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Low GDP: myth or reality

Published on 18th Aug, Edition 33, 2014

 

One often hears statement like: 1) Pakistan is over populated, 2) size of its GDP is too small, 3) per capita income is minuscule, 4) a large percentage of population lives below the poverty line, 5) country has been surviving on borrowed money, 6) load shedding of electricity and gas is extensive and 7) despite being an atomic power, its survival is often threatened by whatever is happening in the region. All these statements may look true but are part of an ongoing disinformation campaign going against Pakistan since independence. British Raj has left a thorn – Kashmir- that has resulted in three wars between Pakistan and Hindustan.

It is often alleged that Hindus have not accepted division of subcontinent and now openly say, “We will not allow another division of country on the basis of religion”. Both the countries have been spending billions of dollars annually on the purchase of lethal arms, in a mad race to attain supremacy on each other. Had this amount spent on the welfare of people, India and Pakistan would have been the largest economies of the world. If Bangladesh also joins hands, the three countries have huge resources, dedicated and hardworking manpower and above all constitute the largest percentage of global population.

The followers of colonialism know it very well that they could prevail over by following ‘divide and rule policy’. First they created hatred among Muslims and Hindus to divide the subcontinent into Pakistan and Hindustan and then created Bangladesh, after a bloody war in East Pakistan. The two countries were used during the cold war era by the super powers and are still towing the agenda of the super powers blindly rather than protecting the interest of their people.

For the last four decades, Pakistan has been fighting ‘US proxy war in Afghanistan’, India has also been dragged into this in the name of ‘developing economy of war-torn Afghanistan’. India was also encouraged to construct Chabahar port in Iran to undermine importance of Pakistan. The US is trying to get control over Indian Ocean by projecting India as regional super power. Under the US pressure India quitted Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline and in exchange got nuclear technology for civilian use.

To create a justification for retaining NATO/US troops in Afghanistan, rival groups have been created that get funds and arms from the super powers. Not only Pakistan is a victim of cross border terrorism of the groups hibernating in Afghanistan, but these mercenaries also stage encounters at Iran-Pakistan border. The much talked about insurgents demanding ‘Independent Balochistan’ are also funded and supplied arms by those powers, which have been busy in inflicting destruction in Iran, since Islamic Revolution. A ten-year war was imposed on Iran and it still endures sanctions. Two of the largest oil producers of OPEC, Iran and Iraq are not allowed to export crude oil due to war being fought in Iraq since 2001 and Iran under economic sanctions for more than three decades.

Pakistan is the worst victim of militancy and its economy has been virtually destroyed, its social fabric torn apart and its rulers forced to say ‘we are fighting our war in Afghanistan, not the US proxy war’. It is on record that the US created phantom called Taliban, which was later joined by the mercenaries from many countries. Now they are creating havoc in Pakistan, particularly in Karachi through killing and sabotage and in Balochistan by blowing up gas pipelines and not allowing the exploration and production companies to continue their work.

 

In Karachi terrorist use residents of areas, where they have found safe sanctuaries, as human shield, indulge in blatant pilferage of electricity and gas, booty collection, land grabbing and sale of arms and drugs. These anarchists, wearing different caps, are adamant are crippling economic activities in Karachi. While electricity and gas pilferers are thriving, those paying their bills are enduring prolonged outages. Booty collectors have virtually ruined public transport and economic activities in the city, which is lifeline of Pakistan.

Being the port city it offers the best location for industrial units, but it was businessmen having their entities in Karachi were put at a disadvantage by offering incentives to those investing in special zones. It is on record that most of these ‘tax free zones’ are in pathetic conditions. On top of that that only a minuscule amount of revenue collected from Karachi was spent on its development. The result is infrastructure (roads, public transport and utility companies) could not meet requirements of the city.

This could be best understood by looking at electricity demand and supply in Karachi. Till mid nineties KESC produced surplus electricity but now it buys nearly 1,000MW from other sources. This is mainly because the successive governments failed in establishing any power plant in Karachi after Bin Qasim commenced full operation. According to the experts, Karachi has an estimated demand of 5,000MW whereas K-Electric can at the best supply 2,500MW. The industries are surviving only because these have installed in-house generation facilities.

Other industrial areas in Pakistan also face long outages because distribution companies operating in the public sector have not been able to contain rampant pilferage and recover outstanding dues from consumers not paying the bills. The policy of increasing electricity and gas tariffs has failed in improving cash flow of the distribution companies.

Roads and footpaths in Karachi have been encroached causing the worst traffic jams that lead to huge waste of fuel. Public transport is highly insufficient to handle daily movement of millions of passengers. Roads, flyovers and underpasses have not been constructed because ‘vehicle tax’ collected from Karachi is being spent in other cities. The situation improved to some extent when Mustafa Kamal was City Nazim but since then only a few projects have been constructed. If government considers collection of revenue its right, then spending it on the people of city is its duty, which it has failed in discharging. If appropriate infrastructure is put in place, Karachi could help in brining industrial revolution in the country.

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