Politics in Pakistan Army & Democracy

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The army generals are in charge of Pakistan; they have a firm grip over defense and security policies foreign affairs, and internal matters. There had been a struggle between the army and Nawaz Sharif for quite some time. During his second term as prime minister in the early 1990s, Sharif attempted to remove a military chief but instead had to resign himself. In 1999, Sharif replaced then army chief Pervez Musharraf,but army commanders launched a coup against Sharif, and Musharraf came to power. By 2016 Sharif faced much the same dilemma..

Pakistan’s political system is broken: its political parties are ineffective, functioning for decades as instruments of two families the Bhuttos and the Sharifs, two clans, both corrupt. The Bhutto-Zardari axis may be considered “left leaning,” while the Sharif brothers may be considered “right leaning.” The Sharifs are much closer to Pakistan’s military, and to Pakistan’s Muslim fundamentalists. Punjabi, the Sharifs represent Pakistan’s major ethnic bloc, and the devout Sunni Sharif has an advantage over the Bhuttos, who have Shiite ties.

Pakistan held successful elections in February 2008 and has a coalition goverment .Voting in Pakistan is intensely personal, with parties gathering votes primarily through allegiance to an individual candidate who is either a feudal or has a proven ability to deliver services. Pakistan is a developing country with some modern facilities in major cities but limited in outlying areas. The infrastructure of areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) regions were devastated by an October 8, 2005, earthquake and have not yet been fully rebuilt. Massive flooding in 2010 destroyed infrastructure throughout the Indus River valley.

Pakistan continues to face extraordinary challenges on the security and law enforcement front. The country has suffered greater military, law enforcement, and civilian casualties in fighting extremism and terrorism than almost any other country. In the midst of this difficult security situation, Pakistan’s civilian government remains weak, ineffectual, and corrupt.

Pakistan’s long term stability depends more and more upon the government’s willingness to confront difficult economic policy choices it has long sought to avoid. Pakistan must begin to address a breadth of economic challenges that would overwhelm many emerging economies: overhauling the tax infrastructure, eliminating over $4 billion in circular debt in its energy sector, altering revenue sharing agreements among the provinces and the Federal Government, reversing a contraction in consumer credit and expanding financial access, removing price controls in commodity markets, preventing a crisis in water distribution, and breaking Pakistan’s dependence on external financial support.

A number of extremist groups within Pakistan continue to target US citizens and other Western interests and Pakistani officials. Terrorists have demonstrated a willingness and capability to attack targets where U.S. citizens are known to congregate or visit. Terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, bombings — including vehicle-borne explosives and improvised explosive devices — assassinations, carjackings, assaults, and kidnappings. Pakistani military forces are currently engaged in a campaign against extremist elements across many areas of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province, formerly known as Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP). In response to this campaign, militants have increased attacks against both civilian and goverment targets in Pakistan’s cities and in late 2010 launched several coordinated attacks against Pakistani government and civilian targets, especially in Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies.

By 2011 children of the country’s leading political figures were stepping out of their parents’ shadows and into the public realm. Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif and wife of PML-N MNA Capt (Retd) Safdar, made her political debut in November 2011 while addressing a women’s convention. The 38-year-old defended her family against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan’s ‘asset declaration’ campaign. Defending her father, Maryam said had Nawaz completed his second term, he would have made Pakistan an economic power at par with Malaysia, Turkey and Singapore. Nawaz Sharif had groomed Member of the Provincial Assembly Hamza Shahbaz [Hamza Sharif], son of the Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, for a future political role. Hamza, 40, was rocked by a succession of scandals. He was alleged to have amassed billions through speculative trading in the poultry industry. His problems were compounded when Ayesha Ahad Malik claimed she was Hamza’s legitimate wife. Maryam’s stepping out for her family and taking on a political role suggested Nawaz Sharif was not happy with the conduct and performance of Hamza Shahbaz. PML-N observers were of the view that Maryam was a far better option than Hamza Shahbaz.

The only son of assassinated former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto told hundreds of thousands of supporters on December 27, 2012, the fifth anniversary of his mother’s death, that he would carry forward her legacy, an appearance designed to anoint him as a political heir. “I am the heir to the martyr,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 24, told the crowd in the southern province of Sindh, referring to his mother and to his grandfather, the founder of the current ruling party who was hanged by a former military ruler. “If you kill one Bhutto, there will be a Bhutto in every house Bhutto was joined by hundreds of high-ranking officials, including the current president, his father Asif Zardari, to commemorate his mother’s killing in a gun and suicide attack during a 2007 political campaign rally. He is still not old enough to contest the elections scheduled for spring 2013 – the minimum age is 25. Bhutto, who has his mother’s good looks, would only turn 25 in September 2013.

On 11 May 2013, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections, and Nawaz Sharif became prime minister for the third time. The election marked the first time since independence in 1947 that one elected goverment completed its term and peacefully transferred power to another. Independent observers and some political parties, however, raised concerns about election irregularities. Formal adjudication of challenges of disputed election results was weak and the high courts did not meet statutorily prescribed deadlines for adjudication in the majority of cases.

Violence, abuse, and social and religious intolerance by militant organizations and other nongovernmental actors contributed to a culture of lawlessness in some parts of the country, particularly the provinces of Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP, formerly known as the North West Frontier Province), and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Militant and terrorist bombings in all four provinces and in the FATA resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, during the year 2013 terrorist and extremist attacks and operations to combat insurgency resulted in 4,369 deaths, of which nearly 2,413 were civilians, more than 544 were security forces, and more than 1,412 were terrorists or insurgents.

Discontent with the Sharif government grew in 2014 because of nationwide power shortages that have crippled economic activities in Pakistan. Moreover, critics said that a lack of clarity on how to tackle a deadly Islamist insurgency at home and reported differences with the military in terms of dealing with neighboring Afghanistan and India are primary sources of civil-military tensions.

In June 2014 prominent cleric-turned-politician Tahir-ul Qadri returned to Pakistan, vowing to organize anti-government protests. Canada-based Tahir-ul Qadri pledged a “peaceful revolution against a corrupt democracy.” But the sudden homecoming fueled speculation that Pakistan’s powerful military may be using him as a proxy in efforts to sideline the political goverment Widely known as a pro-army cleric, Qadri’s  Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) is one of the country’s best organized political parties. Its base of support is rooted in Qadri’s large following from the vast network of mosques and religious centers he set up across Pakistan. Qadri’s ability to quickly organize mass rallies and openly denounce the civilian Goverment has long been seen as evidence that he is backed by the army as a way of sidelining civilian leaders.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan demanded a full audit of the votes cast in the 2013 parliamentary elections, claiming that rigging was conducted to turn seven million votes into 15 million votes. He told a news conference on July 15 that ‘mid-term election wouldn’t derail democracy’. The PTI was pretty vague about what it would regard as victory — mid-term polls or a full audit of the May 2013 election results as was being done in Afghanistan. He called for a tsunami protest march on August 14, the Pakistan Independence Day. The Azad parade with regard to the Independence Day would be held in the morning whereas the ‘million march’ would reach Islamabad in the evening. Imran Khan knows that if Nawaz Sharif got his full term, it would be difficult for Khan and his PTI to win the next elections in 2018.

Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader, downplayed the impression that differences within the opposition might lead to mid-term Elections The PPP is the biggest opposition group in the National Assembly, followed by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Tahir-ul-Qadri, leader of the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT), rejected Imran Khan’s demand of mid-term elections. “I am against the system of which Imran Khan is also a part.” he said, adding that revolution was the only remedy of the problems of the country. The Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) decided not to become a part of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) agitation campaign after differences emerged at the top level. Tahirul Qadri says he wants a complete end of this corrupt system and rulers. He will stop at nothing short of a revolution, even if it entails violence.

The PML-N camp did not appear to be in the mood to concede anything to the PTI unless forced to do otherwise by the army, which did not look likely. The Saudis appeared to be betting on Nawaz, while the Americans did not seem to have any favourites. One observer noted “Mid-term election is called when there is a serious crisis, which doesn’t exist right now except that one political party that failed to get vote as per its expectations wants it”. Even the PTI’s own coalition partner in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, Jamaat-e-Islami, is equally opposed to it.

