Dr Shahida Wizarat,
President IEPP and Dean CESD, IOBM
Three types of Pakistanis are eligible to enter corridors of power. Foreign nationals, dual nationals and overtly Pakistani but covertly foreign. Although judgments by superior courts have been very clear about Pakistanis holding dual nationality, the same politicians applaud these judgments when in the opposition, but flout them when in power. And they are allowed to flout them and do as they please. For many years I have been pleading that the entire caretaker setups, permanent setups and high officials should be vetted for their links to foreign countries, if the country has to be saved and made prosperous. What other countries do naturally seems like a Herculean task in Pakistan. Five Australian members of the parliament were ousted for holding dual citizenship after getting elected in 2017. While 10 Parliamentarians and senators were removed from office for violation of a constitutional rule that prohibits dual nationals. Some of those removed were Australian and British dual nationality holders. And this is despite the fact that Britain and Australia happen to be close allies and do not appear on the other side of the divide as would be the case in case of Pakistan and the U.K., and Pakistan and the USA.
The December 2018 judgement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the civil servants with dual nationalities to either give up their jobs or foreign nationality. The court advised the government not to appoint dual nationality holders on positions in order to “safeguard national security and interests”. But the contempt with which Pakistani politicians hold Supreme Court Judgments is for all to view and behold. This contempt can be gauged from the fact that the cabinet is composed of all three types discussed in my opening sentence, i.e. dual nationals, foreign nationals and Pakistani nationals on the payroll of other countries and agencies. The only specie not allowed to enter the corridors of power are competent, honest and patriotic Pakistanis.
It will be interesting to study the composition of the federal cabinet and nationalities of advisers and SAPMs and relate it with the politico-economic-strategic agendas of the powers that have installed them. Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh is advisor on Finance, Dr Ishrat Hussain advisor on Institutional Reform and Austerity and Mr. Abdul Razzak Dawood advisor on Commerce and Investments. All three are members of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization. Four Special Assistants to the Prime Minister (SAPMs) who hold dual nationality and their portfolios are: Mr Nadeem Babar SAPM on Petroleum who is a dual US citizen, Mr Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari who is SAPM on Overseas Pakistanis is a dual U.K. citizen, SAPM on power is Mr Shahzad Qasim who is a dual US citizen and SAPM on Digital Pakistan is Ms Tania S. Aidrus who is a Canadian dual national. Residents of other countries are SAPM on Political Affairs Mr Shahbaz Gill who is a US resident, SAPM on National Security Mr Moeed Yusuf and SAPM on Parliamentary Coordination are Mr Nadeem Afzal Gondal from Canada and Ms Aidrus from Singapore. And there is no doubt about Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Dr Baqar Raza’s US citizenship.
A glance at the portfolios of foreign and dual citizenship holders shows that the most strategic ministries in Pakistan are managed and controlled by foreigners. Ministries of finance, national security (including atomic power), trade, investments, civil service and institutions, petroleum, power, technology and digitalization, political affairs and overseas Pakistanis. In addition to these, other ministries like Agriculture and Food Security are also represented by Pakistanis with strong past links to chemical companies that are desperate to start commercial production of genetically modified (GMO) food crops. Whether they are doing it for increasing their profits in a world where people are growing more health conscious and refraining from consuming GMOs, or using it as a biological weapon in the hybrid war scenario about which we only give lip service, but do not take any concrete steps to protect the people of Pakistan.
And it is not only these twelve foreign citizens and dual nationality holders plus those who are overtly Pakistani but covertly otherwise, who are occupying Pakistan’s strategic and sensitive ministries. They have the backing and full support of hundreds of foreign and dual nationality bureaucrats, technocrats and civil servants who according to the 2018 statistics totaled 312, but the actual numbers are much higher. The whole network thrives on salaries, perks and privileges from the Pakistani exchequer but blatantly and unashamedly pursues foreign interests which are diametrically opposed to Pakistan’s vital and strategic interests at present !
Pakistan’s finances, foreign exchange, their outflows, laws governing these vital matters are all decided by foreigners sitting in the government of Pakistan. In a world where countries are reducing their dependence on other countries as reflected by the recent advise of the US government to India to reduce its dependence on China, these Economic Hitmen are increasing our dependence on the US and Europe when our strategic interests are with China, Russia and Asian bloc countries. They are ruining our economy, preventing take off, giving our natural resources for free or at throw away prices to foreign countries and companies, facilitating outflow of foreign exchange, promoting GMOs that have been rejected by majority of the countries, de-industrializing the country, etc, etc. And instead of addressing institutional decay on account of nepotism, lack of merit and cronyism they are busy producing trash reports on institutional reforms. The same advisers who are supposed to protect Pakistan’s trade and investment interests have a conflict of interests as their companies are involved in exporting to India. And they refuse to stop the export of pink rock salt to India even when India has stopped its exports to Pakistan.
