Friday, June 11, 2010

Pakistan, A Fool's Paradise

KARACHI: Businessmen and industrialists have rubbished the Global Peace Index released by the US State Department, which declared Pakistan the fifth most unstable country in the world.

Pakistanis live in denial:

Shahji said that the government would have to work hard towards improving its image and that can only be done by good governance.

President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Sultan Ahmed Chawla was of the opinion that the report is not likely to affect business environment in any way in the country.

He pointed out that as the economy continues to be firm, which is a major reflection of how stable the country is, the report can be considered irrelevant.

He added that tourism is one of the sectors likely to be impacted due to the report as travel advisories would stop foreigners from visiting the country. However, he went on to say, tourism had never been the main driver of the economy and so the impact on the overall economy is going to be insignificant.

Chairman of SITE Association of Trade and Industry, Saleem Parekh said that while the report may cast an adverse impact on those people who do not have much information about Pakistan, the industrial sector is unlikely to suffer as foreign businessmen are aware of the opportunities of investing in this country.

“Countries like ours, which are emerging, underdeveloped and poor are where you can actually make more money as high risk means high profits,” he said.

Elaborating, he said that Pakistan’s economy is diversified and as yet unsaturated and therefore investment opportunities are high here. He also said that a large population means more cheap labour.

Nevertheless, Parekh did admit that as an exporter he has to face many issues for meeting the deadlines for orders. “I can never tell my foreign clients that we have problems of strikes or terror attacks or the various infrastructure concerns, as they will switch to some competitor,” he said.

Chairman of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), Razzak Hashim Paracha said that he is not concerned about the report as ground realities are quite different from what has been said in the report.

He said that such reports were usually made for political interests as despite being termed gravely unstable; the economy of Pakistan is far more stable than those nations which have been listed among the safest countries. Giving the example of the US and Greece, he said that the two countries were developed and stable, and yet the financial institutions of the two countries had collapsed.

Paracha said that though the index was referring to peace in relation to war, even then the people residing in Pakistan could give evidence that the entire country could not be termed ‘unstable’.

On the contrary, the Head of Research at Capital Equities, Faisal Shahji said that poor governance and political risks had led to Pakistan being termed unstable. He said that economic indicators had been declining over the years which indicated that the country was in trouble.

Referring to the positive stock exchange, he said that it had been “mutilated by foreign investors” as a cartel had the hold over the bourse which moved the market at their will.

Shahji said that the government would have to work hard towards improving its image and that can only be done by good governance.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 11th, 2010.

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