Party versus Jamaat

Party versus Jamaat
Tahir Ali September 28, 2014
http://tns.thenews.com.pk/party-versus-jamaat/#.VCw2s6zOXp8

The job of mediation has brought Sirajul Haq to the centre of mainstream politics, shown his worldview as distinct from the previous amir and exposed the fissures within the party

In the current political stalemate triggered by the Inqilab and Azadi dharnas, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sirajul Haq, the newly elected agile amir, has taken up the role of a mediator and fire-fighter reminding of the political elder Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. Facilitating a dialogue between the seemingly uncompromising Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri and the government is a commendable effort has earned him goodwill among the masses. But his efforts are unlikely to succeed for several reasons.

He says he has the solution wherein every stakeholder in the conflict will get something without compromising on their demands. But there are problems here. He has not been authorised by any party in the conflict for he has no stance on certain important aspects of the crisis or hasn’t made it public even if he has.

Does Haq believe the elections were massively rigged as Imran Khan alleges? What is his position on the PM’s resignation? Does he support Khan’s strategy of removing the Khan government through street power or his call for civil disobedience? Does he accept the current crisis is a tussle between forces of status quo or change, or a fight between two viewpoints?

Without having any stand on these and other issues is tantamount to adopting a strategy and a line of action without first having formed a viewpoint on the issue. Unless one has a clear agenda and terms of references for the dialogue and has the courage to shun unwarranted humility and courtesy and neglect party interests that bar you from displeasing or taking sides with or against someone, one cannot be a successful mediator.

Haq, it seems, is in favour of accepting some demands of Khan but is convinced his strategy is wrong. While Haq has made the resignation of PM conditional with the findings of the judicial commission, he hasn’t made his stance public.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could even be an ally of the PPP. The current Jamaat is not interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from assemblies.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could even be an ally of the PPP in future. Khan’s calling the two big parties as corrupt and hands in glove with each other, his being soft on militancy and hard on military operation, and strategy of dharna/mob agitation has similarities with the Jamaat under the late Qazi Husain Ahmad, the former amir of JI. But the current Jamaat is not interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from assemblies. Yet it is not opposing Imran Khan.

Some believe JI and PTI are polls apart as far as their objectives, strategies, style and preferences are concerned and dub their coalition as a marriage of convenience. JI workers oppose Khan for his style and strategy privately, though they are reluctant to say it on record for they don’t want to forego their alliance and assembly seats and ministries for that matter.

“Jamaat’s efforts for compromise are laudable but it needs to part ways with the PTI especially after the revelations of Javed Hashmi because JI is for constitutionalism and democracy while PTI is indulging in anarchic politics. Besides, PTI is a liberal party arranging music nights in dharnas while JI is a religious party that observes Hijab day. It doesn’t want, and rightly so, to lose its ministries and assembly seats,” says a political worker wishing anonymity.

Haq, it seems, may also push the Jamaat away from its jihadi paradigm of the 1990s and the radical tendencies of its previous Amir Munawar Hasan to its original preaching, democratic, constitutional paradigm of Syed Abul Ala Maududi era. Maududi never approved of jihad by private outfits without a formal declaration of war by the state.

Even though Haq was embarrassed by Khan when his suggestion to the prime minister of recounting in ten constituencies was disowned by Khan, he can still try to save both Khan and PTI from committing political suicide and the country from economic, social and political threats and losses.

Sirajul Haq also has to decide whether JI is an Islamic movement or a political party. The demands, preferences and strategies of the two are invariably distinct and often conflicting. As an Islamic movement, the entire nation is its audience, so it cannot be a party in a political tussle. As a political party, others are its rivals and it has to take sides and compete with them for its political survival.

Though JI has failed to become a popular political/electoral force, it has had a huge influence on the society, politics and national priorities. In its endeavours to become a popular force, it lost its identity as an ideological religious movement and could not become a big party either. It is because even though Pakistanis respect its social services — JI’s Al Khidmat Foundation is doing commendable work for the temporarily displaced persons in KP — they are not ready to support it as a political party.

Tahir Ali
The author is an academic and a freelance columnist. He blogs at tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com.
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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE SENT TO THE NEWS

Mediators in plenty but Confusion galore
Or Appeasement galore

By Tahir Ali

The current political stalemate triggered by the Inqilab and Azadi Dharnas would have long been solved by now had the parties/politicians, including Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and its Amir Sirajul Haq, who are mediating between the federal government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, preferred national interests over their political concerns and united the nation against the wrongdoers.

Politics is a game of possibilities and an endeavour to gain power. An ally in politics today could be a rival tomorrow. It is not clear who will be the ultimate beneficiary or loser of the crisis but every party/leader hopes of filling the vacuum created by the failure of one party in the conflict or the other. JI too, like other political parties, is entitled thus to hope for the best. When all –government, political-religious parties, media and other stakeholders- are only doing what is beneficial to them, JI current stance seems ambiguous but realistic.

It is tragic there is no fair/bold mediator in the country these days who could call a spade a spade. Mr Haq, the newly elected agile Amir, has taken up the role of mediator and fire-fighter like Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan. Facilitating a dialogue between the seemingly uncompromising Imran Khan (IK) and Tahirul Qadri and the government is a commendable effort which has earned him goodwill among the masses but his effort are unlikely to succeed for several reasons.

