Pakistani Magna Carta – How to Come Out of Straitjacket?

By Syed Nayyar Uddin
Now our economic malaise has reached such a stage that business as usual, is going to jeopardise our statehood, not in years, but in months.
The degree of the sovereignty of a country, is directly proportional to the state of the economy of that nation.
However, even knowledgable people are not aware that the total debt (Internal + External)  according to the central bank rose to Rs22.2 trillion or $222 billion in 2016-17 compared to Rs14.8 trillion or $148 billion of 2013.

The latest figure of the TOTAL debt stands at Rs.25 trillion or $250 billion repeat, Dollar 250 billion.

Pakistanis are justified in demanding from the  government to inform where this amount of $250 billion internal and external loans were spent, when, even the average entire national budget of the last ten years, was not more than worth $40 billion per year?

Just to have an idea of how much value can be derived from 250 billion USD given below is the cost comparisons of few projects in Pakistan and India:

Estimated/expected final cost of Orange Line Lahore Metro train (running distance just 27.1 KM’s) in 2018….2 billion USD (rough estimate).

Cost of Indian mission to Moon in 2008….Only 80 million USD

Cost of Indian mission to Mars in 2013….Only 73 million USD which had to travel about 8 billion KM’s.

We Pakistanis must know, that without any doubt, the easiest and surest way of moving ahead, is to stand on our own feet.

Foreign aid/loans, can keep us afloat, but won’t allow us to swim. Actually, in constant homegrown methods of growth and development, lies our salvation.

Now, the time has come to separate the growth and development in the sectors of education, health, eradication of poverty, environment protection, human development, conservation of water resources and security of Pakistan, from the politics, forever. Politics and these issues of life and death can not go together.

In this regard, we can not put cart before the horse, which means that economic emancipation of the teeming millions and Pakistan’s financial stability, should be the top most priority, over all other subjects including the democracy, which can wait after so much waste of time and resources.

Even democracy can never deliver without its foundations truly embedded, in rock solid and inevitable local bodies system.

It is just a false propaganda of the beneficiaries of the democracy (oligarchs) that if allowed continuity, democracy can work and deliver from the assemblies and senate, without genuinely and financially autonomous grass roots level, fully empowered local bodies system; and not the sham local bodies system, currently prevalent in every province of Pakistan, very reluctantly allowed by the politicians, albeit, on the repeated orders of the Supreme Court.

If Pakistan has to be governed and developed with the current system of few provinces of huge areas having large populations, then it immediately needs a revamped and fully empowered local bodies or COUNTY system; else, we will have to convert every division, into a province.

In the meantime, a referendum may also be held to decide should we switch towards the presidential system of government.

Further, the biggest reason in the collapse of our economy has been the higher than the highest level of corruption which has created an impression and culture, which ensures that the crime of corruption pays and is an acceptable norm of our society; plus the judicial system which has miserably failed to punish the big wigs who are caught on corruption or criminal charges of even day light murders, while providing such top level culprits so much facilities (even permission to travel abroad on humanitarian grounds) during trials; and facilities of house arrests and stay at five star hospitals (during the jail terms) that it motivates others, to always indulge in mega corruption and other criminal activities with impunity. The level of mega corruption, in fact, puts Pakistan at the top of the most corrupt nation’s league in world, whose government level financial irregularities are almost double its size of the budget, as depicted from the news quoted below:

According to a national daily, “the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP), Javaid Jahangir, has claimed that during the audit year 2017-18 auditors pointed out irregularities amounting to Rs8.276 trillion in the accounts of the federal government.It may be mentioned that this figure is almost double the amount allocated for the fiscal year’s federal budget that is Rs.4.75tr.”

We must re-vamp our judicial system to kill the notion that it always pays to indulge in big corruption in Pakistan.

Until and unless, the culture of our country which loudly announces that crime of corruption pays in Pakistan, is not changed with radical steps of zero tolerance and no leniency, in corruption court trials and jail sentences; and severe punishments like DEATH SENTENCES are awarded in the corruption crimes, we will remain a Banana Republic of the worst level. Under the circumstances, if certain basic changes in our political and judicial systems are not incorporated in our constitution, no dictator or even best of the best civilian leadership or political party, with all the good intentions, can deliver and succeed in pulling out this country, from the abyss.

