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Nasim Zehra

November 25 2006

"The Pakistan-China relationship has been a dynamic relationship whose compulsions and contents have changed with changing geo-political context. Its dynamism enables it to survive major realignments globally and in Asia specifically."

It is truly a model relationship. Ever since the two Asian neighbors established diplomatic ties in 1962, the utility of the relationship for each has only multiplied over the years. The Pakistan-China bilateral relationship is an uninterrupted, trust-bound and genuinely all-weather relationship. In fact it is a relationship in which a high level of political will has been invested to make it into a relationship that is capable of proactively responding to the changing demands of a changing context. Hence it has survived geo-strategic changes in face of tectonic scales including wars, uprisings, invasions, breakups of nations and rapprochements. Improving Sino-Indo Relations from 1989 onward, end of the Soviet Union, Post 9/11, Pakistan as a lead country in the war-on-terror, the emergence of a uni-polar world and finally the US and Indian strategic convergence. These changes have led to a changed national agenda of the Chinese and by extension impacting on the relationship.

President Hu Jintao's recent visit to Pakistan, the first in a decade by a Chinese President, has further cemented these model ties; almost as if pouring concrete into the structure of this relationship. Like his predecessors Hu Jintao carried forward the torch of this strengthening strategic relationship. He framed it in traditional terminology; "it is higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the Indian Ocean and sweeter than honey."

The sentiments were further reinforced when President Musharraf conferred the Nishan-i-Pakistan award on President Hu in recognition of his visionary leadership and contribution for strengthening Pakistan-China relations, Hu addressed the Pakistani nation on television, the Chinese philosopher Confucius's work was translated into Urdu by the National Urdu Language Institute. At the banquet the Chinese president urged his Pakistani hosts to " build on past achievement and strengthen traditional friendship, advanced with the time, expand and enrich China-Pakistan strategic partnership so that our friendship will pass on from generation to generation."

The outcome of the Hu visit has been a free trade agreement, which promises to triple bilateral trade to 15billion dollars in 5 years, enhance Chinese investment in Pakistan, set up joint production of the AWACs warning systems and continue with energy cooperation. Pakistan and China have also signed MOUs and agreed to immediately set up a Joint Investment Company. Eighteen bilateral agreements in the area of economic cooperation, new defense and energy deals have been signed and nuclear co-operation will be continued.

The Pakistan-China relationship has been a dynamic relationship whose compulsions and contents have changed with changing geo-political context. Its dynamism enables it to survive major realignments globally and in Asia specifically.

It is a relationship that was born out of the single necessity of security. Faced with abiding hostility from a bigger neighbor that initially questioned the country's existence, Pakistan sought security, first, through external military alliances and later, through an indigenously developed nuclear deterrent. It was in its journey towards seeking security in a hostile neighborhood and its experience with an undependable ally that Pakistan opted for what was first a security relationship which subsequently would become the anchor of its defense and foreign policy.

Specifically for Pakistan the 1962 US-India military deal resulted in Pakistan's opening up to China in a historic switching from its earlier policy of total dependence on Washington. For China the relationship was a means for breaking out of international isolation and for check-mating Indian power. Grateful to Pakistan for opening up when China was isolated, PIA flew the first international flight to Shanghai. Chou En Lai himself was there to receive that flight.

China has been adept at strategically and non-aggressively managing relationships- an advice it has passed on to its friend as well. Pakistan has consistently pursued its foreign policies with security as its major element. Its relations with the US have grown but not at the cost of its relationship with China. China itself has relations with the US. Meanwhile the China-India engagement, which began in 1989 under Rajiv, did not see any down turn in Pakistan-Chinese relations.

China believes the era of alliances and block formations is over. It seeks improved ties in its neighborhood and much beyond. Advocating a free-trade agreement in India the Chinese president said "If India and China take the necessary steps to strengthen trade and business, the 21st century will be Asia's." As China has pursued its own self-interest it has by extension also encouraged Pakistan to pursue pragmatic policies. For example China Pakistan from taking on ill-advised battles with India.

Meanwhile China is a major trading partner with Pakistan accounting for nearly 11 percent of Islamabad's imports. In 2005 the trade between the two countries was 4.25 billion dollars- a 40% increase. Pakistan is also diversifying its security portfolio. Going beyond conventional and non-conventional means of deterrence, Pakistan is now seeking security through economic development and trade. Its trade figures with China, Afghanistan and India have all shot up. New entrants Afghanistan and China into SAARC and Pakistan and India into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), point towards the realization that regional economic cooperation and integration is imperative for regional progress and political moderation.

There is a shared logic that guides the mutual interests of this relationship. This shared logic shapes the national security policies of the two; one an emerging global power the other a rising Asian power. This relationship is effectively adapting to the changing regional and global scenarios. Obviously improvements in Sino-Indian relations are not adversely impacting on the substance of Sino-Pakistan ties. The most concrete manifestation of the deepening of Sino-Pakistan ties are being deepened and broadened is the joint Gwador project.

During his recent visit, the Chinese President has declared Pakistan as an `indispensable partner' for cooperation in the international arena. In his televised address to the Pakistani nation from the Convention Centre, President Hu said: "China will continue to work with Pakistan to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the collective interests of the developing countries and promote democracy in international relations."

Advocating a role in global affairs for Pakistan he said "As a true friend of Pakistan, China hopes that Pakistan will play a greater role in regional and international affairs and (China) will strengthen coordination and cooperation with Pakistan in the Asean Regional Forum, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Asian Cooperation Dialogue, Asia Europe Meeting and other regional organization." President Hu said. "We are truly good neighbors, close friends, trusted partners and dear brothers and sisters," he declared.

Bridging the cultural, religious and civilizational fault-lines that the US-led war on terrorism has created he said: "One should not make irresponsible remarks about internal affairs of other countries simply because of differences any countries have and it is equally wrong to blame a particular civilization, nation or religion for some problem or conflict in the world."

The Sino-Pakistan relationship is also one through which multiple, and potentially explosive fault-lines - religious, economic, political and geographical-cross. Undoubtedly it is key to determining the future of the Asian continent.



Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday, in his first public address since his party grabbed a lead in the preliminary General Election results, shared his vision for the country and pledged to safeguard the interests of ordinary citizens.

Khan, in a speech made in Bani Gala that was broadcast via video link, claimed victory, saying that he was thankful to have finally been given the chance to implement the manifesto he had envisioned 22 years ago.

"Thanks to God, we won," he said. "We were successful and we were given a mandate," the 65-year-old cricketer-turned-politician said during a live broadcast, adding that there was "no politician victimisation" in the acrimonious contest.

Addressing outcry by opposition political parties that the elections had been rigged or manipulated, Khan promised to provide them the assistance required to investigate such allegations. In the same breath he dismissed such allegations, terming yesterday's polls "the fairest in Pakistan's history".

Watch the complete address here.

"If you think there has been rigging, we will assist you in the investigation if you have any doubts. We will stand by you. I feel that this election has been the fairest in Pakistan's history. If any party has any doubts, we will open up the results of those constituencies for investigation."

He commended the people of Balochistan who voted on election day, despite a suicide attack that left 31 people dead, and the armed forces who provided security for the polls.

Imran's promises

"I want to clarify why I entered politics. Politics could not have given me anything. I wanted Pakistan to become the country that my leader Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had dreamed of."

