Tag Archives: Majyd Aziz

Cosa Nostra in Karachi

Share on Facebook

A Cross Post by Majyd Aziz

“This is a moment of choice for everybody, for politicians, and for people right the way down through every part of the community.” Peter Hain (British MP from Wales)

Although Hain was talking about the situation in Ireland, the fact of the matter is that if Hain was a MNA from Karachi, he would be expressing the same sentiments about his metropolitan city. At this time, it is the month of Ramadan, whenMA-LAUGH-1 the faithful perform their ordained religious obligations of fasting, praying, and distributing charity and Zakat. This is the month when retailers and suppliers rake in most of their yearly profits and reduce their held up inventory. This is the month when social welfare organizations bombard citizens with pleas for donations and contributions. This is the month where children look forward to new clothes, new shoes, and new gifts on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, the Muslim day of feast.

Come Ramadan 2011 and Karachi has been transformed into a city where streets have become rivers of blood, where the candles of happiness have been extinguished in hundreds of households, where the citizens, no matter how brave, walk or drive to their places of worship in fear and apprehension, and where there are no signs of security or sanity. This is the city where, instead of religious sermons and religious poetry heard from loudspeakers, one hears the rat-a-tat of gunfire by snipers and even desperadoes brazenly roaming around the city streets and lanes.

There is talk of thousands of policemen, Rangers, and other para-military forces devotedly performing their assigned tasks of maintaining peace and providing security to citizens. This claim is assiduously proclaimed by President Zardari’s Interior Minister Rehman “Baba” Malik as well as by newcomer Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan. Unfortunately, one is a publicity-freak who ensures that he comes up with a new weekly theory, however preposterous, while the other professes to have “dreams” on every subject except how to usher in peace.

The main causes for this bloodshed, for this deteriorating law and order, for this breakdown in Karachi are not something that arose overnight. These are the outcome of the past decade of buildup of brutal power, manipulation, and control by new and old political and religious organizations. Bagh-e-Qassim at Sea View Clifton in Mid-Night...

In USA, especially in New York City, there was a time when five Families of Italian-American origin made life hell for the people and the government. In everyday terms they were known as The Mafia. Among themselves, their operations were known as Cosa Nostra, which meant “Our Thing”. They were also referred to as The National Crime Syndicate and today they have an informal set up known as The Commission. The five main Mafia Families are known as the Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno and Colombo Families. They are all independent but nationwide coordination is thru The Commission consisting of the heads of each Family.

These Families have branched out into various legal and illegal activities but one fact still remains. They are hoodlums and they have a penchant for muscle power. They are ethnic based, they deal in drugs, they deal in land grabbing, they deal in extortion, and they have learnt how to influence the political environment. As Mario Puzo’s Godfather Don Corleone would say, “Make an offer you can’t refuse”. The five Families have faced legal challenges and a lot of laws were used to break them but inspite of all social and governmental pressure, the Mafia is still strong, powerful, and can create havoc.

The Karachi of today is also under the control of five Families. They are also primarily ethnic-based, have well-trained militants, display and use arms openly, have been accused of extortion, murders, bombings, and political muscle. Some are major players in drugs supply, land grabbing and encroachments, extortion, and can even make or break the democratically elected government. These five Families are Pakistan People’s Party, Muttahida Quami Movement, Awami National Party, Sunni Tehrik, and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

The sad fact is that gradually over the past many years all these Families have enhanced their influence over the city and have carved out their own turfs. Three of these Families are basically political parties while the last two are more oriented towards their religious manifestations. They masquerade as religious entities but in effect they too indulge in many illegal operations such as extortion, taking over of mosques, bank robberies, etc. The PPP uses the paraphernalia of a Lyari-based radical organization, euphemistically known as Amn Committee (Peace Committee). This organization has been propped up with official backing of PPP leadership to counter the influence of MQM. The Amn Committee indulges in blatant extortion, gang-wars, drugs, and protection rackets.

The business community is faced with constant threats and demands from all those forces that are on the warpath against one another. The leaders of various markets in Karachi have devised a system where they collect a fixed amount from every shop in a particular market and the money is divided between various extortionists. The government announced the disbandment of the Amn Committee but that was just for public consumption. The Amn Committee is very much active and the chits for extortion are routinely sent to businessmen. The market gossip is that an erstwhile Sindh Home Minister who has a penchant for verbal diarrhea wants to be the Don of Karachi thru this Amn Committee.

The business community has to become strong and fight back. Enough is enough. The task is difficult but when push comes to shove then drastic steps must be taken. The businessmen are tired of being coddled by Rehman Malik. He comes up with his reassuring statements and gets live coverage on the electronic media courtesy the Chamber or the Associations. As always, his bombastic proclamations turn out to be nothing but hot air. Even the police do not take him seriously. One micro example: Few days ago at SITE Association of Industry, the industrialists questioned the procedure of parading alleged criminals by making them wear a hood so that their faces are not seen. Malik assured the meeting that this would be ended immediately. As always, the police hierarchy is all deaf-ears and the old system continues. It is time the business leaders refrain from inviting him at business forums. Business organizations do not need this grotesque publicity.

