14 May 2018
Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018
By Iftikhar Ali
By Zarrar Khuhro
What Do The Pakistani Youth Want?
By Shahid Javed Burki
By Syed Talat Hussain
A Road Map for Rule of Law
By Tariq Khosa
‘Come Baba Come’
By Shahzad Sharjeel
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
May 14, 2018
New wine in old bottle is one of Jesus’s
parables but the message it conveys is deep with reference to Gilgit-Baltistan
Order 2018 proposed by the outgoing government of PML (N) in the name of
so-called political empowerment and good governance in GB. If this order gets
passed in the current shape, it is expected to have severe consequences for
both the state, government and the citizens of GB because nobody in GB ready to
accept it except some poodles and stooges of the current ruling party. The
Speaker of GBLA has repeatedly issued statements that the unanimously passed
resolutions by the GBLA be honoured which have no effect or reflection on the
proposed new order. The provincial president of PPP Amjad Hussain Advocate
along with other opposition leaders from religio-political background have
rejected and rubbished the proposed order.
Apparently, GB Order 2018 looks like a
hurriedly done cut and paste bureaucratic assignment from Constitution of
Pakistan and Governance Order 2009. What is new in the ipso facto provisions
are such that it has an additional definition of citizen from GB domicile
holders as well as those who hold citizenship under Pakistan Citizenship Act
1951 (II of 1951) which makes every citizen of Pakistan a citizen of GB.
Article 5 of the Order requires inviolable obligation of every citizen to
remain obedient to the order contrary to Article 5(1) of the CoP which requires
the loyalty with the state. The definition of State under Article 7 of the CoP
has been changed as to definition of the Government in the new order.
Similarly, the powers of State under Article 8(2) of the CoP are transferred to
Government under Article 7(2) of the order. In both Articles, the Powers and
Provisions granted to “State” under CoP are placed under the “Government” in
the new order which also reads the mind of the drafting machinery. One can
deduce to the fact that the constitutional obligations and responsibilities of
state in four provinces of Pakistan are to be performed by the government in GB
and citizens of GB are to remain loyal with Government instead of State.
Freedom of association cherished in Article
17 of new order contains an additional clause which is not obligatory for the
citizens of Pakistan under Article 17 of CoP whereby the persons or political
parties of Gilgit-Baltistan are restrained to take part in activities
prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of Pakistan. Once CoP is silent
about such a clause, makes it clear to the people of GB that even the
fundamental rights granted in the new order are not in consistent with the
persons or political parties in other provinces. Article 19 of the CoP deals
with the freedom of speech and freedom of press whereas from Article 19 of new
order, the phrase “there shall be freedom of press” has been dropped. However,
Principles of Policy set out in Chapter 2 of the Part II of CoP are pari passu
extended to GB.
What is totally contrary and ultra-constitutional
is the extent of executive authority of Government in any matter with respect
to Prime Minister who has been given powers to make laws whereby the executive
authority of the government shall be subject to, and limited by, the executive
authority expressly conferred by this Order or by law made by the Prime
Minister. Under such imperial provisions, the position of Prime Minister for
the people of GB gains similar status to the British Crown for their colonial
subjects because under the disempowerment Articles 41, 46, 60, 61, 62, 99 and
105 the position of the Prime Minister gains the final authority over the
legislative and administrative matters having the Governor, Chief Minister and
GB Assembly be subservient to him.
Other burning issues of GB in the recent
times are the acquisition of land and imposition of taxes against which massive
and unprecedented protests were observed in GB and across Pakistan due to which
the government was forced to retreat. Under the articles 60(2) and 65, the PM
is empowered to levy all taxes in the region as prescribed the third schedule.
These clauses are inviting the readymade sentiments to be flare-up once again.
