Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pakistan, country or a hunting ground?

Dr. Umar Khan
Dr. Khan belongs to a Lahore based Think Tank.

Pakistan, country or a hunting ground? 

A few hours before the next governor was to take oath Ishratul Ibad Khan flew out of the country to Dubai. He had been the Governor of Sind for 14 years despite very serious allegations including murder, torture, extortion and corruption. He was living abroad and came back home to be the governor and when he was ousted he bode goodbye. He is no exception, before him Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz also flew off immediately after completion of his term while involving in some very dubious policies including investing billions in CNG for cars while we didn’t have enough for basic industry or domestic purpose. Naturally he couldn’t be questioned. Earlier PM Moeen Qureshi also landed just for a brief period to rule. Some of our rulers were more courageous and spent a few days not being in government and left later like Zardari and Musharraf. The interesting thing is that all these ruling class people became richer after their stint in power. It appears that a class has developed that doesn’t see Pakistan as a country of 180 million people rather some kind of wild west or a hunting ground to making fortunes, all this at the expense of its people.

This unfortunate tendency is not limited to the ruling party as many opposition parties are also based abroad. PPP of Zardari is effectively controlled from Dubai, MQM of Altaf Hussain from London for more than a quarter century with its target killers in SA, and even Musharraf is trying to operate politically from Dubai.

Most of our bureaucratic and military leadership also carries a foreign citizenship and leaves Pakistan immediately after retirement when more illegitimate money making becomes unlikely. Admiral Mansoor and Gen Zahid after minting millions went abroad and got sanitized after paying a fraction to NAB. These are just a few examples and if we search the pockets of rich and mighty we will find most with foreign passports hidden. This situation has created many shady expatriate businessmen joining in the golden dip like Mansur Ejaz and Saifur Rehman, who only jump in to collect their share maintaining tremendous arrogance.

Cabinet meetings of Sind provincial government are regularly held abroad aa are most important decisions of ruling N League explaining PMs numerous trips to UK. This gives a feeling of Pakistan being ruled from abroad by another profit seeking East India Company manned by darker skinned people this time with lower scruples and increased arrogance.

Most of these foreign based rulers of Pakistan keep all savings and investments abroad too. Some of them might not have been caught by now as Nawaz and family are with Panama leaks, but most probably have foreign accounts and properties acquired through corruption and looting of Pakistan. This along with their progeny settled abroad reduces their stakes in longevity or well-being of Pakistan and it shows. Their lack of concern for Pakistan and its people is all too obvious.

This has resulted in Pakistan going downhill for the last many decades. Exports have gone down and debt is rising. This is even though we live in a blessed country enjoying a fabulous location and natural resources. We have one of the highest illiteracy rates and malnourished children despite having one of the most fertile land and ample water. It might be true that like Congo and other African countries we have allowed our blessings to be our enemies. This trend of being ruled by foreigners of color must end if Pakistan wishes to rid of its problems and find a respectable place in the world.

First, we should start treating economic crimes and corruption at par with the most heinous crimes like murder and terrorism. It has been established that corruption/economic terrorism causes more deaths and sufferings than terrorism or any other crime. We admire and follow China in many fields and might be well advised to follow them here too with dispensing capital punishment to the economic terrorists. Our poor and downtrodden certainly deserve justice.

Secondly we must make a policy not to let people with a foreign nationality or investments abroad get at the helm of our affairs. If somehow someone gets into that position secretly he should be punished like other crimes per the law. We just can’t afford to have people making decision who don’t have any stakes in our society.

Thirdly, we can make a law to bar bureaucrats, army officers, politicians and other holders of high offices from going and settling abroad for at least 10 years after retirement. During this period their performance should be investigated and they should be further rewarded if found deserving or otherwise. They must not be allowed to slip away until they clear their accounts.

There are two kinds of Pakistani expats, 1st kind are the most numerous hardworking patriotic Pakistanis who are more concerned for the well-being of their place of birth than most of Pakistani residents. These patriots are doing a lot for running Pakistan’s economy and serving its diplomatic interests. They earn abroad and send money back home, over $20 billion annually. For comparison, I must remind that US has been giving 1.5B and making us fight its wars, getting people killed and listen to its ‘do more” rhetoric. Our current prosperity is substantially dependent on this largesse. A blessing to have this group of people. These patriotic Pakistanis deserve voting rights, dignified treatment and ease of travel to their home country. Their property and investments need to be secured too. We owe a lot to them.

Then there is another group mentioned above that takes Pakistani money out of the country, mostly earned illegally. They have predatorial instincts and have eaten their country of birth hollow. Making illegitimate money is bad, but taking it out is worse as it shrinks the economy making everyone suffer. With their stakes in other countries, some of them hostile towards Pakistan, they serve the purpose of others along with their personal. They might be great bullies in Pakistan but abroad they are the most pliable because foreign governments are aware of their weaknesses including ill-gotten wealth. They routinely make money in Pakistan and take it abroad, again illegally. They are bleeding Pakistan and we can afford it.

We must take our future back from the clutches of foreigners of all shades and types. Must declare that Pakistan is a country of 180 million intelligent and hardworking people and not a “game”. Must not let another East India Company loot us again. For this must follow the age-old principle of not allowing the captain of the ship jump first or the pilot of a passenger airplane eject out for his personal safety while risking the lives of others. Pakistan should be managed by people whose future and stakes are tied with their country.

During this we must protect our country from predators and vultures who are always looking for their share of flesh.

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