Muhammad Ziauddin wrote 06 August 2014. that “the clash between Imran and Nawaz appears to be no more than a tussle between Punjab’s two right-of-centre political factions, one led by the Sharifs, masquerading as some kind of royalty, and the other by an autocratic Ultimatum Khan plus a couple of zeroes like the media-manufactured Maulana Inqilab Qadri, the two-some Chaudhries at the fag end of their political careers and the loudmouth- loser, Sheikh Rashid.”

An editorial in the Daily Times on 07 August 2014 noted that “The complexity of the political and economic situation has been completely ignored by politically immature figures such as Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri. The Azadi (independence) march and the Inqilab (revolution) march of both respectively, meant to derail the democratic process only to revive it later with a fresh mid-term election or with a new system are only muddying the water instead of helping to resolve problems…”

Political bickering over alleged rigging in the 2013 elections further eroded whatever economic stability the country was aspiring to. Investment, both domestic and foreign, dwindled due to terrorism and the energy crisis.

Wonders took place after two previous long marches, the one threatened by Benazir Bhutto in 1993 and the second sponsored by Nawaz Sharif in 2009 for restoration of dysfunctional superior court judges. At that time, the PPP-led federal government had conceded to Sharif’s demands as soon as the mammoth crowd had reached Gujranwala. That deal was struck through intervention of the top general of that time. Confusing signals came from the PTI that they wanted a million people to join its tsunami march. Simultaneously, the lack of preparations was too obvious and open.

Not long after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) pioneer launched his Azadi March from Zaman Park, Lahore towards the government capital some 375 kilometers away, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) pioneer Dr Tahirul Qadri likewise reported to dispatch ‘Inqilab March’ (insurgency walk) from Model Town. Khan and Qadri have vowed that their supporters will camp out in Islamabad until Sharif agreed to step down and new elections are held. The government quarters believed Imran Khan’s less field hardened, urban crowd of 200,000 comprising mostly youth, would get tired and bored within 24 to 36 hours of the sit-in despite all the political rhetoric and emotions being shown by his camp.

The presence of Chaudhrys of Gujrat in the Qadri camp was also a dividing factor, as Imran’s PTI did not wish to carry them along, even when the most important Sharif hater of present times, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, was hell-bent on doing so. The Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) decided not to join the PTI either on the way to Islamabad or after reaching there. Instead, the PAT planned to reach the federal capital on August 16, a day after the PTI.

Thousands of opposition protesters rallied in Pakistan’s capital 15 August 2014 to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The protests in Islamabad, led by opposition leader Imran Khan and Muslim cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, constituted the biggest challenge yet to Sharif’s year-old government. Khan and Qadri vowed their supporters will camp out in Islamabad until Mr. Sharif agrees to step down and new elections are announced. The unrest raised questions about Pakistan’s stability at a time when the army was waging an offensive against Pakistani Taliban militants in the country’s lawless tribal areas and when the influence of sectarian militant groups was growing. The rally failed to attract the vast crowds Khan had promised, and other opposition parties on August 18 distanced themselves from his appeal for civil disobedience.

Members of Sharif’s party suggested the protests are secretly backed by elements in the military, which had a troubled relationship with Sharif. The military was frustrated with the government, especially over the prosecution of former army chief and President Pervez Musharraf for treason. There had also been differences between the government and the army on how to handle the Pakistani Taliban. The government had insisted on peace talks but eventually the army launched an offensive.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaaf (PTI) party announced 18 august 2014 that its lawmakers have all decided to resign from the 34 seats they control in the country’s National Assembly. The party also said its lawmakers would resign from all provincial parliaments with the exception of the legislature in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, which the party controls. That announcement meant Pakistan would have to organize a raft of fresh elections.

Tens of thousands of protesters have forced their way past a barricade of shipping containers in the Pakistani capital as they marched on parliament to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Some 40,000 Pakistani riot police and paramilitaries had used the containers to seal the “Red Zone” — the diplomatic and political district of Islamabad — before the march began.

Police did not intervene 19 August 2014 when protesters broke down barricades and forced their way into the high-security “Red Zone.” The area houses the parliament and offices of the prime minister and president along with other key government buildings. In an unexpected reaction to the political tensions, Pakistan’s powerful military called for a “meaningful dialogue” to resolve the crisis. In a brief statement, it warned that the situation requires “patience, wisdom and sagacity from the all stakeholders to end the prevailing impasse.”

Pakistan’s powerful military stepped in on August 29, 2014 to act as “mediator and guarantor” to broker a deal between embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and two anti-government leaders calling for his ouster. While the army is unlikely to grab power at a time when chronic economic, security and energy challenges are facing Pakistan, some analysts did not rule out the possibility of the military’s involvement in encouraging the anti-government protests in order to retain its share in key national matters.

Pakistan’s military rejected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s claims he did not ask the army to play a role in defusing the of crippling anti-government demonstrations in the capital. Sharif came under severe criticism from pro-democracy forces in the country, largely for turning to the army in his bid to resolve what analysts saw as a crisis that needed political means to settle. Pakistan’s powerful military held an unprecedented Sunday meeting of its top commanders who said the government should immediately end the standoff peacefully.

Pakistani security forces cleared hundreds of anti-government protesters from the state television studio after they seized the building on 01 September 2014 and briefly took the channel off the air. The protesters stormed into Pakistani Television, or PTV, as it carried live coverage of the demonstrators in its offices in the capital, Islamabad. Later in the day, crowds of protesters armed with wooden clubs tried to break through police lines to push their way to the prime minister’s residence in Islamabad. Police responded by firing tear gas.

Khan and Qadri’s supporters waged months of protests calling for Sharif to step down over alleged rigging of the 2013 elections that brought him to power. Sharif refused to step down, and by mid-November 2014 protesters remained camped out around the country’s parliament. Qadri gave up and left the country, although Khan was still in Pakistan and addressing his supporters.

By December 2014 even Khan’s audience in Islamabad had dwindled to a few hundred loyalists. Khan pledged to ‘shut down’ several Pakistani cities in his campaign to force the premier to step down over claims he rigged last year’s election. Khan’s campaign was due to culminate in moves to ‘close’ the whole of Pakistan later in December.

Information Minister Pervez Rasheed said 08 December 2014 that Imran Khan’s ‘Plan C’ aimed at creating chaos had begun from Faisalabad. Imran’s ‘Plan A’ was to attack democracy, ‘Plan B’ to besiege the democracy, ‘Plan C’ to create anarchy while his ‘Plan D’ is aimed at destroying democracy. But none of the plans conceived by Imran will ever succeed, he said while addressing a press conference.

Sharif spent most of 2014 locked in disputes with the powerful military, with tens of thousands of protesters camped near the prime minister’s residence demanding that he resign. During those protests, speculation mounted that the military was considering a coup to oust Sharif. In order to keep his job, Sharif reportedly conceded foreign-policy decisions to the military.

The United Nations, the European Union, and human rights groups have deplored the government’s heavy-handed measures taken following the Pakistani Taliban’s gruesome ambush of a military-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in December 2014 that left 147 people dead, the deadliest ever attack in Pakistan. Pakistan hanged more than 300 people since lifting a moratorium on the death penalty in December 2014. Many were convicted in closed military courts, which critics say fail to meet fair trial standards.

Mumtaz Qadri was executed in February 2016 at the order of the Islamabad High Court five years after he assassinated a liberal Punjab governor over his calls to reform the country’s blasphemy laws. Thousands of hard-line Islamists rallied in the heart of the Pakistani capital for four days to denounce Qadri’s execution and to call for the introduction of strict Shari’a law in Pakistan. The sit-in protest ended on 31 March 2016 after protest leaders said they were given assurances that controversial blasphemy laws would not be amended and more than 1,000 Islamists detained by police during the protest would be released. The government, however, denied it had acceded to any of the protesters’ demands.

