Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Twelve Years Since Musharraf's Coup

Musharraf's policies helped create 13 million new jobs, cut poverty in half and halved the country's total debt burden in the period from 2000 to 2007.

Musharraf Government's Accomplishments:

Thanks to the dynamic economy under President Musharraf's rule, Pakistan created more jobs, graduated more people from schools and colleges, built a larger middle class and lifted more people out of poverty as percentage of its population than India in the last decade. And Pakistan has done so in spite of the huge challenges posed by the war in Afghanistan and a very violent insurgency at home.

The above summary is based on volumes of recently released reports and data on job creation, education, middle class size, public hygiene, poverty and hunger over the last decade that offer new surprising insights into the lives of ordinary people in two South Asian countries. It adds to my previous post on this blog titled "India and Pakistan Contrasted in 2010".

The current PPP government summed up General Musharraf's accomplishments well when it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Monetary Fund which said:

"Pakistan's economy witnessed a major economic transformation in the last decade. The country's real GDP increased from $60 billion to $170 billion, with per capita income rising from under $500 to over $1000 during 2000-07". It further acknowledged that "the volume of international trade increased from $20 billion to nearly $60 billion. The improved macroeconomic performance enabled Pakistan to re-enter the international capital markets in the mid-2000s. Large capital inflows financed the current account deficit and contributed to an increase in gross official reserves to $14.3 billion at end-June 2007. Buoyant output growth, low inflation, and the government's social policies contributed to a reduction in poverty and improvement in many social indicators". (see MEFP, November 20, 2008, Para 1)

Pre-Musharraf Decade:

Before the coup, Pakistan was approaching the end of what is now remembered as The Lost Decade of the 1990s when PPP's Benazir Bhutto and PML's Nawaz Sharif played musical chairs, while the economy stagnated and the people suffered.

Summing up the economic situation after the PPP-PML coalition took office in 2008, the Economist magazine in its June 12 issue summed it up as follows: "Before Mr Sharif was ousted in 1999, the two parties had presided over a decade of corruption and mismanagement. But since then, as the IMF remarked in a report in January, there has been a transformation. Pakistan attracted over $5 billion in foreign direct investment in the 2006-07 fiscal year, ten times the figure of 2000-01. The government's debt fell from 68% of GDP in 2003-04 to less than 55% in 2006-07, and its foreign-exchange reserves reached $16.4 billion as recently as in October." Please read "Pakistani Economy Returning to the Bad Old Days".

Criticisms of Musharraf Government:

Among the various criticisms of Musharraf's rule, there are two that particularly stand out:

1. Musharraf's Support For US War on Terror:

Musharraf has been heavily criticized for siding with the United States and angering the Taliban and their sympathizers who have been attacking and terrorizing Pakistani state and its people. As mightily as Pakistan has suffered at the hands of the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates since 911, I do believe that Pakistanis would have been much worse off if Musharraf had not sided with the United States when asked after the worst terror attacks on US mainland. The consequences of refusal to help the US would have ranged from direct and massive NATO attack (probably with Indian help) on Pakistan to crippling sanctions and complete political and diplomatic isolation on the world stage.

2. Musharraf's Failure to Increase Energy Supply:

There was double digit annual growth in industrial production in Pakistan from 2000-2007, and the rising incomes and standards of living put pressure on energy supplies, particularly electricity. However, the situation was being managed to assure only short interruptions in supply to maintain and ration insufficient power generation capacity. For example, in June 2007, the power cuts in Pakistan lasted no more than 3 or 4 hours a day. Today, the situation is far worse with 10-12 hrs or more of load shedding every day, in spite of an stagnant economy.

It is becoming increasingly clear that it is the total absence of financial management, not just insufficient installed generating capacity, that is the crux of the worsening energy problems in Pakistan.

Pakistan's Exports. Source: IndexMundi

Riots have broken out as the Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, finds itself in the midst of the worst ever electricity crisis in the nation's history. The power shortfall has reached almost 9000 megawatts across the country, over half of the total demand of about 17000 MW.

Pakistan Tractor Sales Source: Trading Economics

Many public and private power producers have shut down their power plants due to the suspension of fuel supply by Pakistan State Oil, the state-owned oil company, according to a report in the Express Tribune. The oil company is demanding payment of Rs. 155 billion in outstanding dues from the power producers before resuming fuel supply.


Musharraf era was the best era in terms of improving the lives of the ordinary folks in Pakistan since the Ayub-era in the 1960s. Strong economy helped create millions of new jobs and lifted millions out of poverty. Social indicators improved significantly and the the size of the middle class grew dramatically. So why is it that there are so many people who continue to condemn Musharraf?

I think Musharraf's critics can be divided in two categories:

1. Self-serving politicians and their supporters under their patronage who deny Musharraf's accomplishments because any admission of reality would be seen as a confession of their own incompetence.

2. Those who acknowledge Musharraf's economic legacy but would still prefer elected civilian government for ideological reasons. They are perfectly willing to sacrifice economic growth in the hope of hastening a better democratic future for Pakistan.

I, too, want to see a democratic Pakistan, but I strongly disagree with both the above categories. In my view, the best way to usher in genuine and successful democratic rule in any developing nation is to first unleash East and South East Asian style rapid economic growth and human development which were brought about by dictators like General Park Chung-hee of South Korea, Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia and General Suharto of Indonesia. Each of these autocrats served long enough to bring their nations in to the modern industrial era and created a large urban middle class which is now sustaining democratic rule. Until such time as Pakistan has a well educated and politically empowered urban middle class making up more than half of its population, the electoral process will continue to result in patronage-based feudal democracy of the kind that exists today.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Musharraf's Legacy

Pakistan's Economic Performance 2008-2010

Role of Politics in Pakistan Economy

India and Pakistan Compared in 2011

Musharraf's Coup Revived Pakistan's Economy

What If Musharraf Had Said No?

