Interview with Col Mukhtar Ahmed Butt Tamgha-e-Imtiaz Military Retired Senior Defence Analyst and Anchor Person Business Plus TV Channel Karachi

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Interview of Col Mukhtar Ahmed Butt Tamgha-e-Imtiaz Military Retired

Senior Defence Analyst and Anchor Person Business Plus TV Channel Karachi

 

  1. This is your third visit to Australia what is your experience about this visit.
  2. First of all I would like to thank you for your kind hospitality and inviting me for my interview in your esteemed paper. It is always a great pleasure for me to inter act with Pakistanis settled in Australia away from homeland but without any problems. It is true that it is my third visit. First I came in the year 2000 and then in 2015 and now in August 2017.

As you know my daughter and son are well settled in Australia since 1994 as such it becomes mandatory on the parts of parents to visit them at regular intervals. I find not much of change from 2000 t0 2017 except new constructions all around and cost of living is much on higher side. Communities living and caring for each other. They enjoy same privileges as   expatriates and no distinction whatsoever. But one thing was very common amongst all whom I met they were all worried about Pakistan and its dirty politics that has polluted every segment of the society. Well we can keep talking for hours you may move to next question

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Q. What is your current analysis about political situation in Pakistan

 

  1. Well I was expecting this and many more questions about Pakistan. I am sure you are well abreast with the situation in Pakistan but certainly I shall give you my input. The number one problem of Pakistan is absence of Rule of Law. Laws ae there but they are not implemented. There is institutional distinction and selective accountability. There are three types of laws. One for the poorest, the second for the middle class and lastly the elite of the country. Unfortunately, if a poor or middle-class person is involved he is punished without losing time but when it comes to elite it is not implemented.

In 70 years our politics has not matured but has been converted in to dynastic politics. Due to higher illiteracy rate the poor people are treated as slaves and have virtually become hostages in the hands of elites falling in different categories. Loot and plunder is the order of the day without any fear of law and accountability. Corruption is at the peak, there is hardly which is corruption free. $22 Billion are stacked in Swiz and other banks. Hundreds of cases are registered with NAB with no concrete results. When it comes to elite the cases are dragged for years. No concept of quick justice. Glaring example is Panama case in which Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified. You must have heard the word “Mujhay Quon Nikala”? Can you ever think that a sitting Prime Minister having Iqama of Manager Marketing in UAE. What a shame is it not enough to disqualify him forget about whether he received wages from his son company. PML N has a chequered history you should be knowing attack on Supreme Court and removal of late CJ Sajjad Ali Shah. Hatred towards army. Dawn leaks is classical example how PM accusing his own army. Well I can go on for days there will be no end.

Under which clause of the constitution he is getting protocol as accused on corruption charges. Majority of the PML N leaders accusing army and judiciary, using most derogatory language against judges. Sooner or later there is going to be some change to ensure that national institutions are not brought in disrepute.

Q: I do agree that subject is such that one can talk for hours but due to shortage of time I would like to ask you another question. What do you think about Nawaz Sharif President ship in PML N after passing senate amendment.

  1. As I said earlier we have dynastic politics in Pakistan where there are no rules it is always one man show. Any bill or law that protects individuals has no locus standi. Any amendment that conflicts with the fundamental rights or altars or seek to alter basic structure of the constitution can be struck down by Supreme Court by taking suo motto or when any citizen approaches the apex court. If such amendments can stay Pakistan soon shall turn in to Banana republic. Let us hope for the best. But I want to add one thing that 1147 legislators of Pakistan have made 200 million people of Pakistan as hostage and if these people can rule the country it will be disastrous and this situation must change. Since corruption has taken strong roots and there is plenty of looted money with our rulers and they manipulate elections this must be brought to an end.
  2. Why there was so much opposition to CPEC in Pakistan that has eased now.
  3. Good question. The entire fault lies with the government. When the project was launched no proper briefing was given, provinces were not taken in to confidence. The routes were not properly defined. Government gave lot of presentation on CPEC routes and several amendments were carried out but this did not satisfy them but they stopped interfering in the project

CPEC is a joint venture between China and Pakistan and perhaps the only project of its nature where $56 billion investment is coming from China. It is this huge investment that is being called as Game Changer for Pakistan. But due to lack of transparency in this huge projects the government had to face lot of criticism as it failed to address the reservations of Sind and KPK provinces. Lot of presentations were arranged by the government to convince the provinces of their share in CPEC but the fact remains that major beneficiary is Baluchistan and Punjab whereas Sind and KPK shall have less benefits.