The PM has found himself in a difficult situation following the April 2016 “revelations” made by the so-called Panama Papers. Leaked documents show that three of the prime minister’s children had links with offshore companies that owned properties in London. One clear sign of the political pressure felt by the Sharif family from the Panama Paper scandal was that the family reportedly discussed the possibility of the prime minister stepping down for two three months while an independent commission conducted an inquiry. One possible replacement could be Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar. In case the PM’s post needs to be filled until the 2018 elections then getting Shahbaz Sharif or Ishaq Dar elected as members of the National Assembly and then getting them elected PM was also considered by the family.

 

Education Development in Pakistan

The article 25-A of Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan says,

“The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such a manner as may be determined by law”.

Pakistan achieved independence from British colonial rule on August 14, 1947. At independence 85% of the population was illeterate , and the condition of women and backward areas was even worse.

National Education Conference (1947)

One of the first steps towards education development in Pakistan was the National Education Conference in 1947. The Quaid-e-Azam, in his message to the Conferences said,

“There is no doubt that the future of our State will and must greatly depend upon the type of education we give to our children, and the way in which we bring them up as future citizens of Pakistan ….. We should not forget that we have to compete with the world which is moving very fast in this direction.”

National Plan of Educational Development
(1951-57)

In 1951, a conference for Educational Development was held to adopt six-year plan for the period 1951-57. Towards the Educational Development the principal constraint identified was that of lack of trained teachers. It was studied that about 50% of the teachers in primary schools were untrained.

The plan proposed to establish over 24,000 new primary schools, and the expansion of primary schools would require over 86,000 additional teachers.

However, the efforts were failed to produce the desired results.

 

First Five Year Plan (1955-60)

The recommendations and programmes of the six year national plan of educational development were taken into consideration by the planning board of the government.

It proclaimed that “a system of universal primary education is imperative”. A system of free and compulsory primary education for both, boys and girls, was expected to be in place in about twenty years, i.e. by about 1975 to 1980. The Plan proposed to add 4000 new schools.

In order to achieve various targets set during the plan period, a sum of Rs.580,70 million was allocated for the education sector of the plan.

 

National Education Commission 1959

On 30th December 1958, led by the Chief Secretary, Mr. S. M. Sharif, National Education Commission was established.

On 5th January 1959 the Commission started to prepared education policy. On Aug 26, 1959, the Commission submitted its report covers 350 pages. The Commission reports had the following key points:-

Commission emphasized the importance on higher education, vocational education, primary education, secondary education, adult education, education, physical education, religious education, the arts, education of children with disabilities, educational institutions, and of military training.

Training of teachers and their prosperity measures were suggested.

Duration of BA / BSc courses increased from two years to three years was recommended. For passing exam percentage as a whole 50% and for pass in individual 40% marks were suggested. Fifty percent of the total number of higher education appointed exam pass forty percent of the recommended numbers. Quran-e-Pak education was compulsory. Urdu declared as a compulsory subject from six classes to degree level. Duration of initial education suggested as eight year.

The National Education Commission recommendations were useful but due to the conditions of country and the situation of resources they were not applied well.

 

Second Five Year Plan (1960-65)

Th second five-year plan was developed by the planning commission. It was recommended that compulsory schooling for the age group six to eleven should be provided within a period of ten years and within another five years for the eleven to fourteen years age groups. Intermediate classes were suggested to transfer from the jurisdiction of the universities to the board of secondary education. The course of study for the B.A/Bsc extended from two to three years. In engineering and medical colleges the duration of the degree course was suggested four years. At higher secondary stage, teaching of science subjects was given much emphasis. The financial outlay for this plan was Rs 463 million. For Federal and Provinces, the Public service commission was suggested separated.

 

Third Five Year Plan (1965-70)

It recognized “the concept of education as a vital national investment and a major determination of the nation’s economic growth.”

The Third Plan aimed at widening the base of primary education and proposed to increase the primary enrolment rate from 45 to 70 per cent in 1970. This implied additional enrolment of 2.8 million children in primary schools by 1970. To this end, 42,500 new schools were proposed to be set up in West Pakistan.

UFO Entering Interdimensional Portal Above CERN – HOAX

On 7 December 2015, the YouTube Channel “Section 51” published a video purportedly showing a UFO entering an inter-dimensional portal. An accompanying article claimed that the event was filmed in Geneva, Switzerland, near the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.Geneva, Switzerland. US tourists filmed UFO/strange orb entering Interdimensional Portal in the sky of Geneva, just over CERN area.

The video soon became fodder for publications such as Yahoo News, The Mirror, and The Daily Mail, all of whom reported that the clip had stirred online debate about the authenticity of the video.
While it’s true that some internet commentators are claiming that a UFO really did enter an inter-dimensional portal over the Large Hadron Collider, that simply isn’t the case. This is a fake video created by a YouTube channel that specializes in hoax videos.
Section 51 has previously published fake videos purportedly showing “ancient pyramids in Antarctica,” a “giant UFO over parliament”. Section 51 is so prolific that it even promises to provide “new UFO sightings every Monday & Thursday.”cern-hoax-ufo-portal.png

Planes race to fresh MH370 search zone after ‘credible new lead’

PERTH: A multinational fleet of planes and ships raced Friday to a fresh search zone after a “credible new lead” that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was flying faster than first thought before it plunged into the remote Indian Ocean.

Ten aircraft from six countries – Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States – diverted to an area 1,100 kilometres (685 miles) northeast of where they have been looking for a week, far off western Australia.

Five Chinese ships and an Australian naval vessel were also steaming to the new zone of interest after the weather cleared following the suspension of the air search Thursday due to thunderstorms and high winds, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

“The new information is based on continuing analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost (with the missing plane),” AMSA said.

“It indicated that the aircraft was travelling faster than previously estimated, resulting in increased fuel usage and reducing the possible distance the aircraft travelled south into the Indian Ocean.” The new area is closer to land, meaning planes can spend more time searching before having to return to refuel, and the weather is expected to be better there.

The new search area “has moved out of the Roaring Forties (strong westerly winds), which creates very adverse weather frequently”, AMSA chief John Young told reporters in Canberra.

Satellite sightings of unidentified debris in recent days have raised hopes of finding wreckage from the Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board after veering sharply off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and flying thousands of miles southwards.

Malaysia believes the plane was deliberately redirected by someone on board, but nothing else is known.

Thailand Thursday reported a sighting of 300 floating objects. Japan also announced a satellite analysis indicated around 10 square floating objects, although it was not clear if these were in the zones the new search would focus on.

Japan’s Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Centre’s study showed the objects it sighted on Wednesday were up to eight metres in length and four metres wide.

Jiji Press cited an official at the office as saying they were “highly likely” to be from the plane.

The Thai and Japanese sightings came after satellite data from Australia, China and France had also shown floating objects possibly related to flight MH370. But nothing has so far been retrieved despite the huge multinational search.

“This is a credible new lead and will be thoroughly investigated today,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said of the revised search area.

The updated advice was provided by an international investigation team in Malaysia, with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau determining “that this is the most credible lead to where debris may be located”.

The new search area measures about 319,000 square kilometres (127,600 sq miles) and is around 1,850 kilometres west of Perth. Australia is re-positioning its satellites to focus on it.

 

Black box deadline

 


 

As the search intensifies, the United States said it was sending a second P-8 Poseidon – an advanced surveillance plane – to Perth.

 

Thursday’s suspension of the air search caused mounting concern as the clock ticks on the tracking signal emitted by the plane’s “black box” of flight data.

 

It will expire after roughly 30 days, around April 8.

 

The US Pacific Fleet has moved a Towed Pinger Locator hydrophone and Bluefin-21 Side-scan sonar to Perth, to try to locate the box as soon as an approximate crash site is established.

 

“It’s critical to continue searching for debris so we can reverse-forecast the wind, current and sea state since March 8th to recreate the position where MH370 possibly went into the water.” We’ve got to get this initial position right prior to deploying the Towed Pinger Locator since the MH370’s black box has a limited battery life and we can’t afford to lose time searching in the wrong area,” said Commander Tom Moneymaker, US 7th Fleet oceanographer.