Political Patronage Trumps Politics in Pakistan

ASEAN Architect Suharto Passes On


Mayraj said...

Excellent. You list 2 charges against Musharraf's regime, siding with the US and not installing more power generation. But you have failed to mention that Musharraf is accused of violating the constitution by overthrowing the elected government and that he was a 'dictator'.

I would say that Musharraf was in the air when the generals arrested the PM and threw him out. They installed Musharraf after the coup. Secondly, he was no dictator and consulted everyone qualified and his cabinet could disagree loudly if necessary. Compared to the vindictive autocrat that was Bhutto and even BB with her arrogant ways, he was more democrat than even the Bhuttos and Nawaz Sharif. One example, where was the consultation with civil society for the 18th Amendment?

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "But you have failed to mention that Musharraf is accused of violating the constitution by overthrowing the elected government and that he was a 'dictator'. "

Yes, Musharraf was a military dictator who broke the constitution. But, as they say, the constitution is not a suicide pact to enable a nation's mass suicide....and the path Pakistan was on in the 1990s was self-destructive in terms of the stagnant national economy, and growing poverty and deprivation.

Constitutional restrictions must be balanced against the need for survival of the state and its people.

Besides, Musharraf was far more democratic than Pakistan's elected civilian politician autocrats who never allowed free media discourse on national affairs before Musharraf unleashed the media.

I. KAMAL said...

Great article, Mr. Haq. It's about time that the truth be told to the people of Pakistan, who have been duped and brain-washed far too long by wily politicians and a largely biased and sometimes ignorant media.

I agree that, given the conditions in Pakistan, most parts of which are steeped in middle-ages type feudalism, a benevolent dictatorship is a pre-requisite to true democracy. Unfortunately, the Western Powers (to which the country has been shackled because of the heavy borrowings of the so-called democratic governments)start shouting "democracy, democracy" as soon as a person like Musharraf attains power. The so-called dictator is then forced to make compromises with the wily, crooked, politicians,and things start going downhill from there.

Musharraf is a pragmatic person and is now working on coming back through democratic mean to fulfil his vision for Pakistan. We must all support him in his efforts. Articles such as yours need to be spread far and wide.

Anonymous said...

Musharraf is a pragmatic person and is now working on coming back through democratic mean to fulfil his vision for Pakistan. We must all support him in his efforts. Articles such as yours need to be spread far and wide.

yeah right...what sort of welcome do you think NAwaz sharif $ co have in mind?

I. KAMAL said...

To Anonymous:

Yes, Nawaz Shareef $ co is no friend of Musharraf. But it is up to people like you to thrash them:

"Daikh kar raNg-e-chaman ho na pareeshaaN maali

Kaukab o Ghuncha se shaaKheiN haiN chamakney waali

Khas o Khaashhak se hota hai gulistaaN Khaali

Gul bar-andaaz hai Khoon-e-shuhada ki laali

RaNg gardooN ka zara daikh to 'unnabi hai

Yeh nikaltey huey sooraj ki ufaq taabi hai"

----------Allaama Iqbal

satwa gunam said...


If mush rule was the golden era of pakistan, i still donot understand why did he not project himself in the positive manner.

Why did the mass protest against mush for his ultimate removal from power.

Why is he living in england rather than stay in his country for fighting out his political success on the basis of these facts.

I think something is missing which probably we donot understand.

Riaz Haq said...

Based on hunger data collected from 2003 to 2009, IFPRI reported that Pakistan's hunger index score worsened this year to 20.7 (2011) after four consecutive years of improvement reported since 2008 from 21.7 (2008) to 21.0 (2009) to 19.1 (2010) to and its ranking dropped to 59 in 2011 after rising from 61 to 58 to 52.

During the same period, India's index score improved to 23.7 in 2011 to where it was in 2008 after worsening from 23.7 (2008) to 23.9 (2009) to 24.1 (2010) and its ranking moved to 67 in 2011 from 66 to 65 to 67 on a list of 81 nations.

I. KAMAL said...

Satwa Gunam:

"Why is he living in england rather than stay in his country for fighting out his political success on the basis of these facts."

Satwa, There were three attempts on Musharraf's life (because of his stance against the Taliban) while he was President of Pakistan and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. His life will be in great danger in Pakistan without the protection provided by these offices. Yet, he is going back in March 2012, to fight "out his political success" as you have put it. Under the circumstances, his desire to go back can best be described by Faiz Ahmad Faiz's verse:

" Mushkil haiN agar haalat wahaaN, dil baich aayeN jaaN de aayeiN

Dil waalo koocha-e-jaanaaN meiN, kya aisey bhi haalaat nahiN?"

(If conditions are difficult over there, let us go and give our hearts, our lives

O lovers (of the motherland) will the conditions not allow us to do even that?)"

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a WSJ Op Ed on Indonesia as an example for Pakistan:

But Washington found a successful approach toward Indonesia, one that can be mirrored for Pakistan. Working with the friendly regime of Suharto, who seized power in 1966, the U.S. helped engineer a remarkable transformation. Jakarta quashed communism and turned its energies toward economic development. The men in charge, a team of U.S.-trained economists, came to be known in development lore as the Berkeley mafia.

