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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Army, Political, Feudal & Business Elite Don’t Want What Pakistan’s Economy Needs?

Najma Minhas, Managing Editor, GVS news, sits in with Ahmad Jamal Pirzada, A lecturer in economics at Bristol University in the UK.

What Pakistan’s economy needs is exactly what its army doesn’t want. Ahmed Jamal Pirzada, Bristol University, explains why Pakistanis are poor, why is growth not happening. Why Pakistan has boom and bust cycles and India and Bangladesh don’t and how this impacts us. How important is trade with India and how does the army role in the economy and how its role in politics affects country’s economic strategies negatively.

To discuss all this Najma Minhas, Managing Editor, GVS news, sits in with Ahmad Jamal Pirzada, A lecturer in economics at Bristol University in the UK, and former chairman of the Economic Advisory Group, a think tank in Islamabad. He has co authored a paper recently on Pakistan economy stuck in the mud, why Pakistan is falling behind.

Najma Minhas :Thank you so much Ahmed for you time. Coming  directly to the point, I mean, what’s going on with Pakistan. I mean, we are this country or Pakistan was this country that was racing ahead in the 1950s until the 1990s. And you know, our elite  had the best cars. And if I can say it’s a tongue in cheek, and Indians had cars, which the doors open the wrong way around. Pakistan’s poverty level was below that of India. You know, Indians suffered from what is called the Hindu rate of growth. And now Pakistan  is sick man of Asia . There’s this term sick man in Europe for the United Kingdom. So we can say, you know, Pakistan is that sick man in Asia? So what happened to Pakistan ? Why did it get left behind? Is this like the tortoise and the hare kind of race where Pakistan  went off and snooze? Because they thought it was doing so? Well?

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: I think maybe I think that the easiest way to imagine this will be this example. So, think about an average Pakistani. What is the income level today? If I was to give an example of the one which I love is dead, so a medium or an average Pakistani, they don’t even have enough income over the year to buy a good high-end iPhone. Right? Now, if that’s where you’re starting from, how much industrialization can happen, how much of manufacturing activities can you set up, you can do the basic things. Like let’s say textiles, you can do some, let’s say, informal manufacturing, like toys, you can do some utensils, cutlery like things that you need on a day-to-day basis, and they don’t cost much, right. But when it comes to big manufacturing, or things which do need to rise up the value chain or to become more productive, and compete with the rest of the world, you can’t do that.

Najma Minhas: It’s just to understand is that because you’re saying that we don’t have the domestic demand? Is that why you’re saying that we can’t do the industrialization parts in Pakistan.

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: And that’s critical. So, beyond a certain level, you need demand, you need big market. Now, this is not a new idea. This is something which is which was discussed back in back in the 60s and the 70s. All the development economists at the time were concerned to many of these small, small economies, they’re not big enough to go beyond a certain threshold. And then the problem was, what do you do? Whew. And that was also one of the important reasons why many of these economies ended up opening up, both regionally and also globally, so that they can sort of benefit from the bigger economy that will result from this integration, and then drive growth. And that is where we lag behind. If today, you look at the data from Asian Development Bank, which, which has data for 62 countries or so. And you see where how Pakistan compares with all of the economies there in terms of how integrated you are with the rest of the world in terms of openness. And there are different measures, that could be how much you’re importing, and exporting. Or it could be how much you’re integrating integrated with the supply chains. It turns out Pakistan is actually at the very, very, very, very bottom of all those 62 Asian economies, which ADB covers in that database. Now, that is where the problem is. But that’s only that’s only a symptom. If you ask me. Yes, it’s easy to say we should open up. And that’s good, because that will give us bigger economy. But the fundamental question is, why are we not opening up? Right? Why are we not opening up? And why is it that India and Bangladesh they were able, or likewise, East Asian economies are probably a better example. They were able to open up in a way that transform the transform their economies from 80s or 90s? Onwards, but we did.

Najma Minhas: Are you saying we’re not opening up to the world? And that’s the reason we’re poor?

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: That’s one important reason, right? And the fundamental question then is Why have you not opening? Okay,

Najma Minhas: But that’s to do with the fact that we’re not trading with our largest country? And you say, if we trade with that largest country, India, we would be richer?