 

Seeking closure, anguished families of those aboard are desperately awaiting solid evidence that might unlock one of aviation’s greatest riddles.

 

Until then, several of them refuse to accept the Malaysian government’s announcement – based on a complex British analysis of satellite data – that the plane was lost at sea.

 

Two-thirds of the passengers were from China and relatives there have accused the Malaysian government and airline of a cover-up and of botching their response.

 

In a letter to Beijing’s special envoy in Kuala Lumpur, they denounced Malaysia’s handling of the search and asked the Chinese government to set up its own “investigation office”.

 

A committee set up by relatives has also been in contact with US lawyers about a possible lawsuit against Malaysia Airlines.

 

“We question Malaysia’s motivations in misleading and delaying so as to miss the best moment to find MH370,” the relatives wrote in the letter to special envoy Zhang Yesui Thursday, blasting Kuala Lumpur’s behaviour as “irresponsible” and “inhumane”.

 

“We earnestly request that China establish an investigation office into MH370.”

Nelson Mandela A timeline of his life

July 18, 1918

Rolihlahla Mandela is born in Mvezo, a small village in the Transkei, a former British protectorate in the south. His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was a chief of the Thembu people, a subdivision of the Xhosa nation. He receives his English name, Nelson, from a teacher at age 7. During his life he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata which translates to ‘Father’.

1938

Mandela enters the University of Fort Hare. Two years later, he is expelled for participating in a student strike and moves to Johannesburg to avoid an arranged marriage.

1941

Mandela completes work for his bachelors’ degree by correspondence and studies law at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

1944

Mandela marries Evelyn Ntoko Mase. The couple go on to have four children, but because of his political activities, the marriage falls apart and they divorce in 1958.

That same year, Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu help form the Youth League of the African National Congress. The league’s formation marks a shift toward a mass movement. The league’s manifesto irks white leaders for it’s black nationalalist language.

1948

The National Party comes into power in South Africa setting the stage for apartheid, a system of strict legal and racial segregation dominated by whites.

Mandela becomes national secretary of the ANC Youth League. In 1950, he becomes its president.

June 26, 1952

ANC’s Defiance Campaign opens. Mandela and 51 others break curfew regulations as their first act of defiance against apartheid.

In December Mandela and Tambo open a law practice in Johannesburg, marking the formation of the first black law partnership in the country.

Dec. 6, 1956

Mandela is arrested and charged high treason, along with 156 other political leaders who call for a nonracial state in South Africa.

June 1958

While battling charges of treason, Mandela weds or a second time. His wife, Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela, is a social worker.

March 21, 1960

Police open fire on a demonstration killing 69 black protesters in Sharpeville. In the aftermath South Africa declares a state of emergency the ANC is outlawed.

March 29, 1961

Mandela and his co-defendants case are acquitted after a four-year trial for treason. For the next 17 months, he lives as a fugitive and becomes commander of the ANC’s newly formed military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). But he never sees combat.

 

Aug. 5, 1962

Mandela is arrested after returning to South Africa from a trip abroad. At the time of his arrest, he had been living underground for 17 months. He is convicted of leaving the country illegally and incitement to strike, and is sentenced to five years in prison.

In November he is convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

July 11, 1963

While Mandela is in prison, police raid the ANC’s underground headquarters at a farmhouse in Rivonia, outside Johannesburg, and seize documents outlining a planned guerrilla campaign.

June 12, 1964

Mandela and seven others are sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela is taken to Robben Island Prison, where he will spend the next 18 years.

June 16, 1976

Thousands of students take to the streets of Soweto to oppose the use of Afrikaans as the language of instruction in black schools. The police fire on the protesters, setting off months of violence that will leave more than 570 people dead. The uprising is considered a turning point in the history of black resistance to apartheid.

June 13, 1980

An international “Free Mandela” campaign culminates with a call for his release by the UN Security Council.

April 1982

Mandela and Sisulu are transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town.

Jan. 31, 1985

South Africa’s President P.W. Botha offers to pardon Mandela if he renounces violence. Mandela refuses saying that the government must dismantle apartheid and grant full political rights to blacks.

July 18, 1988

Mandela’s 70th birthday is observed by anti-apartheid activists worldwide. Most public commemorations in South Africa are banned.

May 17, 1989

Mandela receives his bachelor of laws degree, which he earned through correspondence study with the University of South Africa.

In July President Botha invites Mandela to his official Cape Town residence for a 45-minute talk. Mandela’s comments on his conversation with Botha are broadcast on government-run radio and television.

Oct. 15, 1989

Sisulu and four other co-defendants of Mandela are freed unconditionally by F.W. de Klerk, who replaced Botha as president in August. Some see this as the precursor to Mandela’s own release.

Feb. 2, 1990

De Klerk legalizes the ANC and 60 other organizations, vows to free all political prisoners, ends restrictions on 374 individuals and places a moratorium on hangings.

Feb. 11, 1990

Mandela is freed after 27 years in prison at the age of 71.

 

In August ANC announces an end to its guerilla campaign against apartheid.

Dec. 20, 1991

Negotiations begin to prepare an interim constitution based on full political equality. President De Klerk and Mandela trade recriminations, with Mr. de Klerk criticising Mandela for not disbanding the ANC’s inactive guerrilla operation and Mandela saying that the president “has very little idea of what democracy is.”

Oct. 15, 1993

Mandela and de Klerk share the Nobel Peace Prize for working “to peacefully end apartheid” and push South Africa toward democracy.

April 27, 1994

South African apartheid formally ends when the ANC wins a majority of the vote and Mandela, 75, casts the first legal vote of his life in an all-race election and is elected president.

May 10, 1994

Mandela is inaugurated as president of a democratic South Africa.

March 19, 1996

He divorces Winnie Mandela.

July 18, 1998

Mandela marries for a third time at the age of 80.

May 1999

Mandela steps down after choosing not to run for re-election.

June 2, 2004

He announces that he will be stepping down from public life.

June 8, 2013

Mandela is hospitalized with a lung infection and stays there three months.

Dec. 5, 2013

Mandela dies “peacefully” at the age of 95 surrounded by family. President Jacob Zuma says, “Our nation has lost its greatest son” in a televised address.

Pakistan & Afghanistan: Domestic Pressures and Regional Threats : The Role of Politics in Pakistan’s Economy

This article undertakes an in-depth case study of Pakistan to shed light on three questions. (a) How can a country that has suffered from political volatility and instability for such a long period achieve high rates of economic growth? (b) Have the periods of stable authoritarian regimes provided the wherewithal for long term economic performance and (c) Have external influences particularly the close relationship with the U.S. played the smoothing role?

Economic and social outcomes in Pakistan over the last sixty years are a mixture of paradoxes. The economic growth rate has averaged 5 percent annually since 1947—a feat achieved by very few countries. Politically, however, the interplay of religious fundamentalism, sectarianism, ethnic cleavages and regional economic disparities has made the country volatile and unstable. Various East Asian countries that were behind Pakistan in the 1960s have surged far ahead in most economic and social indicators. Pakistan has thus been unable to realize its potential.

It is usually believed that economic growth can take place only in the presence of political stability, but the Pakistani case contradicts conventional wisdom. In order to explain these paradoxes and contradictions, this article attempts to address the following questions:

  • How can a country that has suffered from political volatility and instability for such a long period achieve high economic growth?
  • Have periods characterized by stable authoritarian regimes in Pakistan provided the means for long term economic performance?
  • Have external influences, particularly the United States, played a constructive role?

Despite sharing a common historical, cultural and social milieu, Pakistan and India have pursued different paths since independence in 1947. Both countries have done reasonably well in improving their economies and reducing absolute poverty levels. India has, however, emerged as a stable and vibrant democracy while Pakistan has spent half of its post-independence years under military dictatorships and is currently struggling to quell an Islamic insurgency in the northwest part of the country. The democracy–development nexus appears to be well entrenched in the case of India, while it is faltering in Pakistan. A great deal of recent literature has suggested that China and India are the typical representatives of authoritarian and democratic regimes, but fewer attempts have been made to resolve this puzzle in the case of India and Pakistan, two countries that are more akin to each other and share a common legacy.