It has been a good political tactics in the past by all and sundry, particularly by those at the helm of the affairs, to divert the attention of the masses, from the real issues, by mud slinging on politicians, civil and military servants, judges etc.

However, now we must put a full stop to this non-sense, which has wasted the entire life of Pakistan.

Nothing can match the benefits of the collective wisdom. Since, its a matter of impending economic collapse of the country, impetus for which is being provided by the four devaluations of the currency in the last five months, which obviously is a sure recipe of disaster, for which almost all of us are responsible in one way or the other: almost no one is exempt from the charge of hurting the cause of the country. It looks that a certain gang of oligarchs within ourselves is forcing Pakistan (by design) to irreversible bankruptcy disaster, as if, to punish Pakistan, for its some unpardonable crime.

As such, we should decide to look forward and forgive and forget each other’s sins of the past, and take each and every segment and political/social force of the society in confidence, for a very transparent scheme of our future development.

In this connection, Mr. Steve Maraboli has very appropriately said that  “Make a pact with yourself today to not be defined by your past. Sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your hard work isn’t what you get for it, but what you become for it. Shake things up today! Be You… Be Free… Share.”

Let us unitedly build a new economically strong and politically stable Pakistan, with our collective and prudent decisions; knowing very well that no political party, group or institution is so strong, to run this country, single handedly, for a sustainable period, without the help and cooperation of each other.

Our immediate task must be to stem the economic rot immediately and on EMERGENCY basis.

Government of Pakistan (GoP) must be duly warned that rapid devaluation of the PKR is no panacea for the economic stability and amnesty schemes are factually and cruelly legalising crimes of the 1% rich at the expense of the 99% poor Pakistanis.

Rather, devaluations and amnesty schemes are a sure recipe for disaster, which, as a direct side affect, is throwing back more and more Pakistani population, to below the poverty line. Our elite is absolutely hundred percent responsible for exploiting the power, authority and resources at their disposal to keep millions and millions of people below poverty line in Pakistan, thus, causing  deaths of the hapless poor, due to the malnutrition, disease, miseries and suicides due to economic hardships.
Those economic managers of the country, who think that our economic slide into the abyss, can be controlled with huge doses of devaluation, re-defining or re-phrasing the definition of the total public debt, changing the definition of poverty to people who live on 2$ per day income to 1$ per day income; launching of amnesty schemes or issuing SRO’s and by fudging the economic numbers: are behaving like a pigeon; which closes its eyes, on seeing a cat.
We have been writing in the past that it’s a big misnomer and deliberate disinformation that Pakistanis don’t pay taxes.
The fact is that all the 220 million Pakistanis pay taxes on each and every item of daily use including medicines.
The devil lies in the fact that above 80% indirect taxes and less than 20% direct taxation, is the major cause of our backwardness; and on two dollar per day income basis, is the main reason, of over 130 million population, living below the poverty line.
Moreover, 10% poorest pay 17% of the tax revenue to the government; and richest 10% pay only 10% of the revenue to the government.
Until and unless, these abnormalities of our economic system are corrected, it will be well neigh impossible, to take out major portion of our population (which numbers may well have now increased substantially over 130 million after the recent massive devaluations of PKR) from the below poverty line income segment of poor people, earning less than two dollars per day.
Massive devaluation of currency, launching of amnesty schemes, exorbitantly high direct taxations, rampant corruption in government departments, issuing SRO’s for benefitting the ultra rich and regularly increasing the POL prices and rates of utility bills are all anti-poor measures and thus, in a society where hundreds of kids are dying due to malnutrition, these acts must be classified as crime against humanity.
In this regard, the fastest way to reduce the poverty, is to ensure direct foreign investment into Pakistan, for which our foreign missions must be given specific urgent targets.
Other means includes:
– Immediate and urgent orders must be issued for observance of most strict austerity measures in all the civil and military departments of the government, which must include ban of foreign tours, foreign medical expenses, purchases of new cars and air conditioners, reduction in petrol limits to 50% and ban on all official entertainments of every type.

