The insanity of Our Economic Policy

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Einstein
Pakistan is an IMF addict: we have had 12-13 IMF programs in the last 30 years and have spent more than 22 years in a program (more if you count program monitoring). So, what will change with another program? Will both Pakistan and IMF repeat the past and prove insanity as in Einstein’s maxim. IMF gave us a clean bill of health about 2 years ago, yet we are in another BOP crisis. You can see the exchange rate collapsing. Will the doctor repeat the old medicine?   While policy, IMF and our policy remain engaged in a dismal dance, the economy beyond the control of the MOF chugs along creating a middle class. People are largely better off despite the shenanigans of the trio (MOF, IMF and pundits). People have worked hard to build a life for themselves whether through migration or some trading and even informal work at home.  But then the trio (IMF, MOF and our economists) call the hard work of …

Imperial Democracy

Typically, ‘elected’ dynastic governments start to unravel by their third year thanks to a combination of incompetence and greed. It is then that the rumour of a technocratic setup starts and politicians start to fan it. Recently, government officials came out with statements to the effect that the constitution does not allow for a technocratic setup and that there is no room for technocrats in Pakistan. The issue of technocrats really needs careful analysis here. Why is there a demand for technocracy? People repeatedly see that elected governments are not delivering governance and good public service. Instead they slip into whimsical, ‘kitchen cabinet’ government style-where an inner circle of the unelected starts to take arbitrary decisions. The prime minister wants to run the country in imperial fashion and ministers close to him act like imperial lords by passing all laws. Rumours of corruption grow large. Dynastic ambitions reveal themselves in children being thrown into decision-m…

Designing Democracy and what is the PM term?

With Adnan Rasool 
‘Tenure of the government’ is a term that is being liberally used these days. It is contended that no PM finished his term in Pakistan’s history. An exaggeration. Some resigned, while others were either removed by the President constitutionally (at that time) or more recently by the Supreme Court.
Is the PM term fixed at 5 years in a Parliamentary democracy?
Be that as it may, in most parliamentary democracies, there is no real specified term. UK government that we follow has a 5-year outer limit but a vote of no confidence could undo a government till 2011. In 2011, they enacted a five-year fixed term but even then, May felt that Brexit required her to “refresh her mandate.”
Yet big events in Pakistan like terrorism, dysfunctional parliament, opposition in streets, charges of corruption and mismanagement, nothing forces our politicians to ‘refresh their mandate.’ How odd!
Most parliamentary governments allow for an early exit. Of the 88 governments in UK, only 34 have…

Why do politicians hate technocrats?

Whenever ‘elected’ dynastic governments start to unravel the myth of a technocratic government backed by the army is rolled out by politicians and sympathizers of their misrule.
Myths about ‘technocrats’ 1.‘Technocrat’ is anyone “not in bureaucracy or army, not in politics and somewhat educated.” In an age of specialization, all semi-well clad, reasonably well-read people who are outside the governmentare regarded as power hungry connivers looking for an in with the army. All retired bureaucrats or army generals are technocrats as are all businessmen even if their own businesses are not growing or successful.
This definition is very different from what the rest of the world thinks. Technocrats is more or less an obsolete term used to describe technically capable people who could provide research, managerial, and other technical skills towards the making of a better society and government. The emphasis was on the need for specialized skills in areas such as the management and developme…