[To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions]
At What Cost! Fazle Hasan of IBA and our Computation of Economic Costs
|Fazle Hasan in his office 1981
Mr Fazle Hasan (1939-2006) was teaching us Financial Management in 1986 at IBA. During each class session, the discussion would invariably turn towards his oft repeated dictum “At What Cost”. This was the major theme of his course. He wanted us to take stock of the long term costs of our decisions and to be able to estimate and recognize the costs of the faulty political decisions that have led us to this sorry state.
The discussion in Fazle Hasan’s class would often turn towards the Zia regime’s policy of supporting the Jehadi culture in Afghanistan at the expense of the promotion of gun culture and drug culture in Pakistan. Both of these issues were increasingly becoming serious, especially in Karachi. Drug culture had already become a major problem and people were taking out processions against the source of drugs in Sohrab Goth, Karachi. Remember that this was the time when a year before (March 1985) marked the meteoric rise of violence in Karachi with the death of Bushra Zaidi in a road accident followed by torching of scores of buses and vehicles. The ethnic violence that erupted then has not been contained uptil now and the problem continues to become larger and larger with increasing intensity. Fazle Hasan emphasized that these are the costs we are paying for our faulty decisions.
I did not have the capacity, then, to see the issues in the long term and would often get into animated discussions with Fazle Hasan Sb in his class about Zia’s policy. Fazle Hasan sb pointed out as an example that no where in the world Public transport is given totally in the hands of the private sector. He used to mention that this is not even the case in the biggest promoter of capitalism, USA where public transport in the cities is managed and subsidized by the government (this I witnessed later when I went to USA). However, we in Pakistan are unique in letting the subsidized government transport sector to wither away through negligence, nepotism and for purchasing support of the mafias to consolidate dicatatorial rule. SRTC (Sind Road Transport Corporation) and PRTC (Punjab Road Transport Corporation) that used to have a regular service into the eighties were made to self-destruct. Karachi Circular Railway was made to disapper and Pakistan Railway was put on its way to destruction, just to benefit the transport dons. It was the breakdown of the public transport system and the excesses of the private transport that created the environment for the violence after the death of Bushra Zaidi which had not been contained as yet.
|Fazle Hasan Lecturing
Mr Fazle Hasan, who died a few years ago, would always argue against the show of statistics that things were better in Ayub Khan’s era but became worse later, or continuing his line of reasoning today, things were better in Musharraf’s era and had later become worse.
His continuous refrain to such arguments about the relative calm of Ayub era or early Zia era would always be the following words: “At What Cost”!
- What was the “economic cost” of the progress during Musharraf time?
- What was the “economic cost” of the progress during Zia’s time?
- What was the “economic cost” of the progress during Ayub’s time?
The cost of the progress during Ayub’s time was the loss of East Pakistan, loss of the two rivers (chenab and sutlej) and deterioration of civil institutions that led to the emergence of two of his blue-eyed boys (Bhutto and Yahya and their shenanigans) ….
- See my post: Costs of General Ayub’s Dictatorship
The cost of the progress during Zia’s regime was the guns culture, jehadi culture, drugs culture, rise of militant political party gangs and violence in Karachi and the culture of getting the loans written-off by the banks and of course further weakening of the civil institutions …..
The question we must ask for any public policy initiative using the words of Fazle Hasan: “At What Cost”.
We need to compute dispassionately the economic costs in various categories. Unfortunately we think only in the short term and are thus blinded by the sparkle of the illusion that is in front of us. We are no different from the truck drivers still plying on the highways with Ayub’s Picture at the back. We just look at the transitory fix-up of a few years in a dictatorial regime and conclude that things were good during this time. We do not try to estimate that during that time the cost of the artificial calm or the artificial progress indicator is at the expense of systemic problems that are brushed under the carpet. Problems that are not going to go away. They are going to rear their ugly head the moment the iron-hand is removed. When all power gets concentrated in the center in the hands of a few, the institutions are robbed of their resilience, their capacity to run independently, their ability to make decisions in a decentralized manner, promptly and quickly. Hence, these interludes of dictatorial calm are immediately succeeded by the reality hitting us with the brute force of what happens when the institutions break down. Reality of the loss of East Pakistan, loss of water resources, loss of energy resources, loss of autonomy, loss of financial discipline, and above all loss of leadership that gets crucial training as it rises from the local level to the provincial level and then to the federal level over decades.
I recently saw the graph of the rise of violence after the Musharraf era with the caption “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” . This picture can be interpreted differently also. The Musharraf era provided an artificial calm by buying out the criminals and gangsters that led to the destruction of institutions rendering them unable to function without the centralized command of the army once the democracy came back. Actually, a report recently released and submitted in the court indicated that over 8000 criminals were inducted in Police, mostly in the Musharraf era that destroyed whatever remained of our police structure.
You see, we find a similar trend when we artificially progressed in the 1960s. The corruption involving buying out of the opposition and the resulting nepotism destroyed the civil institutions leading to the breakup of Pakistan. Same thing happened during the Zia era. To perpetuate his rule he boughtout the politicians by loan write-offs, “plot-ocracy” and promoted the land and guns and drug mafia under the chimera of strategic depth. Immediately, after his rule ended, we saw an escalation of violence all nurtured during his era.
Same thing happened during Musharraf era. His U-turn decision taken on a single call destroyed whatever remained of our autonomy. We sacrificed our Kashmir cause, our Afghan strategic depth just on a single call, our autonomy, our airspace, our strategic assests, our nuclear program, above all the prestige of our army that became known as mercenaries.
Building of institutions of police, bureaucracy, courts all requires an evolutionary process. This process has always been short circuited by dictators leading to the destruction of each and every institution around us. Police suffered at the expense of military perks and previliges when all resources were diverted to it. Just compare the police housing with army housing, see the government housing in Islamabad and elsewhere and compare it with DHA housing and I rest my case. This is pure and simple usurption of public resources for the benefit of the few.
- At What Cost: Fazle Hasan of IBA and Computation of Economic Costs
- Get Pakistan out of this quagmire: Economic Cost of War on Terror for Pakistan
- Whither Writ of the State? Costs of Corruption and Nepotism in Today’s Rangeela Shahi Daur
- Costs of Military Dictatorships in Pakistan
- Costs of General Zia’s Dictatorship in Pakistan
- Costs of Sham Democratic Regimes in Pakistan
- Why Pakistani Democracies have been a Sham?
- Costs of General Musharraf’s Dictatorship
- Costs of General Ayub’s Dictatorship
- Costs of Justice Munir’s Disastrous Doctrine of Necessity
- Traitors/Foreign Agents Production Factory of Pakistan: Costs of Branding Pakistani Politicians as Foreign Agents.
- Political Will/Resolve of Civilian Governments vs Military Dictators. A Case Study of Karachi Disturbances and Relationships with MQM.
- Of Hanafi School of Marketing, Orientation of New Students and Dr Matin A Khan of IBA
- Progress vs Pollution and Development vs Destruction of Nature? Costs of Progress and Development
- Eight Disconnectivities induced by Social Networks and Smart Phones: Costs of Tech Connectedness
- Small is Beautiful: Why Small Businesses should Replace Big Businesses (A Case Study of Rickshaws vs Buses)