The custodians of state must take precautionary notices because the new
imperial order adds deprivation to already deprived. The legislative list under
Part-I of the third schedule enlists 62 subjects out of which most of the
subjects are beyond capacity and capability of legislation of GB Assembly and
Whereas, Part-II of the legislative list
comprised of 5 provisions for the PM to impose taxes in consultation with the
Governor and CM of GB. In a nutshell, this order has neither honoured the
unanimous resolutions passed by Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly nor
acknowledged the aspirations and sacrifices of the people of GB. The
inhabitants of GB accept nothing less than full integration with Pakistan and
if the full integration otherwise harms the Pakistani stance on Kashmir issue,
the people of GB demands nothing less than what India has given to the people
of IoK and what Pakistan has given to the People of AJK.
WITH his penchant for pomp, his nods to
nepotism and his tendency to label opponents as ‘enemies’, President Donald
Trump is quite the caricature of a third world autocrat — except for the fact
that he is in charge of the most powerful country in the world.
Trump, much like garden-variety
megalomaniacs, delights in reversing the key projects and agreements set in
place by the previous administration. He has pulled out of the Trans Pacific
Partnership, has gutted Obamacare and has now withdrawn from the Iran nuclear
deal, which was the signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor
Given that the US isn’t the only signatory,
the eventual fate of the deal remains unclear, with Iran expressing anger and
European capitals going into damage control. Nevertheless, Trump is unfazed and
determined that this "horrible" deal is now off the cards, that
sanctions against Iran will be reimposed and that Iranian "expansion"
will be checked.
The effects have been immediate: oil prices
and regional tensions have gone up, and US credibility has gone down. The first
provides a boost to the oil-dependent Gulf economies that are arrayed against
Iran and — unintentionally — also gives much-needed relief to Russia whose
geopolitical ambitions don’t quite match up with its economic strength.
As for the second, Israel took the
opportunity to launch its most wide-ranging attacks on Syria to date, targeting
dozens of sites it claims hosted Iranian military sites and installations.
Israel has struck targets in Syria before —
interdicting logistical supply lines and recently striking the T-4 airbase as
well as bombing a Syrian air force base in April, reportedly killing several
The latest attacks, Israel claims, were in
retaliation for alleged Iranian missile attacks on Israel — all of which Tel
Aviv claims were interdicted with no damage.
Israel is trying to drive a wedge between
Iran and the Assad regime.
Iran denies having launched any assault on Israel,
calling such claims “fabricated and baseless excuses”, and indeed there seems
to be little logic in their having done so, except as an attempt to salvage
pride and make a show of defiance in the aftermath of Israeli strikes. But then
if that were the case, it seems unlikely that Iran would deny it in the first
What is more likely, and this is hardly a
revelation, is that Israel seized the opportunity granted by the US withdrawal
to advance the long-desired strategy of rolling back Iranian entrenchment in
As always, there is contradiction in
Israel’s claims: on the one hand it paints Iran as a nigh-unstoppable hegemonic
power, but simultaneously claims that one day of strikes has set back Iranian
plans by ‘months’.
Along with physically bombing Iranian
targets, Israel is also trying to drive a wedge between Iran and the regime of
Bashar al-Assad. In the aftermath of the Israeli strikes, Israeli defence
minister Avigdor Lieberman called on Assad to “throw the Iranians out … they
only do harm and their presence brings only damage and problems”.
While this is unlikely to happen in the
short term, given how beholden Assad is to Iran for its help in securing his
rule, this may change as Israel ups the ante — and the pain inflicted on
Ironically, Iran’s success in buoying the
Syrian government may prove a liability for Tehran as an increasingly secure
Assad may become less dependent on direct Iranian support. The friendship of
princes is notoriously fickle.
The same goes for czars; prior to launching
the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a meeting with
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, reportedly walking away with
assurances of Russian non-interference in the Israeli campaign against Iran.
One should note that none of Russia’s
vaunted air defence systems were engaged in any of these strikes and that,
following Netanyahu’s visit, Russia backtracked on providing its advanced
S-300 air defence system to Syria, something Moscow had hinted it would do last
month after Western strikes on Syria.
For Russia, which used the Syrian conflict
to shore up its international standing and reach, being caught in the crossfire
is not a desirable scenario, and it seems strategic ambiguity is a far more
Iran, it seems, has now reached a major
hurdle in its plans to project influence in the Middle East. While domestically
the US tearing up the nuclear deal has validated the stance of hardliners,
boosting them in the short term, the economic pain from the reimposition of
sanctions (European corporations are unlikely to give up doing business with
the US for Iran’s sake) might cause serious political problems at home.
