We use the right gun but shoot the wrong target. This has been a Pakistani trait for ages when it comes to governance. In the time of Bhutto sahib, we nationalized something that grows a country and its revenues, its economy. The worst move in my opinion or in the opinion of anyone who has some knowledge of how economies should be run.
Right gun, right ammo, right shooter but wrong target. History of Pakistan is full of evidences for this type of approach. Starting from our independence till recent years. National Reconciliation Ordinance, given by Musharraf to the thugs who have looted Pakistan barbarically, to giving state protection under the garb of MUFAHIMAT to MQM for ages who ruined the city of Karachi and ruled it with an iron fist, to implementing economic policies that only benefit the ruling class-such as the 1992 act where Nawaz Shareef allowed anyone to take dollars out of Pakistan under a legal protection causing the national exchequer to lose tens of billions over the decades and making corruption laden funds to flee the country easily, causing our Rupee to be under pressure constantly.
Policies should benefit the poor of the country before they benefit the elite because it is the poor, who once given a chance to rise to lower middle class status, bring betterment in the economy. It is always the bottom up approach that benefits the national economy. Poor to lower middle class, lower middle class to middle class, middle class to upper middle class, this is the vertical direction within which if betterment continues then an economy becomes stronger. It is never the top down approach. The top of the echelon elites are supposed to inject what they earn back into the national economy instead of stashing their wealth, rightly or wrongly earned, overseas.
Take it a step further, when the public servants, from an economy that is hurting, like ours, take out their wealth and invest it overseas, two things happen. One: it promotes more corruption by giving a safe haven for the illgotten wealth to be safely protected. Two: it encourages others to become more corrupt because of such loopholes that reward corruption.
In a country like Pakistan where almost the majority of the politicians come from an elite class, and the majority of the ones they rule are from below the poverty line, a balance needs to be created. A balance that prohibits privilege to be tilted towards the elite.
Now let us come to the point of the article.
How can a public servant, whose only income is from our tax money, may it be a politician, bureaucrat, armed forces personnel or even a district level administrator, own a property overseas or have any business or partnership abroad while Pakistan is suffering from a lack of domestic investments ?
We have a law that forces public servants to surrender their foreign nationalities before joining any public office but we allow them to stash their wealth abroad after giving up their foreign nationalities which they can easily regain once they leave the office.
This is what I meant when I wrote above that we use the right gun but shoot the wrong target.
We need to nationalize our public servants rather than the economy. We need to ban and legislate serious punishments for any government office holder for owning any business or property overseas.
Russia already has such a law. And England is debating upon this law to be implemented in their country as well. What an irony, England, where the world’s most looted money is stashed away in the form of properties, trusts under its jurisdictionally owned Islands is considering their own public servants from making overseas investments but us Pakistanis are watching our foreign reserves dwindle for decades and allowing flight of capital on a consistent basis.
It is time that we legislate this law. It is time that we never have to ask any politician again about his source of income for the investments overseas. It is time that if an overseas property or business is found in the name of a public servant, he is punished, disqualified and sent to jail.
It is time that we begin to take the gun out of our holsters, point it in the right direction, use the right ammo and shoot the right culprit.
IT IS TIME.