In order to address these questions it is useful to revisit the essential dimensions of Pakistan’s economic and political history, a history which can be divided into six distinct periods:

  • The Flat Fifties, 1947 to 1958
  • The Golden Sixties, 1958 to 1969
  • The Socialist Seventies, 1971 to 1977
  • The Revivalist Eighties, 1977 to 1988
  • The Muddling Nineties, 1988 to 1999
  • The Reforming Hundreds, 1999 to 2007

Period I: The Flat Fifties, 1947 to 19581

Pakistan came into existence as a moth-ridden country at the time of the partition of India. The British-controlled provinces of Punjab and Bengal were each divided into two parts. East Punjab and West Bengal formed part of modern-day India; West Punjab and East Bengal, along with three other provinces, together formed Pakistan. The physical separation between eastern and western Pakistan, with Indian territory in between, put Pakistan at a serious disadvantage from its inception.

The foundation of an authoritarian streak in the polity was laid fairly early in Pakistan’s history. After the death of the first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, and the ascent of bureaucrat Ghulam Mohammed to the office of Governor-General, the supremacy of politicians in the political order was lost.2 In February 1953, martial law was imposed in Lahore to quell the anti-Qadiani movement.3 Prime Minister Khwaja Nazimuddin was dismissed by the governor general. Scholar Keith Callard termed this a “governor-general’s coup.”4 He observed that three major conventions—the impartiality of the governor general, cabinet and party solidarity and the role of legislature as the maker and sustainer of government—had been destroyed or gravely weakened.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Mohammed Ali Bogra, was foisted as the new prime minister and six of the nine ministers of the dismissed cabinet joined the new government. Changing political loyalty has since become one of the main causative factors of political instability. Pelf, patronage and power have dominated the political scene.

The seeds of separation were further sown when the Muslim League lost the 1954 provincial elections in East Bengal due to a growing disaffection with the ruling political elite in West Pakistan. This elite from the Punjab province, instead of coming to grips with the grievances of East Bengal, adopted a confrontational strategy to consolidate their power by merging all four western Pakistan provinces into one province. As a result, East Pakistanis were antagonized when their province, which contained the majority population, was forced to accept parity with newly-formed West Pakistan in the Parliament. The three smaller consolidated provinces—North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Sindh and Baluchistan—also protested Punjab’s attempt to establish hegemony.

The political atmosphere was too vitiated; political instability was too acute; tensions between the different tiers of the government were so damaging; the challenge of setting up the organs of a new state was so formidable; and the influx of millions of refugees from India was too demanding. As a result, economic management took a back seat in this formative phase of Pakistan’s life.

Period II: The Golden Sixties, 1958 to 19695

Ayub Khan, the first military dictator of Pakistan, assumed complete control of the state in October 1958 and reigned over the golden period of Pakistan’s economic history. With the help of Harvard advisors, Khan vigorously implemented the Planning Commission on Economic Management and Reforms with impressive results.6

GDP growth in this decade jumped to an average annual rate of 6 percent from 3 percent in the 1950s. The manufacturing sector expanded by 9 percent annually and various new industries were set up. Agriculture grew at a respectable rate of 4 percent with the introduction of Green Revolution technology. Governance improved with a major expansion in the government’s capacity for policy analysis, design and implementation, as well as the far-reaching process of institution building.7 The Pakistani polity evolved from what political scientists called a “soft state” to a “developmental” one that had acquired the semblance of political legitimacy.8 By 1969, Pakistan’s manufactured exports were higher than the exports of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia combined.9 Though speculative, it is possible that, had the economic policies and programs of the Ayub regime continued over the next two decades, Pakistan would have emerged as another miracle economy.

However, the perception that income inequalities between the East and West had increased substantially and that wealth was concentrated in the hands of twenty-two families fuelled resentment among Bengalis who accused Ayub’s regime of reducing the East to an internal colony.10

Authoritarian regimes devoid of legitimate political power use the instruments of state power to win or maintain coalitions, build up new alliances or take coercive measures against recalcitrant individuals and groups. Ayub’s attempt to win legitimacy, introducing the Basic Democracies system, in fact caused his regime a loss of popularity and credibility. This disaffection with the military regime was exploited by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his Awami League Party. The arrest and trial of Mujibur under the Agartala conspiracy case turned him into a popular leader in East Pakistan. His six-point agenda of autonomy became the manifesto of the Awami League which swept the 1970 elections in East Pakistan with a resounding majority. The reimposition of martial law and transfer of power to the Army chief, Yahya Khan, exposed the fragility of the guided democracy system.

Yahya Khan’s reluctance to transfer power to Sheikh Mujibur, the elected majority leader, reinforced Bengali suspicion and mistrust toward the Pakistani Army and West Pakistan. The post-25 March 1971 events led to a civil war that, with India’s strong backing, ended in the emergence of the independent state of Bangladesh.11 The break-up of Pakistan had a traumatic effect on the national psyche and negated the very concept upon which Pakistan was founded. Although East Pakistan benefited from Ayub’s economic reforms, the fact that these benefits were perceived as a dispensation from a quasi-colonial military regime to its colony—East Pakistan—proved to be lethal. According to I.A. Rehman, “[The] Central Establishment decided on a trade-off between autonomy and development but this maneuver failed in East Pakistan and it is unlikely to succeed in Balochistan and the tribal areas. The lesson is: no federating unit will surrender its rights to autonomy in exchange for any development works however huge their fall out.”12

The overthrow of Ayub’s political system also reversed the economic system that had served the country so well. To outsiders, Pakistan was a model developing economy to emulate, but domestically there was a total rejection of this economic model.

Period III: The Socialist Seventies, 1971 to 197713

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took advantage of the resentment against Ayub’s economic policies and promised to restore the principles of distributive justice and equity to the forefront of Pakistan’s development strategy under the slogan of Islamic socialism.14

Bhutto’s populist policies of nationalizing industries, banks, insurance companies, educational institutions and other organizations, derailed Pakistan’s journey toward modernization and faster economic development. This setback hit Pakistan so badly that the East Asian countries that were lagging behind Pakistan in growth and economic indicators in the late 1960s not only overtook it but also became huge success stories. The oil price shock of the 1970s as well as droughts, floods and the withdrawal of external assistance did not help the situation, either. The growth rate in the 1970s fell to 3.7 percent per annum from the 6 percent recorded in the 1960s. Worst of all, the main plank on which the Bhutto government came to power—social justice—proved to be extremely weak. Income inequalities rose compared to the previous period while inflation accelerated, averaging 16 percent between 1971 to 1977, thereby hurting the poor.15 The large-scale manufacturing sector performed very sluggishly, netting a growth rate of only 3 percent, primarily sparked by vast public sector investment.

The idea that government control of the commanding heights of the economy can best spearhead industrial growth, allocate resources and invest in the activities that it considers a priority not only failed to materialize but antagonized the private sector. The lesson learned from this experience was that good populist politics are bad for the economy.16

Period IV: The Revivalist Eighties, 1977 to 198817

The overthrow of the Bhutto government by a military coup in July 1977 and the ascendancy of a right wing military leader, General Zia ul-Haq, halted the socialist experiment. Political party activity was soon banned, thereby limiting political participation to the local level only. This small liberty, however, could not mask the centralization of political power in the hands of one man.

Zia ul-Haq used religion to provide legitimacy to his takeover and subsequent rule, asserting that Islam should be a unifying force for overcoming ethnic, linguistic and other propensities prevailing in the country. Centralization and personal control over the affairs of the state thus became easy to manage under this paradigm. The nexus between the military regime and components of the religious right, such as Jamaat-e-Islami, was extended to engulf the Islamic militant groups that participated in the Afghan war against the Soviets. The roots of present Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan can be traced to this period.