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: yes, together with other things. So, if you create not just India, per se, it’s regionally right. So, if you trade with the regional economies become integrated, then clearly, that’s a win scenario that will play out. I don’t want to say that this, if you open up tomorrow, and everything, everything is going to change for good. You obviously need a lot more investment, let’s say in your skills, and your human capital into institutional frameworks, all of those things are still fundamentally important. But without a bigger market, all of those things will probably not take you too far. Okay.

Najma Minhas: Okay. So, trade is one issue. What’s the second issue? Why we’re poor? I’m sorry, I’m dumbing it down. But I just want to go to make it really easy for us to understand because, you know, when we get stuck in these complexities of technical jargon, it just goes over people’s heads, I don’t understand why I’m poor. And the average buyer is not he does not understand why he’s poor. He wants to have a decent standard of living, what does the government need to do to give him that decent standard of living?

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: So, the other thing because we are poor is lack of investment. Now, I think everyone knows what investments are. But they’re also very important when we think about productivity. When we think about productivity in terms of how much should an average worker get paid, not in a in a moral or social sense of the word, but how much they are producing, and therefore in against that, how much they should be getting paid, how much they should be getting paid, meaning how productive they are, that really depends on how much capital which we economists normally refer to, let’s say, machines, let’s say computers, let’s say foods, or even in today’s world, you have intangible capital, like internet, like software, like even you can extend this beyond into social capital, like the trust levels in the economy, between the people and so on, and so forth. All of those things are super important to drive productivity and therefore, them to drive wages. And that’s where we are lacking. That’s where we’re falling behind, there’s not enough investment, there’s not enough capital to complement the labor, so they can actually produce more. And therefore, not only the case that are that we are falling behind, but also wages in our country are not rising. And again, back to the data. The fundamental problem is they just don’t rise by us. Again, you’re stuck in a low-income, low-income crap.

Najma Minhas: Because the economy is not growing. I mean, I saw some figures and I was shocked. You know, India’s savings are around 30% of GDP is investment rate by you, Sonny is around less than around 10%. And even Bangladesh is around 30%. China is far ahead. I mean, China’s around 45 50%. But so, we’re half of what we’re almost 1/3 of what India, is that the issue that we’re just not investing? And then how do we solve that particular issue.

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: That’s so interesting, because that’s, that’s, that’s where things get harder as well to figure out why are we not saving enough? Or why are we not investing enough? Also, just for the audience’s sake, it’s also very interesting because a lot of the time the discussion is about households like you and I, why are we not saving enough and therefore not investing enough? So much of the attention is actually paid there. But that kind of highlights the actual issue why because if you look at the data for China, half of the savings, half of the savings are simply coming from corporate savings, like firms’ businesses, so they are saving, what are savings in their case, the savings for them are they make profits, and then they reinvest those profits, rather than take them home and then spend on consumption goods. And that’s it ends of the story. In our case, if you look at the data, we don’t have very good data on how much the savings are due to, let’s say, firms and so on and so forth. But if you take the best of the best, we have got, say those who are listed on the stock market, and you look at what do they do with their profits, on average? On average, if you look over the last, let’s say, 15 to 20 years for which state banks have made the data available, they give away 50% of the profit in dividends. Right. Okay. So, it’s not just that the households are not saving, it’s also the firms and the best of the best that we have got. It’s also then we’re not saving. And then the question is, why are they not saving, if you’re not investing in capital, and you just keep on spending, there’s only so much growth you can have, right? Because at the end of the day, if you look at the long-term story, you need capital, you need machines, you need software, you need trust, all of that you need that to be there to support a sustainable increase in wages, and therefore, a sustainable increase in consumption, which is, again, important for the reasons we discussed before. So here getting back to the point. So, this is really important to understand that it’s not just the households who are not saving and investing enough. It’s also the firms that are not saving and investing enough. And then the question is, why is it that they’re not saving and investing enough? So often, a lot of the discussion goes into the idea that maybe we have too much of red tape in terms of bureaucracy, maybe we have too much of corruption, maybe XYZ is not good. And maybe if we do that, it might actually work better. Surely all those things matter. But then let’s also ask a question, then all of the countries are now better than us are growing at a faster rate than us, they probably had the same kind of problem back in the 80s, or the 90s. India savings went up quite a bit or their investment rates went up.