Businessmen must now have their own armed militia a la the notorious Blackwater of Eric Prince. They should not demand guns for themselves because this is not a doable or advisable step as the soldiers of some of the Families have, according to Malik, latest Israeli guns. Instead, they should obtain the services of counter-terrorism experts who have retired from Pakistan Army to train an elite force. In the short term, retired Army personnel should be hired as mercenaries. Karachi businesses need atleast 300 such commandos. The modus operandi would be that whenever a market or a company receives the demand for extortion, the militia hotline would be informed. The collector would be asked to come and receive the money at a mutually agreed time, and on his arrival he would be caught, hanged upside down, and submitted to third degree torture to extract information from him. Then, gasoline would be poured over him and he should be burned to death. The CD of the whole event would be dispatched to the media, the Supreme Court, and to the Family that sent the collector. This is the pragmatic approach rather than succumbing to pressure from the extortionists and also rather than handing over the collector to the police. All that is needed are four or five such actions and the extortionists would flee the city. The ludicrous step taken by the Sindh government and Malik to “mildly warn” the extortionists to leave the city is proof positive that they have no desire to control this menace.

The other steps that businessmen should take are to compel Karachi Chamber to organize a non-violent, non-cooperation protest where all members would stop depositing their taxes and utilities bills and instead would submit these with pay orders to KCCI so that the government is forced to listen to the cries of the Karachi citizens. At the same time, KCCI must get the top hierarchy of the five Families to come to KCCI where an ultimatum would be issued to all of them to stop their nefarious activities and allow the City to flourish and live in peace. They should also be given a warning to desist from calling protest days and strikes. They should also be told in no uncertain terms that these Families should voluntarily surrender their illegal arms and ammunition, not to the police but to the Pakistan Army. They should also be categorically warned that land grabbing and drugs supplies should end immediately and all such persons within their organizations should be expelled from membership and not provided any political support.

Yes, this is a tall order and as always, the Families will not pay heed. Thus it would then be a desperate call to GHQ and Supreme Court to honor their obligations under the Constitution and help save Pakistan by purging Karachi, the City of Lights, from roguish elements.

As my friend Anwar-ul-Haq, a senior officer of Federal Board of Revenue writes:

In Bastion Ke Baasi Khudaya Teray Supurd

Toofan Uth Rahe Hain Kinaron Ke Saaath Saath

Dono Ki Ik Misaal Hai, Dono Hain Khokhlay

Insan Phat Rahe Hain Gubaaro Ke Saath Saath

Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies.

Businessmen’s Silence is Deafening

Share on Facebook

MA-LAUGH-1A Guest Post by Majyd Aziz

PAKISTAN is fortunate to have a formidable number of experienced, visionary, and dedicated entrepreneurs who have carved out a name for themselves in trade, in industry, in social activities, and at global forums. Inspite of monumental odds and roadblocks, whether in the domestic environment or in international markets, Pakistani businessmen and industrialists have persevered and succeeded. Over the years, they also formed Chambers, Associations, Forums, and Groups to protect, promote, and project their views, their endeavors, and their organizations.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Martin Luther King, Jr.

The trade and industry community has also boldly taken stands whenever the need arose. In 1990, under the aegis of SITE Association of Industry and APTMA, a forum SICORLO was formed to protest the deteriorating law and order situation. At that time, SICORLO issued advertisement on a daily basis making fervent appeals for the restoration of law and order. Millions of rupees were spent, and this campaign proved so effective that the government had to step in, literally pleading that this “sob-story” was giving a notorious reputation to the country and that it could turn out to be counter-productive in the long run. Things did improve for a short time thereafter and then the country was back to square one mainly due to juvenile politicians.

In 1986, under the dynamic leadership of a brave business leader, the late Ejaz Shaffi, the SITE Association of Industry led the campaign against the enforcement of a draconian system in Excise Duty that the mandarins in the erstwhile Central Board of Revenue had tried to introduce by camouflaging it as “simplification procedures”. This was a hectic nine-day protest, where five to six hundred industrialists would gather daily at SITE, keeping their factories shut, and listening to the motivational oratory of Ejaz Shaffi and other leaders. After nine days, Premier Junejo had to fly to Karachi, and at a meeting with the industrialists at the Sindh Governor House, declared that this draconian exercise planned by the egoistic CBR officers would be ended immediately. All this happened during the martial law tenure of General Zia.

The above events are narrated because I was fully involved in both. These brought me into limelight and established by bona fides as a representative of trade and industry.

In recent times, businessmen have had their protests but these have been few and ineffective. Once even FPCCI went on strike during the tenure of Benazir Bhutto but she got the better of it. Recently, a self-styled leader of small traders called a strike against extortion and law and order. Initially, the Karachi Chamber President agreed to support it but Interior Minister Rehman Malik and the Sindh Governor prevailed upon the KCCI leadership to cool down. Resultantly, the strike fizzled out and the small traders’ leader got, what Andy Warhol once said, his fifteen minutes of fame. He was a hot item for a couple of days on the media but then the party was over.

The reason I am presenting these examples is that today, when Pakistan needs to sort out its various problems, the role of the business community is zilch because it is at a crossroads. It has this feeling that policies and events in this country are working against businessmen and their very survivability is at stake. The businessmen have this feeling that they have lost whatever ground they had achieved in the last some years. A situation has developed where it seems that the businessmen are damned if they do anything and damned even if they do not do anything.