Zia benefited from participating in the campaign to overthrow the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, as large amounts of military and economic assistance from the United States flowed into Pakistan. The long-term costs were, however, colossal. The spread of Kalashnikovs and drug culture, ethnic and sectarian violence, the smuggling of goods and the emergence ofjihadist parties can all be traced back to the 1980s.18 Madrassahs and training camps for militant groups proliferated during this period. State laws were modified, new Shariah courts were established and the educational curriculum was revised to inculcate a more hard-line or radical Islamic way of life.

Economic conditions, however, did improve: GDP grew at 6.6 percent annually, with agriculture at 4 percent and the manufacturing sector at 9 percent. Fiscal deficits, however, widened to 8 percent of GDP despite a decline in development expenditure. Domestic borrowing to finance these deficits did not weaken growth immediately but had serious repercussions for public finances and macro-economic stability in the 1990s. As a consequence, Pakistan had to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance in 1988.

Period V: The Muddling Nineties, 1988 to 199919

Nine different governments (four interim-appointed, four elected and one following the military coup of October 1999) ruled Pakistan in this period. Like the 1950s, when eight successive governments were formed, this period saw heightened political instability. Despite far-reaching reforms introduced in 1991, economic indicators once again fell sharply in contrast with the 1980s for several reasons other than political instability.

The failure to implement successive agreements led to the loss of Pakistan’s credibility among the international financial community. The confidence of local investors eroded when the foreign currency deposits of Pakistanis were suddenly frozen. Foreign investors were unhappy as all the power purchase agreements were re-opened and criminal action was initiated against Hubco, Pakistan’s largest foreign-owned power generation company. The GDP growth rate decelerated to 4 percent. While the agriculture sector recorded higher output, growth of the manufacturing sector was low. The investment ratio fell to 13.9 percent during 1998 and 1999 as foreign savings, which formerly bridged the gap between national savings and investment, dried up in May 1998.

The persistence of fiscal (above 7 percent of GDP) and external deficits (4 to 5 percent of GDP) led to the accumulation of large levels of domestic and external debt throughout the decade. Development expenditures took a major hit and GDP dropped to 3 percent from 8 percent in the first half of the 1980s. Social sector expenditures were squeezed to accommodate higher debt service and defense expenditures. Total external debt levels became unsustainable, rising from $20 billion in 1990 to $43 billion (47.6 percent of GDP) in 1998. Exports stagnated and Pakistan lost its market share in a buoyant world trade environment. The incidence of poverty nearly doubled from 18 to 34 percent, and the unemployment rate rose as well. Social indicators lagged behind other countries in the region. The Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Programme ranked Pakistan in one of its lowest development categories.20

At least four main factors determined Pakistan’s economic performance in the 1990s. First, political instability and frequent changes in the government followed by a reversal of decisions taken by the preceding government created an environment of uncertainty and a lack of predictability. Second, there was widespread misgovernance by the two major political parties ruling the country during this period. Personal, parochial and party loyalty considerations dominated decisionmaking while institutions were bypassed. Third, there was a lack of political will to make timely and difficult decisions. The cumulative effect of avoiding and postponing such decisions, coupled with the failure to correct the distortions at the right time, proved too costly. Fourth, there were unforeseen exogenous shocks, such as the nuclear testing in May 1998 that shook investors’ confidence, accelerated the flight of capital, led to the imposition of economic sanctions and disrupted external economic assistance.

An interesting paradox is that the economic policies of both major political parties, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), who took turns ruling during the 1990s, were similar and could not be faulted. Both parties were committed to deregulation, privatization, liberalization, greater reliance on market forces and other economic reforms. The supporters of PML and PPP argued that the dismissal of the Nawaz Sharif government in 1993 and of the Benazir government in 1996 did not allow positive trends to persist. It can only be speculated whether the economic output for the decade would have been better had these governments completed their terms in office. Poor governance would have been largely offset by the continuity in policies, programs and projects. The stop-and-go cycle faced by Pakistani economic actors imposed enormous costs in terms of macroeconomic instability.

Period VI: The Reforming Hundreds, 1999 to 200721

In October 1999, the incoming military government was faced with four main challenges: heavy external and domestic indebtedness; high fiscal deficit and low revenue generation capacity; rising poverty and unemployment; and a weak balance of payments with stagnant exports.

The country faced a serious external liquidity problem as its reserves were barely sufficient to buy three weeks of imports and could not possibly service its short-term debt obligations. Workers’ remittances decreased by $500 million, foreign investment flows dwindled by $600 million, official transfers turned negative and Pakistan had no access to private capital markets. In the domestic sector, the declining tax-to-GDP ratio and inflexible expenditure structure, whereby 80 percent of revenues were preempted to debt servicing and defense, constrained the government’s ability to increase the level of public investment.

Structural policy reforms combined with an improvement in economic governance laid the foundations for accelerated growth from 2002 to 2007.22 The economic growth rate averaged 7 percent, up from 3.1 percent in 2001 to 2002. Poverty was reduced by between 5 and 10 percentage points, depending upon the methodology used. The unemployment rate also fell from 8.4 percent to 6.5 percent and approximately 11.8 million new jobs were created between 1999 and 2008. Gross and net enrollment ratios at the primary school level recorded upward movement. The re-profiling of the stock of debt brought down the debt-to-GDP ratio from 100 percent to 55 percent. Foreign exchange reserves increased to cover six months’ imports from a few weeks’ imports. The fiscal deficit remained below or slightly above 4 percent of GDP. The investment rate grew to 23 percent of GDP and an estimated $14 billion of foreign private capital inflows financed many sectors of the economy. The exchange rate remained fairly stable throughout the period.

Since then, the elected government has not pursued the unfinished agenda of reforms with the same vigor and commitment. Governance issues that characterized the 1990s have begun to rear their ugly heads once more. The situation worsened after March 2007, when the government became embroiled in a judicial crisis. The preoccupation with the impending elections resulted in serious lapses in economic management as key adjustment decisions to escalating international oil and commodity prices were postponed. The assassination of the most popular leader of the country, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, plunged the country into a state of uncertainty while the transition from the military to the civilian-elected government was not managed properly. Lack of attention to economic issues by the incoming government further contributed to macroeconomic instability and created an atmosphere of crisis in the country. The global financial turmoil and the recession in OECD countries did not help either. So while domestic factors were mainly responsible for Pakistan’s economic crisis, adverse external conditions worsened the problem; the global financial turmoil hampered foreign private inflows and the recession in OECD countries reduced the demand for Pakistani exports.

Political Instability and Economic Growth

Pakistan has seen twenty-three governments in the past sixty years, including: fourteen elected or appointed prime ministers, five interim governments and thirty-three years of military rule under four different leaders.23 Excluding the military and interim governments, the average life span of a politically elected government has been less than two years. If the five-year period of Bhutto is excluded, then the average span falls to 1.6 years.

The economic policy regime, on the other hand, has only changed twice in all of Pakistan’s history.24 The liberal private sector-led growth model that was put in place in the 1950s and accelerated in the 1960s was rolled back by Bhutto in the 1970s and became the socialist economic model. Since the rejection of this model in 1977 and the revival of the liberal model, the general thrust of economic policy has remained unaltered. There has been a broad consensus among all major political parties on the general principles that should underpin Pakistan’s economic direction, namely:

  • Central planning and bureaucratic judgment are poor substitutes for the market’s judgment in the allocation of scarce resources.
  • Licensing to open, operate, expand and close business by government functionaries should be discouraged.
  • Public sector ownership and management of business, production, distribution and trade leads to inefficiency, waste and corruption.
  • Over-regulation, controls and restrictions of all kinds on the private sector hike up the cost of doing business.
  • High tax rates on individuals and corporations are counterproductive as they discourage effort and initiative.
  • Banks and financial institutions owned and managed by the public sector offering cheap credit and/or directed credit have a pernicious effect on economic growth.
  • Administered prices of key commodities are the worst possible means of insulating the poor segment of the population from the onslaught of market forces.
  • Subsidies on inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, water, etc., incur heavy budgetary costs and benefit the well-to-do classes rather than the poor.
  • Foreign investment and multinational corporations are to be encouraged as they are important conduits for the transfer of technology, managerial skills and organizational innovation.25

While the government’s implementation of policies, programs and projects has seen uneven and mixed results, the initiative in driving the economy can be credited to the private sector.

