Pakistan facing obstacles to achieving self-reliance

Broadsheet case and K-Electric serve as examples of Pakistan's inability to properly negotiate international agreements

Writing for Dawn, author Mansoor Hassan Khan discusses Pakistan’s external debt and its reliance on multilateral financial institutions (MFIs) and aid agencies for financing. 

According to the article as of June 30, 2022, Pakistan’s external public debt stood at $88.8 billion, with $42.1 billion owed to MFIs and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), comprising 48% of the country’s external public debt. 

In contrast, Pakistan receives around $31 billion in remittances from expatriate Pakistanis annually and has an official annual export figure of around $32 billion, although a significant portion of this does not come directly to Pakistan due to various stratagems.

The article questions the effectiveness of the expensive reform projects implemented by Pakistan’s development partners since the 1990s, as well as the overall efficiency of government departments and agencies. It suggests that instead of relying on foreign loans and grants, Pakistan should focus on increasing exports, attracting foreign direct investment, and making businesses more competitive domestically and internationally.

The article also highlights the challenges posed by Pakistan’s civil service, which seeks to retain absolute control over government functioning at any cost. The author argues that civil servants are not experts in every field, and many technical and complex matters require expert legal advice. Despite this, many government ministries and departments lack proper legal departments, and civil servants frequently avoid lawyers, which hinders effective decision-making.

The article cites examples of significant legal blunders made in the negotiation of international agreements, such as the Broadsheet case, where Pakistan lost $28 million and had the bank accounts of its High Commission in London attached, and the K-Electric case, where control over the utility was allowed to slip to liquidators.

The author argues that successful governmental organizations in any country have effective and independent legal departments headed by an able general counsel who advises on legal matters and ensures compliance with the law. The author suggests that Pakistan should open its government ministries and departments to competent and independent lawyers and involve them in the decision-making process. The article concludes by emphasizing the importance of developing local legal expertise in this field and utilizing it to benefit Pakistan.

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Monitoring Desk
Monitoring Desk
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