"I want to share the kind of Pakistan I envision ? the type of state that was established in Madina, where widows and the poor were taken care of," he explained. "Today our state is in shambles. [But] all our policies aim to help the less fortunate prosper," he said.

"Farmers are not paid for their hard work, 25 million children are out of school, our women continue to die in childbirth because we can't give them basic healthcare, we can't give the people clean drinking water. A country is not recognised by the lifestyle of the rich, but by the lifestyle of the poor. No country that has an island of rich people and a sea of poor people can prosper," he said.

Although he claimed to have "suffered the worst kind of personal attacks" that any political leader has had to sustain over the last three years, he said "this is all behind me now".

"I pledge to safeguard the nation's taxes. We will decrease all of our expenses," he promised.

"Our institutions will be stronger, everyone will be held accountable. First I will be subjected to accountability, then my ministers and so on. Today we are behind [other countries] because there is a separate system for those in power and a separate one for ordinary citizens," he said.

"We are facing governance and economic challenges. Our economy has never been so abysmal. It’s because institutions have not been doing their jobs," he explained.

"People are not investing in Pakistan. Another problem is unemployment, our youth does not have jobs. We will introduce a system that has never been implemented before ? a kind of governance system that has not been seen before in this country," he promised. 

A country that has the highest number of people giving charity, but the lowest amount of tax revenue, he claimed.

"Our government will decide what we will do with PM House. I would be ashamed to live in such a large house. That house will be converted into an educational institution or something of the sort," he said.

"The point is, we have to improve our condition, we have to formulate policies with the business community to increase wealth," he said.

"We will improve tax culture. People will pay taxes because they will see that their taxes are being spent on them. We will help farmers, the business community and help the youth to find jobs and develop their skills. Our money will be spent on human development," he added.

Foreign policy challenges
"Another challenge is foreign policy. No other country needs peace like we do. We will strengthen our relations with China, they have given us a chance by investing in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and we also want to learn how to improve people's lives, drag them out of poverty. Will also learn how to deal with corruption," he said.

"Next is Afghanistan. They have suffered most in the ‘war on terror’, and before that in the Afghan jihad. Peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan," he said, adding that he envisions open borders with Afghanistan reminiscent to those within the European Union.

He said he wished relations with the US to be mutually beneficial, not one sided. Additionally, he said he and his party wanted stronger ties with Iran.

"Saudi Arabia has stood by us in our toughest times. We would like to be a reconciliatory state and help them resolve their inner tensions," he said.

He added that he was very disappointed with how Indian media had, in the days leading up to the election, portrayed him as a "Bollywood villain".  "I am a person who arguably knows the most people in India because of my days in cricket. We can resolve the poverty crisis in South East Asia. The biggest problem is Kashmir, every international organisation has said that there are human rights violations taking place in Kashmir," he said.  "We want to improve our relations with India, if their leadership also wants it. This blame game that whatever goes wrong in Pakistan is because of India and vice versa brings us back to square one," he said.  "This is not how we will grow, and it is detrimental to the sub-continent," he said.   "If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but we at least need a start."

"I pledge to our people that I will introduce a system that is for the masses, all policies will be for the people and not for the elite," he vowed.

"I will live humbly," he promised. "So far we have seen that everyone who comes to power changes. That will not happen with me."
July 26 2018

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Justice Movement (PTI) wins the most seats of any single party in parliament, says Junaid Ahmad, Professor of Middle Eastern Politics at the University of Lahore


Following his election victory, the playboy cricket star turned politician now faces the complex task of balancing internal and international expectations

It’s not hard to see why Imran Khan’s stunning victory in the Pakistan elections attracted global media coverage. The story of a cricketing hero and former playboy turned political superstar and scourge of the establishment that spawned him was too good to miss.  Given Pakistan’s history of army coups, Khan’s rise to power seemed like a modern parable foretelling the triumph of people’s democracy over the dark-suited, sunglassed forces of “deep state” military control, manipulation and repression.

Beguiling though this storyline is, it did not really happen that way. Indeed, Khan owed his success, in part at least, to the covert meddling of those same shadowy spooks and generals, according to EU poll monitors. Yet who governs Pakistan, and how, is still a matter of high international importance. Take female suffrage. Equal voting rights are absent in some Muslim countries. But Pakistan, where women comprise 44% of eligible voters, has made exceptional progress. Veiled female residents of conservative tribal areas such as South Waziristan made history last Wednesday when they cast votes for the first time.

Pakistan matters because, with its youthful population of more than 200 million (66% are under 30), it is a country of vast potential handicapped by endemic poverty, illiteracy and inequality. It is also, not coincidentally, a battleground pitting anti-western Islamists, schooled in international jihad in Saudi-funded madrassas, against the secular, anglophone elite. It is central to the “war on terror”. Its stability and security, or lack of it, has a potentially global impact.

For the British, Pakistan exercises an abiding fascination, rooted in the Raj’s disastrous part in its bloody 1947 birth and in continuing, close ethnic and cultural ties. For the Americans, self-anointed heirs to empire, Pakistan plays the dual role of indispensable ally and duplicitous villain in their endless Afghan drama. For many in India, Islamabad is the nuclear-armed bogeyman next door. For expansionist China, Pakistan is a key link in its grandiose Belt and Road trading franchise, reliant on Beijing’s loans, investment and goodwill.

How the untested Khan, wholly lacking in governmental experience, will approach these complex issues and historical burdens is open to question. What is clear is that he has changed radically since his hell-raising West End days. Launching his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, meaning “movement for justice”, in 1996, a newly earnest Khan, now 65, made doing God’s will and fighting corruption his main aims in life.

“Far from being the Islamic welfare state that was envisaged, Pakistan is a country where politics is a game of loot and plunder,” Khan wrote in his memoir, Pakistan: A Personal History. His new party, he said, would strive to “end exploitation and ensure a society based on honesty, merit and integrity”.

Khan espoused a conservative religious outlook, favouring sharia law and controversially backing radical anti-blasphemy laws. His criticism of US drone strikes earned him the nickname “Taliban Khan”. And he rediscovered his family’s Afghan roots and Pashtun tribal identity. Coincidentally or not, this won him support among conservatives.

Likewise, courting populist opinion, Khan turned against Pakistan’s western-educated ruling class, despite graduating from Oxford university. Colonialism had wrought lasting damage across the subcontinent, he wrote, by destroying self-esteem. “The inferiority complex that is ingrained in a conquered nation results in its imitation of some of the worst aspects of the conquerors, while at the same time neglecting its own great traditions.”

Twenty years spent clambering up Disraeli’s greasy pole may have mellowed Khan a little, but not entirely. Observers say he remains a passionate, volatile man with authoritarian instincts.  But the conciliatory tone of Thursday’s victory speech, in which he called for national unity, surprised and relieved critics. Khan said he would seek improved relations with India and Afghanistan, where a nascent peace process is inching forward.  He even offered an inquiry into opposition allegations of vote-rigging. Although the row over the “stolen” election will rumble on – minor parties say they plan street protests – Khan’s offer seems to have drawn its sting. The main opposition, the PMLN, has dropped its threat to boycott parliament and accepted defeat. An editorial in Dawn newspaper, headlined “Time to move on”, declared Khan and the PTI had demonstrated “genuine national political appeal”. For that reason, it said, “he ought to be given the political space to try and turn his ideas into reality”.