Najma Minhas : But don’t they say that about India, that one of the key things of the Indian economy, what happened to the Indian economy in the 1990s, was when Manmohan Singh got rid of what they call the license, Raj. Now, the license, Raj seems like a fascinating term to me, you know, it seems like this exotic thing, but I’m assuming in essence, it comes down to the bureaucracy and the red tape, right, which embodies that we haven’t given it that exotic term. So, India got rid of some elements of that, which helped it to grow. So, there are elements that other countries did work on that which you’re saying that Pakistan hasn’t worked on yet.

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: So yeah, so Okay, so let’s pick up this example. So, India liberalized is in 1992, if you look at the data in terms of how much money came in from the rest of the world, in the form of investments, there was quite substantial, right? So, it’s on average annual, or like three 4% of GDP every year. So that’s a lot of money that came in to India over the next 2030 years. Now, at the same time, let me give you two other examples. In the case of Bangladesh, they didn’t see that much money come in, they actually on average, they actually saw less money come in, then Pakistan saw, China was obviously much better, even better than India. But let’s focus on this. So, India, so a lot of money come in Pakistan also saw good enough money come in for the next 15 to 20 years, and more than Bangladesh. But again, in our case, things turned out to be rather not so good, as in the case of say Bangladesh in terms of how much improvement they have made over the last 30 years, not just telling me where they are with us relatively, in terms of how rich they are, as an individual. And India, in the case of India turned out to be much better. Now there again, the issue is this. So, a lot of this money came in. But again, our savings rate continued to go down. So overall investments continue to go down as a proportion of GDP. Likewise, savings continue to go down. But as a proportion of GDP. One of the issues, which is very different between us and everyone else, is that our economy has been a lot more volatile. So, there has been too much of boom and bust going on in our economy relative to let’s say what we have seen in the case of Bangladesh or India or many of the other emerging economies, yes, they had their crisis at one point or the other. But they didn’t have the repeated crisis that we are having in the case of Pakistan. That’s very important, because even if investments in Prop in Pakistan are very profitable, which is what our policymakers and government officials keep on saying when they go from one country to another, what they don’t talk about is the risk. Right? Yes, they have a profitable fair enough, the returns are high and did that there is some truth to it. If you look at ESG index, and then you kind of do a bit of math, and you kind of see that on average returns are pretty decent. I won’t say they’re bad. So, return on your own They’re not the only reason why investment is not coming in, it’s the risk people have to take to invest in Pakistan, in terms of how volatile those returns. Today, you’re earning 10%. Tomorrow, you’re earning 0%. And you don’t know when it’s going to flip from 10 to zero and how long it’s going to stay there.

Najma Minhas: What is different to India and Bangladesh, when it comes to these boom-and-bust cycles, why are we having these and they’re not and they’re growing steadily.

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: So that’s, that’s the bottom line is very different to that. And that is why I think this is probably one of the very important reasons for why we have such low levels of investments. And why I think probably bureaucracy, per se, or some of the other things that we talk about, per se, like how skilled our labor is, per se, I probably think that they matter for sure. But I don’t think they are the deciding factor. When I look at the experience of other economies, right other countries. So, the boom-and-bust cycle is important. And then the question is, why do we have this just boom and bust cycle. And this also kind of goes back to the trade story as well. So, we have the boom-and-bust cycle because we cannot sustain growth over a longer period. And that also ties in very nicely with a bit what’s going on the political side of the story. Because it’s all about short termism, right, you take reforms when you are thinking about, let’s say, the next 510 years, because they’re not going to pay you back in the next two years, right? They’re going to take longer, when you undertake reforms, things are going to rough and people are going to lose their jobs, some industries might do better, others might not do better. So, there will be this transition, which has to happen for things to settle down. Before you can you can actually reap the political benefits of doing and because the whole because that’s not there, the kind of short termism that sink them into our decision-making process that doesn’t really lead the reforms.