He says he has the solution wherein every stakeholder in the conflict will be given a face-saving without compromising on his demands. But there are problems here. He has not been authorised by any party in the conflict for he has no stance on certain important aspects of the crisis or hasn’t made it public if he has any.

In its present shape IK and Pakistan Tehreek-e -Insaf (PTI) both represent a viewpoint and a strategy. The nation needs guidance and clear-cut stand on some issues. Is IK correct in both stand and strategy? If no, he must be opposed and the government supported. If yes, he must be supported and the government opposed. Certain politicians, including Mr Haq, are ambiguous in their stances for they don’t want to annoy one or the other player in the conflict. But though it is bad to have a wrong stand, it is worse to have none either.

Mr Haq hasn’t given his viewpoint on the issue and extent of rigging in election. Does he believe the elections were massively rigged as IK alleges or vice versa? Were the election commission, caretaker governments, returning officers and higher judiciary, Nawaz Sharif, media houses etc involved in rigging or is IK wrong? What is his position on PM resignation? Is IK’s policy/strategy of removing the NS government through street power or his call for civil disobedience, asking for non-payment of taxes and services’ bills correct or wrong or right? Does he accept the current crisis is a tussle between forces of statusquo or change, as IK says, or a fight between two viewpoints: one represented by earlier Taliban and now IK and Qadri –that state institutions are incapable/corrupt so they need to be changed with might (gun in Taliban’s strategy and mob agitation in IK and Qadri strategy) – and two, that this strategy is flawed, will entail chaos and that change should/can be brought only through constitutional and democratic means? He says dialogue is the only solution but what if one side doesn’t believe in it (IK says I won’t wrap up the dharna unless PM Nawaz resigns)? Is it right to equate and treat at par the state and non-state actors both during talks with Taliban and now in Dharna imbroglio as was done by JI? Is it right to remain silent when non-state actors violate law and their commitments and criticise the government when it arrests the violators of law and attackers on parliament? Is it just to say that arrests by government harm the dialogue process but the dialogue is never threatened when the other side attacks the state installations and security personnel? Can a man be an accuser and judge simultaneously? Can someone be condemned or removed merely on an allegation? Does he accept IK’s take on total collapse of state institutions? Does he accept or doubt the London plan or that local/ foreign hands are behind the dharnas? Also, how will change and reform occur –through constitutional means of votes and parliament legislation or by extra-constitutional methods of mob power or the ‘third umpire’? What is to be done if talks and dialogue fail? Shouldn’t the parties collectively oppose the side which is bent on an anti-democratic/extra constitutional agenda and strategy? Is it right to use religion for politics? Do good ends justify bad means or means must also be fair?

Without having any stands on these and other issues is tantamount to adopting a strategy and a line of action without first having formed a viewpoint on an issue or putting the cart ahead of a bullock. Unless one has a clear agenda on, and terms of references for, the dialogue and has the courage to shun unwarranted humility and courtesy and neglect party interests that bar you from displeasing or taking sides with or against someone, one cannot be a successful mediator.
.
At present, political expediency is being preferred over demands of national solidarity and constitutionalism. The nation just cannot endure the anarchy, political instability and the constitutional depravity which is at hand if the confrontation lingers on. Those who believe in mob justice and invite towards hatred, lawlessness and violation of laws, even if for good purposes, are promoting chaos. They need to be exposed and opposed.

Mr Haq, it seems, is for accepting some demands of IK but thinks, prima facie, his strategy is wrong. He is against his demand of resignation of PM Nawaz Sharif this is why he has conditioned the resignation of PM with findings of the judicial commission. He however hasn’t made his stance public.

JI eyes a coalition with the PML-N in near future. It could be even partner of PPP in future if one goes by his intimacy with Rehman Malik. Hence

IK’s opinion (of dubbing the two big parties as corrupt and hands in glue with each other and being soft on militancy and hard on military operation) and strategy (of Dharna/mob agitation) has similarities with the JI, especially with that of the Late Qazi Husain Ahmad -ex Amir of JI but JI is not with him for JI seems no more interested in dharna politics, boycott or resignations from elections and assemblies but it is opposing him neither. Some believe JI and PTI are polls apart on their objectives, strategies, style and preferences and dub their coalition as a marriage of convenience. JI workers oppose IK for his style and strategy privately though they are reluctant to say it on record for it doesn’t want to forego its alliance and assembly seats and ministries for that matter.

“JI efforts for compromise are laudable but it needs to part ways with PTI especially after the revelations of Javed Hashmi because JI is for constitutionalism and democracy while PTI is indulging in anarchic politics. Besides, PTI is a liberal party arranging music nights in dharnas while JI is a religious party that observe Hejab day. But perhaps it doesn’t want, and rightly so, to lose its ministries and assembly seats and wants status quo to continue” says a political worker wishing anonymity.