Over the next three decades, it flowered into one of Asia's star performers. In 2005 dollars, per capita income rocketed from $325 in 1970 to the middle-income benchmark of $1,000 in 1993. Even today, despite the setback of the 1998 Asian financial crisis and a rocky transition to democracy, Indonesia leads India and Pakistan in both income and human well-being.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an Op Ed by Dr. Ashfaque Khan published in The News:

Reviving the economy will require addressing both near and medium-to-long term economic challenges. The solution to these challenges boils down to restoring macroeconomic stability on the one hand and promoting economic growth through growth critical reforms on the other.

Let me share my thoughts on these economic challenges. For addressing near term economic challenges, the commitment to fiscal discipline is a pre-requisite. A sound fiscal position is essential to achieving macroeconomic stability, which is increasingly recognised as a critical ingredient for promoting strong and sustained economic growth and lasting poverty reduction. An adequate level of revenue generation is sine qua non for the public policy to fulfil growing expenditure requirements.

The thrust of revenue mobilisation must include reducing tax rates, broadening the tax base, shifting the incidence of taxes from imports and investments to consumption and incomes, and providing a congenial environment to increase tax compliance. Every sector of the economy must be brought under the tax net. An equitable taxation system demands that income originating from any sector, if it crosses the threshold level, must be taxed.

Potential areas which can be brought under the direct tax net include agricultural income, incomes of doctors, lawyers, beauty parlours, chartered accountants, wholesalers and retailers and transporters to name a few. Improving withholding tax regime would increase the government’s tax revenue immensely. Taxes are being collected by withholding tax agents but are not being deposited in the government’s treasury. I am glad that the FBR has taken note of this and is making efforts to address this issue.

On the expenditure side, the government will have to take a bold decision as to the future of the rotten PSEs. In particular, how long can the government bail out these bleeding institutions from taxpayer money? The time has come to offload some of them even at a rupee each and appoint the best team available to manage the others. The government can save at least over Rs300 billion which can be spent on millions of defenceless poor and improving the country’s physical and human infrastructure.

Inept handling of the power sector has resulted in the accumulation of unsustainable circular debt. By raising the power tariff alone, the government has caused circular debt to balloon. Raising the power tariff is tantamount to raising tax rates. It is common knowledge that if we keep on increasing tax rates people will avoid paying taxes. Similarly if we keep on raising power tariffs it will encourage people to use unfair means to avoid paying electricity bills. As long as there are line losses and power theft, the issue of circular debt will always be there.

The government will have to reduce fiscal deficit from 6.5 percent of GDP last year (2010-11) to three percent by 2013-14. This can be achieved, provided there is commitment to fiscal discipline. Reduction in fiscal deficit will reduce the government’s borrowing requirements which in turn will help the SBP to reduce interest rate thereby freeing more credit for the private sector. This would also help the government to lessen its borrowing from the SBP and to moderate inflation.

Restoring fiscal discipline would help maintain price stability provided the government maintains moderation in enhancing government administered prices such as support price of wheat, and power and gas tariffs. Mobilising more resources through taxation on POL products would not help in reducing inflation. Thus, reducing budget deficit, moderation in government administered prices and maintaining exchange rate stability would be critical to bringing inflation down to a single-digit...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on a discussion at Inst of Business Admin in Karachi, Pakistan:

A vigorous difference of opinion among technocrats, economists and corporate leaders on a number of socio-economic issues was witnessed during an interactive session held at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) on Saturday. And at the end it was unclear whether democracy was the answer, or a dictatorship, as advocates for both arguments came up with pretty convincing logic.

Speaking at the session organised by IBA in collaboration with Blinck, a youth resource group, under the title of “New Year Resolutions for the Economy of Pakistan,” panellists candidly expressed disagreements over the questions of foreign aid, democracy and the interplay of policy-making and implementation at the national level.

“Many people think that a non-democratic set-up is a panacea for the economic problems of Pakistan. They’re wrong. A non-democratic government is not sustainable,” said Ishrat Husain, former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, who is currently serving as dean and director of IBA. “Democracy is slow and messy. It takes two steps forward and four steps backwards. Yet it’s the only option. The democratic process shouldn’t be interrupted.”

Husain said military regimes do make an extra effort in the beginning to improve the economy because they have not yet developed a constituency of their own. “But later on, they start making compromises.”

Claiming that a democracy needs low poverty and high literacy rates to prosper, Gillette Pakistan CEO Saad Amanullah Khan said Pakistan had only two eras of development: first, in the early 1960s, and second, during the first three years of the Musharraf government. “I don’t care if a dictator is there as long as he revamps the economy,” Khan said.

He said that the idea of a government led by technocrats that could bring the economy back on its feet had its relative merits. Khan emphasised the need for adopting a national vision for long-term growth, adding that the entire nation should work towards its realisation. “Go to Proctor & Gamble or Gillette, and they’ll tell you their five-year goals in detail. But ask a government representative what the vision for Pakistan is for the next five years, you won’t get any definite answer.”

Disagreeing with Khan, Husain said Pakistan did not need any more “visions,” as the problem existed in their implementation only. “The country is full of pious documents. These are beautifully written policy papers that nobody reads. We all agree on the substance of policy, but the implementation is the real issue.”

Responding to a question, former Asia editor for The Economist Simon Long said it was wrong to attribute Pakistan’s dismal economic performance of six decades to its culture or laid-back attitude to work. He said that 35 years ago people often assumed China’s poor economy was a consequence of Confucianism. He said it was now obvious that Confucianism had nothing to do with the slow growth in the economy of China.

Talking about Pakistan’s economic indicators, Long said an economy with a tax-to-GDP ratio of less than 9% was not sustainable. He said it was hard for him to understand how Pakistan’s economic managers would bring down the fiscal deficit in next two to three years.