Najma Minhas: So, you’re saying that the boom bust cycle which is not allowing us to grow and become richer, as by Pakistan is directly related to the instability of the political system? Is this what you’re saying? Basically, I’m very much in time as a politician. I’m just not sure that I’m going to be around after two years, you know, it’s become a joke in international circles at the base on the Prime Minister, nobody’s any Prime Minister serves. It’s his or her term. Is that what’s driving this short termism in their minds, and therefore the boom-and-bust cycle in essence, and that’s the reason why we’re not growing. And that’s the reason why we’re poor.

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: I think that’s a very important reason, right? Because, again, you have to think about why are we different from others? Right? In terms of every other thing, I look at? I don’t think why I don’t think Pakistan stands out, like we’re not talking about today. Let’s talk about 90s. Right, let’s talk about mid-80s, when they started to grow, and we didn’t, right, we stagnated. What was different then. Right. So that’s the fundamental question. It’s not that some countries know much better than us. That’s 30 years January journey they have taken but we have missed on. So going back to the 90s, I don’t see how Pakistan is fundamentally different from some of the other economies that you’re talking about today. Except the political system, which doesn’t let reforms happen. And reforms don’t necessarily mean that every time you do something, it’s going to work out reforms have to you take you do reforms, and they fail, right. But there has to be enough time to see that they have actually saved so you can actually move on to another set of reforms and see whether they’ll end up delivering better outcomes or not, right. So that experimentation on reform that’s required, that actually does require a bit of a stable field, on which you can actually worry a bit less about what’s going to happen next in two years.

Najma Minhas: So, Democracy to do that, because from your, from the way you’re describing it, you need a stability, you need long term as it almost suggests that, you know, an authoritarian government can do the same thing. I mean, Bangladesh, for example. I mean, while India has definitely been a turbulent democracy and has achieved this, on the other hand back Bangladesh has not been is technically been a democracy. But it’s been a long government a long time in it. I mean, Sheikh Hasina has been around for over a decade now. And same with Modi. Now, in fact, I mean, this this huge upswing, that we’re seeing in Indian growth has happened because Modi has been in power for over eight years now. I mean, he came into power in 2014. And he’s expected to win this election as well. So, I mean, you know, when I think about what the military thinkers in values than who very much from this country, they say, well, there you are, we keep saying we need this long-term government. This is exactly what we’re telling you. You don’t need democracy. So how important is democracy as part of that whole equation of, you know, how does how would the democratic system do still ensure that long term ism comes into economic policies?

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: I think so. So, when you’re talking about democracy, or when we’re talking about this system or that system right? At the end of the day, the fundamental question is really this? Are the people who are going to run the country? Do they? What is it? What is the system that we can design, which will make sure that the people who run the country they care more or primarily about the interests of let’s say, the country itself, right, and they’re not bogged down into their own party interest? Right. So that’s the that’s the fundamental question. And the idea behind democracy is that this is probably, this is probably the best of the worst system, which can make sure that you can kick out people when they sort of deviate too much from national interest. And then you can bring in new people and see whether that works or not right, rather than, let’s say having, let’s say, a dictator there. But now, again, coming back to Pakistan’s context, and because you mentioned military, so let’s bring them bring them into the way. Now with military again, the problem is, is it’s the problem is that they have their own institutional interests. This is a military which is involved in real estate. This is the military, which is involved in every other sector, where you can make profits. This is the military, which is today and are also involved in making the laws which are going to regulate the laws, or influence the laws to SIFC, which are going to govern the rules of the game in those sectors in which the military itself is operating as probably one of the biggest players, if not the only player. Now, that doesn’t work, right? Now, think about work, it doesn’t work, because now you will end up making policies to basically watch out for your own economic or business interests. And that is not the system which is going to get you growth, even in countries where you have, let’s say, for example, let’s talk about China. You don’t have political players, even if it’s a single party system, there’s a very high amount of trust between the people and the party. And that trust obviously requires some degree of transparency or some degree of belief on the part of the citizen, that these people are not in there to make money for themselves. And whenever that gets eroded, then obviously you are you are basically having a problem. Now today, again, for the Bangladesh, again, there’s a lot of erosion of trust, which is happening over the period of time over certain years. And Bangladesh today is not doing as good as it was over the last 20 years. If you look at their export ratios, which is what we normally thought, as a good layer of let’s say, performance or sustainable growth, that’s almost back to Pakistan’s level, only slightly better. And they are very much into textiles. That’s the end of the story. They don’t do anything else, which is what where they can actually compete with the rest of the world in a way, like let’s say some of the other economies can. So that maintenance of trust, some degree of transparency is very important to get the government or the or the country going. And that with the military with an institution that has its own business interests and very explicit business interests, that’s not going to work out. Another issue is also it’s also the diversity of the people that are in the country, right? You have to keep them together. So, we say Ayub delivered a lot of growth, right? There is some truth to that as well. But in that growth, you ended up losing a lot of the communities or let’s say, the Bengali nation, they ended up remaining behind many of the other ethnic ethnicities, they feel the same in Pakistan today, Baluchistan is a case in point. So, we have tried to let’s say, bring in Chinese investment in Gwadar in all of those places, do sort of upstart economy in the in the province and resolve the problem. But those things don’t really go away. Just because you will end up doing better on the economic front communities, which are very diverse, they want empowerment in different ways, and not just in in economic ways.