Mr Haq, it seems, may also push JI away from its Jihadi paradigm of the 1990s and the radical tendencies of its previous Amir Munawar Hasan to its original preaching/democratic/constitutional paradigm of Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi era who never approved of Jihad by private outfits without formal declaration of war by the state.

Even though Mr Haq was embarrassed by IK when his suggestion to NS of recounting in ten constituencies was disowned by IK, he can still be effective vis-à-vis IK and he should try to save IK and PTI from committing political suicide and the country from economic, social and political threats and losses. But for this a jirga of all opposition parties, religious scholars, retired judges, generals, journalists, civil society etc should be formed. It should immediately listen to both parties and contemplate over solution in its confidential sessions. Then it should take neutral and rightful decisions. It should ask the parties to behave and if any side continues with its intransigence, it should unite the entire nation against it.

Mr Haq also has to decide whether JI is an Islamic movement or a political party. The demands, preferences and strategies of the two are invariably distinct and often conflicting. As an Islamic movement, the entire nation is its audience, so it cannot be a party in a political tussle. As a political party, others are its rivals and it has to take sides and compete with them its political survival.

Though JI has failed to become a popular political/electoral force, it has had influenced our society, politics and national priorities. In its endeavours to become to a popular force, it lost its identity as an ideological religious movement but couldn’t become a big party either. It is because even though Pakistanis respect its social services -JI’s Alkhidmat Foundation is doing commendable work for the temporarily displaced persons in KP- but aren’t ready to support it as a political party. It is because there is no room for politics based on religion especially after the enactment and enforcement of the 1973 constitution.

Review of PPPP performance

Review of PPPP performance

performance
Facts and fudging
Economists are reluctant to buy what the PPP ads boast about the last five-year performance on economy
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/apr2013-weekly/nos-21-04-2013/pol1.htm#1

The Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) recently published advertisements in newspapers and issued its manifesto for the 2013 elections wherein it enumerated its achievements during its last five-year rule.

Economic experts, however, reject these claims and accuse the regime of fudging the figures, mismanagement, poor governance and fiscal indiscipline.

The national economy is still faced with low revenue receipts, declining tax to GDP ratio, rising current expenditure, dying foreign direct and local investment, low annual GDP growth rate, rising debt to GDP ratio, acute power/gas crisis and the inefficient and sick public sector entities (PSEs).

Though the PPP claims reducing inflation to 9.6 per cent, it remained in double digits, hovering between 11-15 per cent during the last five years. As per the Ministry of Finance (MoF) figures, overall consumer price index and food CPI increased from 100 points in 2008 to 175 points and 196 points in January 2013. The IMF says inflation in Pakistan will return to double digits by the end of this fiscal year.

Food insecurity is on the rise. As per the National Nutrition Survey, 2011, conducted by the BISP, 58 per cent of Pakistanis were food insecure.

According to Dr Muhammad Yaqoob, former State Bank governor, the economic conditions of an average family have become worse due to rising prices, large-scale unemployment and shortage and the rising cost of gas and electricity.

The PPP had vowed to establish a fair tax system. It claimed raising tax revenues from Rs1 trillion in 2008 to over Rs2 trillion in 2012. Though revenues have increased in quantity, as per 2012-13 fiscal policy statement (FPS) of the MoF, total revenues were 14.6 per cent of GDP in 2008 which came down to 12.4 per cent in 2012.

The government has been unable to meet any of the revenue, expenditure and deficit targets over the last five years. For indecisiveness or self-centredness, it failed to levy tax on agriculture and impose reformed general sales tax as it didn’t want to annoy the industrial, business or agriculture lobbies and political allies. Most of its leaders allegedly avoided fulfilling their tax responsibilities, thus setting bad precedents for others.

The party claimed foreign remittances are now $14 billion against $6.4 billion in 2008. But “the rise partly reflects the diversion of black money and illegally-held capital abroad through remittance channels without any fear of being questioned about the sources of the funds. Moreover, there has been an inevitable need for workers abroad to send more remittances to support their families against rising inflation,” according to Dr Yaqoob.

According to FPS, the real GDP growth was 6.8 per cent in 2007. It came down to 3.7 per cent in 2008. From 2009 to 2012, it was recorded at only 1.7, 3.1, 3.0 and 3.7 per cent respectively.

The PPPP, in its 2008 manifesto, had pledged a sound debt policy and that the future generations won’t be overburdened with excessive debt.

But instead, the public debt — both domestic and foreign debt — has more than doubled in the last five years. It borrowed more than all the previous governments combined. The public debt was Rs4.8 trillion in 2008 but reached Rs12.6 trillion by June 2012. The tax to GDP ratio which was 55.4 per cent in 2007 was at 61.3 per cent in 2012. Total debt is now over Rs13 trillion.

Every Pakistani baby was born with a debt of Rs30,000 in 2007. Today he/she carries a debt of over Rs80,000.

The debt rose up by 21 per cent per annum despite the fact that fiscal responsibility and debt limitation act of 2005 had asked for reducing debt to GDP by 2.5 per cent annually to be able to keep Debt to GDP ratio below 60 per cent by June 2012-13.

If the IMF standby arrangement programme hadn’t remained suspended over the last three years, Pakistan’s external debt of $66 billion would have been jacked up by another $5-6 billion during the time.