In response to the comment of a business student that Pakistan should stay away from all kinds of foreign aid and assistance to achieve self-reliance, Husain said the assumption that the Pakistani economy depended on US aid to survive was wrong. “Isolationism won’t solve our problems. Transfer of knowledge and technology is important. You’ve to be outward-oriented.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a mid-year economic performance summary by Finance Minister Dr. Hafeez Shaikh as reported by APP:

ISLAMABAD, Dec 19 (APP): Federal Minister for Finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here on Monday said economic indicators were showing positive results due to prudent economic policies initiated by the government.Briefing a newsmen, here at the Ministry of Finance, the Minister said the government wanted to improve the workings, efficiency and performance of State Owned Enterprises like Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and Pakistan Railways through introducing efficient management and operating through the professionals in order to make them profitable entities for the economic development of the country.
He added that government has fulfilled the minimum financial requirements of the PSM in order to help the organization improve its working capacity.
He informed the media that large scale manufacturing sector has registered growth of 3.6 percent during the first quarter of current financial year which was a health sign for national economy.
He added that revenue collection up to December 16 stood at Rs. 715 billion which was realized at Rs. 555 billion during the same period of last financial year.
Besides, the governmental expenditures were fixed at 42.5 percent during first five months of current financial year which was recorded at 38 percent, he added.
He further informed that government expenditure had targeted to 50 percent of the total expenditures by December this year which would reach up to 42 percent.
However , he said that it would spent about 40 percent of (PSDP) by December.Secretary Finance, Dr Waqar Masood said that export grew by 11.5 percent against the expected targets of 5 percent,while imports grew by 20 percent as against the expected targets of 10 percent.
He informed that inflation rate was recorded at 10.2 percent during the period under review which was recorded at 14 percent during the last year.
Foreign remittances in the country were increased by 18 percent which crossed US $ 5 billion mark during last five months of current financial year.
Secretary Finance said that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was determined to achieve its revenue targets of Rs. 1952 billion as revenue collection has registered 28 percent growth as compared to same period last year.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in The News on the PPP's unwillingness to face rising poverty in Pakistan:

The World Bank has said that poverty assessment is underway in Pakistan, which will provide the basis for an update on poverty trends, sources said on Saturday.

But the government is making efforts to drag its feet away from revealing any poverty figures in a bid to avoid controversy, they said. In its latest report on Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), the World Bank took conscious decision to sticking the poverty figures of 17.2 percent on the basis of survey done in 2007/08.

The figure of 17.2 percent was not endorsed by the PPP-led government, despite validation extended by the World Bank, they said. There is a sharp divide among the economists over this issue as some are favouring to concede poverty figures validated by the World Bank, but some close to the incumbent regime are raising doubts about the credibility of the data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS).

“There is a need to form high-powered committee with clear cut terms of reference to decide this matter once and for all,” the sources said, adding that the methodology of calculating poverty figures should also be analysed to update it in accordance with the ground realities. Now, the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) has once again accomplished Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurement (PSLM) Survey 2010/11. But the Planning Commission has not yet done analysis to come up with the latest poverty figures, the sources said.

However, the World Bank’s country partnership strategy report said that as reported there are indications that Pakistan saw an impressive decline in poverty trends during most years of the last decade, with the poverty rate falling from 34.5 percent in 2001/02 to an estimated 17.2 percent in 2007/08.

Over the last two years, the WB said, there have been signs that poverty levels may be rising, due to the downturn in the economy, floods and inflation. The rapid post-floods recovery in parts of the agriculture sector (those not hit by back-to-back floods), market price for wheat, and a surprisingly strong growth in remittances would likely to have benefitted the poorest (mainly rural) income groups, according to the report.

While Pakistan’s overall level of inequality remains steady and relatively low as compared to other developing countries, some of the volatile border regions and some rural areas within other provinces have a higher than average level of poverty, it said. Increased migration to the cities has also strained their capacity to deliver the much-needed basic services.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Friday Times story on the impact of NATO supplies on trucking business in Pakistan:

The US and NATO depended heavily on Pakistan for logistic support and a large percentage of the supplies to their troops in Afghanistan when the Afghanistan war began in 2001.

"But after constant attacks on our supplies, we decided to find an alternative route in 2007," said John Arlington, who represents a major contractor in Dubai. "In 2011, less than 40 percent of all NATO and ISAF supplies go through Pakistan."

Arlington explained how truck trade works. "Front-end companies get contracts in DC, and outsource contracts to businessmen in Dubai, who then outsource to trucking companies in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

The business has been so profitable in Pakistan that most transporters have started working exclusively for NATO suppliers, and there is a serious truck shortage, said Umer Ansari, a middle manager in Karachi who looks after supply chain management. "We are paying Rs 124,000 to Rs 130,000 per trip from Karachi to Faisalabad as opposed to Rs 95,000 three months ago."

The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) charges a levy of Rs 400 per container of NATO supplies, and the Qasim International Containers Terminal (QICT) charges another Rs400.

Traders say Pakistani sub-contractors earn $250 million to $300 million a year. "But profits comes with risks," said Muhammad Azam, 38, originally from Wana but living in Karachi.

In mid 2000s, an arrested terrorist disclosed that his group had been trained in suicide bombing by Baitullah Mehsud and was asked to attack NATO trucks. Contractors abducted by the Taliban have to pay ransoms as high as $35 million.

Americans have built one of the largest consulates of the world in Karachi and have repeatedly sought the assistance British diplomats to engage with MQM - a key political party in Karachi - to maintain peace in the city. According to one source, the ANP has huge stakes in NATO supplies and has strong influence among Karachi's transporters. Transporters who deal with NATO supplies are often Mehsuds and Afridis from the tribal belt.

