Can Imran Khan provide a business friendly environment to Pakistan?
Whenever there is a shift of power in the government; all kinds of businesses get affected. If the entire government changes, businessmen also have to change the ways they run their companies and industries.Pakistan’s politics has become a play ground for few rich families who run parties and government as a business. When they are in government, their mission is to start projects which will increase the profit of their party and chances to win the elections again. No one knows what is actually happening in the country, how the ruling elite are earning and how their governments are being run.
In the last decade, when the media industry grew at a rapid pace, general public gradually became aware of the happenings around the country which created a picture of the entire situation in their minds. Today after several years, even a layman knows who is right and wrong in politics. In these times and circumstances, change is vital.
At present, Imran Khan is showing a ray of hope to the nation by promising to bring a change. With his past record, his life, his struggle and his passion; his supporters believe that he can bring the required political as well as economical change in the country. No country can survive without a strong economy and a long term vision and strategy to promote the business activities. In the last couple of years, conducting business in Pakistan has become more and more difficult with decreasing international ratings. Today, a point has come, when almost all businesses have halted. The business community is holding its investments and those who are investing in any area, are fed up of corruption and lack of level playing field in the country. A young boy of 20 who is willing to start his own business with a great business idea gets no support in the current environment. No doubt entrepreneurs can start from anywhere and at any situation but by providing a better business environment, the number of entrepreneurs can be increased in the country.
There are number of problems the business community is facing today in Pakistan but few very basic issues of all industrialists, SMEs and small businesses are;
- Corruption (especially in government departments)
- No level playing field
- No accountability
- Shortage of electricity and gas (infrastructure)
- Culture of courts
- Lack of education
- Law and order
Some say that conducting business inPakistanis like taking part in Jihad. It has become so difficult for many industries to even survive. Textile sector for example is loosing its strength. Other industrialists have been waiting from a long time for the security and law & order situation to improve in the country. Tourism investment has declined manifolds. It is hard to survive for businessmen who pay all of their taxes. On top of which how can they compete with a competitor who pays no taxes because he has connections in the government; his margins will increase and he will eventually provide better products or services and easily manages to take a greater market share at the end. There is no accountability and level playing field.
Every year millions of students graduate from universities but there are no jobs in the market. Why? When they start a business, they do not have a level playing field, Why? When they open offices, they do not have electricity, Why? When there is a problem in the business, they do not find justice, Why? When their competitors do not pay taxes, no one is there to conduct accountability, Why? The cost of doing business inPakistanis increasing, Why? If we combine all these WHYs, the end point will be connected to the government, its policies and system.
Imran Khan has come up with this slogan and people are now trying to understand him, his vision and his plan of action. He has highlighted the core issues which are being faced by the nation. The business community is hopeful that if he comes into power, circumstances may change. The solution he purposes is that he can collect Rs. 2 trillion taxes fromPakistan. How? His approach seems to be “Pull” not “Push”. He wants to create a system in which he can set his own example in front of people and show them how he, his party members and the parliament will pay taxes which will make the people ofPakistantrust the government, especially the business community and industrialists who have a bigger share in taxes. He is the only man inPakistanwho collects biggest charities every year, people trust him and know that he will not misuse their money. Similarly, if the nation and especially the business community believe that the taxes they are paying will ultimately give them a positive environment with less inflation, more infrastructure projects, more business opportunities and more opportunities to earn money equally, why would they abstain from paying taxes?
For eliminating illiteracy, he wants to declare an education emergency inPakistanby establishing as many institutions as he can. For security issues, he has proposed the solution of gaining the trust of tribal civilians who can handle a few Talibans themselves. His strategy does not include any army operation in the Tribal Areas. If he succeeds, the law and order situation in the country can be resolved.
To target accountability and culture of courts, he has proposed the culture of Sheriffs in the regions where people can select their own Sheriffs. Imran wants to remove the current ‘thana’ culture. Only time will tell whether this culture will work or not in Pakistan but at least he is bringing in an idea of a changed system which has not been tested before in Pakistan.