The leaders of the business community generally tend to play it safe when it comes to dealing with the ruling party, even in these days of democracy and freedom of expression. The present economic scenario and the recessionary trends in the country along with cost increases, utilities shortages and high rates, coupled with low demand, volatile business conditions, uncertainty of the rupee-dollar parity, and the deteriorating law and order situation, not to mention the upsurge in strike calls, have brought businessmen into a frenzy. Their long-term planning has gone to the dogs while in the short run the capital crunch is proving disastrous. The stock exchange is going down like a roller coaster and the media is showing the mess in vivid colors. It seems that in Islamabad the economy is on the lower strata of the government’s agenda, and the Finance Minister is spending more time in the corridors of IMF and World Bank rather than interacting with the businessmen. In his absence, the FBR fudges figures and the Finance Ministry gets pie in the face. All budgetary calculations are based on what loans and aid Pakistan will or can receive rather than endeavoring to expand the tax base at home.

Pakistan faces on-going violence in Karachi, resulting from political grievances which have been enormously magnified by extremism and lawlessness. It is a shame that the law-enforcers are so impotent that they are not able to control the city. There have been reports that they tend to become silent spectators rather than assiduously performing their obligations. Moreover, if there were no Edhi, Aman, or Chhippa ambulances, how would the injured and dead be transported to the hospitals or the morgue? And the less said about KESC, the better.

The political impasse has been putting a heavy toll not only on Karachi’s economic picture, but also on the nation’s economic progress. At the same time, the effect on foreign investment in Karachi is also being felt. The head of a multi-national stated bluntly that “foreign businessmen are now becoming reluctant to invest under the prevailing circumstances and the only option left for them is to check out other countries.” Another declared in clear terms that the US investors have lost interest in funding projects due to civil strife in Karachi. His colleague added “although foreign investment is not a panacea of all ills, yet the influx of foreign investment in power generation, infra-structure development, and other sectors could help solve crucial issues.” A Japanese representative of a trading company stated that the Karachi problem has discouraged Japanese investors from coming here and that there “is a general feeling among the foreign investors that Karachi is no longer safe to invest.” Another Japanese moaned the circular debt when requested to invest in an upcoming coal-based power project. Ominous words that further erode the image of this city.

The beef against the business leadership is that matters are taken in stride and, if need arises, a press release is issued condemning this or that. That’s it. There is apathy even when rates of utilities are increased multifold. There are murmurs but no conviction in statements or actions. Extortion by vested interests is a daily occurrence but there is acquiescence within the business leadership. Market leaders collect funds on a shop-basis and then distribute them to various extortionists and political elements. Quite easily done. No hassles.

There is no better time than now for the business leadership to catch the bull by its horns. There have been no overtures made to the political parties or to the government or even to the armed forces and judiciary. There has not been a unified stance by businessmen to play a prominent and purposeful role to handle the crisis. The silence is truly deafening. Silence is not golden in this case. The FPCCI President with the support of business leaders like Tariq Sayeed, Siraj Teli, S M Muneer, Aqil Karim Dhedhi, and Asad Umar must initiate the dialog and must energize everyone towards the resolution of the crisis. Hope is there if businessmen mediate and if businessmen put some sense in the ranks of politicians. The FPCCI President is also a Senator and thus is better placed to carry on the task.

So, what it boils down to is that circumstances could look favorable for a solution to the political and economic imbroglio that Karachi is facing. The process should begin. All it needs is a pragmatic, resolute, and sincere push from the businessmen. From Asif Ali Zardari, Altaf Hussein, and the twenty million residents who want their City to become once again a peaceful, secure, and bustling city, this is the message. Peace and prosperity soon!

"There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back."

Tom De Marco and Timothy Lister


Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies.

Pakistan | Youth Resources: Untapped Potential

Share on Facebook

A Guest Post by Majyd Aziz


PAKISTAN is fortunately placed at an envious demographic position as one of the “youngest nations on Planet Earth” with nearly 70% of the population below the age of 35. In fact, the peak youth share is around 21% within the ages of 15-24. The advantage of a young population should enable the country’s planning managers and policymakers to prepare a visionary agenda taking into account the benefits, potential, and value of this young force.

Present Scenario

PAKISTAN is still unable to enjoy the demographic dividend that this young population can bring. The pathetic educational system in the country does churn out graduates but most of them are not worth having within the working environment. Technical training centers are set up all over the country managed by the various provincial authorities. At the same time, organizations such as Skill Development Councils have played a defined role in providing skill development and vocational training opportunities to the youth. The Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Program (BBSYDP) is a visionary and practical initiative undertaken for the youth of Pakistan. Moreover, the employment opportunities for the youth, at this moment in time, are relatively very few, very uncertain, and very low paying. In fact, the absorption of youth in the labor market has been limited to a large extent.

Present Challenges

PAKISTAN is in the midst of the unrest being generated by the sense of deprivation and dejection faced by the youth. The young people are entering or ready to enter the job market and are waking up to the stark reality that jobs are scarce, that they are not properly trained to deal with the available jobs, and that they are not sure of the tenure of the position if they are lucky to land a job.

PAKISTAN is at a crossroads when it comes to handling the youth. The benefits of the demographic dividend are not possible if the youth do not enter the labor market, but then if there are no opportunities to become economically active then the youth would be stranded and lost at sea. This here is the challenge. Youth unemployment is endemic and continues to rise. The rhetorical statements of politicians assuring the youth that jobs would be available become stale news once these politicians are safely ensconced behind the portals of power. The dissatisfaction among the youth increases especially when they are exposed to the electronic media that is showing them a different world and in the process creating wants and desires which cannot be satisfied.

PAKISTAN is also subject to other negative outcome of the frustration of these young people. These youth become readily available fodder for extremist forces who take advantage of this deplorable situation. At the same time, many youth, especially in urban areas, have become unwilling partners in crime and this is substantiated by the phenomenal increase in street crimes and petty burglaries. The proliferation of drug use among the youth is a matter of serious concern too.

