After the demise of Communism
as a political system and economic philosophy, the global politico-economic
scene underwent gigantic changes. The international order, which was previously
premised on a fine balance of bipolarity, came full circle with the capitalistic
forces taking over the uncontested leadership role in economic and political
spheres. Since the collapse of Soviet Union, the New World Order, spearheaded by
the US with the cooperation of the European countries, has characterized the
functioning of the whole world, defining the broad parameters within which
global interaction has to operate.
Globalization is the ultimate outcome of this process of mutual interaction
among nations and societies under a new political and economic paradigm.
Condemned by some quarters in no uncertain terms as a lethal concept and
eulogized by others as a harbinger of economic progress, the globalization as an
idea and movement can be construed both as a bane and a boon. However, one thing
is certain in this unending debate about the morality or amorality of
globalization that it has revolutionized the pattern of our thinking and action.
The powerful countries are thrilled at the prospect of establishing their
hegemony, while the weaker ones feel jeopardized by its onward rush fearing
The mushroom growth of information technology with the whole world becoming a
global village thanks to the revolutionary changes in the cyber world has
started to impact upon the cultures, values and living patterns of nations. Thus
from an irreconcilable diversity we are fast exploring commonalities among
apparently competing cultures, civilizations and values. Such is the force of
globalization. However, this trend has paved the way for emergence of regional
groupings aimed at guarding their economic and political interests.
Whether these regional blocs represent an opposition to the forces of
globalization or an extension of the same is still not clear as debate among
scholars, researchers and political commentators remain inconclusive. But all
agree that this is no doubt a novel and creative idea to respond to complex
challenges in chorus by pooling their energies and economic resources together
for their mutual benefit. The success of the European Union has caused a domino
effect around the globe as more and more countries are eager to join one or
other regional association to its advantage.
This part of the world where Pakistan, India, Maldives, Bhutan, Sri Lanka,
Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are located is known as South Asia. All of
these countries are now together in a regional grouping called SAARC. Formed in
1985, the SAARC organization has failed to achieve the objectives for which it
was put in place. If at all it has succeeded in a few areas and kept its
existence intact despite many odds, it has done so on a snail’s pace. Contrary
to the stark failure of SAARC are the success stories like EU, AFTA, and NAFTA
that have done tremendously well in a number of fields.
The book Issues, Prospects & Policy Prescriptions is a combination of a number
of articles which this writer wrote for leading English-language newspapers of
Pakistan. Coupled with a few additions, the book discusses various challenges
posed to SAARC and gives suggestions as to how this organization can be made
potent and relevant. The purpose of writing this is to highlight the importance
of SAARC in confronting the global issues with a win-win mindset. If others
could do it, why should South Asia lag behind? If the countries of the region
have to move forward, they need to act in unison. This part of world is
strategically very important. Therefore, time to act is now. Gone are the days
when mutual rivalries hindered journey towards progress and growth. There are
also a few articles, which exclusively deal with the Pakistani economy. A brief
review of these articles is presented in the following lines:
The first article Outsourcing is a comprehensive but brief treatise on the
phenomenon of outsourcing, which is fast dominating the world economic scene.
The realities of today’s highly competitive business environment and the use of
outsourcing as a solution to lower the costs in specific aspects of the
production and delivery of goods and services have evolved to the point where it
has come to be an essential ingredient in corporate cost saving regimes. It also
incorporates theoretical as well as practical aspects of outsourcing along with
the problems associated with it.
The second article On negotiations throws light on the structure, essential
principles and methodology of carrying out successful negotiations. Negotiations
are part and parcel of modern life as it encompasses all walks of life, be it
diplomatic, political or economic etc. It also furnishes suggestions as to
polish the art of negotiations.
The third article What ails SAARC dilates upon the factors responsible for the
abysmal state of affairs SAARC is in. SAARC has immense potential of growing
into a viable organization through vision and determined leadership but there
are some handicaps, which are hindering its growth into a viable organization.
However, the fact remains that international security and economic developments
warrant revitalization of the organization to play its full role. By bringing in
necessary changes in the SAARC charter and putting in place institutions to take
care of all of its operations, SAARC can be made potent and relevant
organization. But it requires exercise of vision and demonstration of political
will on the part of the leaderships of all member-countries.
The fourth article Exploring areas of Cooperation for SAARC identifies some of
the basic areas of mutual interest where SAARC countries need to work jointly in
order maximize their output. Despite political differences among the member
countries, SAARC can still find common ground for collective action in mutually
agreed fields like education, infrastructure development, energy development,
intra-regional trade, information technology and harmonization of Customs
clearance procedures etc.
The fifth article Reforming United Nations talks of the need to reform the
United Nations Organization by bringing its role at par with the ground
realities. Of late, the UN has proven to be an utter failure in responding to
various challenges with potential fear of becoming irrelevant. The third world
countries do not trust the UNO as an impartial arbiter of world affairs. The
article also proposes measures to restructure the organization.
The sixth article Why Developing World scared of WTO throws light on the
apprehensions entertained by the developing countries about the potential
negative effects of WTO on their respective economies. It urges the developed
world to show initiative and political will in erasing these reservations and
fears through timely action and engagement.
The seventh article Developing Bio-energy looks at the need of developing
alternative energy resources in order to meet the growing energy needs. The way
prices of POL products have skyrocketed in recent times points out the
possibility of hard times ahead if the world does not lessen its dependence on
oil and develop other cheaper sources of energy. Bio-energy is one of such
options which can be explored.
The eighth article Economic Options for Pakistan talks of the need for Pakistan
to get into economic partnerships and invigorate SAARC in order to protect its
economic interests. The ‘bloc politics’ has proven to be quite useful in
addressing political and economic problems. Situation is undergoing such changes
at multiple levels that adjusting ones policies timely to the developments has
become quite a need.
The ninth article Role of Economic self-sufficiency in national security deals
with the role of economic progress in strengthening the national security. The
traditional security doctrine put emphasis on the accumulation of state of the
art arms and ammunition but with the collapse of United States of Soviet Russia,
the horizon of national security widened with other essential ingredients also
getting noticed as an integral part of all-comprehensive national security
policy. The more country is self-sufficient in meeting its economic needs, the
more resilient it is in facing the external and internal security –related
The tenth article Tackling terrorism may seem to be a little out of place here
but on a deeper analysis, it appears to have its correlation with the success or
failure of businesses and economies. Terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon with
adverse potential impacts. It directly affects the economic health of a state.
Therefore, eliminating terrorism in all its forms and manifestation is also very
necessary to allow the economies of the countries to grow. This article is
Pakistan-specific but its underlying principles are applicable elsewhere too.
The eleventh article What ails political parties has been written in respect of
the role of political parties in the Pakistani political scene. Since its birth
in 1947, the country has alternated between democracy and dictatorships. One of
the major reasons for the protracted rule of military dictatorships is the
absence of genuine and manifesto-based political parties. The Pakistani politics
is highly personalized with the result that democracy has not taken root in the
country. If there is no democracy, there would be no institutions. If there are
no institutions representing people’s aspirations and rule of law, there would
be no economic progress. It is in this background that reformation of political
parties becomes urgent as a necessary condition for economic growth.
I hope this book would prove very beneficial not only for students but also for
the general readers.
Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri
September 19, 2008