Whether Khan can do so, while maintaining a calm, unifying approach, is now the biggest question in Pakistani politics. Two immediate problems stand out. One is how to prevent the economy imploding under rising debt and devaluation pressures. The other is how the new government can escape the embrace of the overbearing military, which will expect payback for its campaign “assistance”.
Pakistan’s generals are accustomed to exercising sole control of foreign and security policy. Challenging them can be a career or even life-ending experience. So if Khan, for example, wants to break with the US, befriend India, or talk to terrorists, he had better watch his back. Whatever the popular storyline says about democracy redux, the hidden hand on the new prime minister’s shoulder is real. It will be hard to shake off.


Zafar Bangash

With the federal government as well as two of the four provinces—Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab—under his belt, Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) party is a greatly satisfied person. His 22-year-long struggle for change from the two mafia families—the Zardari-Bhutto combine and the Sharifs (no sharifs, those crooks)—has finally borne fruit. Even in Baluchistan where PTI gained only four seats, talks of coalition with the Baluchistan Awami Party (BAP), winner of the largest number of seats (15) in the province, are underway.

PTI victories can be attributed to Imran Khan’s hard work, charisma and steely determination in the face of entrenched interests that were determined to steal this election as well (like in 2013) but for the activism of the judiciary and supervisory role of the military that provided 380,000 personnel for security duty.

There is little doubt that the vast majority of people in Pakistan are greatly pleased—and relieved—with the July 25 election results. Perhaps nothing has pleased them more than the fact that maulana Fazlur Rahman, the most venal character in Pakistani politics, lost both seats he was contesting for the National Assembly. Many other party ‘leaders’ also lost, much to their chagrin but to the huge satisfaction of the people. How could they lose, they demanded to know.  Their knee-jerk reaction was that there must have been massive rigging. And they announced rejection of the results vowing to launch agitation rallies. Let them try; they will find that few people would join them.

One of the most ludicrous rules in Pakistan is that a candidate can stand for election in five different constituencies at once. He/she can also run simultaneously for the National as well as Provincial assemblies. Clearly this is meant to enable ‘leaders’ of political parties or people that think they are ‘important’ to be in parliament to get into one or the other assembly. This needs to change.

Imran Khan’s challenges, however, are much more serious. It is easy to make promises, a lot more difficult to deliver with so many opponents both internal and external. He has aroused great expectations among the people with the promise of change. People will be anxious for instant results and can quickly turn sour if their expectations are not met. Economy would be his biggest challenge. Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have been badly depleted with the former rulers stealing billions and stashing them in Western banks or buying luxury properties abroad.

The former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are currently in jail over corruption charges. A great many more need to be there including Asif Ali Zardari and his equally thieving sister Faryal Talpur.  Will the stolen loot that amounts to some $135 billion, be returned to Pakistan?
Imran Khan has promised transparency and accountability across the board starting with himself and his ministers. He also announced the day after the election (July 26) that he will not move into the prime minister’s residence in Islamabad that resembles a palace and fortress rolled into one.  He said the prime minister’s residence and the huge governors’ mansions would be turned to better use su ch as educational institutions or rented out.

These are good gestures but still symbolic. It would set an even better example if Imran Khan and his ministers were to use more modest vehicles for travel rather than Mercedes or Pajeros. Other perks also need to be curtailed.

In the immediate aftermath of the elections, Imran Khan has to curtail the oversized ambitions of the independents that have joined his party both at the centre as well as in the crucial Punjab province to give him the majorities that he needs to rule.  These people will demand their pound of flesh seeing that they are in a position to blackmail, especially in Punjab where the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) is a very close second. There is much more room for mischief there.  

Decades of misrule have distorted life in Pakistan a great deal. While Imran Khan focuses on the economy that must be his priority, urgent reforms of the judiciary as well as the police forces across the country are also needed.  Similarly, land reforms must be tackled on a priority basis as well as attention paid to getting clean drinking water to people. Millions of children die each year due to contaminated water in Pakistan. One measure of confidence in PTI’s victory can be discerned from the fact that the dollar to rupee rate dropped from 129 to 126 rupees to the dollar.

In order to attract foreign direct investment, especially from overseas Pakistanis, the PTI government has to address the issue of land and property mafias.  Many overseas Pakistanis are hugely frustrated by the fact that their hard earned income that they invest in Pakistan, is usurped by people, often close relatives.  They have no recourse to law since the court system is riddled with corruption and often takes decades to deal with such matters. In Pakistan, these are referred to as ‘Diwani cases’.  A complainant may die long before the court deals with the matter and then too, it often advises both parties to resolve their differences through negotiations.

If Imran Khan is serious about attracting foreign investment, especially from overseas Pakistanis that have hitherto been remitting some $20 billion each year (more than Pakistan’s export earnings), he must address their legitimate concerns. China’s economic miracle was partly financed by expatriate Chinese investing in their country’s development.

In his address on July 26, Imran Khan said he would send teams to China to learn from their method of alleviating poverty (China took 70 million people out of poverty in 30 years) and fighting corruption. He should add to this list China’s policy of assuring its expatriates to invest in the country.  Environmental pollution is another major concern, as in several regional countries. This also needs to be addressed.

Imran Khan and is party face a tall order of challenges. There is, however, no reason why they cannot succeed if there is a will and the determination to tackle them in earnest. It is our prayer that the hopes he has aroused, especially among the youth, are not dashed again as happened following the assumption of power by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1972.


Barring some extraordinary event, the victory of Imran Khan’s PTI in the impending elections is an inevitable matter. With the full weight of the military, bureaucratic and judicial elites behind him victory is almost certainly guaranteed [1]. The only question at hand now is who will become his coalition partner and at what cost in terms of ministerial portfolios will they extract from him [2].    

To attribute Imran Khan’s imminent election success purely to a change in the establishment’s political leanings does not do justice to the situation and the dynamics of Pakistani politics.  The intervention of the establishment is necessary to enable a change in administration as the popular vote is irrelevant in Pakistani politics. The so-called ‘electables’ which constitute the established political dynasties have a stranglehold over their respective constituencies regardless of their political affiliations; they are guaranteed to win their seats. To garner some sort of change the security elites of Pakistan have to “persuade” the dynasties that it is in their collective interests to change their allegiance to whoever the security establishment favours and it is, in fact, an admission that the system is in fact ineffectual.

Although the security establishment has intervened, this does not change the fact that the popularity of Imran Khan reflects a genuine appetite for a change in the political direction of Pakistan [3].

The predicament of Pakistan is that the nature of this so-called change is cloudy, to say the least and what is being proposed is more of the same rather than any meaningful change .  To ask the supporters of the PPP of PML-N about what change they are looking for would be an exercise in futility as for various motives, they support the status quo. Hence the discussion of change is largely confined to the supporters of PTI and to a lesser extent the TLP (Tehrik Labayk ya Rasul Allah).

When questioned about their reasons for voting for Imran Khan and the PTI, a variety of excuses rather than reasons are given. “Excuses”, because Imran Khan’s recent actions portray a philosophy of “if you can’t beat them join them,“ and his acquiescence to the status quo is abundantly clear to his followers.