Pushed to the edge, Iran is now threatening
to start uranium enrichment on an “industrial scale” even as it seeks to
salvage the agreement by negotiating with European nations.
Were the former to take place, it is
entirely likely that we will see Israeli strikes on Iranian soil in the near
future, with all the chaos and conflict that will bring.
Those who watch political developments in
Pakistan should note a number of things happening that are relatively new.
These will disturb the status quo which was based on traditional associations.
The most notable of these is the age-old beradari system that the author Anatol
Lieven in his book Pakistan: A Hard Country thought gave the country and its
people exceptional resilience as they dealt with recurrent crises. The youth’s
rise in the country is likely to shake the economic, political and social
structures. This will upend the old alliances and push them towards redundancy.
This will be the case especially in the urban areas, in the country’s large
cities in particular. With this as the background, I get back to the question I
asked in this space last week. Who are the young people who will bring about
enormous changes in the way Pakistan works, where are they located, what are
their aspirations and what do they need from the country’s economic and
In answering these questions, I am helped
enormously by the recent UNDP report on Pakistan authored by two scholars of
great repute, Adil Najam and Faisal Bari. However, the census data from the
2017 count does not provide much help since it continues to underestimate the
urban population. The reason for that is political. A correct estimate of the
size and distribution of urban population would reduce the power of the rural
elite. This group continues to exercise influence over the public sector far greater
than would be justified by the popular support it can muster in an election. I
would say that if some of what I predict is likely to happen as a result of the
2018 elections, when the next census is conducted perhaps in 2027, it will
provide more accurate data on the urban-rural distribution of the population.
Let me get back to the question posed in
the title of this article — what do the Pakistani youth want? The work done by
Najam and Bari for the Pakistan National Human Development Report is extremely
helpful in providing the profile of the youth. They tell us that 55 per cent of
the youth live in Punjab, another 23 per cent in Sindh, 14 per cent in
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and four per cent in Balochistan. The remaining four per
cent are to be found in Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Fata. As many as 30
per cent are illiterate, not able to read or write. Only six per cent have 12
years or more of education. But lack of education will not hold them back in
expressing their aspirations. They are taking full advantage of the enormous
technological developments that have occurred in the country over the last
decade or two. Well over one-half of the youth possess mobile telephones.
Although only 14 per cent have access to the internet, they are able to connect
to the world by using the social media.
I estimate that the size of the population
eligible to vote in 2018 to be between 135 and 140 million. If we define the
youth among these to be between 18 and 30 years, their number will be about 50
million, or 35 per cent of the total voting population. It appears to me that
two political parties, the PTI and the MQM, are likely to focus on mobilising
the young for the election, the former in Punjab, K-P and Karachi and the
latter in Karachi and Hyderabad. Mobilisation will bring political success.
According to Najam and Bari, 90 per cent of the male youth and 55 per cent of
their female counterparts are likely to vote in 2018. If the youth are able to
put in power the people in whom they have trust, what would they want?
The UNDP’s answer to this question is 3Es —
quality education, gainful employment and meaningful engagement. How will these
aspirations be met by the new leadership to whom the youth will hand over the
reins of power? This question will need to be answered by the political parties
as they begin to write their election manifestoes. I think I can provide them
with some help.
In education most of the needed effort will
have to be made by the private sector. Private entrepreneurs, most of whom are
women, have already shown their ability to educate most segments of the
population: urban and rural; male and female; pre-school and of school-going
age; and in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and social
sciences. The public sector could partner with private entrepreneurs by
investing in physical infrastructure, leaving school and university management
to private entrepreneurs.
The aspiring youth are not looking to such
traditional activities as agriculture, retail commerce, transport and
construction for employment. The operative word in this context is ‘gainful’
and this means jobs in the modern sectors of the economy. Here the new set of
rulers should take full advantage of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
programme being financed by Beijing. The Chinese have a lot of experience in
generating employment in modern sectors and they could bring that to Pakistan.
