Editorial – February 2021 – Exports Special Feature

GVS Magazine's February 2021 issue comprises of well-researched pieces on exports, politics, governance, the legal system, etc., by leading analysts, along with GVS reports and a special feature on Pakistan's exports.

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On the domestic political front, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) an alliance of 11 opposition political parties has failed to generate the kind of street momentum it was looking for to pressurize Imran Khan government to submit to their demands to change NAB laws. This has shifted the focus back to the parliament and the Senate elections.

Read more: Pakistani Senate Elections: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?

Unfortunately, Senate elections are synonymous with gutter-level corruption, horse-trading and selling of votes. PTI government has taken a high moral stand that it wants to clean this stable once and for all. It has introduced a new bill in the parliament for a constitutional amendment that will make possible for open, transparent senate elections replacing the secret vote that is currently mandated by the constitution.

Behind this elevated rhetoric of the Prime Minister may lurk the fear that Zardari and Nawaz and maybe a third force will conspire against him in the senate elections and deprive PTI to gain its due majority in the Senate – which is expected if PTI MPs don’t vote for their own candidates. Government lacks the two-thirds majority in the national assembly, so success in bringing the desired constitutional amendment looks difficult – will the moral pressure help keep the PTI MPs in line is the real question.

Read more: Why or why not an ‘open ballot’: Insights by experts Senate Elections 2021

But our focus lies elsewhere. In the January issue we had made a commitment that we will attempt to draw the attention of the government, political parties, strategic institutions, judiciary, academia and media towards the “real issues” that confront Pakistan at the beginning of a new decade of 21st century – and we will try sparking alternate debates – we are continuing with that commitment.

Our special feature is on Pakistan’s exports. We firmly believe that way forward for the country of 225 million with 65% under 35 lies in building export competitiveness. It is not merely a question of earning $ or building foreign exchange reserves as governments and politicians often refer to.

Read more: Top 6 Exporters of Pakistan

But there is a much bigger rationale for that. Over the last several decades, Pakistani businesses, government agencies, professional bodies, courts, legal, regulatory and state institutions have existed in a world of their own. National institutions in the public and private sector and by extension, Pakistani people and citizens at large have not worked towards producing quality products and services.

Export competitiveness, if accepted as a goal, can work backwards to improve things, attitudes, processes, laws, courts and the whole system of governance that has not been structured around the idea of modernity and competitiveness. For instance: Has anyone ever heard of “ideas” being exported from Pakistan? To us, export competitiveness is part of global integration. In this issue, you will find much on the subject.

Read more: Titans of Pakistani Business

Aziz Goheer, secretary-general of Pakistan Textile Export Association (PTEA) and himself a manufacturer tells readers that how various reform initiatives taken by the government combined with the supply chain disruptions across the region have helped Pakistani exports to grow faster than India and Bangladesh in the last few months. However, Hasaan Khawar, a public policy analyst, argues that Pakistan needs to grow beyond its reliance upon textile exports into other newer areas like information technology and the design.

No real progress is possible without the legal and judicial reforms. Country’s courts are simply not geared to provide a system for smooth commercial transactions – be in real estate or intellectual property disputes. Disproportionality large number of Pakistani lawyers only specialize in two areas: bail and stay order as the recent exposures around “Qabza Mafias” reveal where influential politicians are found to be in possessions of undue “stay orders” that continue for years.

Read more: A look into Pakistan’s justice system

Dr. Farooq Bajwa’s analysis of the Pakistani legal system is a must-read. Also, Hassan Aslam Shad’s piece centred around Broadsheet PLC scandal is, in reality, an indictment of governance in the country’s legal institutions. And there is much more to chew in this issue.

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