"Its one of the toughest jobs in the world," sub-contractor Abdul Hakim Mehsud said. "Over 13 of my trucks and three of my drivers have vanished in interior Sindh recently. But the profit margins are high and that keeps me motivated."

According to Mathew Irvin, a security consultant for NATO/ISAF in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the recent attacks on NATO supplies in Interior Sindh that began after 2009 are used by the Pakistani security establishment to pressure the US. "Some sub-contractors also report fake attacks to carry out insurance fraud," he said. At least on one occasion, a sub-contractor was caught and fined.

"Gawadar is an alternative port, but it is not operational yet," said Brigadier (r) Shaukat Qadir. He said Pakistan received payments for NATO supplies and it was therefore important for Pakistan to ensure the supplies were not disrupted. Asked who is behind attacks on trucks carrying NATO supplies, he said, "My guess would be TTP and its affiliates, the Punjabi Taliban."

"In December 2008, militants destroyed 400 containers carrying food, fuel, and military vehicles," a NATO source said. After that, NATO and ISAF began paying tribes to ensure trucks reached their destination."

"The attacks are not likely to stop any time soon," according to a foreign diplomat, "but we have made pacts with warlords, tribes and various stakeholders in Pakistan who ensure safe transit of the goods. They include political parties both in Pakistan and Afghanistan." According to a contractor, those who profit from the business include "sacred cows".

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts of a Washington Post story on President Musharraf's speaking circuit and hiring of a lobby firm in Washington:

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, a regular on the foreign policy speaking circuit in this country, is seeking access to top U.S. lawmakers as he plans his return home after several years of self-imposed exile. And so he’s hired a local lobbying firm, to the tune of $25,000 a month, to help facilitate the effort.

So far, the investment appears to have paid off. Early this month, Musharraf met with six U.S. senators — including Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking committee Republican John McCain (R-Ariz.), as well as Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the senior minority member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Musharraf also sat down with former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who just four years ago denounced him as delusional and undemocratic after he suspended Pakistan’s constitution and imposed emergency rule.

The congressional meetings were widely publicized in Pakistan, where Musharraf has struggled to maintain an image as an international player as he plans to return and run for president.
According to a foreign agent registration filed here last month, Musharraf has retained Advantage Associates International, a lobbying group of seven former House members headed by three-term Texas Democrat Bill Sarpalius, who was unseated by the Republican House takeover in 1994.

The seven-month, $175,000 contract is financed by Philadelphia-based Pakistani-American Raza Bokhari, a wealthy physician-turned-entrepreneur and long-time Musharraf backer.

Advantage “helped facilitate those meetings” with Congress, Sarpalius said in a telephone interview. “We just help open up some of those doors where he can meet with some of those members and tell his story.”

Musharraf, Sarpalius said, is “not looking for any endorsements or anything like that. He’s basically been letting people know that he is looking at going back and running for president, and wants these members to understand his views and what he sees are some of the main issues facing Pakistan.”

Along with Vice President Biden and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Musharraf spoke recently at the Washington Ideas Forum, co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. He called on the United States to be more understanding of Pakistan’s “sensitivities” about India, and said the two South Asian countries were engaged in a “proxy conflict” in Afghanistan. India, Musharraf said, was “trying to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan.”

Musharraf also said he had no knowledge, while president, that Osama bin Laden had been living for years in the town of Abbottabad, where a U.S. Special Operations raid found and killed the al-Qaeda leader in May. He said Pakistan may be guilty of “negligence” in failing to find bin Laden, but not of “complicity” in his concealment.

As part of his current 12-city U.S. tour, Musharraf will speak this month at the Clinton presidential library in Arkansas and the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He also plans to return to Washington for an appearance at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace....

Riaz Haq said...

Pak threat to Indian science

Hindustan Times

Pakistan may soon join China in giving India serious competition in science. “Science is a lucrative profession in Pakistan. It has tripled the salaries of its scientists in the last few years.” says Prof C.N.R. Rao, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Scientific Advisory Council.

In a presentation to the Prime Minister, Rao has asked for a separate salary mechanism for scientists. The present pay structure, he says, is such that “no young technical person worth his salt would want to work for the Government or public sector”.

He adds, “You needn’t give scientists private sector salaries, but you could make their lives better, by say, giving them a free house.”

Giving his own example, he says, “I have been getting a secretary’s salary for the last 35 years. But I have earned enough through various awards.

But I can raise a voice for those who aren’t getting their due.” Last year, Rao won the prestigious Dan David Award, from which he created a scholarship fund. So far, he has donated Rs 50 lakh for scholarship purposes.

The crisis gripping Indian science seems to be hydra-headed. “None of our institutes of higher learning are comparable with Harvard or Berkeley,” points out Rao. The IITs, he says, need to improve their performance: a faculty of 350 produces only about 50 PhD scholars a year. “That’s one PhD per 5-6 faculty members,” says the anguished Professor.

Rao fears that India’s contribution to world science would plummet to 1-1.5 per cent if we don’t act fast. At present, India’s contribution is less than three per cent. China’s is 12 per cent.

“We should not be at the bottom of the pile. When I started off in the field of scientific research at 17-and-a-half, I had thought that India would go on to become a top science country. But now, 55 years later, only a few individuals have made it to the top grade,” he laments.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News report of losses at sta6e-owned Pakistan Steel Mills:

The Federal Cabinet that met here on Wednesday with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the chair turned down the loss making Pakistan Steel Mills’ (PSM) request for Rs9 billion to bail it out of financial crisis.