The third aspiration — engagement — is of
critical importance. This is the lesson learnt from the Arab Spring of 2011.
The youth wanted governance to be inclusive, not exclusive. While they were
able to topple long-enduring authoritarian regimes, they were not able to bring
about permanent change. The result was several civil wars.
Neglecting the youth can be problematic. I
will end by quoting from a review of the performance “Dance Nation” by The New
York Times theatre critic. “Whether you admit it or not, your 13-year-old self
is still living somewhere inside you like a feral demon-child whispering in the
dark. It is a creature of frightening extremes, this being you once were: more
hopeful and hopeless, joyous and despairing, loving and hateful than you have
ever been since. Most likely, she or he is someone you try to avoid talking
The country’s ruling elite and some
sections of the population are in a fit of extreme anger at the way Washington
has pushed a hard line on our diplomatic mission in Washington, restricting the
movement of our diplomats and creating hurdles in the course of normal social
and official operations. To these sections, the reciprocal riposte from
Islamabad, introducing a broad range of limits on US diplomats in the country
and withdrawal of various concessions granted to the embassy staff, is most
The anger and the joy of seeing the US
getting the right end of the stick are justified. As always Washington has
acted as a bully on the block, ignoring diplomatic, moral and public
sensitivities in the wake of the fateful accident that killed a Pakistani citizen
and triggered the present row. Legal proceedings in the wake of the accident
have now placed the indulgent driver of the vehicle, an American defence and
air attaché, in the legal dock as the Islamabad High Court has recommended his
name be placed on the Exit Control List. As any middle ground shrank in the
wake of this crisis, and Washington attempted to browbeat Islamabad into
accepting its demands, the reaction from Islamabad makes perfect sense.
What does not make sense, however, is to
believe that by responding in kind to Washington’s strong-arm tactics we have
suddenly discovered the true path to national honour and dignity. Even while we
are hearing words like ‘equal treatment’, ‘reciprocity’, ‘mutual respect’ with
the speed of light followed by thunders of applause for our own response to the
US State Department’s extravagant moves, the reality is that this crisis, like
all similar or other crises involving spats with Washington, holds up a big
mirror to us. And it is an ugly sight.
The list of withdrawn ‘facilities’ – talk
of self-deceiving sophistry – from the US embassy and consulate staff that the
Foreign Office has issued is a list of shame and disgrace. From getting mobiles
without biometric verification to hiring and shifting property to running ‘safe
houses’ loaded with radio and communication networks, US embassy officials had
the kind of free lunch available to them that would make the British in
colonial India go green with envy. Un-restricted movement, tinted glass
vehicles, fake number plates, and – the mother of all dirty facilities –
un-scanned cargo make Pakistan look like an informal Diego Garcia. All this is
apart from the large (one of the largest in the world) CIA presence and
humanitarian, development and other networks spread across the country whose
staff has concessions that are unavailable to any other national including to
us, the Pakistani citizens.
All these concessions by the way are
neither ordained by the Vienna Conventions governing the rights and
responsibilities of diplomats and emissaries nor are they reciprocal. No
Pakistani emissary can even dream of running a safe house in the US, or get a
communication setup that is not registered, or get through airports without
getting scanned. Remember how Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi was subject to pat
downs? Getting cargo into the US that has not been checked or approved by the
relevant departments many time over? Forget it.
But the Americans had it all here and more.
Who allowed them these ‘facilities’? What were governments (these are old
facilities) and state institutions thinking when they approved opening national
doors to the Americans without let, hindrance and filter? What do you think the
Americans would bring into Pakistan in un-scanned cargo? Dog food? Cutlery? Of
course the most sophisticated instruments possible to run an expansive
ground-based digital and spying network. And why do you think they would have
this cosmos of intelligence in Pakistan? To find out what journalists talk
about in Islamabad’s coffee corners? Of course, to keep timely and deep tabs on
our nuclear capability, among many other things.