PAKISTAN is also beset by other factors that have impacted negatively on the economic viability of this country. The billions that are spent on the Global War on Terror, the burgeoning inflationary trends, the pressure on the currency, the increasing cost of petroleum imports, the physical infrastructure handicap, the dependence on borrowings from the multilateral agencies resulting in a dictated economic policy framework, the disconnect between the provinces due to parochial and ethnic compulsions, the political instability, and the excessive non-developmental expenditure, have not only been demoralizing but have seriously affected the viability and sustainability of trade and industry. Unemployment has become the Number One cause of gloom and doom among the populace.

The Way Forward

PAKISTAN government must plan and promote the National Agenda for Youth Resources (NAYR), in consultation with industrial and trade associations, WEBCOP, economists, and educationists, etc. There is an imperative and urgent need to focus on the various modalities and concepts that would enable the formulation and implementation of the NAYR. The major areas would be:

(a) Ensuring literacy

(b) Provision of skill development and vocational training

(c) [Alternatively, entrepreneurship development]

(d) Internship and practical training

(e) Placement opportunities

PAKISTAN is endowed with talent and resources, both natural as well as human. There is a high priority requirement to indulge in out-of-box thinking and prepare this NAYR. The major areas enumerated above can be further elaborated as follows:

PAKISTAN policymakers have to revisit their educational priorities. A sad reality is that the allocations for education in the Federal as well as Provincial budgets diminish every year. The dismal environment in the government-owned schools has affected the proper schooling of children and this has been transformed into a horrific foundation for the youth. At the same time, most of the private schools profess to provide superior education but the cost to parents is alarming, Of course, the educational institutions set up by social or community-based organizations are playing a paramount role in providing decent education. It is proposed that trade and industry associations, chambers, as well as large enterprises must be mandated to set up educational institutions on their own or must financially support organizations such as Citizen’s Foundation so that quality education becomes universally available.

PAKISTAN government must ordain TEVTAs that have been set up in every Province to initiate projects on Private-Public Partnership basis to modernize, upgrade, and renovate the existing technical and vocational training institutions and also must prepare and plan centers and curricula in consultation with WEBCOP and Skill Development Councils as well as trade associations so that the Pakistani youth can enter the global economy as a well-trained and tested professional.

PAKISTAN has a functioning Higher Education Commission and this organization must assist and direct the various educational institutions to develop alternate programs to introduce and impart knowledge-based education to inculcate entrepreneurship in the youth of Pakistan. This would enable trained or skilled youth to become owners rather than depending on employment.

PAKISTAN has not been successful in ensuring that most of the present technical institutions have a working relationship with trade, industry, or the service sectors whereby programs could be planned to provide on-job-training as well as practical working knowledge of the concerned skill. There is also no system of mentoring the youth. This gap has to be reduced and it is essential that the trainee is able to obtain this hands-on facility and resource.

PAKISTAN political government must ensure that it is essential to take on board the chambers and associations to come up with a systematic and pragmatic program that would encourage the members of the associations and chambers to tap into the pool of these trained or skilled youth and utilize them in their establishments. However, it is pertinent to note that market-demand skills should be taught to the youth rather than depending on outdated or routine curriculum.

Essential Areas of Employment

PAKISTAN policymakers have to accept that the objective of NAYR would be to ensure that training is provided in sectors that conform to the requirements of the global economy as well as addressing the cultural, traditional, and national dynamics of the country. It would be beneficial to the nation, to the individual and to the employer.

PAKISTAN has a strong agriculture base. The youth should be trained in operating equipments that are imperative for mechanized farming. This would increase productivity as well as streamline the cultivation of various crops. Training in proper usage of fertilizer, seeds, and other inputs would surely make a marked influence on the economies of the rural areas. At the same time, there is immense scope in fruits and vegetables, right from plucking down to the eating. The fruit and vegetable farms can provide much needed employment to the young people.

PAKISTAN is also increasing its share in the services sector. Educated youth can fill the demand for human resources in various fields in the services sector. Call centers, software programming, hotel and restaurants, sales representatives, cell phone repairs, food catering, enumerators, security services, event management, and transport drivers are areas where formidable job opportunities can be created.

PAKISTAN is going to witness a boom in construction, especially in low-cost housing. There is a backlog of over nine million housing units that have to be built to cope up with housing demands. Private sector is ready to provide training for trades associated with the construction industry. Skilled operators are required for bulldozers, dumpers, loaders, and other construction equipment. BBSYDP does provide short term training for masons, plumbers, electricians, floor tilers, painters, etc. At the same time, there would be ample job opportunities in cement, paint, sanitary fittings, cables, fans, geysers, tiles, and other nearly 40 industries due to the housing boom. There are not that many skilled workers at present to cope up with the upcoming demand by the housing sector.