The excuses that are given for their continued support mostly revolve around statements like “he’s better than the rest”, or “even a 5 or 10 percent better, is better than nothing”. This reasoning and many others like it are problematic in that they betray an explicit admission that the solution that is being proposed is almost as tainted as the problem it is supposed to deal with. Furthermore, it shows an utter desperation that admits that in reality, no meaningful change is possible and that the rules of pragmatism dictate that it is better to settle for something however minuscule that is, rather than nothing and that one should accept the status quo and work within it.

This understanding contradicts the understanding of change that we find in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw). Allah (?) says in the Quran:

“Nay, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish! Ah! woe be to you for the (false) things ye ascribe (to Us).” [Al-Anbiya: 18].
Furthermore, Allah (?) states in the Quran:

“And say: ‘Truth has arrived, and Falsehood has perished: for Falsehood is bound to perish.” [Al-Isra:81].

The Islamic concept of change is not the pragmatic change which allows the hegemony of oppression and misguidance by the acceptance of the crumbs that fall off the table.

Rather change according to Islam is a radical departure from all that is corrupt and rotten to the guidance of the revealed texts. It is not the case that the Prophet supported the ascension to the leadership of the Quraish by Abu Sufyan rather than Abu Jahl with the justification that at that time he was marginally better than the former. Instead, the noble Prophet strove to find the means to implement the guidance from Allah (?) wholly and without compromise.

The nature of change is such that the pragmatic acceptance of the status quo, albeit with a tinkering at its edges, rather than leading to the demise of a corrupt system, actually prolongs and sustains the existence of this corrupt system. This a fact is not lost upon those who advocate the acceptance of the status quo. The governments of the UK, US, France and a plethora of European nations that champion the pragmatic approach, hide the fact that change only occurred in their own nations with radical changes by revolutions or a complete removal of the old order as occurred at the time of Oliver Cromwell.

For the Muslims of Pakistan and the rest of the Islamic world, it must be realised that change can only be achieved by the complete removal of the current corrupt and ineffectual systems of governance to be replaced by the Islamic alternative based on the sound general awareness of Islam. All calls to work within the status quo are in fact calls to sustain and prolong the current corrupt systems, which have lead to the abysmal situation that we find ourselves in today.


At this point in time when Capitalist economic solutions have a virtual monopoly in the discussion of economics it is critical that a working alternative model is presented to the world. As the recent Credit Crunch has shaken the global Capitalist structure to its very foundations, people world-wide are questioning its practical stability and intellectual validity. As the bankruptcy of Capitalist thought is revealed, there is an urgent need to replace it with a practical alternative model that is based upon sound ideas and has a pedigree of success.

This book is a presentation of a practical alternative Islamic economic model, with Pakistan as a case study, on which to build a dynamic and innovative economy fit for the 21st Century. Addressing areas as diverse as agriculture to energy, this book is a blueprint for turning a resource rich yet poorly managed country like Pakistan from an economic dependent to a global power. This model draws upon the juristic works of Islamic scholars and applies their research in an unprecedented fashion, bringing together years of Islamic scholastic tradition with the needs of the modern world.

This book also highlights the political implication of basing an economy upon an Islamic model. It serves to highlight how political unification with the rest of the Islamic world can act as a catalyst for economic development and the establishment of a modern Islamic State with unparalleled power and influence.
Read / Download Book [PDF]


The PML-N government completed its tenure on the 31st May 2018. The State Bank of Pakistan, the countries Central Bank confirmed the countries external debt and liabilities (EDL) reached $91.7 billion. This means it is just a matter of time before the debt will reach $100b -the IMF has forecasted this to be by June 2019 [1]. This is an increase of over 50% or nearly $31 billion in four years under the PML-N government.

With an annual budget of only $47 billion, the Pakistan government has regularly sent the begging bowl around the world to keep its economy afloat. Even before the 25th July elections $8.5 billion in repayment is due.  Irrespective of who forms the next government it will inherit this precarious debt situation and will have to come up with a viable solution. Successive Pakistani governments have surrendered the nation’s sovereignty to Western economic institutions which are bankrupt of any real policies that would rid Pakistan of such servitude. Here we present a handful of policies that would raise revenue, address foreign debt commitments and potentially end foreign dependency.
1. Thar Coal

The Thar Coalfield in Sindh is the world’s largest coal field. It is one of the world’s largest lignite deposits discovered, spread over more than 9,000 sq. km it comprises an estimated 750 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of coal. Successive Pakistani governments have never undertaken a full assessment of the field, neither have they any plans to mine the coal. The export of Thar Coal would generate revenues of over $1 trillion. Converted into oil Thar coal would generate over 650 billion barrels of crude oil, at a market price of $80 per barrel that would generate $5.2 trillion.

2. Reqo Diq Mine
Reko Diq is a small town in Chagai district, Balochistan. It possesses the world’s fifth largest reserves of copper and over 20 million ounces of untapped gold reserves. Pakistan’s gold reserves alone would bring in revenues of $25b (at current price of $1279 $/oz).

3. Offshore Energy
In its assessment report, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) estimated that Pakistan had massive deposits of 10,159 TCF of shale gas and 2.3 trillion barrels of shale oil. In its study, the USAID collected data from 1,611 wells, used 70% of data to prepare the study and sent samples to New Tech Laboratory in Houston for assessment. If these offshore deposits are developed they would bring in trillions to the nation.

4. Salt
The Khewra Salt Mines are among world’s oldest and biggest salt mines. Salt has been mined at Khewra since 320 BC in an underground area of about 42 sq miles. The Khewra salt mine has an estimated total of 220 million tonnes of rock salt deposits. At current market rates, this would bring in revenues of $13.2b. The Pakistan government still uses outdated methods to mine the salt, due to this it has a very low annual production rate of 325,000 tons salt per annum.

5. Agriculture
Pakistan has no shortage of fertile land. Pakistan’ largest food crop is wheat. Pakistan produces over 21 million metric tonnes of wheat, more than all of Africa (20 million) and nearly as much as all of Latin America (24 million tonnes). Pakistan is the 12th largest agricultural producer in the world with an agrarian output of $32b annually. Pakistan is already the largest producer of many household kitchen items. The Middle East, a-stone-throw-away from south Pakistan, is a huge potential market for Pakistani agriculture as the region is largely desert terrain.

7. War Cost
Fighting America’s war on terror has cost Pakistan dearly through the interruption to trade, instability and the channelling of vital funds away from health, education and key sectors to fund the war effort. Pakistan suffered huge losses, amounting to $67.93b, since 2001 [2]. This is money that could have easily been used for the benefit of the nation.

8. Arms Sales
The JF-17 is a fourth generation fighter jet, designed and developed jointly by China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) and Pakistan’s Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). The project costs were shared equally by China and Pakistan. The fighter jet is now being produced in Pakistan and block 2 is now coming off the production line which has more capabilities than the original. All Pakistan needs to do is develop an export list. At $30 million per unit the sale of 150 jets would net Pakistan over $2.5b.
Pakistan has ample resources to repay its debts many times over. Pakistan from some perspectives is in a better position demographically and from the perspective of mineral wealth on the eve of development compared to nations such as Germany and Japan who lacked the population and energy resources, but still overcame such challenges. What Pakistan needs is not more of the same failed policies of running to the IMF and the US but a new leadership which puts the interests of the Ummah first rather than America.