This is not surprising. All countries do
this. Americans do this more than others, perhaps because of the nature of
their role in the world or perhaps because of their way of working. So there is
nothing new in this jar as far as US actions are concerned. What is amazing is
that the Americans had an official sanction (which we call facilities) from
Islamabad to do this. We welcomed them as they spread their wings and enhanced
and deepened the roots of their dicey network just like we allowed Blackwater
to move in with its massive presence. Now that we are immersing ourselves in
self-praise for ‘taking a stand’ we are being totally hollow and hypocritical.
The real story is not that we have withdrawn these facilities from the
Americans; the real story is that we had given these facilities to a power that
has, like all big powers, a track record of using diplomatic covers to carry
out undercover operations.
The most disconcerting aspect of the
present spat is that we have learnt nothing from our past experiences and are
happy finding refuge in another bout of accidental nationalism that is driven
by events beyond our control and defined by momentary fits that alternate
between anger and submission. In the immediate past, we have seen this
accidental nationalism at work after the Salala and Angoor Ada attacks; after
the OBL operation; during the Raymond Davis episode; and repeatedly after drone
attacks (though we choose to be angry or quiet, depending on who is getting
killed on our soil.) In all these events, we had the same cycle of ‘get them
out of our hair’ to ‘let’s cool it’, leading to ‘back to normal concessionary
behaviour’. We heard deafening roars of ‘you can’t do this to us’ to informal
agreements struck in silence to ‘get on with life as before.’
In the more distant past, we see Ayub Khan
having served the most vital cold-war objectives of Washington to discover
national dignity rather late in the day. Ditto Ziaul Haq who, towards the end
of his oppressive career as US pivot in South Asia, thought of creating
‘balance in engagement with Washington.’ General Pervez Musharraf has been
different. He started off as a friend and continues to be a friend, and therefore
is thriving. Benazir Bhutto lobbied in the US to re-enter national politics and
Nawaz Sharif under domestic duress, Kargil or impending dislodgement from
power, ran to Washington for audience. Asif Ali Zardari was fond of giving free
advice to the Americans and had a love for one-on-one meetings without
From Shaukat Aziz to Moeen Qureshi to a
long list of our finance ministers and other important members of the ruling
establishment, generations have been the voice of America in Pakistan. From
settling families in the US to running businesses in the land of opportunity,
the governors of Pakistan have been and continue to be diabolically bipolar in
dealing with Washington. They dream of America, offer their services, allow
this land to become Washington’s base of operations and then suddenly when an
event wakes them up to the glory of independence and they start to sing the
anthem of honour and dignity.
If this system had any honour or any
dignity, it would have formed a commission on omission and commission spread
over decades in allowing Americans free access to our inner sanctum. It would
have asked for details of commitments that that we fulfilled for Washington and
the rate at which we charged them for these tasks. However, rest assured, we
won’t do that.
We would rather give out a press release,
sounding so proper and dignified and honourable in our conduct and quoting
conventions and best international practices – forgetting totally how
self-incriminating we come across when we admit what all the US diplomats were
allowed here and how Washington had always had these special passes from us in
its back pocket. If the Americans have indulged themselves in our land on
account of our concessions, compromises and weaknesses, the blame isn’t theirs.
Any country would lap up these opportunities. The blame is with the culprits
who sat in their easy chairs and signed on these concessions of shame in the
present and in the past. Catch them. But that won’t happen. That is tough. That
is where the truth is. That is where the crime is. And no one is interested in
solving the real crime.
IN order to defeat the forces of violence,
terrorism, extremism and militancy, the state must invest substantially in the
justice system. This is a precondition for resolving disputes, guaranteeing
security of contracts and ensuring that people look to the state and not to
outside interest groups for social, economic and political protection.
The bottom line of the recently held eighth
Judicial Conference in Islamabad was that the state cannot afford to falter
further and its dangerous drift towards lawlessness and violent extremism must
be arrested through the ascendancy of the rule of law, a culture of tolerance
and ensuring justice. Many speakers at the conference emphasised long-term
measures to improve the criminal justice system.