PAKISTAN can get out of the economic morass if concerted efforts are made with passion and with sincerity. It is also incumbent upon the youth to be serious in acquiring the skills and knowledge to prepare for a career in their chosen fields. Needless to mention, a working youth will generally not resort to fraternizing with extremist elements nor would the youth subscribe to unethical and objectionable activities if one is busy with his vocation. It is only then that Pakistan will greatly gain from and benefit from the demographic dividend deriving from the large potent youth population. The Great Poet Allama Iqbal expressed his admiration for those young people who are achievers:

Mohabat mujhe oon jawano se hai
Sitaron pe jo daaltay hain kamund


Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of BBSYDP Sindh

Views expressed in guest posts are the opinions of the author and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of DiscoMaulvi and From The Pulpit…

Related or Similar Posts

Pakistan: Traditional security challenges and response

Share on Facebook

Majyd Aziz

A Guest Post by Majyd Aziz

PAKISTAN is on the global radar nearly every day. The world leaders, the universal media, and the international analysts and think-tanks have their daily dose of news and views from Pakistan. The country has never been so embroiled in safeguarding its sovereignty and its security than in these intense and severe times.



PAKISTAN has, over the past some years, become the flashpoint as well as the most important country in the Global War on Terror. The Al-Qaeda obsession, the fear of Pakistan’s strategic assets falling into the hands of militants and extremists, the Western penchant for containing political Islam, the ever-increasing thirst for Middle Eastern oil, the fascination with mineral resources in Afghanistan, the domineering and influencing China factor, and the fixated concern for the safety and defense of Israel, have all resulted into an ominous scenario for the Islamic countries, with the paramount brunt being borne by Pakistan.


PAKISTAN has, directly or thru outside influence, become one of those Muslim countries that is now a battleground where the armed forces of various countries have joined as a coalition to achieve the American great game objectives enumerated above. The oft-repeated American mantra of “Do More” has created a deep chasm between the Washington’s flawed Af-Pak policy and the pragmatism of the High Command in Rawalpindi.


PAKISTAN is in an unenviable geo-politically strategic location and is the sole Islamic nuclear power. It also borders China, India, Iran, and Afghanistan and thus any vibrations from these countries are strongly experienced within the borders of this nation. Pakistan’s international commitments to the Coalition Forces has put a disastrous dent in the already-strapped financial resources of the country, although since 2002, the United States has pumped in over US$ 10 billion in security-related support and nearly US$ 4 billion in economic support.


PAKISTAN has also, for many decades, become involved in a proxy war between the two major sects of Islam. This has primarily been supported by Saudi Arabia and Iran thru financial resources, thru ideological guidance, and thru tapping of the myopic approach of the clergy of both the sects in Pakistan. This has also intensified with the rise of militancy and extremism that has played havoc with the peaceful internal environment of Pakistan.


PAKISTAN has also been embroiled in the never-ending militaristic, propagandistic, and diplomatic onslaught by the traditional nemesis India. The non-resolution of the Kashmir issue and the atrocities committed in the Valley by the Indian armed forces, New Delhi’s skewed mindset for blaming Pakistan for every event or problem faced by India even if these are concoctions or perpetrated by third forces, the blatant interference in Balochistan by Indian-supported militants, and the demonic influence of India in instigating Kabul against Pakistan have played a disastrous toll on the resources of Pakistan.


PAKISTAN policymakers have to juggle various options in order to maintain its relationship with the Coalition Forces and at the same time, address the concerns of citizens who see Pakistan being a pawn in what a former American National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, referred to as “The Grand Chessboard”. At the present moment, there is an exploding anti-American sentiment and its negative consequences are directed towards the political and at times the military hierarchy. The army is the last bastion of assurance for the people and thus this must be further consolidated and strengthened. This requires that a proper approach should be initiated by the GHQ in which the denizens of Pakistan are taken into confidence and the ground realities are presented thru a correct media approach. It is imperative that the population be mobilized, it is important that the country’s strategic assets must be modernized and deployed within a given time frame, the nation’s political elements must have the stamina and critical mass to generate diplomatic and moral support for the armed forces, and more importantly, trade and industry must provide the needed back-up thru mobilization of financial resources, thru international image building, and thru private–public partnerships in areas crucial for the military to become a potent power. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to be pro-active in economic diplomacy, in promoting a soft image of the country, and being aggressive in public international relations. This rethinking is essential in the countering the negative implications of external threats as well as removing the perception that Pakistan is subservient to Washington’s dictates.



PAKISTAN also suffers from the ignominy of being in a quagmire of internal problems that either are fallout from the effects of the external threats or are also self-created or self-generated due to non-resolution or diffidence to these issues in the past. These threats are as follows:


PAKISTAN has witnessed a severe economic downturn over the past couple of years. The nation has seen inflation inching towards the 20% mark while the State Bank of Pakistan is religiously increasing the discount rate in every Monetary Policy announcement. The unemployment lines are increasing daily while industrial investment has stagnated. Non-performing bank loans have breached the Rs 500 billion threshold, while the government keeps obtaining loans from commercial banks and the State Bank of Pakistan. The foreign exchange reserves are positive and at an all-time high, but at the same time, the external debt is over US$ 57 billion and growing. IMF has blocked the release of the next Tranche citing the inability of the government to undertake taxation reforms, specifically Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST).


PAKISTAN is currently facing the negative ramifications from various actions taken or ignored by successive governments especially in trying to achieve national integration. The hard stand taken by the Musharraf government in the Kalabagh Dam issue pitched Punjab against the three smaller Provinces. The Akber Bugti episode alienated a significant percentage of Balochis resulting in the influence of the Balochistan Liberation Army which itself became fodder for Indian and other countries’ manipulations and machinations. The renaming of NWFP as KPK brought Pakhtuns and non-Pakhtuns at loggerheads and the issue continues to create heartburns. Even the disastrous Lal Masjid imbroglio created rifts within the country. Recently, the exercise to amend the Law of Blasphemy has further vitiated the already traumatized nation. Punjab’s Governor became a fatal victim due to his vociferous views on this law. The obsession of various political parties to use the parochial card also aggravates the delicate environment. While PML (N) uses the Punjab Card, the PPP depends on flashing the Sindh Card to achieve desired objectives. Of course, the Raymond Davis problem is another gigantic headache for the government and other political parties.


