an inhospitable area the agriculture goons shelved it once I was out of the agriculture ministry. It was started again as I had got them seed again in September 2012. The scuttling of such projects by vested groups (ghee and the palm oil importing mafia) has to stop if Pakistan is to prosper and in the process help those that have never been included in the inclusive development process. And neither will McKinsey be able to do the needful as they do not have the knowledge to deal with this kind of exponential knowledge. I have quoted just one intervention but there are many. The problem with the Planning Commission (PC) is that they are unaware of the situations on the ground for every Deputy Chairman (DC) barring Sardar Asseff Ahmed Ali banned all internal tours. How would then the Planning Commission operate with this kind of orientation? I am in agreement with the DC that the entire PC is moth-eaten. How to regenerate these individuals as it is well nigh impossible to get rid of them? When the late Anwar Zahid was Principal Secretary to the present government in its last stint there was move to liquidate the PC. He barely saved (with the best of intentions) the PC and did a great disservice to the country. That is now in the past. What is required in the current situation is to have persons that can visualise the future and use marginal natural resources. Awaran and Balochistan stand out. If the existing system cannot do it then a tender be floated seeking the help from the private sector. Pay them well and have the events fixed in terms of time sequence. Awaran requires instant help. There is no water issue. At one time when I was out of the government I went to Balochistan on my own and gave a workshop on waterless agriculture (well almost). Knowledge has now moved forward and my confirmed statement is the more income can be determined for the people of these areas than the irrigated areas of Punjab. Want to take me on? Name the odds and the bet. The bet has to be substantial. Our edible oil bill is second to our fossil fuel bill and yet both can be overcome if vested interests can be taken care of. The rentals of the ghee mafia and the sugarcane mafia, not to speak of textile mafia are legendary and they go about it with aplomb. No one can touch them. Fossil fuel can be resolved through plant interventions and it need not be food plants. There are enough technologies that can handle the crises in less than two years provided PSO is made to behave. They have huge stake in not allowing the country to go forward in biofuels. There are plants that can tolerate five years of drought and can come on stream within two years. The land they utilise is like the land available at Awaran. So!! Such lands are available in three provinces but the bald mountains of KPK are also available. The tragedy is that we are mentally tuned to our new colonialists (we suffer with inferiority complex). They will tell us what we need to do? Why to go to Davos? Why to attend the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). What has come out of that UN-sponsored conference? A lot of hot air!! That is all. Where is Shaukat Aziz’s chair of one UN? These are political ploys. Why should anyone be interested in solving our problems? Why? What can be done for Awaran so that the probability of natural disasters can be avoided? What happened in Quetta after the 1938 earthquake? The West has its own agenda and we are the pedestrians in that. Look out for routine assertions. These are based on idiotic thoughts. Oxymorons at work. Have the conviction to get one’s own to work. The trouble is that these fat slobs won’t go out of Islamabad. So liquidate all those that have not travelled within Pakistan’s (rural areas) but have visited all the countries of the world. I can take a bet that not one of the travel tours abroad has ever been brought to the notice of the government in power. The experts or so-called experts in irrigation and agriculture have a terrible track record. I can debate this with them if they are of the view that my views are incorrect and outlandish. Want a better Pakistan? Want it through Pakistanis then put your wallet where your mouth is and not for the Westerner in foreign currency. ‘What’, ‘how’, ‘when’ and ‘where’ are important elements as are the intangibles such as convictions, authority and responsibility. Try putting these together. Today Awaran and next we will visit the last earthquake and see what has been done and what has not been done. Yes, if you want accountability then catch those that have been sitting doing nothing. The negatives on this country are more to blame than the positive workers. May heaven guide the power structures. Let me tell you the mistake maker is better than the angels with invidious honesty. Get me or are you also stunted by vocabulary!!!

Dr Zafar Altaf, "The foreign consultant," Business recorder. 2013-10-12.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political leaders , Social development , Economic planning , Political system , Government-Pakistan , Planning commission , Natural disasters , Allegations , Earthquakes , Pakistan , PC