The void created due to poor governance and
ineffectiveness of civilian law-enforcement agencies was filled by the armed
forces and its affiliated intelligence apparatus, which led to a militarisation
of the internal security strategy. The moot decried the phenomenon of enforced
disappearances and extrajudicial killings, stressing that “custodial killings
are a crime and those guilty of committing it should be prosecuted as
The deliberations of professional experts
at the conference produced very sound recommendations in the shape of a
declaration. Its implementation will be a huge challenge in an environment
beset with the coercive mindset of certain state institutions. However, the
best feature of the debate amongst the judges, jurists, academia and
practitioners was the inclusion of pragmatic and practical steps that do not
violate due process. Human rights, dignity and protection of life and liberty
of citizens are inviolable fundamental principles that the state cannot be
allowed to abandon.
The bottom line at the recent Judicial
Conference was that the state cannot afford to falter further.
The Islamabad Declaration for Justice
includes several recommendations for the police, prosecution, prisons, courts,
lawyers and other key components of the state. Here are some for justice sector
practitioners. All crime scenes should be properly secured, forensically
examined and extensively photographed as soon as possible. If investigating
officers do not properly collect evidence and investigate crimes, their failure
or negligence should be recorded as a red entry in their professional record or
personal files, and stringent disciplinary action should be initiated against
The declaration, while stressing the
importance of depoliticisation, says the police is meant to “be specialised,
held accountable; should have operational autonomy, functional specialisation —
in investigation, to better serve the community”.
Rejecting a proposal recommending
admissibility of evidence in terrorism cases recorded through a confessional
statement before a supervisory police officer, the moot, however, suggested
that where “witnesses may be vulnerable, mechanisms be developed to ensure
recording of evidence promptly and concealment of the identity of witnesses, if
necessary. Testimony of such witnesses may also be recorded electronically from
a location where the witness feels secure”. This needs to be followed in
high-profile cases of terrorism.
The suggestion to develop SOPs with the
help of experts to guide law-enforcement agencies’ responses to terrorist
attacks is the need of the hour. The CTDs of police, civil armed forces and the
army school in Kharian have already developed these modus operandi.
Implementation of such professional responses should be stressed.
Another proposal, especially on the eve of
the soon-to-be-held national elections, calls upon strict enforcement of the
Anti-Terrorism Act by calling upon the state to act against terrorists and
banned terrorist organisations by not permitting them to hold meetings or
propagate their views. Those identified as members of such outfits must not be
allowed to contest elections and instead be prosecuted in accordance with the
ATA. In fact, they can be effectively dealt with under the ATA provisions by
restricting their movements, freezing their bank accounts and assets, stopping
them from disseminating hate speech and detaining them if they violate these
terms. Unlike in 2013, the state must show its resolve against militancy during
the election campaigns.
It has also been suggested that those under
trial or convicted for terrorist acts must be “weaned away from the extremist
ideology espoused by them”. Incarcerated militants run their show from behind
bars through mobile phones and messengers, which must be effectively curbed.
Linked with this is the recommendation that hardened criminals should not be
kept with first-time offenders. Prisons should not become nurseries for
breeding more criminals.
The declaration reiterates one the main
objectives of NAP, that “to counter extremist ideology a counterterrorism
narrative must be developed and disseminated”. Nacta has done well recently to
come up with a counter-extremism strategy document after extensive
consultations with relevant stakeholders. Its efficacy will be tested in the
coming weeks and months to challenge the extremists’ narrative by not allowing
the writ of the state to be undermined.
The relevant stakeholders responsible for
security, justice and rule of law cannot and must not operate in silos. They
should dare to share the common cause of peace and order in society. However,
citizens’ fundamental rights of life, liberty, freedom and dignity should not
be sacrificed in the process.
It is high time that parliament, executive
and judiciary fulfilled their constitutional obligations to ensure that a
long-term rule of law road map is developed for sustainable reforms in the
The following six-point framework for this
road map may be considered: one, a whole-of-government approach, entailing
political ownership and collaborative strategic partnership of all
justice-sector stakeholders. Two, every component of the criminal justice
administration is vital and cannot be ignored at the cost of the others.