PAKISTAN also suffers from the menace of sectarian divide. The Sunni-Shia issue is exploited by inimical forces to create a disturbing law and order situation in the country. The Deobandi and Barelvi routinely fight over ideology and rituals and this has been intensified by suicide attacks on shrines and mosques. Ahmadis, Christians, and Hindus also face threats to their lives, property, and places of worship. Hindu families prefer migration to India rather than living in perpetual fear. Theocracy has managed to exert control over many aspects of daily lives of citizens. Unrestrained leeway is accorded to rabble-rousers who cash in on the misguided sentiments of people and use this to further their own agenda. The misuse of the Madrassahs has eroded the sanctity of these important learning institutions


PAKISTAN is also facing suffocation due to ethnic distrust or ethnic hegemony. The emergence of ethnic-based political parties has further intensified this polarization. The country is still trying to figure out how many ethnic nationalities are dominant in the country. Turf wars between the land mafia or the drug mafia or even criminals are portrayed as ethnic clashes and this tainted colorization destroys civic peace and harmony. Karachi is a perennial hostage to the conflict created by the two major ethnic groups, each with its own vituperative agenda and blatant disregard for the consequences.


PAKISTAN is endowed with juvenile politicians who are still unsure whether they have grown out of the influence of military rule since they still harbor the draconian tendencies and wield the proverbial machete on real or perceived political enemies. The concept of a democratic order is espoused ad nauseam and every action or statement against them is defined as an anti-democracy offensive. Opposition for the sake of opposition is the norm and the advent of talk shows on electronic media has further stoked up this instability and this infighting. Moral as well as material corruption has generally been the hallmark of a political government and this has ensued into a situation where institutions are brought to the precipice of disaster and where the country’s resources, whether these are financial, human, natural, infrastructure, or strategic are ravaged, plundered, and brazenly exploited.


PAKISTAN is a country that in the past six decades has been subject to five or six wars, that has seen devastation due to floods and earthquakes, that has never reconciled to the fact that all its residents are Pakistanis firsts, that has seen political experimentation that has always boomeranged diabolically on the experimenters, and in the process, brought pain and sorrow to the citizens. What is imperative is a sincere effort to achieve reconciliation and integration that would usher in progress and prosperity, and would open new avenues of economic support and improvement in the quality of life for the citizens. What is essential is that intellectuals and social activists must ensure that people are motivated towards achieving a better and livable Pakistan rather than developing an apathetic mindset that gradually erodes every sense of nationalistic participation.

PAKISTAN has the largest percentage of youth in the world. 60% of the population is under 25 years of age. At this moment, the present, as well as the future, looks bleak for them. This negativism leads to resignation and that in turn impels them to drift towards anti-state elements who then use these young people as human cannonballs. The passion and energy of the youth have to be harnessed in a positive mode thru a visionary process that can be possible only when the policymakers themselves become immune to narrow-mindedness and parochial biases. The Armed Forces can play a prominent role in this respect. ISPR can initiate and finance motivational programs that can ignite the fire of patriotism, national integration, and challenges in the youth of today. The business community can contribute towards the development of the youth by supporting programs for entrepreneurship, for skills development, and for venture capitalism. The reason why focus should be on the youth is very logical. Nationalism and patriotism are forgotten words today. The youth of Pakistan must be steered on to the right path as they hold the key to the future prosperity of this motherland. Chinese President Hu Jintao, in his speech to the Chinese Parliament stated, “Let’s build a harmonious society in which the no-holds barred economic growth will be replaced with a more socially responsible form of development, with increased spending on education, healthcare and rural infrastructure”.

February 18, 2011

Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies.

Views expresses in guest posts are the opinions of the author and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of DiscoMaulvi and From The Pulpit…

Related or Similar Posts

Pakistan Needs A Better Business Environment

MA-21CBEC-CLOSEUP (Medium) A Guest Post by Majyd Aziz


The economic prosperity of any country is largely due to the initiatives of the private sector and fully supported by the government thru demand-oriented facilities. The government has to introduce a laissez-faire mode of relationship with regard to industry and trade. In Pakistan, there has always been a yo-yo style relationship between the government and the business community. The over-employment in the government bureaucracy has led to abnormal increase in governmental interference, harassment, and corruption. This has come to a point where about half of the industrialist’s time is wasted on government matters such as inspections, audits, correspondence, reports, filling forms, and visits to government offices. The government must reduce the plethora of taxes, must minimize punitive measures, must lessen the visits of petty officers of myriad agencies, and must slash the tax rates if there has to be increased investment in the country.

It is essential that the government seriously revisit the General Sales Tax regime (whether it is Value Added tax or Reformed GST) and transform it into an acceptable and workable form. The present backbreaking 17% rate is criminal, it leads to temptation to evade, and is keeping traders and industrialists from registering under the system. If the VAT has to be enforced then it must be with determination and must be broad-based with all links in the chain covered. But, more importantly, it is imperative that the rate is not more than 5%, otherwise, this scheme will be difficult to implement and will remain hostage to the corruption syndrome. The present uncertain thinking by the government in GST matters is the root cause for the vicious campaign against VAT.