PSM, a few days ago, had moved a summary to the federal cabinet through the Ministry of Production to seek a Rs9 billion bailout package from the government as it was in severe financial crisis; and the Mills was running below 20 percent of its capacity. The cabinet deferred the Mills request until the next meeting of the cabinet.

It is worth mentioning that PSM remained a profit-making entity for seven years, from 2000 to 2007, but as the PPP-led coalition government came into office, the entity started accumulating billions of rupees losses and continues to nosedive. The Mills is spending about Rs1.2 billion a month under different heads, whether it is making profit or raking up losses. The giant holds a constant burden of 21,000 employees despite suffering from low productivity.

The Ministry of Production is also now distancing itself from this politically sensitive entity and believes that the Mills is more in control of the Cabinet Committee on Restructuring of State-Owned Enterprises, headed by the Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Sheikh, well-placed sources told The News.

Interestingly, last year in November, the federal minister for production Chaudhry Anwar Ali Cheema also gave a blatant statement by calling the Mills “nothing but a burden on the economy of the country” and had advised the government that it is better to get rid of it rather than feeding it with billions of rupees every year.

Official sources, while giving a blue print of the Mills performance, said that during 2007-08, PSM production attainment stood at 82 percent of its capacity utilisation and after that, it took a declining course to 64 percent in 2008-09, 40 percent in 2009-10 and 35 percent in 2010-11.

This year too, due to shortage of raw material including iron ore and coal, the Mills is running on less than 20 percent of its capacity.

As far as the sale of PSM products is concerned, it was recorded at Rs42.938 billion in 2007-08 and has been on the decline since then, with Rs34.340 billion in 2008-09, Rs23.832 billion in 2009-10 and Rs27.379 billion in 2010-11.

The last time PSM had fetched Rs2.38 billion in profit was in 2007-08, while after that it continuously racked up losses. In 2008-09, its losses were 26.53 billion in 2009-10 it was Rs11.52 billion and in 2010-11 it was Rs11.49 billion.

According to PSM data, during the first quarter (July-September 2011-12) it accumulated losses of about Rs4.3 billion.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Raymond Baker's book "Capitalism's Achilles Heel" regarding Pakistan's venal politicians:

"While Benazir Bhutto hated the generals for executing her father, Nawaz Sharif early on figured out that they held the real power in Pakistan. His father had established a foundry in 1939 and, together with six brothers, had struggled for years only to see their business nationalized by Ali Bhutto’s regime in 1972. This sealed decades of enmity between the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. Following the military coup and General Zia’s assumption of power, the business—Ittefaq—was returned to family hands in 1980. Nawaz Sharif became a director and cultivated relations with senior military officers. This led to his appointment as finance minister of Punjab and then election as chief minister of this most populous province in 1985. During the 1980s and early 1990s, given Sharif ’s political control of Punjab and eventual prime ministership of the country, Ittefaq Industries grew from its original single foundry into 30 businesses producing steel, sugar, paper, and textiles, with combined revenues of $400 million, making it one of the biggest private conglomerates in the nation. As in many other countries, when you control the political realm, you can get anything you want in the economic realm."
Like Bhutto, offshore companies have been linked to Sharif, three in the British Virgin Islands by the names of Nescoll, Nielson, and Shamrock and another in the Channel Islands known as Chandron Jersey Pvt. Ltd. Some of these entities allegedly were used to facilitate purchase of four rather grand flats on Park Lane in London, at various times occupied by Sharif family members. Reportedly, payment transfers were made to Banque Paribas en Suisse, which then instructed Sharif ’s offshore companies Nescoll and Nielson to purchase the four luxury suites.
Upon taking office in 1988, Bhutto reportedly appointed 26,000 party hacks to state jobs, including positions in state-owned banks. An orgy of lending without proper collateral followed. Allegedly, Bhutto and Zardari “gave instructions for billions of rupees of unsecured government loans to be given to 50 large projects. The loans were sanctioned in the names of ‘front men’ but went to the ‘Bhutto-Zardari combine.’ ” Zardari suggested that such loans are “normal in the Third World to encourage industrialisation.” He used 421 million rupees (about £10 million) to acquire a major interest in three new sugar mills, all done through nominees acting on his behalf. In another deal he allegedly received a 40 million rupee kickback on a contract involving the Pakistan Steel Mill, handled by two of his cronies. Along the way Zardari acquired a succession of nicknames: Mr. 5 Percent, Mr. 10 Percent, Mr. 20 Percent, Mr. 30 Percent, and finally, in Bhutto’s second term when he was appointed “minister of investments,” Mr. 100 Percent.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on management of Punjab development budget under Sharifs:


The Punjab government has spent just Rs70 billion of its Rs250 billion development budget for fiscal 2012-13 in the first seven months of the year, around half of it in Lahore alone, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Under finance rules, the Punjab government should have spent around Rs145 billion on development by the end of January, but had only spent Rs70 billion. Of this, Rs34.19 billion was spent on projects in Lahore, the vast majority of it, Rs31 billion, on the Metro Bus Service.

A senior Finance Department official said it was normal for utilisation of the Annual Development Programme (ADP) to remain low in the first six months of the financial year, and for spending to pick up in the remaining six months. He said that the low utilisation was due to the poor financial position of the province.

Last year, the Punjab government utilised only Rs150 billion of the Rs220 billion ADP presented for 2011-12.

In Lahore in 2012-13, apart from the spending on the Metro Bus Service, the Punjab government has spent Rs1.65 billion on the Kalma Chowk underpasses and Rs540 million on the Model Town underpass. Another Rs1 billion came out of the provincial kitty for the purchase of 100 buses, originally meant to be plied on the MBS corridor, but later given to girls colleges.