The agricultural sector, representing 20 percent of GDP, is owned and managed by private farmers. Manufacturing, with a few odd exceptions, is under the control of private firms. Wholesale and retail trade, transportation (with the exception of railways and Pakistan International Airlines), personal and community services, finance and insurance, ownership of dwellings and the construction sector all fall within the purview of the private sector. Only public administration, defense services and public utilities are directly managed and operated by the government. Imports and exports of goods and services are also privately managed. A rough approximation would indicate that goods and services produced, traded and distributed by the private sector amount to 90 percent or more of the national income while the government directly or indirectly owns, manages, controls or regulates the remaining 10 percent of national income. So it is the strength of private initiative, with all its flaws, operating in a relatively liberal policy environment, that has been the main driver of long-term economic growth in Pakistan.

In Pakistan, transitions from one political regime to another have been quite difficult, causing uncertainty and short-term reductions in the speed of economic growth. The transfer of power from the military to civilian regimes in 1971, 1988 and 2008 were marked with macroeconomic instability, a slow down in economic activities, rising unemployment and inflation and the adoption of a wait-and-see attitude by investors. But economic recovery has also been resilient; short-term losses caused by political volatility have not been large enough to offset the positive long-term secular economic movement.

Authoritarian vs. Democratic Regimes

In Pakistan, the debate over whether authoritarian or democratic regimes have delivered better results in terms of economic performance has been quite fierce since General Khan took power in 1958. The spurts in economic growth during the 1960s, 1980s and 2000s, when the country was governed by military dictators, have led many to conclude that authoritarian regimes are better suited to bring about economic development. Parallels are drawn with China, Indonesia, Korea and Singapore.

Detractors of the authoritarian regimes, however, have skillfully torn apart the economic performance record of the Ayub, Zia and Musharraf periods. Since the legitimacy and perpetuation of these regimes were justified on the basis of good economic outcomes, those opposed to these regimes have assailed the very economic record that has been espoused as their achievement. Such detractors lay out three arguments.

First, they argue that the United States had always been more favorably disposed toward Pakistan’s military dictators, as they are relatively more obsequious and subservient to the American interests. Thus, it is the acceleration of inflows of foreign assistance to Pakistan that led to the observed higher growth rates rather than sound economic policies, better governance and the efficient utilization of resources. Although empirical evidence to substantiate this argument hardly exists, it has become popular folklore: Ayub was rewarded for his close economic and military ties with the United States in confronting the Soviet Union; Zia ul-Haq received a boost as $5 billion was channeled through Pakistan for Afghanistan’smujahideen; and Musharraf’s decision to openly support the United States in the war on terror brought in approximately $10 billion of military assistance.

Second, the solid record of high growth rates under military regimes is believed to result invariably in adverse distributional consequences. The Ayub period is blamed for the widening regional disparities that led to the secession of East Pakistan. Zia ul-Haq’s policies were criticized for their failure to deal with structural weaknesses or reverse the damage done by the policies of nationalization. According to Parvez Hasan, “Zia’s economic policies represented a rather sharp contrast between reasonably satisfactory short-term economic management and an almost total neglect of long-term policy issues. The long period of political stability and sustained growth under Zia ul-Haq offered major opportunities for dealing with the underlying structural issues but these were not exploited.”26 Musharraf’s economic strategy, which made Pakistan one of the fastest growing Asian economies, was also dismissed on the same grounds: that consumer-led, credit-induced, service-focused growth neglected agriculture and the manufacturing sectors, making the rich richer and the poor poorer.27 While the World Bank and Asian Development Bank publicly acknowledged a significant decline in the incidence of poverty and International Labor Organization (ILO) experts validated the fall in the unemployment rate, the authenticity of the poverty and unemployment data has been challenged. It became the norm to practice selective acceptance of government-produced data showing negative trends and outright rejection of the data from the same source showing positive trends.

The third line of argument is quite persuasive. Economic accomplishments devoid of political legitimacy, however impressive they may be, prove to be short lived. Without the involvement and participation of the people, elegant and technically sound economic solutions developed by authoritarian regimes are quickly replaced once the regime changes, causing irreparable losses to the economy. The recent example whereby good initiatives taken by the Musharraf regime were either suspended, deprived of funds or abolished completely attests to this phenomenon. Some of these initiatives, such as revitalizing higher education and expanding adult literacy and health programs have been brought to a grinding halt. The Devolution Plan of 2001, which decentralized the delivery of basic services to local levels, is at serious risk of abandonment.

The phenomenon of abandoning the previous government’s plans and policies is not confined to the military-civil transitions but also from one elected civilian government to the other. Benazir Bhutto rightly embarked upon public-private partnerships by inviting independent power producers (IPPs) from the private sector to set up electricity generation plants to overcome power shortages. The IPPs were put on hold by the new government, which alleged that corruption was involved in the awarding of contracts. In another example, the incoming Bhutto government suspended the motorway project initiated by the Nawaz Sharif government. By the time the project had resumed, time delays, cost over-runs, contract cancellations and legal entanglement had reduced the efficacy of the project.

Both the civilian-elected and military regimes have demonstrated the same characteristics and weaknesses—personality cult leadership, centralized decision-making, repression of opponents and cronyism. When one goes beyond labels and examines the actual behavior of military and civilian regimes, most distinctions appear superficial.

Pakistan has over the last sixty years been an authoritarian polity both under the civilian as well as military regimes. ‘Authoritarianism’ involves great relevance and obedience to authority and stands opposite to individualism and freedom that come with it. Both the civilian leaders coming from an agrarian and feudal social background and military leaders from the Command and Control structure of the armed forces have demanded absolute loyalty and compliance with their institutions of origin.28

External Influences

The international community showed skepticism at the creation of Pakistan. Liberal Western democracies were unable to reconcile themselves with the partition of a country on the basis of religion. Scholars such as Christopher Jaffrelot believed that Muslim historical heritage was an insufficient bond to glue ethnically diverse groups into a nation.29

In any case, the structural deficiency in the creation of Pakistan, the adversarial relationship with its large neighbor India, the internal fissiparous tendencies among the various ethnic and linguistic communities and a weak economic base with no significant natural or human resources all added to Pakistan’s insecurities and pushed it toward finding a strong ally. The United States was more than happy to oblige and found that Pakistan’s strategic location fit in well with its desire to build a cordon sanitaire around the Soviet Union, China and Eastern Europe.

Pakistan viewed U.S.-sponsored pacts, including the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), as guarantees that the United States would come to its rescue if its territorial integrity was threatened by India. Thus the marriage between a new, insecure state wanting to protect its territorial integrity, and a superpower looking for key strategic assets and alliances in Asia and the Middle East was quite convenient.

During the Cold War, Pakistan aligned itself with the United States while India aligned itself with the Soviet Union. Despite lofty ideals for democracy promotion, the United States found the efficiency of an obsequious military regime, with its unified command and control structure, to be more suitable for its larger geopolitical goals as opposed to dealing with a messy, dispersed and ineffective democracy. Would a democratic regime have allowed U.S. access to an air base in Peshawar to fly spy planes to the Soviet Union? Would the U.S. strategy of removing the Soviets from Afghanistan have been so successful absent a military regime’s help? Would the Bush ultimatum in the aftermath of 9/11 have been accepted by a political leadership that did not combine the command of the military and the constitutional authority of the civilian government? The answers to these questions are unclear at best.

In turn, Pakistan allowed U.S. policymakers considerable space for intervening in domestic public policy matters. The United States became actively engaged in Pakistan’s economic development through its bilateral military, development and food assistance. The most critical and enduring intervention was the induction of the Harvard Development Advisory Service in the planning machinery. The Ford Foundation became actively engaged in the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE). A large number of young economists, planners and civil servants were sent to leading U.S. universities for advanced degrees and occupied key policymaking and technocratic positions in the government. This combination of foreign advisors, Pakistanis trained in U.S. universities and policy-oriented research at PIDE laid the foundations of economic thinking for a market-friendly, private sector-led liberal, neoclassical model.

