FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Dangerous trends in rural areas

food-for-thought-dangerous-trends-in-rural-areasDR ZAFAR ALTAF

November 02, 2013
Food for Thought:

Pakistan is governed in a miserable way. For what our policymakers do not see does not exist. Pakistan is full of self-opinionated anchors and self-opinionated civil servants. Well, all of us have flogged the lame horse to death (the civil servant) and now it is the turn of the politicians. As you sow so shall you reap? And so it is happening. Anyone who is standing still and blames the others for his ills is a crank. So are the others who think that they can wish the world to their order. Growth they the economists tell me is good and that is their dogma and their doctrinaire. It is absolute in the way they think. They do not tell us for instance that growth can be detrimental and that growth calculations are faulty. They take the aggregate figures and then gloat or lament on them. Shaukat Aziz the runaway PM from the First National Citibank spoke on growth and when we challenged him on his numbers he showed us the growth in soft drinks and in food burgers from McDonald’s. The Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) were also ghost figures and statistical cheating. So be it. What would you do with automated production systems that do not give any jobs? The million odd jobs that he created were also the vendors on the roads. In fact that is the only rational self-created job that came on every road. I used to say that employment creation in Pakistan was only with the vendors who managed to sell any kind of food to the teeming millions who were or are unable to cook and fend for themselves. The stragglers were if you will. The other area was tailoring and here the textiles provided the desire to the other sex to take and perform the sequence of presentability. Whatever the income level the rich are able to buy even at exorbitant prices. While the poor are always able to take the discards and thank the lord for it.

The pet theory of these miserable economists is the loud acclamation of the IMF that the country needs to be deregulated and we have seen enough of that ever since Mahbubul Haq. Then privatisation and we have the new government fed up with the debts and bad management of the mega corporate sector. Two former ministers of privatisation went to jail for the manner in which privatisation was carried out. The fact that urbanisation has taken away roughly 4 to 5 million hectares means that the production of agricultural products will go down and those that have sold their land have bartered present one-time income for perpetual assets and the production from those assets is indicative of a dangerous trend from the rural areas to the urban areas. The rural areas are already law and order areas. That one cannot travel in such earlier safer places like Sangla hill after sunset and to Sargodha after sunset is indicative of the trying conditions in these areas. That law and order in such placid areas will be difficult to counter is because a relatively stable area has undergone a change for the worst. The state is in no position to handle this as it has no infrastructure to ensure the writ of the state. What then may well be the question?

Sindh is in turmoil because of exclusion in the development process. Balochistan is worse now and KPK is subjected to intervention that has an international character. Policymakers in the country will have to take up their responsibility to do the needful. Barely have the new political forces taken over and there is a spate of high profile issues and problems that are likely to split the country apart. The miserable economists that are suggesting have never had a bad day in their life. They are giving suggestions and those are not tested in here. Urbanisation must be allowed unhindered play. Well, come to the outskirts of a relatively new area (forget Lyari and Kharadar in Karachi) and you may well see the makings of a new Lyari. Bharakau has already had two or three terrorist situations. More will follow. I wish and hope that things may settle down but ask that of a man without hope and see what kind of a reply you will get. Creating social harmony is a forgotten art. No one minds a rich person if he works for it but if he is going to be rich by unholy cleverness then every one will point fingers at him. Ever tried to find what views people hold of the dirty rich. Try simple means to develop the rural areas and not some mega grand design for the rich and powerful. The economics of this country has to be brought on an even keel and if the current minister cannot do it then hope is lost.

Why cannot we take our own decisions, in the larger and greater interest? Why? Is it because the elites of the West have joined hands with the elites of the country? They want them to fall in line with them and thus form an unholy alliance with them. If the country wants to increase its ability to handle the foreign reserves why waste these over unproductive works. Why not increase efforts to increase exports. But all this is barren in its format. Why cannot we as Pakistanis perform better when we stay in the country? There are countries that have been economically blockaded by the West and there is a propaganda going on against them but these countries have been going along fine and well. Let me state that China was belittled by the West’s propaganda machine and the next door neighbour Iran. Both have done exceedingly well. Why take an entourage of people that are next to nothing and are useless. Would the time not be better spent by using it in the welfare of the people? In determining policies that are conducive to the country’s welfare and that are locally developed.

Pakistan will not be well served by the Kerry-Lugar (K-L) bill and please read the bill before you shoot yourself in the foot. The financial resources have been given to foreign institutions like the FAO and the CIMMYT center for work in Pakistan. This will not achieve anything. The loan is ours but some one else is using it. Why should anyone develop Pakistan that is not a Pakistani? Why should they not take you down a path that is not conducive to development?

Growth is good I am told but that is so if it is pristine growth. If it is otherwise it is useless. I have already referred to this earlier. As Pakistanis are we capable of looking at the marginal and fragile areas and see how these can be made productive. There are ideas in abundance to develop Balochistan and there are Sardars that desire this. Atif Sanjarani is one such Sardar that was willing to take the plunge. Pakistan would have benefited from that intervention. There are now new interventions that can take place.

Pakistan can go places if it so chooses and it can stagnate and/or collapse under its own weight. It is our choice. Policymakers that are morons should never be placed in decision-making positions. But then their world is a selfish one. Tragic as it may seem each subsequent political government is going to repeat what the ‘N’ government is saying at the moment that the country’s economy is in tatters. That is the reality unless someone works the sums of this country. Courtesy Business Recorder
Food for Thought, Agriculture in Pakistan,

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