Other notable expenses included Rs4 billion for the procurement of 100,000 laptops, which are being handed out to students who perform well in exams. The Energy Department spent Rs2.5 billion on solar lamps, being handed out to 240,000 students under the Ujala programme.

Around Rs1.447 billion has been spent on the Pirwadhai Mor underpass and flyover project.

Another Rs1.25 billion has been spent on the Abdullahpur underpasses in Faisalabad, which involved the construction of three underpasses beneath the Tariqabad bridge leading to Chak Jhumra Road.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on social sector development during Musharraf years:

According to the report’s HDI list, between 2000 and 2007, which roughly corresponds with General Pervez Musharraf’s regime, the Human Development Index rose 18.9 per cent — an annual average of 2.7 per cent.

From 2007 to 2012 it only went up by 3.4 per cent, just under 0.7 per cent per annum. Somehow, things got even worse in the last three years of that time frame, with HDI increases crashing down as low as 0.59% — a negligible average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent.

The 2013 Human Development Report “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World” is instrumental in the context of Pakistan, especially given the challenges faced today due to poor policy choices that have been confronted in the report.

Meeting a small group of journalists here, Marc AndrĂ© Franche, UNDP Pakistan’s Country Director launched the report and said it is important for what it says and there are lessons to be learnt from countries with preconditions similar to Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's how PPP boasts of its record of the last 5 years, as reported by PakistanToday:

The Pakistan People’s Party on Saturday released a 29-point report on its five year performance, highlighting major achievements during the period.
It makes special mention of the constitutional reforms, particularly the 18th, 19th and 20th amendments which provided provincial autonomy, transfer of presidential powers to parliament, smooth installation of caretaker governments and striking down of president’s power to dissolve the assemblies.
Munir Ahmad Khan, the PPP in-charge policy and planning cell, presented the report before the media at a press conference. He said that credit goes to the PPP for ensuring independence granted to the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Khan also came up with a list of important decisions and steps taken by the PPP government to mitigate sufferings of the people despite terrorism in the country.
In this regard, he mentioned a record increase in wheat production, increase in salaries of govt officials up to 158 percent, disbursement of Rs 70 billion among 7.5 million deserving families through the Benazir Income Support Programmed and financial help to 135,000 deserving people by Pakistan Baitul Maal.
On steps taken by the government for economic revival, Khan cited the Pak-Iran agreement on the gas pipeline, agreement with China on Gwadar Port, increase in foreign exchange reserves from $6 billion in 2008 to $16 billion in 2013, increase in export from $18 billion in 2008 to $29 billion in 2012, boost in stock market from 5,220 points in 2008 to 18,185 points in 2013 and reduction in interest rate from 17 percent in 2008 to 9 percent in 2013.
He believed that these measures would help improve the economy and ameliorate the people.
Talking about the measures taken to increase production of electricity, the PPP leader told reporters that the PPP-led government added 3,600MW of electricity to the system besides initiating additional work on Mangla and Tarbela dams for increase of 4,500MW in the system.
The previous government, he added, also got $3.5 billion for Basha Dam, initiated Neelum-Jhelum, Gomal and Satpara dams and Thar Coal project to get electricity from coal besides Jamphar project to get electricity out of air.
He said further the PPP government also reinstated thousands of government servants who were dismissed during the last 13 years and also regularised thousands of contract employees.
Among steps taken by the government for welfare of the masses, Munir Khan listed resumption of trade union activities, distribution of shares among 500,000 industrial workers, cheep tractors to farmers through Benazir Tractor Scheme, increase rural economy from 50 billion in 2008 to 800 billion rupees in 2013.
He said Faisalabad-Multan Motorway and construction of thousands of kilometres of roads.

Riaz Haq said...

Here’s some of what Nyhan found, according to Salon:

People who thought WMDs were found in Iraq believed that misinformation even more strongly when they were shown a news story correcting it.

People who thought George W. Bush banned all stem cell research kept thinking he did that even after they were shown an article saying that only some federally funded stem cell work was stopped.

People who said the economy was the most important issue to them, and who disapproved of Obama’s economic record, were shown a graph of nonfarm employment over the prior year – a rising line, adding about a million jobs. They were asked whether the number of people with jobs had gone up, down or stayed about the same. Many, looking straight at the graph, said down.
But if, before they were shown the graph, they were asked to write a few sentences about an experience that made them feel good about themselves, a significant number of them changed their minds about the economy. If you spend a few minutes affirming your self-worth, you’re more likely to say that the number of jobs increased.

In Kahan’s experiment, some people were asked to interpret a table of numbers about whether a skin cream reduced rashes, and some people were asked to interpret a different table – containing the same numbers – about whether a law banning private citizens from carrying concealed handguns reduced crime. Kahan found that when the numbers in the table conflicted with people’s positions on gun control, they couldn’t do the math right, though they could when the subject was skin cream. The bleakest finding was that the more advanced that people’s math skills were, the more likely it was that their political views, whether liberal or conservative, made them less able to solve the math problem.

I hate what this implies – not only about gun control, but also about other contentious issues, like climate change. I’m not completely ready to give up on the idea that disputes over facts can be resolved by evidence, but you have to admit that things aren’t looking so good for a reason. I keep hoping that one more photo of an iceberg the size of Manhattan calving off of Greenland, one more stretch of record-breaking heat and drought and fires, one more graph of how atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen in the past century, will do the trick. But what these studies of how our minds work suggest is that the political judgments we’ve already made are impervious to facts that contradict us.