The SBP second quarterly report for 2012-13 states that the government was unable to meet its self-imposed quarterly limit of zero net budgetary borrowing from the SBP.

Pakistan’s domestic debt servicing is climbing and is now the biggest single expenditure item. Similarly, its external debt servicing will reach $6 billion in the current and to $7 billion in the next fiscal year.

The party claims to have reduced fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent in 2008. But if compared with 4.4 per cent in 2007, it rose to 5.3, 6.3, 6.0 and 6.6 per cent respectively in the next four years. The IMF estimates fiscal deficit will be 7.0-7.5 per cent of GDP as against the government target of 4.7 per cent. According to Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, a leading economist, the fiscal deficit reached as high as 8.5 per cent last year.

The manifesto claims Forex reserves are now $13.2 billion against $8.2 billion in 2008, but according to Dr Khan, the SBP’s Forex reserves stand at $6.69 billion on April 5. “Pakistan must retire $0.838 billion to IMF by June 30. With little or insufficient external inflows, the SBP’s reserves may fall to $5.8 billion by June 2013. The SBP has borrowed $2.3 billion from commercial banks in the forward market and if we adjust it, the SBP’s reserves would be $3.5 billion by then — sufficient to trigger a crisis of confidence.”

The party claimed it reduced interest rate from 15 per cent in 2008 to 9.6 per cent in 2013. Industrialists and experts doubt this. Nevertheless, the rate spread — the difference between return on deposits and lending rates — is still very high in Pakistan.

In 2008, the rupee was 62.61 against the dollar. The PPP left it at 98.98 by March 15, 2013. This has, besides causing price-hike locally, increased public debt and made imports costlier.

Instead of restructuring or privatising the loss-making PSEs, the PPP government kept on doling out hundreds of billion annually to these entities. Most of the PSEs were allegedly handed over to political cronies and were further destroyed by large-scale inductions by treating them, as Dr Khan put it, as employment bureaus.

Though the party claims having added 3600MW to the national grid, the country continues to face acute energy shortage. It has made life miserable for the people, halted industrial development and estimated to have inflicted a loss of Rs3 trillion to the country during last five years.

Over Rs1.8 trillion doled out to the power sector for financing circular debt would have sufficed to complete several projects that would have solved much of the energy problems.

The PPP had promised growth of business and industry with equity and making private sector as engine of growth. But Pakistan’s industrial sector and the private sector was badly hit by lawlessness, policy inaction and shortage of energy.

In 2007, large scale industrial production was 8.7 per cent which came down to 4.1 per cent in 2008 and to minus 8.2 per cent in 2009. In 2010, it again increased to 4.81 per cent but then declined to 1.14 per cent in 2011 and 1.02 per cent in 2012.

Economic growth was three per cent per annum during the PPP tenure against seven per cent per annum in the preceding five years.

Dr Khan said investment rate also continued coming down during the last five years and declined to a 50-year low at 12.5 per cent of GDP from 22.5 per cent in 2006-07. Industrial growth stagnated at near zero per cent against 12.4 per cent per annum in the preceding five years.

During FY09, foreign direct investment fell to $3.72 billion and further to $2.20 billion in 2010 and $1.63 billion in 2011.

…………………….

Original text of the article.

Reviewing PPPP performance on economy

By Tahir Ali

The Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) recently published advertisements in newspapers and issued its manifesto for the 2013 elections wherein it enumerated its achievements during its rule.

Independent economic experts however reject these claims and accuse the regime of, inter alia, fudging of figures, mismanagement, poor governance, self-centredness and fiscal indiscipline.

The national economy is still faced with low revenue receipts, declining tax to GDP ratio, rising current expenditure, dying foreign direct and local investment, low annual GDP growth rate, rising debt to GDP ratio, acute power/gas crisis and the inefficient and sick public sector entities (PSEs).

Inflation

Though PPP claims reducing inflation to 9.6 per cent, it remained in double digits, hovering between 11-15 per cent during the last five years. As per the ministry of finance (MoF) figures, overall consumer price index and food CPI increased from 100 points in 2008 to 175 points and 196 points in January 2013. The IMF says inflation in Pakistan will return to double digits by the end of this fiscal year.

Food insecurity is on the rise. As per the National Nutrition Survey, 2011, conducted by the BISP, 58 per cent of Pakistanis were food insecure.

According to Dr Muhammad Yaqoob, former State Bank governor, the economic conditions of an average family have become worse due to rising prices, largescale unemployment and shortage and the rising cost of gas and electricity.

Revenue

The PPP had vowed to establish a fair tax system. It claimed raising tax revenues from Rs1 trillion in 2008 to over Rs2tr in 2012. Though revenues have increased in quantity, but as per 2012-13 fiscal policy statement (FPS) of the MoF, total revenues were 14.6 per cent of GDP in 2008 which came down to 12.4 per cent in 2012.

The government has been unable to meet none of the revenue, expenditure and deficit targets over the last five years. For indecisiveness or self-centredness, it failed to levy tax on agriculture and impose reformed general sales tax as it didn’t want to annoy the industrial, business or agriculture lobbies and political allies. Most of its leaders allegedly avoided fulfilling their tax responsibilities, thus setting bad precedents for others.

