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Archive for June, 1988

Offset Mechanism

Third World countries which are acutely short of foreign exchange are increasingly turning to one of the many forms of Countertrade as a force-multiplier trading vehicle. Not only does this provide a direct linkage but also acts as a balancing factor. In Pakistan, we have long standing Barters (in name only because the correct word is SCAM) with various socialist countries, Sweden (SUKAB) and Finland (KEMIRA OY), and an excellent but ineffective Special Trading Agreement (STA) with Bangladesh besides various other similar impotent agreements with Indonesia and Kenya. Having deliberately failed to earmark/support a public sector corporate institution like the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to handle Barter and/or Countertrade, we have made a mockery about an effective trade instrument used effectively by many Third World countries designed to protect a country’s economic integrity by instituting linkages to imports. Vested interests combine and contrive to ensure that Third World countries be dependant upon importation of goods from outside and our mainstream planners (who never change), have permitted, through benign neglect and/or criminal intent, a turkey shoot on Pakistan’s economy.

We have reached an economic crossroads of sorts coinciding with the fall of the Junejo Government. We do not have anyone in the bureaucracy with a penchant for change and no political technocrat powerful enough to either conceptualize and/or implement Countertrade, given the reflexive attitude of our bureaucratic gnomes to snarl all new initiatives in a welter of bright red tape. The wholesale abolishment of the mundane and routine must necessarily become a national pastime if we are to break loose from the suffocating vise of economic monotony that has stunted industrial growth. We cannot hope for any kind of economic emancipation within the various confines of bureaucratic parameters that one has to contend with at the present time and our salvation lies in innovative, daring and futuristic policies having no bearing on the past except that of learning from experience. We must dare to make our visions for this country come true, not allow them to slip into nightmare through passive inaction, tempered by the fear of tampering with the system. A pace has to be set designed to traverse the span of centuries in a matter of years. “Catching up with the rest of the world” should not only be a slogan for us anymore but a matter of survival.

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A chance to make history

The Nation’s Headline of Tuesday, May 31, 1988 had former Prime Minister Junejo saying that “Gen Zia’s action was arbitrary but constitutional.” Annunciating the essential difference between a politician and a soldier, Mr. Junejo salvaged some of his pride in a dignified response. The moral of the exercise is that nice men seldom make effective leaders, given a difficult country like Pakistan to govern. It is still too early to write the political epitaph of this decent human being, given the fact that he had begun to show sustained flashes of being effective. He is a resilient character and will certainly play a part in the future in Pakistan’s troubled political chapter, some of his chameleon colleagues notwithstanding. The threshold of political morality is extremely low, in Pakistan even more so.

The President spoke of his determination to hasten the pace of Islamisation. Fundamental to Pakistan given acquiescence from the different sects, it is self-explanatory, self-defeating only if a particular point of view is sought to be forcefully imposed upon a minority. Detractors will note a consistency in that Islamisation has been Gen Zia’s central theme since 1977. He also spoke of (1) accountability (2) law and order situation and (3) economic emancipation.

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