Opportunities provided by challenges


Daniyal Ahmad

“Tough time never lasts but tough people do”
Pakistan, our dear homeland but do the 180 million people consider it as their homeland and dear as well is a major question. The scenario through which Pakistan is passing through is not a very easy one. The economy is not performing up to the mark and the business environment is not very much supportive. Will the conditions of Pakistan change and do the people of Pakistan really have the potential of changing Pakistan? This was the country that was won by many sacrifices and facing numerous hardships.

Different countries of the world looked towards us as a success story because Pakistan was the country that was on the path of success in few years of time. Currently, Pakis­t­an has big challenges to face including poverty, illiteracy, terrorism, energy crisis and corruption and political instability. The business environment could be improved but it is very important to determine the challenges and their effects and the overall situation of Pakistan.

With Pakistan caught up in chaotic circumstances, we should not lose hope or think that we cannot get out of it. All the leading countries of the world, like America, China, Germany and France, were able to achieve glory only after braving hard times. However, the fact that we are in difficulties cannot be denied. A great writer Frank A. Clark said that “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” We are wrong when we say that it is due to some political plans, the reality is that our problems are our own created. First off all, I do not think that problems can’t be solved. There is a need to take some tough decisions. Apart from the energy crisis, there are many other fundamental problems that need to be resolved. The time is here to make ourselves more competent. If we want to succeed then we would have to face certain rules of the game. Pakistan’s industry is not that much competitive and willing to compete globally.

Our industries are not as capable as they should be. Industries of other countries are more competent but this doesn’t mean that we should play the blame game. Our industries don’t pay their share of taxes. Our tax and GDP ratio is one of the lowest in Asia as well as in the developing countries. Like the energy crisis, the gas issue can become also a rope in our neck; rather we have to take some decisions. Gas is our precious resource, but we are utilizing it in the most ineffective and extravagant way. Another catch-22 is that Pakistan’s industries do not have a global mindset. Their vision is very restricted. The quality of education is not appropriate at all other than some of the institutions like LUMS in Lahore, IBA in Karachi and Sukkur, NUST Business School in Islamabad etc. These institutes have raised the bar but others are still very much behind. The dilemma of our education system is that we have more than five systems of education in our country which is very much annoying. The government schools
are themselves limited and inculcate the same features in their students while wealthy parents prefer to send their children in English medium schools aiming that their kids will get executive jobs with a better future ahead.

In government schools, there is lack of management as teachers are appointed politically who are not even properly trained. Possibly poverty is the reason that parents send their children to government schools and unpaid attention of government is the reason that the standard has gone down to such an extent. If privatization comes to fill this gap then this sector could also be benefited as the element of accountability will be standing. However, it is the need of the hour that educational systems and syllabus of all should be the same across the country. The importance of regional languages shouldn’t also be overlooked. According to a writer Joyce Meyer, “Teachers can change lives with just the right mix of chalk and challenges.” We hold-up behind countries like India, China and Malaysia in fact in the field of education. We have to raise the bar across the country and take about some essential reforms for the betterment of education.

It may be a gigantic task but it is not impossible. If we take a start now, on educational reforms we would be able to transform our country and that is when the making of a nation would set in. Another issue is that bureaucracy has grown; judiciary has caused some issues and military has been a continuous intervention team from time to time since politicians do not have the will to equalize people of their grievances, while people have always franchised their votes with their minds and hearts.

People in Pakistan have always elected their representatives through voting after analyzing their past performances and future planning as much popular as “roti, kapra and makan” which is also a motto of one of the leading political parties in Pakistan. If we look into country’s economy, we have actually been bankrupted within the last decade. The economy of the country is damaged due to certain aspects that could be the US intervention in Afghanistan or it was Middle East oil boom or people settle down in other countries sending remittances but the real economy can be seen in the major cities of Pakistan by monitoring how people are pushing their handcarts, shopkeepers serving their customers, labourers cleaning crockery and a lot of hustle and bustle on main roads. This is the real face of country’s economy. We only have a few concerns with the government. Informal economy and smuggling are the areas which need immediate attention of the government. Afghan transit trade also needs attention of concerned departments as there is no one who could reveal what happened in the last decade and who was the real beneficiary of this Afghan transit trade, this is the question which remains unanswered.

Though this economy is passing through very difficult situation but there is internal domestic market which could ultimately push country’s economy to grow further. We see that our middle class is booming while our agriculture sector is also progressing, as there is number of cars and motorbikes being inducted in our agriculture sector. It is mainly because there are subsidies and bumper crops in agriculture sector. It is fact that floods have devastated our economy but it has also brought fertility to our soils that resulted into bumper crops. We are a country with 180 million souls and our economy is raging within itself. We are fortunate that our banking system is growing at the double. Though these banks are more in number but this is good for competition. Being optimistic, I firmly believe that our tomorrow is more secure and progressive.