He is not the first man to talk about the immense natural and mineral wealth of Pakistan. Mr. Badar Alam, a senior journalist said that before Imran can start putting his political house in order to get what he does not have so far, Imran will only remain the darling of twenty-something, thirty-something bankers, IT professionals, teachers and students of expensive private educational institutions, media-persons and perhaps doctors and engineers – not to mention the richer and older people who as a matter of lifestyle hate everything that smacks of being desi including the local politics. Their political participation is limited to virtual activism of blogs, Facebook posts and tweets and, seldom if at all, treads the distance from their computer to a corner meeting or a polling station. The students of the government schools and colleges, the unions of teachers, clerks, industrial workers, farmers, and even traders have so far shown little interest in his politics.
Imran needs to realize that it is these latter groups of people and not armchair activists, which form the bulk of actual voters inPakistan. Unless he attracts them, Khan will be a minor political player – that is, as long as he is not propelled by the ubiquitous invisible hand that every now and then wants to reset the political chessboard in Pakistan to its own advantage.
By Fathya Bangash
On October 30th 2011, thousands came out to support Imran Khan but still the next step is in vague. The younger generation is supporting Imran Khan and considering him to be the ultimate leader. The question which crosses our minds every time we see the young supporters is that how did Imran Khan managed to get so many youngsters incensed up when we know that most of the youngsters are the most politically indifferent group.
“Imran Khan will bring the change”… ”Imran Khan will end the corruption”… “The youth and business community supports Imran Khan”… such comments flooding in and when asked “What is Imran’s Agenda? Why do you support him? Which of his policies do you think will bring a positive change in our nation?” The reply is “Who else do we have, so why not Imran?”… “Imran won the Cricket World Cup forPakistan”… “Imran started a hospital for cancer patients”… “Imran started the NUML Institute”. Yes, no doubt Imran did all this, but did any of these replies mentioned politics and political agendas that Imran ever spoke of. If such points are the basis of voting for Imran then we should invite Edhi and Shahid Afridi to this as well and ask them to join politics too, they might have a clearer agenda to work on. What really is disturbing is that our youth is repeating history all over again, selecting a leader without even understanding his aims and policies. The reasons given by youngster to support Imran Khan are totally vague and immature.
In hisLahorerally, he spoke of VIP culture, political dishonesty, accountability before election, critical dependence on foreign loans and subservience to theUnited States. His proposed strategy is to be involved and prepare eight committees of technocrats with vast experience in various fields. His solutions are more inappropriate than any other Politician. If there is no difference between Imran Khan’s agenda and Gen Musharraf’s agenda then why is “Imran Khan the Man who will bring the revolution and the change we need”.
Knowing what to oppose is a very simple phenomena of human kind, but to be sure of how to propose a strategy against the opposition is what great leaders understand and plan in politics. Since there is no action yet defined, therefore, he ends up giving confused messages to our ever most confused youth and he does things that contradict political hostility; such as he favored General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf till 2002, and then later opposed him, he opposed Nawaz Sharif from the start but then attended the all parties’ conference in 2007. A revolution does not come about with unthinking conformity and a sightless following. This is what is happening in case of Imran Khan “A one man show” as quoted by our most respectable man of the nation Dr. Qadeer Khan. For Imran Khan to stand out from the rest he needs to differentiate his policies. Instead he keeps jumping from issue to issue which every Pakistani is aware and tired of listening, he lacks firm solutions to solve these issues.
But the best thing about Imran Khan so far is that he believes in what he says and says only what he truly believes in, but this self-effacing act is best for teachers and not for Politicians. To bring a change, we surely need a leader but at the same time people ofPakistanshould change their habits and attitudes and they should come forward in masses by organizing ‘co-operative collectives’ of the people in every locality. In business, if the strategy is right or wrong, can be decided only after the outcome, so for now, all we can do is ‘wait and see’ what happens in next one year. If Imran Khan succeeds to get more support and if he is elected the next Prime Minister of Pakistan, will his policies succeed? Only time can tell.