Najma Minhas: And one of the questions I was going to ask you, this social contract which any state has with its people? How important is that in an economy flourishing?

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: So that’s super important. I mean, think about again, China, China is not a diverse country at all. China is a is probably a very good example of, of complete lack of diversification in terms of ethnicities, right? So that makes it a bit simpler in terms of let’s say, having one party or representing only one community, big community, which kind of politically matters if at all. And that’s the end of the story. In India, if it was, let’s say something of that sort. If you try to repeat that in India, that wouldn’t work at all, because India is a very diverse country. People want to be empowered in different ways. They want to be heard in a political sense of the word in a social sense of the word. And it’s not just about let’s say the economy per se, or income levels per se. So, in countries which are ethnically very diverse, you do need them democracy Are you do need a political system, which gives them the voice which makes them heard, and which makes them feel empowered in a way, which is going beyond economics itself. And if you don’t have that there, if you don’t, if you don’t have that there, then you will suddenly lose the trust that is needed to keep the whole thing going. Okay. And that is what happened in the Senate in the 70s in August.

Najma Minhas: Okay, so this is what I just want to say. So, you’re saying that that trust that the government that the people have with this government is essential and is brought by Democracy, in essence, even though it might mean lower economic growth rate in the short term, but without it, you’re not going to get economic growth? Right. And if you keep taking away the people’s trust from the democratic system, that’s the reason why, for example, economic growth doesn’t happen. So, I mean, from everything you’re saying, it seems like by design, is this cancer patient? Right? The economy? Is that cancer patient? Is there any chemotherapy we can do to improve the economy? Or is it that set? Is it on a terminal decline?

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: I mean, it’s not a dominant decline in a, you don’t want to give up on the people, right? So, the people are there, they have been fighting for the rights and for prosperity for the last 70 years or so. So, they haven’t given up on themselves. So, who are we to give up on the people as well? So let me say one thing, and then I’ll come to the answer to the question that you’re asking. So, there is this. So, there’s this short termism? Right. So that’s one problem. The other problem is also the incentives of everyone else, right? So, so think about when we say that the economy is closed, the question is, who’s keeping it closed, someone must be keeping it close, right? It’s not closed on its own. So those who are keeping it closed are the people who actually make money from making sure that the economy remains closed, right. And those people have significant voices in business groups they then have. Now military is also the it’s one of the biggest business groups you have in Pakistan, in any sense of the world. So, they are obviously interested in let’s say, making sure that the rent and profits remain intact. You have the landed elites, they don’t want agriculture to be taxed, or they want money or taxpayers’ money to keep on flowing into agriculture, to make sure that there are incentives for farmers to grow whatever they want to grow and for the sugar mills do work and function and all of that, right. So, all of that is also at play. And that is what is keeping the economy or the country very close. Right. So that, and then you have the short termism, which doesn’t let reforms happen, even when, let’s say people vote in a party, or someone within the government, whichever government that is, is strong enough to give it a shot. Right, just to see what happens. Right. So, you say it’s, it’s together. So, it’s not just this or just that. So, it’s that system, which is keeping the economy really in its Stranglehold. And then the short termism on the part of the policymakers or the political class, which does not allow them to do any kind of experiments, which will risk their hold on power or the political setup or on their, on the government. So, and that’s important. So, you do need, let’s say, a political representation, which is strong enough and which is willing to do reforms. And those reforms are not going to be easy. Those reforms are going to threaten all this whole edifice, which is essentially holding the country back. Right. And which includes the landed elites, which includes the military, which includes also the big business groups, not all of them, but many of them. So, someone will have to kind of disturb them.