Foreign remittances

The party claimed foreign remittances are now $14bn against $6.4bn in 2008. But “the rise partly reflects the diversion of black money and illegally-held capital abroad through remittance channels without any fear of being questioned about the sources of the funds. Moreover, there has been an inevitable need for workers abroad to send more remittances to maintain their families for rising inflation,” according to him.

GDP growth

According to FPS, real GDP growth was 6.8 per cent in 2007. It came down to 3.7 per cent in 2008. During 2009 to 2012, it was recorded at only 1.7, 3.1, 3.0 and 3.7 per cent.

Public Debt

The PPPP, in its 2008 manifesto, had pledged a sound debt policy and that the future generations won’t be overburdened with excessive debt.

But instead, the public debt –both domestic and foreign debt –has more than doubled in last five years. It borrowed more than all the previous governments combined. The public debt was Rs4.8 trillion in 2008 but reached Rs12.6tr at June 2012. The tax to GDP ratio which was 55.4 per cent in 2007 is now at 61.3 per cent in 2012. Total debt is now over Rs13tr.

Every Pakistani baby was born with a debt of Rs30,000 in 2007. Today he/she carries a debt of over Rs80000.

The debt rose up by 21 per cent per annum despite the fact that fiscal responsibility and debt limitation act of 2005 had asked for reducing debt to GDP by 2.5 percent annually to be able to keep Debt to GDP below 60 percent by June 2012-13.

If the IMF standby arrangement programme hadn’t remained suspended over the last three years, Pakistan’s external debt of $66bn would have been jacked up by another $5-6 billion during the time.

The SBP second quarterly report for 2012-13 states that the government was unable to meet its self-imposed quarterly limit of zero net budgetary borrowing from SBP.

Pakistan’s domestic debt servicing is climbing and is now the biggest single expenditure item. Similarly, its external debt servicing will reach $6bn in the current and to $7bn in the next fiscal year.

Fiscal deficit

The party claims having reduced fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent in 2008. But if compared with 4.4 per cent in 2007, it rose to 5.3, 6.3, 6.0 and 6.6 per cent in the next four years. The IMF estimates fiscal deficit will be 7.0-7.5 percent of GDP as against government target of 4.7 percent. According to Dr Khan, fiscal deficit reached as high as 8.5 percent last year.

Foreign exchange reserves

The manifesto claims Forex reserves are now $13.2bn against $8.2bn in 2008 but according to Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, a leading economist, the SBP’s Forex reserves stand at $6.69bn on April 5. Pakistan must retire $0.838bn to IMF by June 30. With little or insufficient external inflows, the SBP’s reserves may fall to $5.8bn by June 2013. The SBP has borrowed $2.3bn from commercial banks in the forward market and if we adjust it, the SBP’s reserves would be $3.5bn by then– sufficient to trigger a crisis of confidence.”

Interest rate

The party claimed it reduced interest rate from 15 per cent in 2008 to 9.6 per cent in 2013. Industrialists and experts doubt this. Nevertheless, the rate spread –the difference between return on deposits and lending rates –is still very high in Pakistan.

Rupee devaluation

In 2008, the rupee was 62.61 against the dollar. The PPP left it at 98.98 by March 15, 2013. This has, besides causing price-hike locally, increased public debt and made imports costlier.

Bleeding PSEs

Instead of restructuring or privatising the loss-making PSEs, the PPPP government kept on doling out hundreds of billion annually to these entities. Most of the PSEs were allegedly handed over to political cronies and were further destroyed by large-scale inductions by treating them, as Dr Khan put it, as employment bureaus.

Energy imbroglio

Though the party claims having added 3600MW to the national grid, the country continues to face acute energy shortage. It has made life miserable for the people, halted industrial development and estimated to have inflicted a loss of Rs3tr to the country during last five years.

Over Rs1.8 trillion doled out to the power sector for financing circular debt would have sufficed to complete several projects that would have solved much of the energy problems.

Industrial, economic growth and investment

The PPPP had promised growth of business and industry with equity and of making private sector as engine of growth. But Pakistan’s industrial sector and the private sector was badly hit by lawlessness, policy inaction and shortage of energy.

In 2007, large scale industrial production was 8.7 percent which came down to 4.1 percent in 2008 and to minus 8.2 percent in 2009. In 2010, it again increased to 4.81 percent but then declined to 1.14 percent in 2011 and 1.02 percent in 2012.

Economic growth was three percent per annum during the PPP tenure against seven percent per annum in the preceding five years.

Dr Khan said investment rate also continued coming down during the last five years and declined to a 50-year low at 12.5 percent of GDP from 22.5 percent in 2006-07.  Industrial growth stagnated at near zero percent against 12.4 percent per annum in the preceding five years.

During FY09, foreign direct investment fell to $3.72bn and further to $2.20bn in 2010 and $1.63bn in 2011.

Corruption

Corruption was rampant. Hajj scam, Pakistan Steel plunder, railways corruption, rental power loot and others scams remained the talk of the town.  Anti-corruption bodies were however made dysfunctional by their politicization. Transparency International estimated Pakistan lost over Rs8.5tr in corruption, tax evasion and bad governance during the previous government.