Three, the rule of law road map should be
based on the partnership of state and society. All elements of national power
are at the service of citizens. Four, gender equality and women empowerment,
and the rights of the disadvantaged, should be the enduring principle. Five,
independence of judiciary has to be honoured for the ultimate objective of
justice for all. Finally, all state institutions must operate within the
constitutional framework where there is no ambiguity in the letter and spirit
of governance, and in the concept of a neutral umpire.
WE sure have come a long way from the bad
old days of ‘go Baba go’ slogans in parliament to the Chinese e-commerce giant
Alibaba’s acquisition of our very own Daraz.com. For those of us whose
introduction to the World Wide Web was through a baba of another kind, this is
a truly positive development, with much economic potential.
We don’t tire of reminding ourselves that
we are a young nation with a huge segment poised to enter the job market and
with an equally large chunk getting ready to join the workforce. While
economists will argue that growth without jobs is possible, there is no way to
keep two million youngsters, who become eligible for work every year, out of
trouble without giving them opportunities for employment.
In a world of less government controls on
public expenditure, no government can provide jobs to everyone. Since growth is
supposed to be private sector-led, it is imperative that both federal and
provincial policies are business-friendly, geared towards private-public
partnership and aimed at entrepreneurship instead of turning state-owned
enterprises into employment exchanges for party cadres.
It is encouraging to note that provinces
are setting up technology incubation centres; some are also enabling the youth
to access seed money for start-ups. However, the private sector’s presence in
the field of venture capital and angel funds is negligible if not outright
disappointing. The Daraz success story is underwritten by Germany’s Rocket
Internet. Nothing wrong, but one would want our rocket-scientist investors to
think beyond manipulating the stock market and launching golf cities in
We Need To Create Our Own Versions Of Alibaba.
The jamborees held in the provinces in the
name of information technology events too need to show more for the millions of
dollars they get the foreign donors to spend on them. More often than not,
these are eyewash events for party leaders, floating from one gala to another
amid the tumultuous applause of party workers and adulating hordes of diplomats
and donors. There is no information as to how many start-ups come up as a result
of these events. How many ideas attract crowd sourcing? How many jobs were
created? So far it has sadly been a case of ‘he came, she saw, some danced, and
they went away’.
Without getting into the merits and
demerits of impulsive spending that comes with the turf, the numbers — running
into billions of rupees on a single day, our version of Black Friday —
associated with e-commerce are encouraging. And this while it is still mostly
cash-on-delivery mode of payment. Imagine what the scale could be and the
expansion and jobs to go with it, if e-payments through credit/debit cards were
This leads one to ask, what are the
regulators and enablers in promotion this and promotion that bureaus doing?
What are the tech developers in the private sector, unburdened by the
public-sector bureaucracy up to? Why are these payment gateways so difficult to
create and run that we cannot switch to more e-payments? What needs to happen
for more mobile payments penetration in Pakistan? Are stakeholders like the
Pakistan Software Houses Association, National Information Technology Board and
its provincial variants, the Board of Investment, Pakistan Software Export
Board, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Federation of Pakistan Chambers
of Commerce and Industry even talking to each other to boost e-commerce and a
We need to come together to help create our
own versions of Alibaba if we do not want our streets to throw up another Baba
Ladla. Though the literature on the National Counter Terrorism Authority
website pays scant attention to the political economy of militancy and the
confluence of extremism and organised crime, a more tenacious read of
sub-sections like the ‘National Counter Extremism Policy Guidelines’ does make
passing references eg “it is clear that over the past seventy years material
progress and economic development leading to employment opportunities in the
tribal areas, large parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have remained
well below those available in the more developed areas of the country” and “in
the less developed parts of the country, private-sector investment is not
Similarly, under the ‘Strategic Planning’
section, the same document notes the importance of employment generation
everywhere in the country through education, particularly through vocational
and technical training.
The fight against extremism and militancy,
and socioeconomic progress need not present a chicken and egg conundrum. They
can go hand in hand. All citizens need to feel they have a stake in the system
and a fair chance of getting ahead in life through hard work and innovation.
Alas! For now, the public imagination seems to have been captured more by the
ladla debate and ‘Baba Rehmat’ than Alibaba and jobs.