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Archive for December, 2005

A Third World Econo-Realist

Dr Ishrat Husain, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), who retired in early December 2005 after completing two consecutive and eventful 3 year terms, has been a fascinating study from various vantage points in both my professional and personal capacity, viz being a Director on the Board of a publicity listed financial institution, as a weekly columnist writing on economic, commercial and geo-political matters, and as a friend, A comparable financial intellectual in Pakistan of similar absolute integrity is Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the Federal Minister for Privatization and Investment. As Pakistanis of good standing, they are both also human beings of some substance; what is really endearing is their humility. Such men are destined for greatness for their country and themselves, provided they are given the chance to do so and not slotted into corners of no consequence.


The Chinook Factor

Countries with fairly large percentage of their population living in mainly inaccessible terrain find that recourse to aviation is a must, not only during times of natural disasters, but also for good governance, law enforcement and critical logistics requirement. One can get away with fixed use of wing aircraft in deserts and forests, in mountainous territory there is almost no alternative to rotary wing aircraft. The purchase cost/maintenance of helicopters being exponentially higher than fixed wing aircraft, saving of precious lives in a critical time period must overcome qualms about the high costs associated. Praying that disasters come few and far between, one has to plan for the worst.


Eliminating Perjury

Justice is dependant upon the evidence brought before those dispensing justice. If the evidence is manipulated in any manner, the verdict given will be flawed. It stands to reason that for justice to be done, it is imperative to ensure the credibility of evidence. A witness deliberately making material false or misleading statement while under oath commits the offence of perjury. Not only in Pakistan, or in South Asia, but throughout the world, less so in the first world than in the third, perjury is regularly committed by those giving statements under oath. In the first world, serious notice is taken of perjury, and many are convicted and punished for it. One really wonders as to the record of such convictions in third world countries – presumably it would be abysmally low.


India Shining?

Show-cased as an annual event, the ”India Economic Summit” of the “World Economic Forum” offers a tremendous networking opportunity for both foreign and Indian businesses, providing a rare encapsulated insight into new products and developments for participants. India’s high growth rate is sustained and force-multiplied by foreign direct investment (FDI), a combination of western entrepreneurs, non-resident Indians (NRIs) and dynamic local industrialists and businessmen taking good advantage of the vastness of India and its teeming population. While the talent and expertise exhibited by both the public and private sector are impressive, the major components of the booming economy include “Information Technology” (IT), and “Outsourcing”. The opening of the aviation sector has initiated another surge, new private airlines adding more and more aircraft as passengers turn for long hauls from trains and buses to the air. With public-private sector investment in roads and highways, multiple number of high-rises are being constructed in many cities and towns, force-multiplying the economic boom.


Judicial Self-Accountability

As is the custom of every military regime on coming to power, the Musharraf government initiated accountability across the board. In two respects the Musharraf’s benign “martial law” has remained totally different from those of his predecessors viz (1) martial law was not declared and (2) martial law courts were not used to dole out summary justice. To punish fiscal malfeasance, corruption and nepotism within the ambit of the law, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was established immediately within days of the failed civilian coup of October 1999. Exercising due legal process under the public perception of draconian military rule, NAB did excellent work under its first Chairman, Lt Gen Muhammad Amjad. Regretfully, Amjad, himself upright and honest, was not averse to cronyism. Some of these cronies, took good advantage of a counterproductive escape hatch in the NAB Ordinance, allowing the accused the facility of “plea bargaining”. That set a precedent for others for condoning white collar crimes like fraud, pilferage, etc, the crooked being released if a “significant” portion of that ill-gotten money was returned. The moral repugnance of a thief being let off the hook by returning a part of the stolen loot notwithstanding, the criminal/s also got to “whiten” their ill-gotten proceeds. This mechanism was used by some of the investigators of NAB to pocket a portion of that stolen loot.