August 28, 2018

FOR now, the mention of Prime Minister Imran Khan seems synonymous with hope. Even those opposed to him seem willing to go with the argument that it’s worth testing someone new. Of course, he isn’t the first leader to espouse such massive hope. Many statesmen around the world have. But only a few have lived up to the expectations. So what should the new prime minister do to end up on the winning side? 

Since the elections, newspaper columns have been filled with solid advice for him. Still, I find one missing link: how should he conduct himself to avoid falling prey to the perverse political culture that pervades our system? At the heart of this perversion lies the curse of sycophancy.  Sycophancy is the brain-eating amoeba of Pakistani politics. It affects everyone — the upright and the compromised. Sycophants are simply rational actors who recognise that sucking up to the boss offers greater benefit than objective critique in cultures with weak integrity and an absence of meritocracy.

Khan should rule Pakistan as a last-term prime minister.

To be sure, different leaders have different levels of susceptibility to sycophancy. But no one comes into office believing that they’ll fall for it. Yet, most end up addicted. Leaders tend to get surrounded by a group of people who act as gatekeepers. The leader’s reality begins to be shaped; they gradually lose touch with the view on the street. This problem tends to be acuter in contexts like Pakistan’s where there is no end to bad news; praise, genuine or not, offers leaders welcome relief from the constant stress and anguish of dealing with the country’s myriad problems.

Talk to people who worked for Benazir, Musharraf, or Nawaz and they’ll tell you how each one’s inner circle changed from the candid and objective to the sycophants over time; how this was perfectly correlated with these leaders’ transformation from being patient listeners to imposers of their will and dismissive of anything unflattering. Khan won’t be immune to these pressures. And no matter how different he may be from his predecessors, sycophancy will begin to affect his outlook unless he consciously acts to nip it in the bud now.

First, he will need to deal with his immediate surroundings. Four steps are in order: one, explicitly tell the cabinet that they are barred from praising Imran Khan, the individual; make an example of the ones who think he’s bluffing. Two, appoint one or two individuals to attend cabinet meetings specifically to play devil’s advocate in every policy conversation — in military terms, ‘red team’ it. Three, regularly meet different opinion-makers (policy experts, journalists, business elite) who are critical of you; let them speak their mind and absorb what makes sense — appreciate them and force your team to act upon their constructive suggestions. Four, keep the gatekeepers — formal ones like your principal secretary or military secretary or self-anointed ones pretending to protect you from the riffraff — in check.

Second, Khan should rule Pakistan as a last-term prime minister. As the political realities of an in-power party hit home, so will the inherent tradeoffs between populist, vote-solidifying moves and decisions that are in the country’s long-term interests but could hurt a government’s support-base. As this begins to become apparent, sycophants will pounce. They’ll convince the boss that visionary decisions with only long-term gains will force them out of power. Often, this argument becomes potent as a leader gets into the second half of his or her term in office. In the PTI’s case, Khan’s populist promises and the sky-high expectations associated with him could make it attractive much earlier. To forestall this, Khan needs to shun any conversation that pleads populism for re-election over merit-based decision-making.

Third, the prime minister should devolve important decision-making in ways that make it unattractive for sycophants to target him. Khan should consider his job to be a recruiter-at-large and resist any and every urge to micromanage things. Pakistan’s problems are too vast and complex for a hands-on leadership approach to work. Instead, the prime minister’s time should be spent recruiting the best talent for the key public-sector political and technocratic positions around the country and empowering them to deliver results. The sycophants would then find more value in flocking to these decision-makers. This is a far less damaging prospect as long as the prime minister can set up a mechanism to evaluate the performance of these individuals on a regular basis and penalise those unable to perform — because the sycophants have got the better of them or otherwise.

All this is easier said than done. But evidence is unflinching: you fall for it and you become delusional — no matter who you are.


'Naya Pakistan’, the slogan of the incoming Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, has caught the imagination of an overwhelming number of ordinary people. The party now beckons towards framing a new people-centred development paradigm — one that will result in a welfare state that meets basic needs in education, healthcare, housing and employment, provides direct income support to the poor and the vulnerable, reduces extreme income inequality and shuns wasteful consumption and lavish expenditure.

To accomplish all this appears to be a Herculean task, especially for a government that has come in through an elected democratic process and not a revolutionary change involving the overthrow of the ruling propertied classes. Yet, as many countries – including the United Kingdom in the distant past and, more recently, China and Brazil – have shown, it is possible to spread the gains of economic development through social welfare measures that reduce poverty and inequality. This, however, requires prudent economic management, reduction of wasteful expenditures and the stamping out of widespread corruption. Most importantly, it needs an honest, sincere and committed leadership that enjoys public confidence.

What, then, are the major challenges to realising the dream of a ‘Naya Pakistan’?

For a start, any process of structural change must be anchored to a strong foundation of macroeconomic stability and overall peace and security in which all people and sectors of the economy can realise their potential. While Pakistan has made significant improvement in peace and security in recent years, its current macroeconomic situation is in a shamble. The country’s foreign exchange reserves are precariously low at just over 12 billion US dollars (including recent inflows from China) and would fund less than three months of imports. Our unsustainable trade deficit reached almost 30 billion US dollars last year and a spending spree by the outgoing government has pushed the budget deficit to over seven per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), necessitating increased borrowing from abroad and thus raising pressure on the current account deficit.

Regaining a macroeconomic balance must, therefore, be the immediate aim and priority of the new government. To overcome this crisis, the incoming government must try to increase foreign exchange reserves – whether through reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or by borrowing from friendly countries, or by raising funds in global financial markets – and on terms that do not throttle the little growth momentum Pakistan has built up or seriously restrict the country’s capacity to move the economy in the direction that PTI has promised. While the government must also cut down the budget deficit, it should do so by curtailing non-development and wasteful expenditures. It must not agree to any further devaluation of the Pak rupee. This has already been done by the interim government and some downward corrections are correctly being made in the local currency’s value to achieve a sustainable equilibrium.

The impact of measures to stabilise the macroeconomy, which any lender will certainly insist upon, will have an adverse impact on ordinary people, as energy subsidies will need to be reduced to bring down the increasing circular debt, which has now reached over seven billion US dollars. The prices of other utilities will also need to be adjusted upwards.

However, people will likely be prepared to accept this spike in prices if they are assured of a decline in line and delivery losses, a reliable supply of electricity and gas, and minimal load-shedding. The incoming government must present in stark terms the situation it has inherited and the need for these price adjustments in order to ensure timely service delivery in the future. It is better to start early than merely delay the inevitable. The government will face strong opposition to the privatisation of inefficient and loss-making public sector enterprises — including the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Steel Mills and Pakistan Railways, but they can be made to function more efficiently were the government to initiate a restructuring process, including some reduction in their workforce. This can only be done by taking the representatives of employees on board and reaching an agreement with them over settlement packages and re-skilling programmes for displaced workers. 