Furthermore, the industrialists, and more importantly, the traders would become prisoners of the discretionary, arbitrary, and coercive powers of the concerned officers. There would be frequent squabbles with the tax staff, there will be continued visitations by all kinds of agencies who will keep on demanding information which the Collectorate will already have, and there will be so much discomfiture and dejection that the industrialists and traders would be forced to cower and grovel into succumbing to the eventual and highly popular "muk-muka".

The government can become more involved in bringing about a comprehensive documentation system in the economy if it affirms its determination to continue with the process. The trend towards dilly-dallying on important issues has brought about a negative response to various governmental measures and has fortified the resolve of those who do not agree with the government’s scheme of things. It is imperative that the administration provides a sustainable solution to the process of documentation and that can only be done if the government can establish its writ but at the same time bringing about a kinder, gentler tax regime. The high-handedness of tax collectors must be checked and those elements in the tax collecting agencies that are bent upon creating a polemic condition must be removed from the scene. The government must understand that the pragmatic way to bring forth universal documentation is to provide an enabling environment.

The government must begin efforts to strengthen local bodies and this can be done by finalizing the date for local bodies’ elections and a systematic devolution of power down to the local level. The balance sheets of District Governments must be published and must be made transparent so that the citizens can get an opportunity to know what they are earning and spending and in which manner. There is immense amount of corruption in these local bodies. Fly-by-night companies are given contracts for city projects, etc. It is proposed that the government, in the first instance, target five cities, i.e., Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, and Quetta, and divide them into zones. The road construction project, for example, could be given to one construction company for every zone, and that this company should be wholly responsible for the construction of the roads in that zone. If then the roads condition deteriorates, that company must repair it and must be penalized for shoddy work. These companies should be well-established ones, and that one-deal companies are not entertained at all. A bank guarantee could be a pre-condition to keep these companies in check.

It would not be out of place to quote the example of SITE Ltd. There is a total collapse of infrastructure in the largest industrial estate of the country. SITE Ltd needs an immediate and complete overhaul. The organization is still in the dark ages and continues to act like a mean, vicious, and demanding landlord. So much so, even the Supreme Court had to intervene and order the setting up of effluent treatment plants and a general clean-up of the estate. Of course, even today it is dirty, unorganized, encroached, and getting worse by the day. Remember, it is this same estate that provides nearly 30% of the total revenue of the government.

It is important to mention the need for an encouraging environment for textiles too. There are no two opinions that all the components of the textile sector should be confident and should be appropriately satisfied that they have been adequately backed by the government. The relevant ministries and agencies must resolve on priority basis the residual issues that still impact negatively on these constituents of the textile sector since these actions would ensue into more employment, more exports, and more industrialization.

A better and more enabling environment could be created if the government is serious about controlling the rampant under-invoicing, smuggling, and mis-declaration. The Afghan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement is another deterrent. Labor is unmotivated and thus productivity, efficiency, and quality still haunt the industrialists. It would take years before water, gas, and electricity is available on demand. And, the less said about the monetary policy of the State Bank of Pakistan, the better. All these are impediments and roadblocks. The recent floods and the havoc it generated have formidably pushed the country’s progress. Billions would be required to bring sanity into the country. There is no political stability, there is no quality of life, and there is no continuity of policies. In spite of the oft-repeated mantra that “all is well”, the sad fact is that the road towards prosperity is full of pot-holes, it is dark, and it is under constant attack.

The solution lies in seriously and sincerely taking the industrial and business community on board. Policy making without intensive deliberations and without ascertaining the needs and demands of the industrialists and businessmen would be just another ad hoc measure. The time to change is now. The global marketplace is already becoming saturated with competitors from other nations. Pakistan cannot be a bystander or an isolated soloist in the world today. But, for now, "Le plus ça change, le plus c’est le même chose" (The more things change, the more they stay the same).

August 11, 2010


Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies. 

Reflections on Independence Day

Majyd Aziz  A Guest Post by Majyd Aziz


August 14. A day etched deep into our souls, the souls of 170 million Pakistanis. A day to bolster our profound commitment to the achievements of the goals, aspirations, and vision of the Founding Fathers. A day to meditate, to contemplate, and to remember. Every citizen of Pakistan celebrates the day as an ultimate reminder of the struggle for Independence from the British Raj. It is on August 14 that Pakistanis forget their privileged ethnicity, their provincial affiliation, and their heart burning prejudiced sensitivities. There are no political party flags fluttering and the only colors visible are the green and white that make up the country’s proud standard.

August 14. Preparations for this memorable day begin weeks in advance. The stores and the roadside vendors are fully geared to stock and sell their patriotic wares. The electronic media has chalked out programs to highlight the day and provide dazzling entertainment for the viewers. The marketing departments of newspapers are out soliciting advertisements for the Independence Day supplements. The Press Information Department is busy digging out messages from the President and the Prime Minister from its archives that they would polish, buff, and then send to all newspapers. The motivating vision of the Founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, concise and significant, is oft repeated and reminded. His remarkable words, Unity, Faith, and Discipline, are the hallmarks of a true visionary. He was absolutely sure that these three words would, a few decades down the road, ensue into a formidable nation, a unified country, and a prosperous Pakistan.

