Defining patriotism in Pakistan
(Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed)
One can say it is perfectly correct to invite foreign investments. In the past, the radical idea was that one should go for self-reliance. Both China and India embarked on such an approach and developed their industrial and other infrastructure though in two different frameworks. China in the orthodox Communist model of collective ownership and India in a mixed economy with a strong control of the state.
Both abandoned that closed economy in favour of foreign investments because it was proved that capital deficient economies can only progress up to a point and not beyond. The Soviet Union did it all on its own and that was a very great achievement, but the Soviet model ultimately failed because of its consumer sector remaining underdeveloped.
Anyhow China in the 1980s and India in the 1990s began to invite foreign capital, but within a framework which brought production to them and not otherwise. They have turned their economies around and while China will be number 1 or 2 India will be 3-5 in the years ahead.
So, Pakistan has all the right to enter into major economic deals with China. We need infrastructure as well as foreign investments. Having said that let me ask our patriotic constituency what is wrong if we also insist:
- That the exact conditions and nature of the economic and financial deals entered into with China are made public? After all Pakistan is not ruled by a Communist Party which keeps its secrets always to itself and leaves the public uninformed. We have very bad example of the Pakistan Ruling Class always conflating its narrow interests with the interests of the people and thus marketing Pakistan for services to foreign powers. We have to make sure this is not repeated.
- What is wrong in demanding that China should first and foremost employ Pakistani workers for their projects in Pakistan? Why should the Chinese bring their work force? Where will the Pakistanis find jobs?
- What is wrong in insisting that all Chinese investments and projects should have Pakistani partners? After all India which we hate so much has used that very effectively to convert itself into an industrial giant? Why not learn from our enemy for once?
- What is wrong if we underscore that like India we should demand the transfer of technology so that Pakistan itself develops its industrial base? This is a continuation of the earlier question. Why not insist that technology should be transferred to Pakistan so that it develops a broad production base?
- Let the patriots tell us what is wrong with these demands and how their unqualified support for CPEC is morally superior?