Moreover, in Pakistan, we can easily control our expenses, if the following statement is adopted as a motto/mission; and implemented as an official policy, and is also displayed in the offices of the civil and military bureaucracy, just below the portrait of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah Sahab:

“Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him.”

– Immediately replacing the entire existing economic team of the government, because they are the very people who have led Pakistan to a virtual bankruptcy, may be on the advice or pressures of foreign lending agencies.
– By bringing back the billions of dollars illegal foreign funds and stolen properties of Pakistanis, a la the Saudi Arabian Model.
– Recovery of illegally/approved under political pressure, all written off loans and bad debts, by imposing economic emergency laws, on fast track basis.
– Immediate launching of a scheme for payment of 3% PA profit (payable bi-annually) on Foreign Currency bank deposits in Pakistan (backed by the sovereign guarantee of the GoP) with a suitable, but attractive fixed period. This is a fool proof scheme, sans any risk, which can boost up our foreign reserves, in a very short time, on extremely cheap rates, as compared to the foreign loans and international bonds, which were sold by the previous government of PMLN, at even 8.25% interest rates (Pakistan will be repaying USD 910 million for USD 500 million Euro Bonds) for which the then PM Mian Nawaz Sharif was requested to hold an inquiry, to fix the responsibility of the culprit(s), who allowed the sale of Euro Bonds, on such a criminally high interest rates.
We must also realize that our personal safety and better future lies in accommodating and cooperating with each other, with the sole aim of building a STRONG Pakistan, under the slogan “Re-born Pakistan”.

In this regard, it is suggested that, we should AIM to bring Pakistan, to the level of Singapore of 2018, by the year 2040.

All politics and other considerations should be made subservient to this TARGET for 2040, even if we have to abolish weekly holidays for the next 20 years & reduce our daily sleeping time to 6 hours.

All stake holders, particularly, from the deprived sections of the society in Pakistan, must immediately come forward, for deciding about the direction of the future of the nation.

Biggest factor in any victory is self-confidence. Anti-thesis of terrorism is education, coupled with economic emancipation. But it must be remembered that no country or society has ever risen from ashes, without individual and collective sacrifices and discipline, for example Japan, China, Korea, Turkey and Malaysia. Basically these nations did not waste their time on feeding precious resources to top level democracy which automatically breeds oligarchy. [Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may be distinguished by nobilitywealthfamily tieseducation or corporatereligious or military control. Such states are often controlled by families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition for the application of this term. Throughout history, oligarchies have often been tyrannical, relying on public obedience or oppression to exist. Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which another term commonly used today is plutocracy.

Link:- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligarchy ]. The achievement of these countries named above were not the outcome of democracy at the top level, but participation of the entire population in the nation building at the grass roots level. These nations have risen (from the conditions worse than Pakistan) by the honesty of purpose of their leadership, national discipline, engagement of all segments of society from the grass roots level and rule of law. We very recently watched the example of rule of law from South Korea, where their former lady president was brought to court handcuffed, for a trial on corruption charges.

As such, our nation must embark upon the following agenda, to resurrect our economy, without any further loss of time.

1. We should not expect any different results at the end of the five term after the general elections of 2018 from what we got after the GE-2013. Why; because for any different result there has to be some change. In fact, famous scientist Albert Einstein defined INSANITY as  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Now since this country of 220 million population can not afford any further waste of time with so called democratic and dictatorship experiments, it will be prudent to look forward and immediately form a national government, which must be specifically government devoid of Hitmen of the lending agencies and controversial and dishonest people.

This homegrown government should consist of honest members from every segment of society for example labourers, peasants, teachers /professors, students, minorities, professionals from all possible fields and experts from the fields of media, judiciary, military, diplomacy and civil administration.

2. This national government should request to all foreign donors for a 5 years moratorium, on all debt repayments by Pakistan, which is a frontline state of the world’s war on terror (WOT). Here don’t forget that the world powers have totally written off loans of many countries, for much less cooperation than Pakistan, which is practically fighting their war for more than a decade; and Pakistan still NOT charging a penny for overflights in the ongoing war of terror being  fought in Afghanistan.

3. 20% per annum reduction in all non-developmental government expenditures, plus total freeze in all perks paid from the national exchequer, involving foreign currency.

