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Pakistan: Another Story

Indra Nath Mukherji

By Shahid Javed Burki
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2007, pp. xviii 373, Rs. 595.00

Shahrukh Rafi Khan, Foqia Sadiq Khan and Aasim Sajjad Akhtar
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2007, pp. xv 273, Rs. 495.00


Having lived outside Pakistan for more than forty years of which 25 years were spent in several senior executive positions in the World Bank, Burki believes that he offers a perspective that is different from an insider view of Pakistan. He also touches on national and international politics that have had a proximate bearing on the Pakistan economy.   Changing Perceptions and Altered Reality is the outcome of the author’s synthesis, rethinking and an elaboration of his numerous articles published in the Dawn over the past five years. In the words of the author: ‘In the winter of 2006–07 when this book was finalized for publication, there were several areas of social, political and economic turbulence that were already visible or lay just under the surface’ (p. xi).   The author contends that over the last sixty years the economy has had its ups and downs as the political system alternated between civilian and military rulers, having had a negative impact on both.   While accepting that Pakistan’s growth performance has generally been better during military rule, he qualifies this statement by adding that this is not because military rulers were better economic managers, but they were more successful in attracting large amounts of foreign capital which came in as the military was willing to work with the US in areas of great strategic concern to Washington. Going back in history, the author states that the military rule of Zia-ul Haq (1977–88) ended shortly before the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The Soviet pullout also resulted in a loss of US and western interest in Pakistan. As official capital flows declined, the country reverted to its ‘structural growth rate’ of just over 4 per cent a year during the decade of 1988–99.   Burki contends that it was the terrorist attacks on the US of 11 September 2001 that ‘returned the US to Pakistan’. The US pressure led to Pakistan’s abandonment of the Taliban regime in Pakistan. For taking an active part in Washington’s war against terrorism and Al Qaeda, Pakistan was ‘handsomely rewarded’. Washington helped to reduce Pakistan’s external debt and provided both military and economic assistance. As a consequence, Pakistan’s economy again picked up after a lag with the end of the economic stabilization programme of the IMF. What the author has overlooked is that Pakistan faced one of its worst droughts during the first two years of Musharraf’s rule. ...

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