Former UNDP director takes aim at Pakistan's elite in scathing final interview

Published: August 29, 2016
Franche says change can only happen in Pakistan if the elite will sacrifice their interest in favour of the nation PHOTO: Former UNDP Pakistan Director Marc-André Franche/TWITTER

Franche says change can only happen in Pakistan if the elite will sacrifice their interest in favour of the nation PHOTO: Former UNDP Pakistan Director Marc-André Franche/TWITTER

In a scathing criticism of the Pakistani elite, the former director of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for Pakistan Marc-André Franche, said the only way a critical change could happen in the country was when the influential, the politicians and the wealthy, would sacrifice short term, individual and family interests for the benefit of the nation.

“You cannot have an elite that takes advantage of very cheap and uneducated labour when it comes to making money, and when it is time to party it is found in London, and when it’s time to buy things it is in Dubai, and when it’s time to buy property it invests in Dubai or Europe or New York. The elite needs to decide do they want a country or not,” Franche said, according to the Business Recorder.

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The former director, who spent four years in Pakistan, was also critical of the landowners. “I have visited some very large landowners, who have exploited the land for centuries, paid nearly zero money for the water, and how they almost sometimes hold people in bondage. And then they come to the United Nations or other agencies and ask us to invest in water, sanitation, and education for the people in their district. I find that quite embarrassing.”

Having visited Karachi this month, Franche was appalled to see the condition of the city. “It’s at a breaking a point. If Karachi is at all to continue being the engine of growth in this country, something needs to be done about public utilities. You cannot live in Karachi and grow your business anymore with the state of disrepair of public institutions.”

Further, he expressed his frustration that Pakistan was not making more progress in terms of poverty reduction, inequality, modernising the state, and functioning institutions. “The fact that even in 2016, Pakistan has 38 per cent poverty; it has districts that live like sub-Saharan Africa; that the basic human rights of minorities, women and the people of FATA are not respected; that this country has not been able to get its act together and hold a census; or that it has not been able to push for reforms in FATA, an area that is institutionally living in 17th century. It is extremely preoccupying.”

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“Pakistan will not be able to survive with gated communities where you are completely isolated from the societies, where you are creating ghettos at one end and big huge malls for the rich at the other end. It is not the kind of society you want your kids to live in,” he added.

Franche shared that he was disappointed with the quality of local government laws that each province had developed. “Only KP has a decent law that gives real power and real money to the local government. Local government does not mean that you just elect them and deny them fiscal resources or power. We have been advocating for a review of those laws. In KP, because they put in place a decent local government law, we are currently finalising the agreement with the provincial government to support them in local governance, focusing first on seven districts, one per each division.”

The ex-director of UNDP Pakistan was also critical of the media, adding that there was a deficit of media literacy. “The media is one of the pillars of democracy and the media has to educate the public. Unfortunately, the level of dependence of the government on military authorities, and the degree by which a lot of media in this country is manipulated by powerful sources, are sources of erosion of democracy and erosion of the institutions that are the foundations of this country.”

He added that he was concerned about inequality of rights and opportunities in Pakistan. “The apartheid of opportunities in Pakistan is horrible, which is why so many young people are trying to leave the country. This is one of the issues that UNDP will continue to work on in Pakistan for sure – investing in both improving the quality of data, and the quality of analysis of inequality.”

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Although, he didn’t think there was an imminent threat of a revolt by the poor, he did see it happening eventually. “I don’t see those circumstances emerging in Pakistan at the moment. But it will eventually happen in one way or the other. You cannot have a country, where nearly 40 per cent of the people live in poverty.”

As he leaves Pakistan, he spoke about his love for the country. “When you spend four years in a country, you learn to appreciate its complexity. I do not even remember how many times I have been to Balochistan; I believe I have been to nearly every district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; I have gone to the northern areas a number of times; and I have, of course, travelled in Punjab and Sindh. So I am leaving with a lot of admiration for Pakistan and its people. When you read the history of Pakistan, it was not obvious that this country would survive. There was a lot of criticism and people doubting that it will. Yet it has, and it has come very far and achieved a lot in many ways.”