4. Maximum tax rate on each and every type of income in Pakistan should be fixed at 10%. This will not only bring huge revenues to the government by giving a fillip to the badly suppressed economy, but will also discourage (to a very large extent) the tax evasion tendencies.

5. Increase in productivity & exports with liberal tax and tariff relief to industry, commerce, trade and agriculture. In fact, our strong point is agriculture and our focus should be to revolutionise it with most modern technologies of smart agriculture, which easily has the potential to create five million jobs in just five years.

6. Set a target for 20% per annum increase in foreign remittances, by offering innovative incentives to expatriate Pakistanis.

7. Outsource the FBR (which will alone increase income by Rs.500 to Rs.1,000 billion) and IMPOSE FLAT 10% tax on ALL & EVERY TYPE OF INCOME (as already mentioned at 3. above), without any exemption or SRO’s (except for the Police and security forces personnel whose salaries may be doubled with expected receipt of unprecedented increase in revenues, due to the above suggestions). This will not only reduce income tax burden on salaried class (with maximum tax rate of 10%),  but will also result in so much increase in revenues, to the extent that government will not require any tax imposition, in the budget. Plus, the government will be able to give tax free salaries to all the armed forces, rangers, police and other security agencies personnel, who are shedding their blood, in fighting the menace of terrorism, for our and our children’s safe TOMORROW.

8. The collective financial loss of State Enterprises is above Rs.500 billions per annum. All such entities should be immediately handed over to highly professional, dead honest, most patriotic successful Pakistani and or overseas businessmen, to head and bring in their own members of board of directors, to immediately turn around and successfully run these organisations, like world class companies, as a national cause service to the motherland, on war footings.

Few of the names which comes to mind of our world class successful Pakistani talented entrepreneurs, fully capable to serve the country in times of its dire need, are as below:

– Mr. Shahid Khan at USA, with net worth of $3.8 billion.

He owns Jacksonville Jaguars which worth $770 Million, plus a team in English Premier League ‘Fulham F.C’ which worth $300 Million and also He is the owner of Flex – N – Gate. He is the Richest person of Pakistan. He is presently living in USA. His main source of earnings are from the business of Auto parts manufacturing. He is counted as the 490th richest person in the world.

– Sir Anwar Pervaiz O.B.E

He is the founder and chairman of Bestway Group which is known as the country’s second largest cement producer and 16th largest cash and carry operator in UK, and also he is the Deputy Chairman of United Bank Limited Pakistan. He is one of the renowned investor. He is known as the great businessman in the country. His net worth is $1.5 Billion.

– Mr. Salim Ghauri is a renowned IT Entrepreneur recognized globally today. He is the founder & CEO of NetSol Technologies (1996).

– Mr. Razzaq Dawood is a highly reputed and successful industrialist and philanthropist. One of the founders of the famous LUMS university. He is founder of Descon.

– Mr. Sikandar Mustafa Khan is Chairman Millat group of companies and heads many organisations and forums. He is credited in the country for successfully heading buyout of a government run organisation which is a rare example in the industrial sector of the country in which employees of the same organisation purchased their company and created history of a terrific success story under the professional and administrative leadership of Mr. Sikandar M. Khan.

9. Pakistan’s Foreign policy is excellent in theory, perhaps the best in the world. However, this policy should be implemented in its true letter and spirit with core emphasis on PEACE particularly with its neighbours; and FP’s thrust and theme should be that any and every action must result in the economic benefit of the country.

10. Initiate steps (by imposing economic emergency) to bring each and every economic activity under document.

There is absolutely no doubt that by the dint of sheer hard work, sincerity & honesty, which is imbibed in the bones of the Pakistani work force, we can surely bring Pakistan, into the comity of 20 developed nations of the world, in the next 15-20 years.

The current leaders of Pakistan holding the destiny of this great nation, with highest manpower potential and material resources in the world, must remember the following two adages.

~ NOT FAILURE BUT SETTING LOW AIM IS A CRIME.

~ IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THE IMPOSSIBLE IT IS PRECISELY THE UNTHINKABLE WHICH MUST BE THOUGHT

Originally published here.

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