It was 1986 and it was commonplace that nationals from Algeria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, UK and the US would use Pakistan as a transnational gateway into Europe and USA. On one fateful day they became victims of a hijacking on our soil and Pakistanis became victims of allowing others to conduct what ever business they deem fit on our soil.
The perpetrators supposedly came in via Bahrain, were of Palestinian origin and caused havoc that ended in tragedy. We haven’t recovered since.
The 1986 5th September Guardian ran a piece that had the following “the initial negotiation was started by the Pan Am manager at Karachi airport, Mr Viraf Daroga, using a megaphone. Later, radio communication was established with the hijackers and a command centre was set up in the Pan Am office at the airport. The negotiations were taken over by the governor of Sind province, Lieutenant-general Jehandad Khan”
What does any of this have to do with business? Every thing, the hallmark of where we were headed as a nation and what was to come of our business sector was pretty evident from one class act in 1986. It still remains the same, in some way or an other, we are still run, managed, maneuvered or told what to do by some one in Uniform. From taking over as the negotiator in 1986 to what has happened post 9/11 every thing can almost materially be linked to the decisions of men in uniform, but not the common man. Yet our fate, economic fate is baked in by the actions of those who continue to lead us even though a democratic setup ensues.
Pakistan is a stage, it has puppeteers who manage the stage, set the scene, then sit back and watch their own theatrical performances. We have been every body else’s stooge, and our geo political and tactical foreign policies have essentially ruined our ability to compete globally.
We were more focused as a nation to get to the streets for Palestinian brethren, we allowed the Wahabi Saudis to come in and open madrasas far and wide in our country(yet there are none in their own), we stood for the cause of Iraq and we broke our own national infrastructure protesting for items and supposedly religiously linked events of magnitude that should have mattered to us. The common un educated man was more focused and more obsessed by the optimal thread count of his imams turban as opposed to the message being preached. Some how no one focused on getting our selves educated and setup to take on global challenges and build universities, (whilst we stood in line to protest westernization of universities of the middle east). Sadly, as we didn’t have many universities left any way.
As a country, three businesses have survived the test of time in Pakistan. Politics, Military and Religion. If you happen to be tied to either three you are prosperous. From that ill fated day in 1986, 1$ allocated to either of these professions would have resulted in many fold return. The people who saw that are titans of industry in our country today. Most if not all. Saw the opportunity, created the alignment and have been cashing in. For the rest of us, the best hope is to focus on what we have, optimize it and try to make it competitive.
The other thing we must do is, take charge, call a spade a spade and call out our leaders and so called political apparatus plus the Military. This is our country and we must show all, we mean business. I have never seen a protest in Palestine to show solidarity with Pakistan, neither have I seen one in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia , you get the point. Yet our masses will take to the streets given the opportunity. That is exactly the point, we waste our opportunities and we don’t create new ones, we are so lost and mis-guided that besides a few nothing new and Innovative is happening. We are so invested in the business of PMR(Politics, Military, Religion) that we have lost sight on how to be globally competitive. We have a Martial law imposed on our intellect and our ability to act. We have to rise above and reclaim what is ours, rightfully. The only way to do it is to focus on building jobs, creating opportunities and getting away from the age old business of PMR. We need to get back to the era of the 80s where Pakistan was open for business with any one who was ready to be fair. Lets not be open for business for any thing else. Lets only export the best products and leave the rest behind.