Employing trade as tool of security policy opposed , Call to follow China model

Islamabad Politics Report: Senator Farhatullah Babar has said that the national economy will be in a bind as long as regional trade was employed as a tool of security policy instead of promoting welfare through trade and people to people contacts.

He said this while addressing the launch of a report “Economic agenda between Promises and Performance” by think tank Policy Research Institute for Market Economy (PRIME) at a local hotel in Islamabad today.

As a result trade with Afghanistan come down from 3 billion dollars to about 1.5 billion dollars a year. Today 80 % of large containers enter into Afghanistan via Chahbahar in Iran bypassing Pakistan and Kabul has banned Pakistani trucks from entering into Afghanistan. No wonder that movements like PTM were gaining traction with the people in tribal areas, he said.

 Similarly trade with India has been predicated on a resolution of political issues, he said and called for heeding the Chinese advice and model for trade. China’s trade with India has multiplied over the years crossed over a 100 billion dollars despite serious political issues between them.

 He said that besides the businesses unable to compete in price or quality the mindset that fears the outbreak of peace in the region also opposed regional trade to perpetuate their predominance in the state, he said.

 Parliament’s recommendations to turn around PIA had been ignored on the ground that the national airline was a private entity and instead of restructuring it was allowed to accumulate huge debt.

Power generation has been stressed but no attention given to transmission and distribution of power as a result of which load shedding has not ended.

Farhatullah Babar said that hyper judicial activism and perceived bias of NAB had also gravely undermined the executive’s capacity to take economic decisions and called for legislation to regulate the exercise of suo moto powers.

 Any power that is not regulated by law or is exercised excessively is a negation of the rule of law and called for a public debate to making appropriate legislation.

 A lot of good has also been done by it but excessive exercise of suo moto jurisdiction the highest court itself become a trial court and extinguished the right to appeal- a fundamental of the rule of law.

 He said in exercise of suo moto powers a citizen must feel that he is getting his right and not bounty from the court. Suo moto must not degenerate into a hyper activity in response to media headlines and powers must be guided by law and not by populism.

Appearance of populism is tempting but it is dangerous if it were to also become the grund norm, he said.

A public discussion on such issues is necessary amid talk of New Doctrines and judicial martial laws that has spawned multiple fears, he said.

He recalled that in September 2011 a delegation of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) visited Pakistan and recommended that rules be framed for criteria for the use of suo motu and allocation of cases to benches. The SC then issued a long rejoinder saying people appreciated the suo moto cases. However it did not say anything about the law and the rules governing the criteria and allocation of suo moto cases.

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