We must all realise that sustainable macroeconomic stability can only result from a rapid increase in our export earnings (‘export or economically perish’ as goes the economic widom) which, at 25 billion US dollars, currently pay for only 40 per cent of our import bill. The latter crossed 60 billion US dollars last year and, with expected further increases in oil prices, will continue to rise. This is a major challenge that the incoming government must address. It can do so through arbitrary increases in tariffs on imports of a long list of goods although taking such short-term measures to reduce the trade deficit does more harm than good in the longer run. Given that Pakistan has lost its share in global markets in recent years, aggressively marketing our exports may hold the key to solving the problem on a sustainable basis. Selected but targeted government support for exporters could make a significant difference here. Framing a new trade policy and building on the lessons of the disastrous trade and exchange rate regime of the recent years must, therefore, be given priority.

Increases in development expenditure must be planned and evaluated to ensure cost-effective and timely project delivery. Moreover, wherever possible, public-private partnerships should be encouraged to realise and finance a planned shift towards ‘investing in people’ and increase the dismal amounts of money currently spent on education, healthcare and housing. The tax-to-GDP ratio will also need to be increased from around 11 per cent to 16 per cent over the next five years.

This will require deft handling because this increase is bound to create considerable friction with tax avoiders, especially among the trading classes. The government must adopt a carrot-and-stick policy, providing incentives to taxpayers but coming down hard on those who deliberately avoid paying their due taxes. While a carefully planned restructuring of the Federal Board of Revenue must be given priority, this must be done at a pace that does not disrupt or sabotage the department’s working.

An aggressive skills training programme and a certification system for existing skills must be started. Where existing programmes are functioning well, they must be expanded. 

The new government must also bear in mind that any attempt to significantly shift priorities in development expenditure from physical infrastructure to investing in people and enhancing social welfare benefits will mean curtailing the very large amount of money required for ongoing and planned public sector projects. This amount is estimated at between five to ten times of the annual development expenditure, depending on whether we include or exclude some major capital-intensive projects such as dams and motorways. The real challenge for the government will lie in deciding which projects to continue and which to drop or modify at an early stage.

To conduct this exercise rationally and ensure a balance between badly needed infrastructure — especially to replenish our shrinking water resources, meet our growing energy needs and giving higher priority to human development, we will need to resurrect our planning machinery. This must be done at the federal level and (equally importantly) at the provincial and local levels. It is not just technical competence that needs to be revitalised: we need to rebuild the confidence of our economic and financial policymakers so that they can think independently and speak their minds without fear or favour. They seem to have lost these abilities after many years in which those in power have dictated their preferences and refused to tolerate those who disagreed with them. The domineering influence of the World Bank and other influential donors must be critically re-examined and evaluated while recognising the need for benefiting from their expertise and global experience.

Rebuilding what was known earlier as the ‘steel frame’ of dedicated, competent and honest public servants is a prerequisite to bringing about a ‘Naya Pakistan’ at all levels of government. This is a major challenge and can only succeed if merit replaces the current system of personal loyalty to those in power, and security of service and tenure is ensured. The current Central Superior Service (CSS) examination should be deeply looked into and changed because it appears to unduly penalise those who have not passed through the ‘English-medium’ system.

Of all the promises it has made, a key challenge for PTI will be to create 10 million jobs over the next five years. The accompanying promise of building five million houses will help realise this promise, given the strong forward and backward linkages of the construction sector with the rest of the economy. But this will require government support to rebuild the domestic industry that had previously met similar demands and created jobs in the process. There is a real need for the incoming government to come up with an industrial policy that halts deindustrialisation and reignites an efficient and globally competitive industrial sector. In doing this, we must not move backward to the now discarded import substitution strategy of industrial growth but, instead, develop an export-oriented, competitive domestic industry.

An aggressive skills training programme and a certification system for existing skills must be started. Where existing programmes are functioning well, they must be expanded. The government could consider giving to unemployed workers or those who want to upgrade their skills government-funded vouchers to help pay for certified skill training in schools and colleges. Job generation programmes must be calibrated to meet the separate needs of the educated unemployed as well as those of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers. A well-thought-through active employment agency could be set up under the human resources ministry, including an employment exchange for the private sector that also operates online.

Earlier, only industry could boast of enjoying rapid technological change, new innovations and the economies of large-scale production. In recent years, agriculture too has been recognised as a leading sector for growth and development. The incoming PTI government rightly recognises this but, again, this transformation must not rely on the crutches of unaffordable subsidies. Instead, agriculture must realise its potential for sustained productivity and labour-absorbing growth. An active-support policy for small farmers – one that concentrates not just on credit and loans but also encourages the use of new seeds and technology and is bolstered by a well-functioning and competent farmers’ decision support system – should replace the existing arrangements. The emphasis on industry and agriculture must be actively supplemented with a policy framework to encourage the growth of new and dynamic sectors driven by technology and innovative interventions. Information technology and tourism could be part of this initiative.

The increase in emphasis on and resources for education and healthcare – which are primarily the responsibility of provincial and local governments – could be supported by instituting a system of financial rewards in terms of additional grants by the federal government for districts and tehsils that meet their development targets and show real gains in the quality of education and healthcare services. The social welfare system will also need to be expanded to gradually extend the current Benazir Income Support Programme to ensure a secure minimum income for those living below the poverty line. This will require resources and time to put a working system in place. In the meantime, extending and gradually enforcing minimum wages in rural areas, in the informal economy and for domestic workers could substantially improve the earnings of the poorer working classes.

Finally, the new government could set up several commissions to investigate the key economic challenges outlined above for which it should tap the best minds both inside and outside the country. Initiating the process of framing the 12th Five-Year Plan by the Planning Commission is a step in the right direction which the new government can now steer to meet its economic objectives.

The time has come to support the long overdue goal of a ‘Naya Pakistan’ in which people from all walks of life can play a dynamic and meaningful role in national life. Concentrating resources on a few key objectives, starting with healthcare and education and monitoring the results are the key to success.


ISLAMABAD: Taking a step forward to fulfil its promise of retrieving ill-gotten wealth of Pakistanis in foreign countries

In this regard, the government has decided to enforce an anti-corruption rule which offers informers 20 per cent of the looted wealth recovered through information provided by them. The rule exists in accountability laws but has seldom been enforced. The government also made another significant decision to introduce uniform curriculum not only in public and private schools but also in religious seminaries (madressahs).  Cabinet decides to introduce uniform curriculum not only in public and private schools but also in madressahs. These decisions were made in a federal cabinet meeting held at PM Office on Wednesday with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair.

The meeting also decided to abolish discretionary funds of all ministries estimating that with this move, over Rs 80 billion would become available to the national kitty. Under other decisions, the government will establish an orphanage in the federal capital to offer shelter to homeless beggar women and children and provide assistance to Pakistanis languishing in prisons of foreign countries so that they could be reunited with their families.

“Initially we will target 100 big fish to retrieve their ill-gotten wealth stashed in foreign countries,” said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar at a press conference held after the cabinet meeting. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry was also present.  Mr Akbar said the whistle-blower law would be enforced immediately through an ordinance offering a reward worth 20 per cent of the recovered amount to those people who would help recover such money. The names of informants would be kept confidential. The special assistant said another ordinance on mutual legal assistance would be promulgated which would help remove bottlenecks in the way of seeking information regarding illegal wealth from foreign countries.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the foreign ministry to send a high-powered delegation to Switzerland to expedite ratification of a treaty on exchange of information on bank accounts. “Unfortunately the treaty has been dumped in files since 2012 intentionally by the previous rulers, instead of being ratified. Now the prime minister has issued directives to immediately ratify the treaty so that the government can get information regarding transfer of corruption money into Swiss banks by the Swiss authorities,” he added.

