Convention on Provincial Economy for Progress and Development

Legal Research Institute of Pakistan (LRIP) in collaboration with the Build Pakistan Movement (BPM), held a Convention on Provincial Economy for Progress and Development on February 1st, 2020 at Nishtar Hall, Peshawar. The conference was attended by people from all walks of life, including academia, the intelligentsia, the media, civil society, and students.

Chairman LRIP Mr. Ameer Muazzam Butt commenced his address by saying that their friends have joined them on behalf of the State Bank of Pakistan. He also expressed gratitude for the presence of the human rights representative officer, as well as friends from the FIA, the minister of minorities, and other minorities’ intrigants.  He initiated by explaining the convention’s purpose, which was to understand how a state can strengthen itself economically. He further stated that he had gathered friends over the past several days in explanations of his efforts for local markets and he told them that their life’s objective now is to participate in the democratic process and influence the policy making process of the state. He saw this mafia in the business world as the greatest challenge for all of us. He mentioned that during a recent survey, he focused on one group and discovered that Pakistan receives nearly three thousand trucks and containers from Afghanistan every day, containing more than thirty million worth of goods. He discovered that the goods received are sold in the local markets before Fajr prayers (sunrise), resulting in daily business of millions of rupees. However, money laundering returns all of that money to Afghanistan.

He informed the public that they had gathered in Qissa Khwani to protest against money laundering. They demanded from the authorities thatstate institutions, whether the police, the FIA, or the State Bank of Pakistan; should act against any illegal act happening anywhere across the state. It is the responsibility of these institutions to strengthen the state. He referenced his efforts when he went to the Peshawar high court to file a petition for those Afghanis living in Pakistan, stating that immigrants are required to have work permits in order to own businesses everywhere else in the world, and he wants Pakistan to follow suit. He concluded by stating that Pakistan will only strengthen with the engagement of all of its citizens. Laborers, the underprivileged, farmers, and all the low-income classes must be treated equally with respect and honor. Pakistan belongs to every one of them. He said that the division based on the working class is not accepted. All children who leave their homes must earn a living for their family. However, he also said that every individual should be involved enthusiastically, when the policies are being enacted. Though it has never happened before, but they’re going to do it now. Stakeholders must work to their advantage and livelihoods with the working class.

Mr. Ameer Muazzam Butt, Chairman of LRIP, also presented the convention’s resolutions. His first resolution was to provide Afghan immigrants with a work permit that allows them to work and own businesses in Pakistan. He demanded this from Pakistan’s State bank as a request that they assist the banks in identifying money laundering.In his resolution on Chitral and the FATA areas, where the issue according to local population is that they don’t have the machinery as well as the resources to dig out minerals and gems, and so they have to bring foreign investors to provide them with resources. The resolution demanded that the State must provide the resources to people on easy conditions, provides them with machinery and also teach our young people in universities how to internationally market these resources.

Minority Leader & Human rights activist Haroon Sarb Diyal began by explaining that, as Pakistanis, Muslims & Non-Muslims have cooperated in history of Pakistan. Today, in this convention they should make a pledge to work together to achieve socioeconomic progress in Pakistan. He discussed how the State Bank of Pakistan and Hindu community has collaborated on programmes to assist future generations in becoming skilled and learn technical courses to support themselves. Furthermore, financial assistance and easy loans has also been provided to them. He asserted that the Pakistani government’s scheme of handing out a few thousand rupees to people in the name of assistance is counterproductive. Instead of making people skilled, he recommended to provide them with opportunities. He also instructed the young generation to build their capacity to work hard. He urged the audience to join the Build Pakistan Movement in their fight against corruption, and then to work together to help Pakistan grow because we need the entire country to participate in policymaking process. He concluded with a suggestion to build a community center for the people of Chitral where women can develop expertise in making products that are in high demand around the world. These will be available to the international market through the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The next speaker, Mr. Hashim Raza, Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan, began by explaining that three factors influence the economy in our country and in the modern world: agriculture, industry, and services.  He mentioned that there are only eighty branches of Khyber Bank in KP and though Khyber bank provides a lot of financing across the country, but almost negligible in our province. He stated that after the merger of former FATA and KP, 100 billion rupees were allocated for tribal administrative units, however this sum was insufficient for development of these areas after nearly two decades of conflict and turmoil. How can the government expect the province to function if it does not provide the necessary resources? He urged the government to increase funding for tribal administrative units. He concluded by saying that it is not acceptable to grant provinces their rights through the 18th amendment while also consolidating and circumventing the 18th amendment.

Reena Patric, Principal Edward High School Peshawar, Minority Coordination Council of Pakistan, began by explaining that when we talk about how to build a nation, the first and most important thing is to make the country economically stable. She expressed her concerns that when funds are not distributed fairly among provinces and people, hatred is conceived, and no nation can succeed with hatred, so now is the time to assess how we as individuals are contributing to the betterment of the state’s economy.She suggested that policy be made for the benefit of those poor people who spend thousands of rupees just to complete the paperwork required to obtain a loan. What good will a loan do him if he has to pay so much to get it? She hoped that if we began to use our resources in the most efficient and equitable manner possible, we would be able to assist our people in trying to grow and, as a result, Pakistan would grow as well.

WSCCI President Rukhsana Nadir expressed gratitude to the convention’s organizers for inviting her and the women’s chamber of commerce to attend. She added that if the 52 percent of Pakistan’s women population participated in economic activity within the state, the country’s GDP would expand substantially. She urged these leaders to include women in the economic growth process so that the entire country of Pakistan benefits. She expressed hope that policy recommendations of this convention would be brought under consideration by the relevant stakeholders and departments of the government.

Mr. Wazir, Special Assistant CM KP, began his keynote address by discussing the dilemma that governments face when their policies are designed solely to reclaim votes forfeited over time. There is no concept of making long-term policies that may help the state to stabilize. He noted that such practices result in the annihilation of institutes. The educated and deserving are left behind, while unqualified people become officers by giving bribes. He stressed that unregistered domestic markets imply that there is no paperwork or record of the marketplace and hence there is no tax being paid as well. How can you expect a state to develop and prosper economically if no tax is being paid by the citizens of the state?

Policy Recommendations

  1. Citizens of Pakistan have no input in the policymaking process. The Government of Pakistan should make the system accessible and transparent enough for the public to participate in policymaking.
  2. Register the local markets and issue work permits to Afghan immigrants so that they can run legitimate companies and a Pakistani person should not lose his livelihood due to them.
  3. Develop an inter-agency coordination amongst all the relevant stakeholders of the state in developing a plan to combat money laundering.
  4. Relevant stakeholders of tribal administrative units as well as Chitral and adjacent areas were not involved in the mineral laws enacted after the merger. Mining of Minerals should be promoted through public-private partnerships.
  5. Industrial zones should have the option of generating their own electricity. If allowed, industrial zones can generate thousands of megawatts of electricity.
  6. The State should conserve mineral resources, provide machinery for mining minerals and jewels to the locals, and educate our youth at colleges on how to market these products on international level.
  7. Participation of women and girls must be promoted; so, as they may also be able to contribute in national progress and development.
  8. Under the Minerals and Mines Act, whoever discovers the mines and registers them in his name is entitled to a profit. However, policies should be put in place to keep the mafias that loot such mines in control.

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