………………..

Achievements of PPPP

The new PPPP’s manifesto and advertisement have listed its accomplishments during the 2008-13 government.

“We inherited a bubble economy based perilously on consumer credit, stock market speculation, property mark-ups, non-transparent privatization and foreign aid. Inflation stood at 25 per cent, making the poor dangerously vulnerable to local and international shocks.”

“We lowered inflation to single digits standing at 9.6 per cent in 2013; raised tax revenues from Rs1 trillion in 2008 to over Rs2tn in 2013; We cut the fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent of GDP in 2008 to 6.6 per cent in 2013(more robust as compared to India’s 8.7 per cent and the USA’s at 8.9 per cent); we kept public borrowing under 60 per cent of GDP; turned a current account deficit of $14bn in 2008 to a surplus of $62bn in 2013; investor confidence grew as the Karachi Stock Exchange index surged to 18,000 points in 2013 from 4,800 points in 2008 ( but the advertisement says it rose up from 5220 points in 2008 to 18185 points in 2013);  Forex reserves were $8.2bn in 2008 but are now $13.2bn (but the advertisement says these increased from $6bn in 2008 to $16bn in 2013); foreign remittances are now $14bn against $6.4bn in 2008; reduced fiscal deficit from 7.6 per cent in 2008; disbursed Rs 70bn amongst 75 lac deserving families BISP besides other pro-poor programmes; signed the Pak-Iran agreement on Gas Pipe Line, handed over Gowader Port to China; increased exports from $18 in 2008 to $29bn in 2012; the rural economy went up from Rs50bn in 2008 to Rs800bn in 2013; we added 3,700 MW of power to the national grid during our tenure and launched Mangla, Tarbela extension and other projects; increased pays of public sector employees by 158 per cent; foreign investment increased and so on.”

 

Khwaja Muhammad Khan Hoti’s interview

Khwaja Mohammad Khan Hoti: “Oppositionist by nature”

By Tahir Ali

(The News January 2009)

Nawabzada Khawaja Muhammad Khan Hoti was born in Mardan on 1st January 1955. He belongs to the Yousafzai tribe of Pakhtoons. He has passed Bachelor of Arts from Sindh University.

He belongs to an influential political family. His father Nawabzada Mohammad Umar Khan Hoti was chief of Hoti. His grand father (Late) Nawab Sir Muhammad Akbar Khan Hoti was a big landlord and prominent political figure of NWFP. His maternal grand father Brig. Sir Nawab Muhammad Shah Jehan Khan (Late) was the ruler of Dir State. He is the son in law of (Late) Nawabzada Abdul Ghafoor Khan Hoti Ex-Governor NWFP, Federal Minister and Central Pakistan Muslim League Leader and has a son Umar Farooq Hoti – who recently created stir in Mardan when he joined PML (N) – and four daughters.

KMH joined politics in 1979 as member of Mardan municipality. He joined the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in 1987, became the General Secretary of its NWFP Chapter in 1998. One year later, he became the President of PPP NWFP.

In1988 he became the advisor, and in 1989, the special assistant to the Chief Minister NWFP. Later, he was appointed Provincial Minister for Tourism for a short period. He also served as provincial Minister for Education from 1993-1996.

Due to differences with Chairperson of PPP in 2004, he left the party as provincial president and later on, resigned from its basic membership. In 2006, he joined ANP and was appointed as its Central Vice President of ANP. He won National Assembly seat in Feb. 2008 and was given the portfolio of Federal Minister for Social Welfare & Special Education in April 2008. Now-a-days, he is Federal Minister for Narcotics Control.

He is locally known as Baba-e-Rozgar and he says cannot help without providing jobs to the poor and needy. He is famous for his candid remarks. He is a public figure and feels like amongst the common man. This is why he is locally very popular.

TNS talked to him recently. Excerpts follow

The News on Sunday: You remained very close to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. How did you find her during your interaction with her?

Khwaja Mohammad Khan Hoti: The truth is that BB was a leader with an unmatched political acumen. She was an international leader and was Pakistan’s cherished identity abroad. She was an asset to the country. Pakistan and Pakistanis have lost too much in her departure to Hereafter. She was a high calibre lady born and nurtured in a great political family- the Bhutto family- and tutored by one of the greatest leaders this country ever produced- Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Shaheed. She had her peculiar qualities and was truly benazir (matchless). She always took informed and well thought out decisions in her political career.

She had sagacity more than her any other contemporary. She would anticipate the future course of actions and would prepare her responses how to deal with them. I remember when I contacted her right after the 9/11; she was profoundly sad and said that it was a step that would have dangerous repercussions for the Muslims the world over and especially Pakistan. The events in the aftermath just testified to what she had anticipated on the very day of the terrorist attack.

She had that outstanding ability to recognise the potentials workers and how to take them along with her. She was mardum shanas (good judge of people) and would deal with people according to their worth and capabilities.

