Running a [country’s] business

We are now a days quite concerned about new taxes coming in, electricity rates going up because subsidies earlier given by government are being taken away due to IMF’s pressure, tax structure being revised and what not. I mean we already have so much to worry about on key national fronts like politics, governance, security, terrorism, international relations and the list goes on and on. What has gone wrong all of a sudden on the economic front?

Well, floods caused havoc and ruined infrastructure as well as production capacity of agriculture, the backbone of our economy. Terrorism had already choked inflow of Foreign investment and adversely affected confidence of local investors. New jobs are not being created and overall despondency has taken over masses’ sentiments who find nothing going right in Pakistan.

Now, what to do? Isn’t this all a crisis situation rather crises because there is not one crisis!

In business and management, it is often said and practiced that when things get out of control and become complex, it might be a good idea to go back to basics. Perhaps it is time to do so with the business of this country. Let’s try getting back to basics at least in words.

A country is no different from a business, an entrepreneur’s venture. It earns Revenue (taxes) and has some Costs (its governance and functioning). Now lets see how we can make Revenue minus Cost positive, which is a definite objective of a successful business.

Basic mathematics tells us that either increasing Revenue or decreasing Costs or both can help us bring Revenue minus Costs into positive. Lets do both of these i.e. increasing Revenues and decreasing Costs.

Increasing Revenue means that more tax revenue is required. Now, either increase rate of taxes on those who are already paying or make those who are not paying, pay it. Latter options seems more plausible because those who are already paying shouldn’t be overburdened if there are some who are not paying. Who are those? Agriculture sector tops the list. Tax it. Make it in the same way industrial and corporate sector is paying tax i.e. those who earn more should pay more. Then in order to gain more tax from those who are already paying a ‘novel’ idea can be to help them earn more so they can pay more tax. They wont mind paying more tax if they are helped to earn more. How it can be done? Well, help them export more. We have brains sitting in Export promoting bodies who can do excellent marketing and help our businesses do excellent marketing on international level. Give them incentives to export more and lets make our industry and corporate sector eye those markets whose people do not know where Pakistan is located? (yes. there are countries like this). Identify what all we can export and if we do it honestly, we will find a long list of items and an equally long list of producers producing those items.

If we get it all right, many industries and sectors will be able to earn more and pay more taxes.

Next comes reducing costs. Where are we spending more? Lets look at our expenses top down. Meaning starting from parliament and presidency down to government’s offices, lets cut our expenses. Any top-notch holder of public office, whoever he is and whatever sacrifices he has given for our country cannot travel in all or even some 70-80 cars which flank him like crazy when he is going from point A to point B. He can sit on one seat of one car. If he wants he can have the whole of rear seat for himself or even the whole of car for himself, but lets not have ambulances, fire trucks, police officers’ cars chasing or flanking him like anything. Its waste of money and more than that it gives totally wrong signals to the whole machinery of government that we can spend and waster as much as we want. We cannot. Its a fact and lets establish it sternly. It is simple not possible in a country which is ‘developing’.

Lets develop/grow first and be able to earn an income and then think about spending like crazy (wasn’t it what our parents used to tell us).

If we seriously think about it, its all very simple but requires seriousness.

May Allah always guide us towards right path and help Pakistan prosper. Amen.

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We are 34, OK! What about the others

It was not a surprise last week listening to the ‘fact’ that we have gone higher in corruption perception rankings which are erroneously being considered as a corruption index. A report by Transparency International ranks perception of corruption happening in different countries.

Well, we are corrupt. No doubts about it. We have jumped 8 places from 42 to 34 (whatever it means!) and yes corruption is the only thing improving in our country.

First of all, perception beats reality (no further comments on this)

Secondly, we are corrupt, fine. We have improved, fine. What about others?

Does anyone remember:

  • March 20, 2003, President Bush launched full-scale attack on a sovereign nation with ‘proven’ evidence that they have WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction. Needed to give this abbreviation because its a forgotten term). Few months later, one fine morning, it was announced “oops. our reports were not right and there are no WMDs”. Operation code changed to “liberate or liberty …..” Billions spent of American taxpayers, Thousands of lives lost, even greater number suffered in injuries, loss of property etc. All on a war that was on an “oops”. But this is totally irrelevant as TI (Transparency International) doesn’t conduct audits on these kind of practices.
  • UK: While the whole world is moving towards modern technology and new horizons are opening for mankind, there is a Windsor Palace in UK. Residents of this palace are ‘monarchs’. They are not formally monarchs but they are monarchs. They do not rule the country but they and their blood line is to be served extravagantly with taxpayer money of British people. But again: this is not TI’s area of concern.
  • April 2010, BP oil spill getting worse. In June, President Obama was mentioning in his press conference that a large part of responsibility lies on corrupt practices of his administration and the administration before his. He acknowledged that he recognized that this had something to do with corruption. and Yes, this time: this is TI’s domain but what if their TVs were switched off at that time!
  • India: Commonwealth games 2010 (enough said)
  • US/Europe: Education & degrees for sale. Even Time/Newsweek publishing ads of ‘get a PhD in 7 days (fully accredited)’.

