It is the economy which sustains national security and state sovereignty more than any other factor. The Soviet Union collapsed from within despite its powerful military, its nuclear arsenal, and the status of being one of two major super-powers of the world. Today, we face the threat of economic sanctions because of the greed of a few with split loyalties who are involved in money laundering.

We need to set our house in order. We need to revamp the FBR, enforce rule of law, and continue operations to eliminate private militias - especially those in vicinity of our border with Iran, where truckloads of smuggled fuel manages to enter. These same loopholes are exploited by enemies who manage to smuggle in armed alien terrorists. Exports have declined and imports have increased because of mismanagement and conflicts of interest of paid and elected public office holders. Although Pakistan’s economy is agriculture based, for over twenty years, hundreds of thousands of acres of green agriculture land on peripheries of every major city have been occupied by powerful cartels of land developers, in nexus with public office holders. The net result is that Pakistan, once self-sustained to meet the growing demands of an ever increasing population, is today forced to import basic food items.

A corrupt civil bureaucracy and a weak state regulatory control mechanism has resulted in the deterioration of quality production, which has impacted our exports. To make matters worse, the state has cut back on investment on human resources, which is the most vital tool for development in a country with scarce financial resources. Instead of housing universities of repute, we allow entities like Axact to function and indulge in nefarious activities. What Pakistan needs are men like Abdus Salam more than likes of TLP’s Rizvi. Countries like Singapore, with almost negligible natural resources, are today economic powers just because of investment in education, health and research. We should also take heed.

MALIK TARIQ ALI,

Lahore, February 21.