Responding to a question about the total amount of money laundered abroad, the special assistant said it would be difficult to say what it was but the main thing was that the government was committed to retrieving it.  Mr Akbar said the prime minister was so concerned about the recovery of looted money that he would himself monitor the progress of the task force and other relevant departments in this regard. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the prime minister wanted uniform curriculum not only in private and public sector schools but also in seminaries.  “Different modes of education in different types of schools is the source of disparity in our education system and divides our children in different categories,” he said.

The minister said introducing uniform curriculum in the whole country was not an easy task but the federal government was committed to doing that with the cooperation of the provincial governments.  “We know that education, health, sanitation and provision of potable water are provincial subjects but they will be driven from the Centre,” he added.  Education became a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment and the decision of uniform curriculum is expected to spark a controversy in the country over the ‘centre’s interference’ into provincial affairs.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), which is ruling at the centre and in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkwa, will have to convince the government of two other provinces — Sindh and Balochistan — in this regard. “We believe that no provincial government will oppose the idea that all children of the country should have a similar opportunity of seeking education,” he hoped.  The information minister said the cabinet had also decided to take concrete steps to provide education to over 25 million children who were presently out of schools.

Regarding Pakistani prisoners in different countries, he said there were more than 10,000 Pakistani nationals in jail abroad and the government wanted to help them so that they could return to their families.  He said approximately 3,000 Pakistani prisoners on death row in Iran would be granted relief since Tehran had amended its anti-narcotics laws.  “We took up the matter with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during his recent visited to Islamabad and the Pakistani embassy is also in touch with the prosecutor general in Tehran for early release of the prisoners,” Mr Chaudhry added.

The cabinet also made decisions on initiatives regarding health, water and sanitation. “Although they fall under [the domain of] the provinces, we think they are important (sectors) and will be driven by the federal government,” he said.  He reiterated the government’s resolve to provide due rights to all minorities as guaranteed in Islam.  The information minister’s statement comes a day after he defended the appointment of Atif Mian, a leading international academic, to the government’s Economic Advisory Council amid criticism in the social media that the expert belongs to the Ahmadi faith.

“Those who have objections to Mian’s appointment are basically extremists, and we will not bow to extremists,” the minister said. “Protecting minorities is our responsibility. It is the religious duty of every Muslim, not just the government, to protect minorities and respect those they live with.”  Replying to a question, Mr Chaudhry said, “Protection of minorities is an integral part of Islamic principles. When we speak about Khatm-i-Nubuwat, we recognise the finality of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and we also recognise Islamic education which teaches us about rights of minority communities.”

CASE OF THE MISSING $200 billion
August 11, 2018

The incoming finance minister, Asad Umar, has said he will set up a task force to examine the issue of the $200 billion Pakistanis are supposed to have stashed abroad and to look at ways and means of having the massive amount repatriated home.  “We have decided to constitute a formal task force comprising all the stakeholders after formation of the government with the mandate to recommend ways and means of returning billions of dollars owned by Pakistanis abroad. The task force will have specific terms of reference and will finalise its report in the light of ToRs,” he was quoted as having said in The News.  No matter which way you look at it, the stance taken by the man who will soon be running our finances makes me nervous to say the least. Let me tell you why. If he really believes that the $200bn stash does indeed exist, he will have to remain committed to recovering it.  That means the real and pressing economic issues that the government must confront and address within weeks of coming into office may not receive its undivided attention as some of its precious time would be used chasing red herrings.


Khurram Husain 

ONE can appreciate the chief justice of Pakistan’s sensitivity to the growing water crisis in Pakistan, but with all due respect this is not how infrastructure finance is done. You do not crowd-source a mega dam. The fact that this even needs to be said is embarrassing, to say the least.

Just consider a few questions that arise when trying to use voluntary donations to fund the Diamer-Bhasha dam, whose cost has been given as Rs1.450 trillion. This figure is taken from a briefing given by water and power officials at a hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reform. The cost of reservoir construction was given as Rs650 billion, and the rest for power turbines and associated infrastructure, and land acquisition and resettlement.

Now let’s do some math on this. As of writing, the total amount deposited in this account was Rs32 million. Since the account is shown as being open since July 6, let’s assume only three of those days were functioning; that comes to almost Rs10m per day. Next let’s assume this will pick up pace, since tacit pressure has come to apply on banks to raise funds from their employees (in a meeting held on Tuesday). Exactly how ‘voluntary’ the contributions will be is a separate conversation. For the moment, if we assume that on average, the account sees an inflow of Rs20m per day (which is highly optimistic), then it will take 72,500 days to reach the target, or 199 years.

Public finance is not a joke, the state cannot be run like a charity, and infrastructure finance cannot be crowd-sourced like this.

Wait a minute, some people will say. All the money does not need to be available up front in order to begin work! Fair enough. Consider another angle. For next year, the amount allocated for construction of the dam part of the project alone is Rs23.68bn as per the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) document on the Planning Commission’s website.

Now do the math. At Rs20m per day, it will take 1,184 days to reach the target of Rs23.68bn, or 3.2 years. Meaning even next year’s PSDP allocation (for the dam part alone) will not be possible to meet the amount. You can change the assumptions. Let’s say the contributions come in larger than what I have assumed (which, mind you, is generous). Let’s say it’s double the size. That cuts down the period by half, meaning it will take more than a year and half to reach next year’s target alone.

Let’s say instead that the contributions are not meant to pay for the entire dam, but only to supplement government allocations for the project. Even then, a year’s intake of Rs7.3bn (assuming a Rs20m per day average contribution for the year) will not even be enough to pay for a portion of the resettlement cost of the project.

Public finance is not a joke, the state cannot be run like a charity, and infrastructure finance cannot be crowd-sourced like this. Mind you, the calculations here assume an average contribution rate of Rs20m per day, every day, for years and years on end. How long will the momentum behind this endeavour sustain itself? Weeks? Months?

Before people are asked to contribute their hard-earned money for any cause, they are entitled to ask a few basic questions. What will this money be used for? Who will have the authority to transact these funds? What rules will govern its distribution? How much of an impact will my contribution have? Perhaps these questions ought to be answered first. For example, will the money from the account be disbursed directly to the point where the costs are coming from, or will it simply be handed to Wapda, the water and power division, or the finance ministry? If it is the former, then let’s take one example. If a technical consultant needs to be retained to advise on what type of cement to use given the extremely large annual temperature variation in the region, and the attendant expansion and contraction that the dam structure will undergo in a typical year making the choice of concrete quite crucial, who will decide which consultant is most suitable for the job? What criteria will be used to make the selection?

There are thousands of such decisions that have to be made in mega projects of this sort. What are the rules of business according to which these funds will be distributed? If the plan is to simply hand them over to Wapda, who will supervise the funds to ensure their proper utilisation? How much expertise and experience does that person have in the execution of giant, highly technical projects of this sort?