As political uncertainty and instability are anathema to a market-based economy, something had to be done to fix this supposed problem. The solution was the strengthening of the military, which even today remains professionally the best institution in the country. Because of its merit-based induction and promotion system, coupled with superb professional training and conduct, the Pakistani military was considered the real guardian of the nation’s territorial and ideological frontiers. It believed it had the best interests of the country at heart and therefore knew exactly how to bring about the reforms needed to spur economic development. Every military dictator removed the preceding elected governments on the pretext that they were damaging the economy. Transparency, continuity, consistency and predictability are needed by the markets, and the military regimes thought they were the only ones who could provide those enabling factors.

The empirical evidence to the above hypothesis is provided by the relative economic outcomes during the three military regimes compared to the dozen civilian governments. Economic development under Ayub was a high point in U.S.-Pakistan relations as Pakistan was presented as a model for other developing countries to follow. Zia ul-Haq and Musharraf pursued the same set of policies over longer periods of stability, producing impressive results. Nawaz Sharif’s reforms in 1991 were even more far-reaching and were followed by Benazir Bhutto and now by the Zardari government. But the outcomes under these civilian regimes have been disappointing; it was weak governance and not policy direction that created the deviations from the trend under various regimes.

Stephen Cohen also echoed the popular belief that the two most dramatic spurts in economic growth during the Ayub and Zia ul-Haq years were accompanied by high levels of aid from the United States, military grants from China and subsidies from Saudi Arabia.30 The facts, unfortunately, do not substantiate this belief. In 1968, under the military government of Ayub, foreign aid commitment was 5.8 percent of GDP, while under the democratic regime of Bhutto it almost doubled to 10.5 percent.31 Foreign savings comprised 21 percent of financing investment in the 1980s while from 1990 to 1994 it rose to an average of 25 percent.

The strained relationship with India, which has existed since 1947, has resulted in three wars and can be seen as one of the factors behind the erratic performance of Pakistan’s economy. It is popularly believed that a high level of defense spending has had a detrimental effect on the economy. The wars fought with India over Kashmir are presumed to have led to substantial increases in defense expenditure. Parvez Hasan estimates that economic growth and social progress would have been faster if defense spending had been reduced by 2 percent of GDP and the liberated resources were utilized to increase public development spending by more than one-third.32

Pakistan’s quest to acquire nuclear capability, conventional weapons, delivery systems and other defense mechanisms, was also a reaction to India’s move to become a nuclear power. Whether this objective was achieved by sacrificing investment in education and social development remains a debatable but unsettled question. According to Hussain Haqqani, the intermittent flow of U.S. military and economic assistance encouraged Pakistan’s military leaders to overestimate their power potential.33 This, in turn, has contributed to their reluctance to normalize relations with India even after learning through repeated misadventures that Pakistan can, at best, hold India to a draw in military confrontations.

Conclusion

Ten years ago, I argued that the failure of governance and the consistent domination of political power and the state apparatus by a narrowly based elite seeking to advance its private and parochial interests lay at the heart of the problem in Pakistan.34 Regime changes, either military or civilian, did not make any substantive difference.

The experience I gained as an economic policymaker between 1999 and 2005 has fortified my belief in the validity of this proposition. Many far-reaching structural reforms were successfully carried out during this period, particularly in the initial three years. This was a period of relative political stability steered by technocrats, away from the civilians and the military. It has, however, been painful to see some of these reforms unravel, slow down or be relegated to the back burner since 2002, when a quasi-political regime assumed power.

On the basis of superficial empirical evidence it may be tempting to make a spurious correlation between economic growth and authoritarian regimes. But in reality the country has always paid a heavy price in the aftermath of non-democratic regimes in the form of severe economic disruptions, policy reversals, complete breakdowns of institutions and a lack of accountability. An orderly transition of power at regular intervals through a predictable democratic process is the least damaging means of keeping the economy moving on an even keel.

The tour d’horizon of the past sixty years of Pakistan’s economic history lends credence to the argument that interruptions to the orderly political process whereby elected governments were dismissed, forced to resign or overthrown further accentuated the tendency of risk aversion. Besieged with a feeling of uncertainty over their future, elected representatives have indulged in distribution of patronage to their supporters as well as to self-enrichment. Both the preoccupation with keeping power—applied to both the military rulers and the elected regimes—and fending off attacks from the opposition by co-opting them through state patronage or by coercion has led to laxity in fiscal and monetary policies and to the concentration of economic and political power. The excessive use of discretion in case-by-case policymaking to favor narrow interest groups has derailed institutionalized decision-making based on well-established rules and transparency in transactions.

The lesson to be learned from this experience is quite obvious but worth repeating. Democracy, with such flaws and shortcomings as corruption and patronage, may cause economic disruptions and slow down development in the short-term. But it should be allowed to run its course as the inherent process of fresh leadership and governmental accountability through new elections provides a built-in stability to the system that eventually brings the economy back to equilibrium. Interruptions to the democratic process in the name of economic efficiency have created more problems than solutions in Pakistan.

Microsoft investors push for chairman Gates to step down

New York/Seattle- Three of the top 20 investors in Microsoft Corp are lobbying the board to press for Bill Gates to step down as chairman of the software company he co-founded 38 years ago, according to people familiar with matter.

While Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has been under pressure for years to improve the company’s performance and share price, this appears to be the first time that major shareholders are taking aim at Gates, who remains one of the most respected and influential figures in technology.

A representative for Microsoft declined to comment on Tuesday.

There is no indication that Microsoft’s board would heed the wishes of the three investors, who collectively hold more than 5 percent of the company’s stock, according to the sources. They requested the identity of the investors be kept anonymous because the discussions were private.

Gates owns about 4.5 percent of the $277 billion company and is its largest individual shareholder.

The three investors are concerned that Gates’ role as chairman effectively blocks the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make substantial changes. In particular, they point to Gates’ role on the special committee searching for Ballmer’s successor.

They are also worried that Gates – who spends most of his time on his philanthropic foundation – wields power out of proportion to his declining shareholding.

Gates, who owned 49 percent of Microsoft before it went public in 1986, sells about 80 million Microsoft shares a year under a pre-set plan, which if continued would leave him with no financial stake in the company by 2018.

He lowered his profile at Microsoft after he handed the CEO role to Ballmer in 2000, giving up his day-to-day work there in 2008 to focus on the $38 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In August, Ballmer said he would retire within 12 months, amid pressure from activist fund manager ValueAct Capital Management.

Microsoft is now looking for a new CEO, though its board has said Ballmer’s strategy will go forward. He has focused on making devices, such as the Surface tablet and Xbox gaming console, and turning key software into services provided over the Internet. Some investors say that a new chief should not be bound by that strategy.

News that some investors were pushing for Gates’ ouster as chairman provoked mixed reactions from other shareholders.

“This is long overdue,” said Todd Lowenstein, a portfolio manager at HighMark Capital Management, which owns Microsoft shares.“Replacing the old guard with some fresh eyes can provide the oxygen needed to properly evaluate their corporate strategy.”

Kim Caughey Forrest, senior analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group, suggested now was not the time for Microsoft to ditch Gates, and that he could even play a larger role.

“I’ve thought that the company has been missing a technology visionary,” she said. “Bill (Gates) would fit the bill.”

Microsoft is still one of the world’s most valuable technology companies, making a net profit of $22 billion last fiscal year. But its core Windows computing operating system, and to a lesser extent the Office software suite, are under pressure from the decline in personal computers as smartphones and tablets grow more popular.

Shares of Microsoft have been essentially static for a decade, and the company has lost ground to Apple Inc and Google Inc in the move toward mobile computing.

One of the sources said Gates was one of the technology industry’s greatest pioneers, but the investors felt he was more effective as chief executive than as chairman.