Not long ago, this newspaper carried an editorial titled “The SOE challenge” to make an informed and erudite comment on a World Bank report that had declared Pakistan’s state-run firms “the worst in Asia”.
The newspaper has pointed out, among other things, that “the real story is that Pakistan’s SOEs (State Owned Enterprises) have been in a state of steep decline for decades, during which time all sorts of political parties from all over the country have held power, and still nobody has a clue about what to do with them.
PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) is all for privatisation or sell-off, though it’s never been able to come up with an actionable roadmap. PPP (Pakistan People’s Party), on the other hand, is dead against putting the so-called family silver up for sale.
Though it, too, has never gone beyond politically-charged statements or bothered to explain how it would reform these enterprises…. The political elite is just too consumed in the fight for its own power and privileges to give the people’s, and the state’s, real problems too much time. That’s how it’s been for a long time, and that’s how it seems it will be for a while longer.”
In my view, the political elite’s approach to politics is characterised by, among other things, a lack of respect for rule of law. The governments formed by them operate on the basis of expediency, not of principles.
According to a news item carried by this newspaper yesterday, the management of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), one of the white elephants, is being pressurized to reinstate those employees who were removed after due process ahead of planned sell-off of this mega industrial unit.
Successive governments, particularly those headed by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), have turned PSM, PIA and other state-owned enterprises into employment bureaus, adding to national kitty’s woes.
A particular political party is exerting pressure on the PSM management to advance itself politically ahead of upcoming general elections in the country. Frankly speaking, neither PSM nor PIA has any solution.
Mustafa Syed (Karachi)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023