KARACHI: Pakistan is gradually shifting its gears into the progressive phase. Its dwindling economy is improving, stock markets are touching new heights and several memoranda of understanding have been signed with other countries pledging billions dollars of investment in the country. The job market will soon be able to absorb the overflowing influx of eligible workers and there will be happiness. For some business experts, however, this is all an illusion.
"The foreign investment is not for free. China, the biggest 'friend' of Pakistan, has its own interests — strategic and geopolitical," cautioned Amin Hashwani, the executive director of the Hashwani Group of Companies, one of the largest business conglomerates in the country. "We [Pakistanis] need to be very clear. The money that is coming in will go out with added profits for the next two or three decades."
The businessman was the first one among the three panelists to speak to a large young audience at the alHamd Accountancy School on Wednesday. The session was part of the' I Am Karachi' dialogue series, a social campaign that aims to bring a positive change in society.
Pakistan, he said, had been compared with some 'banana republics' of Africa with regards to the economic growth rate. "We are growing at a rate of four to 4.5 per cent. Meanwhile, our neighbour, China is flourishing at a rate of 11 per cent and India at around eight per cent."
This was the same country that started at zero in 1947 and in an exemplary period of a decade and a half, was inclining to become an Asian tiger, the economically-leading country in the continent, Hashwani reminded the aspiring chartered accountants in the audience. "Today, we have everything but are failing 'miserably' due to the inconsistent, ineffective policies and apathy of our people."
Hashwani reminisced the golden era of the 1960s when the country reached its peak in terms of economic development. "Back then, the people were one nation. There were no Muhajirs, no Sindhis, no Pakhtuns and no Baloch. There were only Pakistanis," he said. "Perhaps this was the reason we flourished."
The man with the thin frame surprised the audience with his booming voice and enthralled the audience who seemed to hang to his every word. "Question the wrongdoings of your leaders. If we allow our politicians to get away with murder, they will continue to do so."
Jamil Yusuf, former chief of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee and a businessman, urged the students to move towards the civil service and judiciary. "Take federal competitive exams such as the CSS and judicial exams. There are so many good opportunities." A major reason for the slack in administration, policing, judicial and other important sectors was that most students preferred to steer clear of these professions.
He revealed that a criminology university had been proposed in the province of Punjab, whose graduates will go to the police.
The last speaker was a faculty member of the alHamd academy, Kalim Rehmani. A veteran chartered accountant, Rehmani told the audience that the rich of the country evaded taxes. "Eventually, the burden comes on the already oppressed working class."
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2015.
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