We have to trade with India more than we have been doing in the past. Nevertheless, we have to do it in a sensible way by gaining an understanding of products and market, regardless of the negative thinking. However, we would have to face strong competition from India. For that, Pakistani businesses would have to get a share of the Indian Market. We should never think that Indians would knock us down rather we should have to get together and gain courage and ability to compete brutally. There are many fields, like textile, cement etc, in which Pakistanis are stronger, but we have to be more efficient in other fields like engineering. While the importance of Indo-Pak trade could be recognized that Hilary Clinton once said that “No nation can meet the world’s challenges alone.” More importantly, we need to inculcate the culture of creating leaders. Leadership is the ability to see things differently, bring about change in the people, showing them new directions, raising hopes and transforming culture. A leader should possess the willingness to lead upfront and take risks. There is a great deal of difference between a manager and a leader. They are two different types of people. A good leader need not be a good manager and a good manager may not be a good leader. The problem with Pakistani culture is that good managers are being created but the number of good leaders is just not there.

Talking about the leaders I do not mean leaders in politics only, but in all fields like education, media and agriculture. I firmly believe we can’t do anything if there is a lack of vision. One has to have a dream and a big vision. Pakistanis generally do not dream greatness. Example of one of the biggest business operating in Pakistan the Engro Corporation could be discussed here. They were initially associated with chemicals and fertilizers, in which they excelled and made rapid progress.

Encouraged by their early successes, they decided to get on with the other business ventures, most importantly, the FMCG business, of which they had absolutely no previous experience. But with consistent team efforts and determination, they took up the challenge and in the present era they have made significant progress in the FMCG business. They are now making rigorous efforts to become a global company, with their brands selling across the country and in North America as well. This was due to the fact that they had a global mindset and a big vision and they operated in the circumstances in which the current companies of Pakistan are working but they reached far ahead from the other companies.

Another important aspect in determining the success In this highly competitive world and atmosphere of global economic recession and downturn is that only those companies can hope to be crowned with success which are closer to the consumers and aware of their needs and come up with some practical strategies for meeting their needs better than others. If some company is competent and capable enough to do that, it would be a win-win situation for it.

Job creation is another very important aspect to debate in such conditions of the economy it is considered as a very uphill task. Firstly, we cannot create jobs by becoming a trading country only, we have to industrialise more and become a manufacturing country. Secondly, we can develop our economy by progressing in the agricultural sector. Recently Pakistan is behind in many areas except agriculture. Despite floods, we have been doing quite well in this sector for the last few years. With the passage of time, dramatic changes will take place in the rural areas like Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Sargodha in this regard. I think that there is a need to pay a proper attention to the human resource function for the future years to come. Very few Pakistani companies, and some of them being multinational, have been paying special attention to the proper utilization of the human resource tool, Engro being one of them.

We need to sneak a look into a decade ago; an era after year 2000 and we should look towards India as an example. They were facing similar situation which we are currently facing. India, at that time was having knowledge about computer’s old languages like Basic and COBOL. After getting green signal from the government, they stamped a new system to expand their IT industry and moved ahead for creating new jobs and resultantly achieved a boom in I.T industry. How they accomplished, it was the result of deregulation of the industry at a time when very few knew what Information Technology (IT) was. They set up call centres across the country in a bid to coast up I.T sector including cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai & Pune. On the other hand, Pakistan’s government should give assurance to people that agriculture is the backbone of our economy. As food scarcity is alarming globally, it would be better for us to emphasise on this sector and all available resources should be utilized on this side. In this regard, government should ensure water for irrigation, build dams to generate electricity to run wheel of country’s industry and increase the use of modern technology.

If government could take these steps in time, the process of urbanization can also be slowed as youth of rural areas would get jobs in their hometowns and they would prefer to stay there instead of marching towards urban areas to seek jobs. Talking more regarding job scenario, government should also convey vocational education to youth of urban as well as rural areas. This education would help them start their own businesses instead of seeking jobs only. Only delivering degrees through educational institutions would not work as degree holders don’t want to work with their own hands.

They wish to have white collar jobs. If they could not find such jobs, they become idle and hence a reason for frustration in the country. The bad situation of our country’s economy is due to the brain duct. It is important to note that not only qualified but also illiterate workers like drivers, chefs, carpenters and gardeners etc. have gone overseas to earn their livelihood. They were the actual asset and people who built Terbelas and Mangla Dams. They participated in the development works of the country like building bridges, canals, roads and motorways.

Though they are sending remittances to their homeland but in fact, they could prove to be more beneficial for the country if they could be engaged within the country. Once Joel Osteen said, “If you don’t let people flourish in their jobs, why are they going to stay?” Our neig­h­bouring countries brought back their brains by offering them higher compensations and benefits. Even China and India had offered its people, living in different countries of the world, almost three-time more salaries and got the level of an emerging economy of the world. Pakistani brains that are overseas, qualified and skilled can also be brought back if our government offers attractive packages and the respect that they deserve.

One should always believe in empowerment. There is no limit to what a person can achieve if he or she is willing to do. Therefore, I think that people should be empowered and encouraged to make their own destiny. The message to the youth and the next generation to come would be never to lose hope. No matter how undesirable the circumstances are, opportunities are always available for the people who see it. Every cloud has a gold coating inside.

Depression is prohibited in Islam. Allah says never to give up hope. Success has many sides, it is about being a good family man, and that means being a good husband and a good father. One should always struggle to be a good Muslim and give back to society. If you compete and create an institution, that is a great achievement!!! Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory because tough time never lasts but tough people do.


Courtesy Frontier Post

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