I personally miss her a lot. She held me in high esteem. You remember I was the PPP’s provincial president for NWFP. Once, in Dubai, when interviews for the aspirants of party tickets were being held before elections, I had a brawl with her on the issue of awarding party ticket to a person for elections. BB stressed that her nomination be endorsed which in my view was not suited to the prospects of the party. I objected to it. Difference of opinion took ugly terms and I walked out of the meeting saying that if our advice was not to be ignored, we had nothing to do there and told her that she should take the decisions herself and get these communicated to us which would be endorsed. Feeling disgusted, I went to the City Centre and was preparing to depart for Pakistan. Soon afterwards, she called for me. When I reached there, she smiled and said, “Hoti sahib! I agree to your suggestion because I have confidence in your political acumen.” Then she said that as I was angry with her that day, she would take us to lunch -which she very rarely did. On another occasion, when after a party’s public meeting in Lahore, there was a discussion as to the number of participants. Some said they numbered 20 thousands and others put the attendance at 30,000. When BB heard all of them, she asked me to give my analysis, and told those present that my assessment would be right as I always spoke the truth. I told them they all exaggerated and that actually the strength was five to six thousand. BB approved of my estimation.

TNS: Despite the fact that there is a powerful PPP government in the centre and four provinces, the death of BB is yet to be investigated. How do you look at the delay? And also who do you think to be behind her death?

KMH: I think her death should be promptly investigated. There have been many untraced killings in Pakistan and let’s hope that her case doesn’t add to these blind cases. Who ever that killed her has succeeded to strike the nation and the country hard. I don’t know as to whether local or foreign people or groups are to blame for her death but it’s our duty to expose her killers and bring them to justice as soon as possible.

TNS: People say the present PPP regime is violating her legacy and the party is being haphazardly run. Do you agree?

KMH: Since I am not in the PPP I cannot say for sure as to how the party is being run after her. I think only a party insider can be exactly aware of the things and feeling there. I am not in a position to say as to what changes have taken place since President Zardari became the party chief.

TNS: You had differences with her. Could you explain as to why did you desert the PPP in early 1990s?

KMH: Now as she is no more physically amongst us I don’t want to go into details about this matter. I have buried this hatchet.

TNS: Your son Umer Farooq Hoti recently joined Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). Did you suggest this step? People say you are also to join the party soon?

KMH: Yes my son has joined the PML (N). He had some serious differences with local leadership which I think were not dealt rightly by the local chapter of the party. Perhaps Farooq thought that he would have more vistas open to him there in PML (N) and that he could serve the people well if he joined it. So he took the decision on his own. You know he is my only son. If I cannot make him happy, I simply have no right to compel him on this front and thereby displease him. Then he is an adult and knows his interest well. But as far I am concerned, I am in the ANP. Asfandyar Wali Khan is my leader. He is like a brother and very dear to me. He is a respectable and knowledgeable man and knows politics well.

If my son is in a party other than mine, this has been done by others in the past and is seen even today. Wasn’t Asfandyar’s grand-father Bacha Khan a veteran of Congress while the latter’s elder brother Dr Khan sahib was in the Unionist party before independence? Aren’t the two brothers from Laki Marwat – Saleem Saifullah and Anwar Saifullah – in the PML and PPP respectively? I would also like to draw your attention to the past. You know I was inducted into politics by my uncle Abdul Ghafoor Khan Hoti, former NWFP Governor who was a PML stalwart. He wanted me to join PML and would argue with me. But I joined the PPP in 1987 instead.

TNS: But don’t you have differences with, and difficulties in, the ANP?

KMH: We do have been facing some difficulties but I think they are the products of local conspiracies against us. I want to make it crystal clear to all plotters that ministerial or party slots have no significance in my eyes. These come and go. My family has always been the lucky one in this connection. In my case especially, I have worked on too many important slots in different governments. I have made commitments to people in my constituency- You know I am locally known as Baba-e- Rozgar (Father of jobs) because I believe in service and try to provide jobs to the needy. I am proud of my reputation and feel happy that I am not known as Baba-e- corruption which someone else is. Ministries may seem attractive only to those who make money out of them. I have never indulged in corruption and have always met my personal and political expenses by selling my ancestral property. The confidence, support and service of the people are dearer to me. I am not ready to compromise on Pakistan and the rights of the people of Mardan. The moment I realised I won’t be able to fulfil the promises I made with the people, I will resign and go to the people again to apprise them of the situation. I believe in transparency and always consult my constituency on whatever step I take. That will be my last day in office. Also, I am an oppositionist by nature. I feel like being with the people who oppose an incumbent regime.

TNS: How do you look at the performances of central or NWFP government so far?

KMH: I think there are some problems to face, ranging from law and order to financial crunch to external threats to political tensions. The governments are trying to solve the problems. The question is what after them? Who else has the panacea for these ills?  I believe the Pakistani nation is ready to confront all these hardships with courage and patience. The people, unfortunately, are not being taken into confidence. The sooner it is done, the better. I think we need an overall surgery of our policies. These must be brought in tune with the people’s wishes.

TNS: During your election campaign, you would chastise the US policy vis-à-vis Pakistan and Muslims. What about that now?

