Aligning political and business interests

Policies, when in tandem, provide the trajectory of economic growth.


Sirajuddin Aziz January 13, 2013
The level of our industrialisation seems to be shrinking with rising costs, taxes and power issues multiplying by the day. PHOTO: CREATIVE COMMONS

KARACHI: True leadership transcends scale and magnitude: it blurs the parameters that circumscribe its sphere of influence. That said, leadership also depends on whether a profit-driven or charitable organisation or a nation is being led. The divergence in the forms and types of leadership notwithstanding, harmony between business and commercial leadership and the political leadership of a country is imperative for a nation to prosper.

Now, more than ever, there is a need for business and political leadership to not only collaborate, but also to strive for progress in a converged direction. Businesses have the lobbying power and resources to bring about positive political change. Politician leaders meanwhile, have the platform and influence to allay the economic concerns of the business community and help frame a more conducive business environment to boost investor confidence.

As the world moves to foster domestic industry, our standing as a country has remained absolutely deplorable. We have suffered different bouts of botched economic planning in the different eras of our evolution as a country. First we were given a dosage of nationalisation in the 70s.  When that disastrous fad wore off, which contributed nothing towards the national kitty and GDP, we jumped onto the bandwagon of the laissez-faire economies. We did so without any preamble and assessment as to what the dynamics of this system could mean for a country like ours, particularly at the stage of development we were in. We just dived headlong into the cesspool. Our economic policies are inconsistent with our political designs. There is absolutely no stability and sustainability in them. Every time the leadership changes, previous polices which had just begun to show potential are discarded abruptly.

Consider that textile is the forte of our economy, but we have no direction in devising policies which are conducive to greater output generation and expand export leads. We are still operating with unstructured yarn dying and spinning processes. It has been decades, and we are still languishing with isolated bits and pieces of the textile production chain working incongruously to create products, instead of mastering the entire process and giving an end-to-end output. The level of our industrialisation seems to be shrinking with rising costs, taxes and power issues multiplying by the day. Meanwhile, our political gurus seem to be floating in another boat altogether.

The business insights of the likes of Jack Welch, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, if introduced into the political realm, would generate great sovereign dynamism. If innovation sets leadership apart from regular management, why should innovation be restricted only to the commercial sphere? Political frontrunners should adopt more innovative paradigms of leadership, in order to overcome the universal issues which plague economies worldwide with out-of-the-box strategies and solutions.

Conversely, the business leadership should also assimilate characteristics that dynamic politicians are distinguished by. The quiet brilliance of Hu Jintao, the wit of Winston Churchill, the astuteness of Abraham Lincoln, the determination of Nelson Mandela, the fiery energy of Fidel Castro, the perseverance of Gandhi and the vision of Jinnah are what business leaders need to lead the global business markets of today.

THE WRTER IS THE PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE HABIB METROPOLITAN BANK

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2013.

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