This article originally appeared on Business Recorder

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Reader Comments (41)

  • Unknown
    Aug 29, 2016 - 2:30PM

    ” “Only KP has a decent law that gives real power and real money to the local government. ”

    A big slap on the face of Raiwand Shareef (more than 30 years in power) and his supporters Recommend

  • Shuaib
    Aug 29, 2016 - 2:33PM

    Say it like it is! Thanks! None of the top 10-20% pay taxes and complain. All of them are also to blame.Recommend

  • Observer
    Aug 29, 2016 - 3:23PM

    Communists everywhere!Recommend

  • chengez K
    Aug 29, 2016 - 3:26PM

    Finally someone said the TRUTH !!!Recommend

  • Farru
    Aug 29, 2016 - 3:34PM

    Thanks for stating the truth. Thanks for an honest and straight forward analysis. Love from Pakistan.Recommend

  • Muzaffar
    Aug 29, 2016 - 3:39PM

    “This is all because of Zia & military establishments” a pseudo-liberal silently talking to himself trying to satisfy his ego.

    Yes, they have done their damage but this Pakistani version of democracy is bound to fail again & again because our political parties themselves are anything but democratic.Recommend

  • masafir
    Aug 29, 2016 - 4:00PM

    Lolz, yeh bhi ghadaar hay Altaf Hussain ki tarah :PRecommend

  • Striver
    Aug 29, 2016 - 4:24PM

    The words that resonate:
    “….do they want a country or not?”

    The choice is yours; make it quick. The end is near. Recommend

  • Insha
    Aug 29, 2016 - 4:27PM

    Can’t wait for the sharifs and the bhuttos and the khars to say “this is an attempt to destabilize democracy”.Recommend

  • Bol
    Aug 29, 2016 - 4:59PM

    The country has been in a state of war for the last 35 years. First the afghan war and then 15 years of direct war after 9/11. What else do you expect from a war torn country. The fact that it still exist is in itself a miracle. But now the madness has to stop, sane decisions to be made in the interest of common man.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Aug 29, 2016 - 5:29PM

    A damning indictment indeed, but true for the most part. But will our elite pay any heed ? Not on your life ! As long as there is a country to exploit, the elite will continue to suck this country dry without giving anything back. In their view its their God-given entitlement and birthright.Recommend

  • Freedom for Sindh
    Aug 29, 2016 - 5:40PM

    Pakistan is a failed country. High time for the UN to intervene to liberate Sindh and other smaller provinces from Pakistani slavery.Recommend

  • M.Sethi
    Aug 29, 2016 - 5:43PM

    Exploitation of the poor and weak by the rich and the strong is a historical global phenomena.Even by nature,the Big fish swallows the smaller ones.So what ,he has said is nothing exceptional.Recommend

  • M.Sethi
    Aug 29, 2016 - 5:46PM

    Guess he never hard about a places called Chicago or Detroit…Recommend

  • Burhan
    Aug 29, 2016 - 5:49PM

    Very well said…. we need to fix our self else nothing left in blame game whats gone is history ….. Recommend

  • wiserneighbour
    Aug 29, 2016 - 6:25PM

    Who said Pakistan got poverty.Actually most of the Pakistanis ridicule India for its poverty and lack of sanitation.Pakistan is like Switzerland.You are mistaken.Recommend

  • amin
    Aug 29, 2016 - 6:56PM

    yes what about them, what is wrong with Chicago and Detroit? if certain ppl, even after the affirmative action and quota system could not better their lot then who to blame? I lived in Chicago for 10 years, went to school there, and I know the geopolitical situation of that area.Recommend

  • Guest
    Aug 29, 2016 - 7:11PM

    Let’s start finding solution to our ptoblems. Let our ego get hurt but we won’t let it in our way to a better life for all or atleast for most.Recommend

  • shah
    Aug 29, 2016 - 7:24PM

    Thank you Sir for your painful truths.Recommend

  • brian meegan
    Aug 29, 2016 - 7:39PM

    @M.Sethi: There is economic division in Chicago and Detroit, but the wealthy residents still live and invest in their cities or the USA in general.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Aug 29, 2016 - 7:41PM

    At least there are checks and balances in other countries. Here the entire elite is in for the take. This is a d@mning indictment indeed, but true for the most part. But do you think the elite care ? Think again. As long as there is a country to exploit, it will be sucked dry with no give back. The elite consider it their birthright.Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Aug 29, 2016 - 8:18PM

    someone send this to N league and its lackeys. Recommend

  • Madame Sisi
    Aug 29, 2016 - 8:53PM

    The amusing thing is most of the commentators here are willing to swallow this bitter pill if its given by an outsider, but had the same prognosis been given by one of our own, all sorts of conspiracy theories would be hatched. Recommend