Najma Minhas: Why would you do that, Jahangir Tareen, for example, is in your government? Why would you ever say that? We didn’t want to do that. isn’t one of the issues that all these feudal landlords or corporate interests are in government, for example. I mean, now we have a banker, who’s the finance minister, I mean, we’ve always had bank with bankers very regularly. But if you have that those interested parties in your government, how will you ever make those reforms. But it just came to me as you were saying that so you’ll never make those reforms. This is what you’ve just said. I’m the thing that came to me is the only time you’ll end up doing that is if you have trade, then you’re going to have to do something because outsiders have come into your country, and then are putting you on the spot. Maybe that is the reform that’s quite underrated in our country in a way because we’ve tied you with all the political implications of that, but if you have outsiders coming in, they’re not part of your system. Maybe that is the catalyst that you need.

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: Not necessarily. I mean, the question is why? Well, why will anyone let you open? Right? Think about the insider, right? So, so even for example, it’s very interesting, because when you say outsiders, you think okay, fine, outsiders will come and they’ll make you reform, think about Toyota. They came, and they actively lobby for the government to keep the market or the auto market closed, because they make profits by extracting rents from the people who say it in a planned way. And the Japanese ambassador, he’s very, they’re always very active in, let’s say, keeping the government on the right side, so that the business keeps on their business interests are washed out for. But the problem is this. So, the kind of democracy that we have other setups that we have, they are always controlled, you know that, right? They are, they are only in place, if they can be controlled, if they cannot be controlled. Like if I go back to, let’s say, Bhutto, whether we agree with his policies, or we don’t agree with this policy, that’s a different story. But he had a certain kind of worldview, certain kind of reform agenda, which he wanted to implement. But because he was out of control, or he may have been out of control after he got the majority vote in 77, we didn’t like it, or go back further to Mujeeb, right. He wants straight away. And then if he was to take over, he wouldn’t have listened to let’s say, the army or the land idiots he would have done what he wanted to do. Good or bad. Forget that. But he would have done as per his own agenda, which he had presented to the people and people had signed up for. Today, you again, you’re back to square one.

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Najma Minhas: So, they were coming to the solutions to the chemotherapy for this cancer patient. What is it?