US has a special interest in Pakistan’s power and petroleum sectors and both have SAPMs that are dual US citizens. And the mystery that oil was discovered in Pakistan’s sea shores but not allowed to be extracted is now beginning to make sense. And the minister for privatization Mr. Mohammad Mian Soomro along with the two dual nationals heading two strategic sectors power and petroleum are expected to play a key role in the privatization of Pakistan’s power and petroleum sectors. A recent meeting took place between the Minister for privatization, SAPM Mr. Nadeem Babar and SBP governor to complete the sell off transactions of Balloki and Haveli Bahadur power plants. The meeting was also attended by the presidents and group chiefs of NBP, MCB, UBL, HBL, ABL, Habib Metropolitan, Bank Al-Habib, Bank Alfalah, Bank of Punjab, Meezan Bank, Faysal Bank and Deputy Governor SBP. In this meeting Mr Mohammad Mian Soomro emphasized that it is critical that potential bidders are able to secure sufficient rupee dominated financing to complete the transaction successfully. He emphasized the importance of local banks to provide confidence to potential bidders for closing the transaction successfully. What these alien members of the GOP are trying to do is to successfully transfer the ownership of strategic Pakistani assets with financing from within Pakistani. Even with the inflow of money from outside such transactions are not acceptable. Such deep commitment to pursue strategic US interests at the expense of sacrificing Pakistan’s strategic and economic interests is abuse of power invested in these aliens.
Full privatization with transfer of control of strategic sectors is something which only the Government of Pakistan is attempting to do. Countries in the region like Russia, China, India, etc, are not even fully privatizing non strategic sectors. There is overwhelming evidence that when privatizing strategic state industries governments retain control over key distribution assets. Privatization of strategic units have been “partial” as governments either manage to keep a major stake in the privatized companies or often retain control of a strategic distribution network, even for fully privatized companies. In some countries generation of electricity has been privatized, but the transmission of electricity is monopolized and done by government electricity boards.
In a previous IMF program when the Nawaz Shariff’s Government was trying to oblige the US it had agreed to a conditionality with the IMF that the shares of oil and gas cos will be floated in the international capital markets, and GOP will facilitate the purchase of their shares by US cos. And there are reports that a Jewish company Franklin Templeton Co was quietly purchasing the shares of OGDC. The complete sell off of OGDC was stopped with the intervention from some one still committed to Pakistan’s interests. Oil and gas sector is the backbone of the economy. Other important institutions of strategic importance like the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) are not only being prepared for privatization but the statement by Mr. Ghulam Sarwar Khan regarding the qualifications of PIA pilots was the usual “dent in the family silver” that will help in selling PIA at a price much below its market price. And national security which includes our strategic and tactical weapons in the hands of a US national is enough to send shivers at a time when we continue to harp on the hybrid war and fifth and sixth generation wars, reflects mere lip service, but no concrete preparations to meet the onslaught. And, of course, the technology and digital divide between Pakistan and the advanced countries is increasing everyday.
In the development economics literature two theories explain the situation prevalent in present day Pakistan. One is the Adverse Path Dependent Model which states that the institutions established by the former colonial master, in our case Britain continued to pursue imperial interests, both British and US with the ascendancy of US as a super power in the aftermath of World War II. These institutions were earlier headed by British officials. With the advent of “independence” these institutions are now headed by foreign citizens, dual nationals and Pakistanis who are overtly Pakistani nationals but covertly foreigners. This is how far we have gone 72 years after becoming “independent”! However, with the passage of time some new institutions e.g. the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission were established which has been pursuing Pakistan’s interests by providing atomic power for enhancing security to the people of Pakistan. But the scientist who was the main architect of the project continues to be incarcerated by other institutions still under imperial control. The second model that explains our predicament is the Predatory State Model which is in terms of the abuse of power by officials working in institutions for personal gains at the expense of the prey, the people of Pakistan. Both Adverse Path Dependence as revealed by the foreign and dual nationals and overtly Pakistani and covertly foreigners have led to the present predicament in which Pakistan finds itself today. And the predators are demanding their pound of flesh, if any still remains on the bare bones of the Pakistani population.
Moreover, there is a disconnect between the Adverse Path Dependent Model and the Predator State Model on the one hand and the Developmentalist State Model being pursued by the Pakistan Army with the Chinese Government in the form of CPEC. United States government has openly opposed CPEC and Pakistan’s growing relations with China. How will CPEC receive the support of the ministries of Investment, Trade and Technology? How can Pakistan’s security collaboration with the People’s Republic of China have the support of SAPM on National Security who is a US citizen? Can we afford to have all these aliens sitting on our strategic institutions taking important decisions on issues which have dire consequences on our progress and survival?