KMH: Pakistan is a declared non NATO ally of the US. Bilateral relations are meant for the benefit of both the countries. We’ll try our best to rid the world of terrorism. But we have our limits and cannot and must not exceed them to have our own polity jeopardised for them. We may be prima facie divided, we may belong to divergent groups and parties but we are united in that we are not ready to compromise on our sovereignty and national honour. For us Pakistan comes first and other things follow it. It is somewhat a universal truth that we have embraced as a nation. While Pakistan would do whatever it could to eradicate extremism and terrorism, it also expects rational thinking from its other allies. The present stereotyped tendency of putting all the blames of each and very thing on Pakistan will have to be avoided. It will only create problems and will serve no purpose for the coalition. If President Bush has been attacked by shoes, it is not a work of Pakistan’s making. The US will have to change its policy from aggression to peaceful dialogue with its opponents. It will have to bring a shift in its policies towards the Islamic world. When you support the killers of Palestinians, you will have to face indignation from the whole Muslim Ummah. While successive Pakistani governments are also to blame for the scourge, much of the terrorism in the world today is a reaction to US policies. If you also look at the huge anti-war rallies worldwide, you can see that the US has lost the war for hearts and minds. The American people need to know the truth. The US will have to think as to why it is being looked as an anti-Islam/Muslim power. The US must forthwith shun its militant approach, befriend the nations and avoid subjugating them.

And look at the respective attitude of India. It also accuses us of being supportive to terrorism. It ignores that Pakistan is itself a target of terrorists. If terrorists from India or Iraq target Pakistan, does it give us a license to attack these countries? Certainly not. It would have to forgo this mentality of accusation and threats. If it continues to charge Pakistan of whatever ugly takes place there, we also have questions regarding its role. When Pakistan overlooks the Indian intrigues against Pakistan or the disproportionately large presence of Indian consulates in Afghanistan, India should also reciprocate the same gestures.

TNS: You remained in the political arena for quite a time now. Based on your experience, what are the three main problems the Pakistani political system is faced with?

KMH: We considerably lack tolerance. Be that leaders or workers, they all try to benefit at the expense of others. They see their party colleagues not as brothers and friends but as rivals who must be sidelined and maligned to minimise their own prospects. Look when some vested interests in the ANP conspired against us in Mardan, my son was compelled to join the PML (N). This practice goes on unabated at all levels-local, provincial and national- in the country. Politics should not be turned into personal enmity which is a common sight through out Pakistan.

Another malady with our political system in my view is that promises are made but are mostly violated. Commitments are fulfilled the least. Because the promises are not intended to be pursued, mostly unrealistic commitments are made with the people. The public is not taken into confidence by the leaders if there are any hurdles and problems in the realisation of promises and objectives. This causes public resentment and disenchantment with the politicians.

The third drawback in our system to me is that there is too much experimentation in every department. Policies are made, changed and replaced. Projects are started, then lethargy engulfs those who run it and at last these are shelved for ever. Very handsome policies are prepared but these always await implementation. This lethargy has dealt us severe blows through out our history.

TNS: where does Pakistan stand today in Narcotics-trade?

KMH: There are at present an estimated 600,000 drug addicts in Pakistan. It accounts for a little over 2 % of the world’s Narcotics business. Afghanistan now a days is world’s biggest supplier of Narcotics- around 7800 hectors of poppy cultivation has been estimated there. The international drug mafia has changed its focus from Pakistan and is now taking drugs to Europe on some other routes in Iran, Turkmenistan and Bangkok.

And one interesting information, Holland of late has legalised the use of Charas (cannabis) in its country.

TNS: How can the drug trafficking be stopped or minimised?

KMH:  China and Saudi Arabia award death penalties to drug traffickers but even then people take drugs there. Narco mafia is very powerful and spread over the globe. It is very difficult to eliminate the business altogether. But we will have to continue our efforts for a drug-free world. We may not be able to eradicate the trade entirely but will decrease it for sure. As Pakistan is concerned, it faces many constraints. The narcotics’ department is yet to have its own building. It has a total budget of Rs.120 million which much too less than actually needed- as against it, the social welfare department’s budget when I was its minister recently was Rs.9000 million. The department has a workforce of three thousand employees that supervise border areas spread over thousands km- according to an estimate every official looks after an area of 10km to ensure that drug peddling doesn’t take place. Is it possible for him? As against it Iran has a total anti narcotics force of 35000 while Turkmenistan has 25000 personnel for the purpose. Also their pays are ridiculously small- while they are astonishingly expected to deal fairly with the narcotics-trade worth millions, and often billions, of rupees and have to contend with the resourceful drug mafia which is ever ready to invest on them. They deserve to be remunerated well. More incentives must be given to them and to the informers that risk their lives against the dangerous and powerful drug barons. We also need X-ray machines. Small dealers should also be arrested but it is the drug barons that would have to be given special attention- after all the small peddlers get it only form them to pass on to consumers. We also need to have more narcotics police stations around the country. Again, the importance of having more hospitals for drug addicts cannot be exaggerated- I am happy to announce that the present regime has envisaged to open a few narcotics police stations and Benazir Hospitals for drug addicts in the country.