Ahmed Jamal Pirzada: Now there are two ways forward, right. So, one way forward is what is often also argued by Stefan Dercon ,who the guy who wrote the book on what’s the name of the book,  gambling on development or something along those times. So. So his argument is that the elite should realize that this is not sustainable. And there are many reasons for why this is not sustainable. And they should sit together, and they should decide to reform the country, because that’s good for the country. And that’s also good for them. So that’s one way forward. And that is what that is why you’re also hearing a lot of this discussion on charter of economy or, essentially the idea and let’s sit together, and then we work out what it needed to get the people to get everything else. It’s an it’s an it’s a kind of approach, right? They need to come together, they decide what’s good for the country, and they go. Now that’s one way to go by. The other way to go by is more is more along the lines of what to Acemoglu  and Robinson, these guys, right. So as you move through for the reader, the guy who has written the book on why nations fail, and more recently has some other books out there as well. So this is more along the lines of that it’s the people who actually struggle and who ask for representation. And it’s actually they’re asking for representation, and they’re asking for resources, which imposes a cost on the elites. And it is that it is that competition, right over representation over resources between the masses or and that leads on one side and the other, which ultimately results in democracy or a more free or liberal society. Not necessarily liberalism, in a Western sense of the word, but a freer society where people have more say in how they want to govern their lives. Now, these are the two ways which can be which can be thought about. I’m more inclined to think along the lines of the second one, the one which actually Acemoglu   and Robinson, they argue about, I think, I had a discussion with the Stefan Dercon so on, on, which of these ways maybe better and could be what could be could be a better way forward? Again, decades away, you’re honest about this. It’s always hard to say which one is better than the other in these things. But I think that the elites at the moment, their interests are so perverse when I think about the direction which the country should be taking in terms of openness in terms of moving away from agriculture in terms of, let’s say, forgetting about, let’s say saving sugar mills and so on and so forth for you for your progress, that their interests are so perverse and again military, again is India as a as a monopolist. Now, they are also entering let’s say the Agri business and they are getting the lands allocated to them as well. What does that mean, whether that’s good or not, but then once these big players monopolists are in a certain business, then they won’t, they won’t let things change when the time comes for things to change, right? Technically speaking, certainly culture is good seminary gets in there, let’s say we don’t have any ideological issue. Fair enough, get in there, do it. Tomorrow, this is not good. For one reason or the other, because situation changes, the global economy evolves, and the economy, the domestic economy needs to adapt to the changes in the global economy, then these groups are going to be so entrenched, that they won’t let that move, or a transition or adaptation happen, right. And if you don’t adapt to the changing environment around you, you’re just going to go extinct, right? You’re not going to evolve, extinction is the most important part of evolution, right? If we, if you speak that language, and that’s the problem here. So if you let the elite sit together and sort out what the agenda is going to be, even if they managed to sort that out, let’s say they ended up figuring out the best possible scenario that could be played out, they won’t be the system will be so rigid, that won’t be able to adapt to the changes in the changes in the environment around you, right, and the global economy is going to be changing at an even faster pace, as AI and everything else comes in, you need a system, which is more adaptable, which is more flexible, and which is not so tied to the interests of the elites, which the first system will end up giving you and which essentially, we already have in place. Because it’s not adapting, it hasn’t been adapted over the last 50 years to the changes that have happened in the global economy. So, I probably I find to bet on which of the systems will probably work better, despite all its flaws and uncertainties that come with it.

Najma Minhas: To conclude on this note, but in essence, what you’re saying to me, unfortunately, seems to imply that we once again, have this elite driven consensus that this is the direction we need to go. And as far as I can gather, what you’re saying is, it’s not going to get anywhere. So that means Pakistan is going to stay on this path now, going nowhere right now, unless some dramatic thing happens to the country, which changes the direction. I mean, is that good? Is that right? To say this is what you’re basically saying?

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Ahmed Jamal Pirzada : Almost I take it back and then say the daily consensus, which is happening, I wouldn’t say it’s happening, the consensus has always been there. When you’re protecting industries, when you have, let’s say, people belonging to these protected industries sitting in the parliament, or sitting in the government, one way or the other, when you have the military in there, there’s already a consensus in terms of how you want to run the economy. And that consensus, because it’s very much tied to the interests of elites, and which are which and those interests are very specific in nature, those that kind of a system is very rigid. And that rigidity in the system is just going to drag you down in the face of the changes in the global economy or the economy around you. And that is what has been happening. It’s not that there’s no consensus, there is a consensus I completely disagree with when people say we need any consensus. What do we have right now we have a consensus. But this way of running the country where you come up with a consensus which serves your interests. Even if you get that right, somehow, accidentally 10 years time, that consensus is just going to be dragging you back down, right. So you need a system which is flexible, which is adaptable. And that system, if you can find another one, fair enough, otherwise, in the current options that are available, to us that system is is democracy, which represents people, and then it’s not managed in any way where you plant your own people in one party or the other to basically make sure that your interests are washed out for. So that’s the system which probably is going to take us out of the scenario. I think I think I don’t want to give up on the people that people have been fighting for it.

Najma Minhas: When you haven’t if you said democracy is the system, that means you believe in the power of the people. So in essence, it’s really interesting. What I’ve understood from this isn’t I thought, you know, you’re going to give me all these lectures about this is how to solve the system. This is how the solar system we need to make this policy we need to make this policy, you’ve said, democracy is one of the key things. Let the people decide the policies in essence, and you will be on the right direction and you will grow. And thank you so much for your time today.