Maybe climate change denial isn’t the right term; it implies a psychological disorder. Denial is business-as-usual for our brains. More and better facts don’t turn low-information voters into well-equipped citizens. It just makes them more committed to their misperceptions. In the entire history of the universe, no Fox News viewers ever changed their minds because some new data upended their thinking. When there’s a conflict between partisan beliefs and plain evidence, it’s the beliefs that win. The power of emotion over reason isn’t a bug in our human operating systems, it’s a feature.

Riaz Haq said...

In a candid conversation in San Francisco Bay Area, Pakistani rights activist Asma Jahangir acknowledged it was a mistake to support restoration of CJ Iftikhar overdue acknowledgement six years after Musharraf sacked him. But she still remains staunchly opposed to Musharraf. She is still unwilling to concede what Musharraf did was correct when he removed the corrupt self-serving judge, arguing that dictators hire corrupt judges to serve their interest and fire them once judges stop serving their interest. The problem with Pakistani liberals is that they are elitists who care more about their own rights than the rights of the poor people to get out of poverty and get educated as tens of millions did on Musharraf's watch. It's really Maslow's hierarchy of needs in action: The aspirations of the elite (lawyers, judges, media,feudal lords, tribal chiefs, etc) drive their "rights" agenda at the top of the pyramid while the poor find themselves stuck at the bottom under "democratic" rule, unable to get even their basic physiological needs properly fulfilled.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News Op Ed by Dr. Ata ur Rehman Khan on Musharraf's time in office:

In the agricultural sector a number of important irrigation projects were initiated. The Diamer Bhasha Dam was launched. The Mangla Dam was raised by 30 feet increasing 2.9 maf water storage capacity and 100MW electricity. A number of new dams and canals were built (Mirani Dam for Balochistan, Subukzai Dam for Balochistan and Gomal Zam Dam for KP; Kachi Canal from Taunsa to Dera Bugti and Jhal Magsi to irrigate 713,000 acres of barren cotton producing land, the Thal Canal for Punjab, Rainee Canal for Sindh).

Overall three million acres of barren land were brought under cultivation. The Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD) was constructed through Sindh, thereby saving Indus River and Manchar Lake (Sind) from pollution. The steps taken led to an increase in wheat production from 14 million tons to 22 million tons, and increase in cotton production from nine million bales to 13 million bales.

Price control was exercised on essential items. The prices of edible household items (flour, naan, milk, tea, sugar, meat, vegetable oil etc) have tripled or quadrupled in the last five years. A rotational loan system was introduced through banks for poor farmers and loan facility for farmers increased from Rs35 billion through ZTBL only, to Rs160 billion from all other private banks.

Overall 2900MW of electricity was added to national generation capacity. The new energy projects initiated included the Ghazi Barotha hydro electricity project (1600MW), the Chashma-II nuclear electricity plant (300MW). The Neelum-Jhelum hydroelectricity project was initiated (1800 MW), the Satpara Power project in Skardu, and the Naltar power project in Gilgit.

A true revolution was brought about in the telecommunications sector. The number of mobile phones increased from 600,000 in the year 2000 to over 7 crore in 2006. Tele-density was increased from 2.9 percent to over 70 percent, and millions of jobs were created in the telecom sector. The IT sector also saw a phenomenal growth with internet connectivity spreading rapidly, particularly during 2000-2003 from 40 cities to over 2000 towns of Pakistan.

Fibre optic connectivity increased from 30 cities to over 1500 towns of Pakistan in the same period. The bandwidth cost of two megabytes was reduced sharply from $86,000 to $3,000 per month. Pakistan’s first satellite PakSat 1 was placed in space. Industry prospered as never before and industrial growth was in double figures throughout the nine-year period.

A revolution was brought about in the higher education sector with the establishment of the Higher Education Commission. The annual allocation for higher education was increased from only Rs500 million in 2000 to Rs28 billion in 2008, thereby laying the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy. Student enrolment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutes increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008.

This rapid transformation deeply worried India and a detailed presentation was given to the Indian prime minister on July 22 about the dramatic progress in Pakistan.

A number of steps were taken to strengthen democracy at the grassroots. A large number of new TV channels were allowed and the media given full freedom. The local government system was launched to empower the people through a third tier of government. Women were empowered politically through reserved seats at all tiers of government. Minorities were provided with the system of joint electorate. ....

Riaz Haq said...

In addition to the economic revival, Musharraf focused on social sector as well. Pakistan's HDI grew an average rate of 2.7% per year under President Musharraf from 2000 to 2007, and then its pace slowed to 0.7% per year in 2008 to 2012 under elected politicians, according to the 2013 Human Development Report titled “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”.

Overall, Pakistan's human development score rose by 18.9% during Musharraf years and increased just 3.4% under elected leadership since 2008. The news on the human development front got even worse in the last three years, with HDI growth slowing down as low as 0.59% — a paltry average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent. Going further back to the  decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP,  the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.

Acceleration of HDI growth during Musharraf years was not an accident.  Not only did Musharraf's policies accelerate economic growth, helped create 13 million new jobs, cut poverty in half and halved the country's total debt burden in the period from 2000 to 2007, his government also ensured significant investment and focus on education and health care. The annual budget for higher education increased from only Rs 500 million in 2000 to Rs 28 billion in 2008, to lay the foundations of the development of a strong knowledge economy, according to former education minister Dr. Ata ur Rehman. Student enrollment in universities increased from 270,000 to 900,000 and the number of universities and degree awarding institutions increased from 57 in 2000 to 137 by 2008. In 2011, a Pakistani government commission on education found that public funding for education has been cut from 2.5% of GDP in 2007 to just 1.5% - less than the annual subsidy given to the various PSUs including Pakistan Steel and PIA, both of which  continue to sustain huge losses due to patronage-based hiring.