August 14. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Leader, and Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal, the Dreamer, are revered by every citizen, for it was they who guided the Muslims of British India to persevere, to strive, and to achieve freedom from London. Jinnah, educated at the Lincoln’s Inn, and Iqbal, with knowledge gained during his sojourn in Germany, were far-sighted and bold gentlemen. They knew that the economic, political, and social emancipation for the Indian Muslims would only be achieved in an environment where there were no shackles of slavery and no strangulation from the domination of the Hindu juggernaut. Their dream and vision culminated into freedom at midnight on August 14, 1947.

August 14. Sixty two years after Independence, Pakistan has not reached the heights Jinnah had dreamed of. A belligerent Eastern neighbor not yet reconciled to the fact that Pakistan exists and has made its presence felt globally, a wobbling North Western neighbor still suspicious of Pakistan’s role in its sovereignty, a reactionary Western neighbor mindful of the dominance of Pakistan’s Sunni majority, and the benevolent Northern neighbor who proudly acclaims Pakistan as its all-weather friend, all have in more ways than one impacted on the sustainability and survival of this Islamic nation. The past events witnessed the separation of the erstwhile East Pakistan from West Pakistan thru a diabolical and Machiavellian conspiracy hatched in Agartala, India, and tacitly supported by forces inimical to the ideals of Pakistan. Moreover, pygmy politicians joining hands with self-centered bureaucrats managed to create havoc and conspired to throttle the prosperity of the country. They waited for Jinnah and Liaquat to die and then they put their satanic game plan into action. The muddle created by them encouraged the protectors of the borders to move the troops out from the cantonments and march towards the capital. Of course, there were intermittent occasions when the façade of democracy was thrust upon the citizens, evidently with damaging ramifications.

August 14. Pakistan’s economy has had a checkered history. A centralized, regimented, and controlled economy that favored a selected few restricted the entry of enterprising entrepreneurs and those who had the urge to venture into industry. Licenses, permits, and approvals were sanctioned to the blue-eyed industrialists and this created an appalling wide gap between the so-called 22 families (a term popularized by the late Dr Mahbub ul Haq and used by him in a contemptuous manner) and those who owned SMEs. Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto superbly exploited this frustration when he rallied the nation against these conglomerate moguls and which ensued into the disastrous nationalization action of the first PPP government. Although the Ayubian era was considered as the Decade of Reforms that witnessed massive industrialization, the fact remained that the 22 families savored the cream and the small industrialists resigned themselves to eating crumbs. After the takeover by the Zia-led junta, there was again a flurry of industrial activity and gradually the confidence of industrialists and businessmen was restored.

August 14. Just three days after Independence Day in 1988, Zia, whom Bhutto had appointed as Chief of the Army, incidentally on April Fool’s Day 1976, did not pay heed to the warning to stay away from mangoes. His death brought in four short-lived political governments headed twice each by supreme political rivals, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. Calling each other traitors, the two fiddled with democracy and the Treasury. Pakistan became a pauper in the comity of nations and the economy was on a roller coaster ride. The golden period emerged after Musharraf came into the scene and brought his technocrat government to salvage whatever remained of the Islamic Republic. Post 9/11 brought in manna and soon the country was on the path of economic prosperity due to the foundations led in the first three years of Musharraf’s tenure. Freedom to do business. Freedom to set up industry. Freedom of the media. Telecommunication revolution. Incentives to foreign investors. The list goes on . . .

August 14. The year 2007 saw Musharraf being hijacked by his myopic advisors and the motley crowd known as PML- (Q), led by two cousins from Gujrat and supported by a banker turned pygmy politico on whom Lady Luck smiled and made him a Prime Minister. Calamitous decisions undertaken by the government resulted in the rapid downslide in the popularity of Musharraf. The arrival of Benazir and her assassination at the fag end of 2007 was the last straw that broke the back of this government. PPP, along with its allies, formed a coalition government and tried to tackle the rising inflation, the fall in exports, the increase in imports, the dependence on dole from IMF, the infrastructure shortages, the menace of terrorism and extremism, and general discontent.

August 14. The Independence Day in 2010, one hopes, could be the harbinger of a new age of economic prosperity. But Pakistan is at the mercy of the fury of nature along with human mistakes and governmental apathy. The nation is under water with over 1.5 million citizens displaced, deaths unaccountable, property and assets destroyed, families uprooted, and no control anywhere. It is worse than the Tsunami says the Secretary General of UN. The various precautionary measures taken by the government to avert this calamity have failed. As always, the government looks toward external and domestic financial support. Citizens and some foreign countries have responded. The Federal and Provincial governments announced the setting up of relief funds. However, this time the government received a rude shock. Nobody wants to donate cash to this government. The credibility and trust factor has gone with the flood. The deluge also brought high prices and shortages everywhere. This is going to be a tough Holy Month and surely a somber Independence Day. Pakistan’s prosperity has been pushed back by over five years.

August 14. The dice is loaded against the government, the stakes are high, and the avenue is full of roadblocks, potholes, and debris. The government is maneuvering to sustain thru ad hoc measures and long term planning conjured up by ignorant and foreign-returned consultants. Policies are prepared in an NGO mode rather than oozing with pragmatism. What is needed is total focus on the economy and the way to do is to take into confidence the real stakeholders, that is, the business and industrial community. This is the right approach and one that surely works. When will the government listen? The answer, as always, is blowing in the wind.

August 11, 2010


Majyd Aziz is a Karachi based Entrepreneur and a senior leader of the business community. He is a former Chairman of SITE Association of Industry, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry and has held posts on the board various public organizations and companies. 

Mission Accomplished – Maxim

Guest Post by Majyd Aziz


 Copy Right Maxim / The Nation