This is not the first time that a joke has been made out of a very serious matter. After the earthquake of 2005, Pervez Musharraf launched a similar fund called the President’s Relief Fund. Once launched, similar tacit pressure tactics were used to get people to pay up, and one by one various companies lined up saying ‘we are pleased to contribute’, and the amounts were a million here, two million there, until interest dried up and everyone moved on. Likewise, Nawaz Sharif launched a ‘qarz utaro, mulk sanwaro’ scheme in his second term, in the late 1990s, in an effort to get donations to help pay off Pakistan’s external debt. That too ended in an embarrassing whimper.

I’m old enough to remember a similar scheme by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in his last year. The television ads asked everyone to contribute one rupee a day, which the ad promised would be used for development purposes. The visual used to illustrate ‘development’ was a cement elevator. And that was also that. Fact is, modern-day public finances cannot be run in this way, least of all when it comes to infrastructure finance. It’s time to grow up and face the facts: until we fix our water-pricing regime, there is no way out of this crisis.


Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday called on Chief Justice Saqib Nisar at the Supreme Court to present a cheque of Rs1,005.99 million as the army's donation to the Diamer-Basha and Mohmand Dams Fund set up by the apex court, according to a statement issued by the SC.

In July, the armed forces of Pakistan had announced they would contribute funds for the construction of the Diamer-Basha and Mohmand dams.  “The officers of army, navy and air force will contribute their two days’ pay, while soldiers [will be donating] one day’s pay to the announced fund for this national cause,” the military's spokesperson had said.

Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to the nation in a brief televised address to appeal for donations to the dams fund set up by the Supreme Court.  "When Pakistan was made, every Pakistani had 5,600 cubic metres of water. Today, that stands at only 1,000 cubic metres."  "We have storage capacity of only 30 days for water when the safe period for water storage is 120 days. India has a capacity of 90 days. This is why making the dam for us is so important."

Warning of the rapid depletion in Pakistan's water resources, the premier said the country would face drought-like conditions by 2025 if immediate steps were not taken.  "I want to commend Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar [for starting the dams fund], but this was not his job," he had said. "This was the job of civilian leaders who knew this was going to swell into a crisis but did nothing to thwart it."   "I want to take over the fund-raising and want overseas Pakistanis to contribute like they used to do for the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, he had said.

The prime minister asked all overseas Pakistanis to make as many donations as they can to the dams fund in dollars to plug the country's depleting foreign exchange reserves as well as provide funding to start building dams, which he said he would personally oversee.  "I will safeguard your donations [against misuse]," he had promised.

Sarfraz and co chip in with Rs3.2m
Hours before the COAS handed over the cheque to the chief justice, Pakistan cricket team also made its contribution to the dam fund, according to captain Sarfraz Ahmed.  The national team, which is busy preparing for the upcoming Asia Cup 2018 these days, deposited Rs3.2 million.  "Each player contributed Rs200,000 to the cause," shared Sarfraz.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said Pakistan is sitting on hundreds of billions of rupees in "dead capital" in the form of state land and rest houses and official residences built on that land.

The premier took to Twitter to share figures extracted from data he received regarding 90 per cent of government-owned land in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the federal areas, and buildings constructed on the estates.  According to figures cited by PM Khan, 34,459 kanals of the state-owned land is located in rural areas while 17,035 kanals is in urban areas.

I have just got figures of 90% of state-owned land in KP, Punjab & federal areas & rest houses/official residences built on this land. The figures are startling: 34,459 kanals are rural & 17,035 kanals are urban.Just the urban land with buildings is worth over Rs.300 billion!

"Just the urban land with buildings is worth over Rs300bn!" Khan wrote.
Suggesting that this money could be used for other purposes of public interest, the prime minister said: "A country that has to borrow money to pay interest on its loans[...] is sitting on huge amounts of dead capital in the form of this govt-owned land with buildings."

So a country that has to borrow money to pay interest on its loans (burdening our future generations) - & daily interest payment is Rs 5 b - is sitting on huge amounts of dead capital (just 90% of urban holdings is worth Rs 300b) in the form of this govt-owned land with buildings

I have just got figures of 90% of state-owned land in KP, Punjab & federal areas & rest houses/official residences built on this land. The figures are startling: 34,459 kanals are rural & 17,035 kanals are urban.Just the urban land with buildings is worth over Rs.300 billion!

The premier's statement comes amid an austerity drive undertaken by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led (PTI) government to try and cut down on expenditures.  At a meeting of the newly formed Economic Advisory Council (EAC) last week, radical steps were discussed to curb imports, including a year-long ban on imports for cheese, cars, mobile phones and fruit that could “save some $4-5 billion”, according to Ashfaque Hasan Khan, a university professor who is one of more than a dozen EAC members.

–Chief Justice Nisar expresses frustration over lack of progress in recovering money stashed abroad

–SBP chief informs court Pakistanis own assets worth $150bn in UAE alone, 225 Pakistanis own property in UK

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday said that Pakistanis who have not declared their foreign assets should be charged with money laundering, as he expressed frustration over the lack of progress in recovering money stashed abroad. The CJP made the remarks while hearing a suo motu case against properties owned by Pakistani nationals in foreign countries.  During the hearing, the court was informed that Pakistanis own around $150 billion worth of properties and assets in the UAE alone.

The revelation came in a report compiled and presented in court by chartered accountancy firm AF Ferguson. The report was submitted in connection with a SC case on Pakistani nationals’ properties and bank accounts abroad. The firm, however, cautioned that the data be ‘handled with care’.   “Such a massive amount is still parked abroad despite the amnesty scheme?” Chief Justice Nisar asked those present in the courtroom.    

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa briefed the judges about the measures taken to recover the identified funds, saying: “Notices have been issued to the 125 people who have assets in the UAE. If they write on affidavits that they do have assets outside of Pakistan, we will interrogate and tax them. But if they deny that, then we can take the help of the UAE government and ask them to take action in accordance with benami properties law.” 

The SBP governor said that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and other agencies’ assistance had also been sought. To this, the CJP remarked that those concealing their assets abroad qualify for money laundering trials.
Shabbar Zaidi, the audit firm’s chief, told the court that wealth is transferred outside Pakistan via two channels: “Havala and banking routes”.

As regards the latter, he said: “Funds are moved abroad by showing it as agricultural income.”  At this, Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked the SBP governor if a ban has been placed on transferring foreign exchange outside Pakistan.  “Only a sum of $10,000 is permitted to be taken outside of Pakistan,” Bajwa said.  The SBP governor further said that a separate list of 225 Pakistani nationals who have properties in London has also been obtained.  

“The Amnesty Scheme set a two per cent tax which was very less. Indonesia has set a 17 per cent tax hence the scheme has been successful there. According to the report, nearly eight billion dollars worth of property has been declared,” observed Justice Bandial.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Mansoor Ali Khan assured the court that the new government is “serious about bringing back the money”.  “A task force has been formed under the PM’s stewardship,” the attorney general said. “The government wants the apex court to provide guidance in this regard.”  The apex court then instructed that a list of names who have been given the notice be presented to it in a sealed envelope.  “If these names are disclosed, the FBR and SC registrar will be held responsible,” the bench remarked.  The hearing has been adjourned till September 5.

It is pertinent to mention Pakistan, being a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) after it joined the organisation a few months back, can exchange financial data of a person with other member countries to monitor and track instances of money laundering.  Not only the information of current accounts can be obtained, data can also be sought of accounts held by a specific person which have been closed.
















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