It will certainly open windows of prosperity for Pakistanis as it will create thousands of jobs for skilled and unskilled workers thus reducing the load of unemployment. But there are certain dangers it is going to cause to local industry as it will render thousands of workers jobless as Pakistani entrepreneurs cannot compete with Chinese’s goods that are manufactured at very low price. The other important   factor that has disturbed our businessman is duty concessions to China for next 25 years at zero rates. Its affect is already being felt in the shape of imports as it is cheaper than manufacturing in own factories. The export is at the lowest and has dropped to $ 18 Billion whereas the import bill is over $ 53 billion; the trade deficit is around $35 Billion that will ultimately be passed on to consumers with more taxes. Government wrong policies have resulted in closure of large number of factories throughout Pakistan and FPCCI has been very vocal in fore warning the government about total collapse of economy in Pakistan as under the circumstances no one can compete with China and the only option will be to shut down their businesses. The best solution is that he further suggested that goods manufactured in Pakistan, its import should not be allowed and if it is inescapable duty on these items may be increased to discourage import.

There is no doubt that CPEC shall  certainly improve infrastructure and construction of power houses shall help Pakistan in curtailing load shedding but at what cost is a matter of great concern.

To understand CPEC we must know why China is investing such huge amount on CPEC. China is an emerging economy and has captured all the world market. China has population of 1.38 billion out of which roughly 800 million is the labour force that is mostly engaged in producing steel and cement. China’s annual production is around 800 million metric tonnes where as its domestic consumption is around 400 million metric tonnes, of all the steel in the world 50% of steel is produced in China, likewise  worlds 60% cement requirement is met by China.  They cannot afford such huge surplus and keep stacking therefore the only solution is to lay off labour force that means unemployment. Fear of backlash as it happened in 1989 when China had to impose martial law to crush agitators in Tiananmen Square.

China’s $ 2. 2 trillion investments in US earn 1.13 percent profit as compared to investment in Pakistan. Take the case of Sahiwal Coal Power Project, the guaranteed rate of interest on the debt component is LIBOR plus 4.5 % but it ends up in 6.21 percent with insurance premium of 7% Chinese will be earning 13% as opposed to 1.13% on US treasury securities. As reported in the press according to NEPRA return on equity in the 1320 MW Thar Coal Power Project shall be 34.49 % so who is the major beneficiary. China and Pakistan are at number 76 and 116 out of 176 countries on the corruption perception index. This would affect CPEC ultimate cost because bigger the project bigger the kick back

Second reason China shall have shortest route to reach the world through CPEC route and would cut down its freight charges by half and journey period. Therefore doubts, apprehensions expressed by business entrepreneurs must be attended. Development at the cost of closing down industries would end up in more unemployment that we cannot afford. Because unemployment ultimately brings frustration and instability can we afford that?

With $73 Billion loan, we have no choice except to beg IMF to pay off interest on loans that means more loans and more problems.

  1. Thank you for your very comprehensive reply on CPEC, it will certainly clear our doubts, My next question, You are involved in media, what program you are doing these days and how it is performing
  2. I am in the field of journalism for the last 35 years. These days I am hosting program “The Pulse” from Monday to Friday 7 to 8 PM on Business Plus TV Channel. Basically, it is current affairs program covering dome   stic as well as international affairs by inviting senior analysts in related subjects. It is going well you can watch this program Business Plus.tv. You can watch my program by typing Mukhtar Ahmed Butt “The Pulse Business Plus”

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Q. My last question, Is media independent?

  1. My straight answer is more than independent. You can say anything and get away. The media is divided in two parts one is for the government and other is in opposition. Naturally those in government camps are enjoying their life and making lot of money. Then we have sponsored programs where media carries out surgical strikes against institutions and personalities. There is no code of conduct for media they have established their own kingdom. Under the circumstances media has to perform very responsible role and guide the misguided rulers but unfortunately this is not happening. PEMRA the regulatory authority that works under the direction of government as such their presence matters very little.

But nation is gradually waking up from slumber and hopefully shall be able to steer the country from present crisis subject to burying the dynastic politics otherwise they shall be buried

 

Thank you Butt sahib for giving us your precious time. We had lot of questions for you in this session but due to limited time & space we shall keep bothering you in future for more detailed interview

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