  • Sodomite
    Aug 29, 2016 - 9:50PM

    He should stand for PM of this benighted nation. He will do a much better job than all the Loonies in Parliament. God please deliver a messiah to this nation. Recommend

  • Comrade
    Aug 29, 2016 - 10:52PM

    A working class revolution is the only solution for the problems in Pakistan. There are many hurdles for that to happen. , the most serious of them is the boots factor. . However if that happens then Pakistan can grow as a strong and prosperous countryRecommend

  • Faraz
    Aug 30, 2016 - 4:36AM

    65% of Punjab budget is spent on turning Lahore into Paris — how on Earth are you going to have “across the board development”?!Recommend

  • Abdullah
    Aug 30, 2016 - 8:02AM

    Nicely explain about the ground realities of Pakistan which need urgent corrective measures for betterment of society.Recommend

  • s.khan
    Aug 30, 2016 - 8:10AM

    Detroit went bankrupt. In Flint the drinking water was polluted with the chemicals.Row after row of houses are boarded up with weed growing all over. It is a failed city. Chicago is plagued
    with violence. In Jan. and Feb about 180 people were killed. The other day cousin of famous NBA player Dwayne Wade was shot while out with her young baby. Mr. Amin, do you venture to south side of Chicago after sun set. Be very careful if you do. Bullets fly around.Recommend

  • Amir
    Aug 30, 2016 - 11:37AM

    I disagree with his views, and blaming media, politicians, landowners, people in power for the pathetic condition they have created in Pakistan.

    All developing nations dictators from Africa and Asia, corrupt politicians, tax evading business leaders, etc when they have to run and take their stolen wealth they run to countries like France and UK, where they are given protection from extradition, live like royalty, and interfere in the concern country internal affairs Recommend

  • farhan
    Aug 30, 2016 - 1:31PM

    as long there is democracy so no problem with any mess going around in the countryRecommend

  • Ali
    Aug 30, 2016 - 4:01PM

    Mr. Marc-André Franche, You lived here 4 years and got local habits. Like bashing the system when you are not part of it anymore. What reforms you brought in UNDP? Did you ensured transparent hiring system on Merit!!!!… of-coarse not. There is no concept of right man for the right job, a lot money is being wasted on irrelevant activities and projects. Recommend

  • Frank
    Aug 30, 2016 - 5:26PM

    When you have a problem giving money to people to spend on development in their areas than dude you are working for the organization. Maybe you should go back to wherever you came from and stay there because people over here do appreciate you convenient candor. NO Thank You Ver MUCH!!!!!Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Aug 30, 2016 - 6:18PM

    The Pakistani masses do not want education or development, all they want is that their country has Islamic atom bums.
    Atom bums and nuclear bravado have become central to the idea of Pakistan now. In a country that hardly has of any kind of accomplishment to show for, the possession of a 50 year old technology gives them solace. The masses will sacrifice themselves for these jewelsRecommend

  • Hassan
    Aug 30, 2016 - 8:25PM

    Totally agree with the ex UNDP Director. It is the English speaking elite who are responsible for Pakistan’s backwardness. Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Aug 30, 2016 - 9:58PM

    I don’t recall Indian FO officials roaming the world like Pakistani FO types with their ever present Pakistani Begging Bowl!Recommend

  • Sandip
    Aug 30, 2016 - 10:06PM

    @Insha: I would rather bet on that tweeting bird coming and stating that this is a conspiracy against Pakistan and it’s “muqqadas idare”.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Aug 31, 2016 - 6:18AM

    Pakistan is an artificially grafted nation. It will take centuries for true nationalism to permeate into the peoples. All we have until now is sloganeering. Recommend

  • Np
    Aug 31, 2016 - 10:10AM

    Is the Michigan governor accused of corruption, money laundering and investing money outside US? What about the Illinois governor?
    Is US asking UN for aid?
    Where is the equivalence?Recommend

  • Np
    Aug 31, 2016 - 10:14AM

    I believe @wiserneighbour was being sarcastic.Recommend

  • Atiq ur Rehman
    Aug 31, 2016 - 10:33AM

    It’s a bizarre situation in our country. Sooner or later the cities will be only for elite class and 40% will live in ghettos around them. They will come for petty works during day and will go back to their slums in evening. They will become 2nd or 3rd citizens of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Haris
    Sep 1, 2016 - 10:36AM

    Uneducated people elect uneducated leaders……. this is the root cause of all problems of Pakistan – Resolve this and Pakistan will be a 1st world country in no time.Recommend

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