And here is a live case:

Company X is getting a project from USAID, an International Aid organization plagued by corruption and malpractices. It is so rampant that the project it needs to hire Company X’s services for, is to identify how money for its funded projects is wasted due to corruption. Problem is that those who get projects funded by USAID are corrupt and waste American taxpayers money in corrupt practices and do NOT do anything on ground.

But now since Company X got this project. It will be alright. (btw how Company X will be checked? and how did it get this project)?

P.S. Company X = TI 🙂

Here is what the corruption perception index looks like on a map.

Corruption map as taken from website: www.transparency.org

This is what the map looks like to common people

and this is ‘official version:

Same corruption map edited for Governments

This is what the promotional campaign for 2011's index looks like (as being sent to different governments)

DISCLAIMER: Author is NOT a government agent! Author doesn’t deny that there is No corruption in Pakistan. He believes that it is a corrupt society and nation (honestly, I do!). But this whole post is written just to show another side of picture. As one of my teachers (late) said: Don’t take things on face value, apply your own discount……This is my discount! (May Allah bless His soul).

My House, my home

This is just a perspective and is not meant to target any person or group by any means. Just a thought which I found worth sharing and worth listening to other’s thoughts on it.

When I was young, I read a story of a boy who lived in a poor family and had a simple house. One day his friend invited him to his birthday and he was amazed to see his house as it had all modern luxuries or stuff like that. On returning back, he found his home to be even more humble and was irritated with his parents who tried explaining him these realities of life. But his young, immature mind couldn’t grasp theses properly and even wanted to leave his house and live with his friend in a ‘luxurious house’ but afterwards he did realize that it was his home and his house and it belongs to him.

There is nothing in this story. But just a thought. If my house is not luxurious, if my house houses my family members with different lifestyle, difference of opinions, different attitudes and responses to different situations as we move along in life, what should I do? Should I leave? Should I leave for a rented house? Which although I can live in but will never be ‘mine’. Even if I buy a different house, will it give me same sense of belonging as the house where my family is altogether? Will it give me same sense of protection? Will it be mine?

Think over it and then think is Pakistan not our house, our home, where we all live as a big family?

We have our differences, our share of problems, our issues but should we leave it? should we go to a ‘rented’ place? Another land which we cannot call our own? Even as our generations wont be able to call it theirs? always they will be known from the family they actually belonged, their roots. and they will be looked down upon as ‘immigrants’?

What if my house has bad floors, bad electricity, bad tempers? Should I not be courageous enough and bold enough to stand up and try my own to resolve it. What if at the end, my life is nothing but a struggle to mend my house? If my whole life is a struggle, I can rest with peace in my grave with the contentment that it was life spent for a cause. Cleaning, mending my house, my Pakistan for my generations to live a better life……

And before I make this decision to ‘move’ should I not know that the rented house have these problems too? Even worse can be there? Just because its problems are ‘different’ from my own house’s problems, I should accept it? Owners or neighbors there would not accept me because I am not one of ‘them’. I am not what they look like, live like and at times I would abhor their lifestyle and would even prevent my child from even thinking about doing what they do.

I think I know answer to these questions……

Few thought-provoking lines…..

I don’t know who exactly wrote these lines but really liked them as they are thought-provoking…..


The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.


Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Are we thinking about it?

In a recent visit to Northern Areas of Pakistan, I had to witness myself what Al Gore mentioned in his famous documentary “An inconvenient truth” regarding melting glaciers, receding snow peaks all due to global warming.

We as global citizens are failing to realize our responsibility individually and collectively towards our planet.

Are we thinking about it?……..if our planet keeps getting warmer, what will our coming generation i.e. our sons and daughters will be living in (not even going to their next generations)

Are we thinking about it?……..that what kind of world we will have in which ecosystem will be a mess and something as free as clean air will be a luxury

Are we thinking about it?……..if we dont act now and that too harshly, we can all have more Katrinas, more oil spills and God knows what

Are we thinking about it?……..

I seriously doubt it

Rising [once] again…..May be…

We have had our share of problems and issues and we had faced them almost together as a nation. Our resolve as a nation in fundamentals of religion and belief to some extent in our origin a a “land for muslims with equal rights for all” has kept us together and kept us going.

We had many problems, we have worse problems and in days to come we ll have even worse (who knows). But what is important is that this nation has to pervail. Greatness might not be in our destiny, per se. But may be our greatness is to prevail. May be we are not to become the world’s richest nation or top the list of best countries to live.

We need to continue to strive individually in our own places to do the right thing. We need to understand and respect the foundations and stay close to the ideals of our origin.

At times, when a lot of damage is done, it is better to start off from scratch. May be it is the time to do that……

Eid ul Azha – Reminder of a supreme sacrifice

Muslim world all over celebrates another festivity and this time its Eid ul Azha. The origin and story of this festivity is really interesting and at times almost unbelievable. Allah ordered Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) to make a supreme sacrifice of his own son. On getting the understanding of this dream/vision, he without a hesitation took his son, Hazrat Ismail (AS) to altar. Such was the belief of father that he didnt hesitate making this sacrifice in name of Allah on His order. Hazrat Ismail (AS) on knowing what was going on, also didnt object or felt scared but felt elated to be chosen for this. Allah liked this gesture of his person on being tried so much that he ordained this as a festivity for all times to come.

We need to understand the importance of following Allah’s word in this short time that we have in this world and this is something that pleases Him and can become a source of reverence for us