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Pakistan International Airlines – PIA

Services Sector

As an agri-based economy it is easy to understand why easy credit was available early on in Pakistan in this sector in the 50 years or so of our existence as a nation. To ease the pressure on agriculture, large-scale diversion into the manufacturing sector was carried out in the 60s and 70s, embarking on a virtual industrial revolution that spent large amounts of money on textile mills as well as a whole range of small, medium and heavy industries. On the Harvard model as applicable in Japan, exports became the key. China and the four Asian Tigers followed the same model. Maximum credit was directed primarily to support industries churning out traditional exports of cotton and cotton-based derivatives and secondly to building up non-traditional exports. Whatever gains were made in the medium and heavy industries was wiped out by the sweeping nationalisation of the early 70s by the Bhutto regime, during late Zia’s regime both industrialists and agriculturists became entrepreneurs. Loan default became a business in its own right despite the authoritarian nature of the regime, there being a lack of street credit control with the advent of controlled democracy in 1985. The years 1998, 1993 and 1997 are landmarks inasmuch as each successive political regime force-multiplied the loan default by interfering politically in the recurring process specifically and in the nationalised banking industry, both with nationalised commercial banks (NCBs) and development finance institutions (DFIs), generally. With the “Day of Redemption”, Nov 16, only a couple of days or so ago, it is time to take stock of why so much credit was showered on virtually one sector alone, with a negligible amount in comparison to the agriculture sector and almost nothing if any, to the services sector.

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Jobs and the Nation

Two mighty Superpowers confronted each other in a four decades old cold war till a scant year or so ago with enough bang in their arsenals to blow the world up many hundreds of times over. Though the former Soviet Union’s weaponry is still intact for the most part in 12 or so different hands, the only effective Head Honcho left is the USA. As the clear winner of the cold war, George Bush would be expected to be riding high in the esteem of his own electorate. In addition to the demise of the Soviet Union, President Bush had orchestrated the world campaign, barely a year or so ago, to oust Iraq from Kuwait. His spectacular successes in foreign policy initiatives have been dwarfed by the spectre of continuing recession, jobs are more important to the US public than the fate of Gorbachev, Yeltsin or Saddam Hussain. The same factor of economics that was primarily responsible for consigning the Soviet Union to oblivion is now threatening to erode his candidacy for a Second Term. If the populace seems unduly ungrateful, it only seems to confirm man’s over-riding and pragmatic concern for one’s own self-interest.

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