Home > Uncategorized > My response to Ayesha Siddiqa [@iamthedrifter] tweets this morning

My response to Ayesha Siddiqa [@iamthedrifter] tweets this morning

Grateful to AS for the trouble she took to read & respond to my articles “Changing paradigms in Pakistan”.


Some clarification:


Firstly the purpose of the article wasn’t to predict or even guess at what Pakistan will do to resolve the many problem that it faces. My purpose was more modest. It was to apply Kondratieff’s ideas of long economic cycle to the situation in Pakistan to see if it might explain some of the ferment in ideas & politics that grips Pakistan currently. Anything else was incidental to this purpose.


So the take away for me from the two articles was the following 2 or 3 notions:


Firstly, that Kondratieff’s idea of long cycle duration of 50/60 years roughly bears out in the changing paradigms in Pakistan.

Secondly, as you might expect from Kondratieff’s ideas, the Zia paradigm should come under intense scrutiny now in light of the experience gained in its application. That appears borne out by the political turmoil as democracy struggles with deep state for primacy. Being more interested in finance, I chose to focus on the economic situation but the ferment can and should be examined through a great many different prisms. Viability is just one of the dimensions.

Thirdly, I chose to focus on those elements of the paradigm that were due for alternation as the new paradigm evolves. These, to my mind were: [a] a renewed focus on internal economic growth and the readiness to jettison those elements of the existing paradigm that stood in the way of this objective. [b] Given the repressive nature of the paradigms that have so far ruled, a focus on ways to reverse the repression; be it through decentralization, or giving primacy to people and internal democracy or developmental priorities such as poverty alleviation or a combination of them all.


Again, it is worth emphasizing that this may not happen. What the principle of alternation really says is that when paradigms cycle through extremes along an axis, say economic growth versus preservation of status quo, or authoritarianism versus democracy, the tendency is to move from one side of the mid-point to the other. So if status quo triumphed in the last 50 years then growth prevails in the next 50 and so on and so forth. But these are broad general trends. What specific reforms flow out of that is not something that comes out of Kondratieff’s ideas. For those one must look elsewhere.


And now to the specific tweets:


@sonaliranade @Mehmal the Zia paradigm predates Zia :: All elements in paradigm aren’t new. They are pre-existing. What changes is the emphasis. Thus Islam as foundational concept in Pakistan was there and will always be there. What Zia did was to put it at the center of his paradigm as if praxis of the idea would ipso facto set everything right. That was my intent. Not sure I conveyed it correctly. So agree with Ayesha S.


@sonaliranade @Mehmal Islamization will not go awy with education :: Agree. We are talking 50 years. What I meant was if you focus everybody on economic growth and competition, and you are winning, the emphasis on religion being the sole organizational principle will attenuate and wane.


@sonaliranade @Mehmal Islamization and radicalization are far bigger than what could just be solved by improved economy or education :: Radicalization is something beyond my competence. Concede the point. Mere economic growth will not address the problem and democracy with elections held under the shadow of militia AK-47s may actually compound the problem. Out of my depth.


@sonaliranade @Mehmal Zia yrs a major milestone but problems didn’t just begin there the design has been flawed since the beginning :: Economic problems accumulated with Zia’s intervention in politics. Prior to that Bhutto had made some of the right alternations with respect to democracy and economic focus. He chose the wrong leftist idea – nationalization – but the focus on needs of the common people was the right corrective. The point is he proved too weak to carry the alternation through. Further, we aren’t examining all the elements of a paradigm – just those that I thought will alternate given history. So some flaws in the original design will carry though.


@sonaliranade @Mehmal agree with economy in shambles but disagree with the Punjabi thing the elite dominated by Punjab hut icl others 2 :: I would defer to AS on any facts because she knows them far better than I do and her understanding far exceeds mine. So I am not gonna dispute the assertion here. Having said that Punjab dominates Pakistan, and ethnic identities other than Punjabi, resent that. No doubt the Punjabi elites have tried to coopt other elites but that hasn’t resolved the problems. How you portray that conflict can vary.


@sonaliranade @Mehmal foreign remittances major impediment to serious rethink & restructure of economy so agree there:: Two things from Indian experience bear out AS’ point. I am merely amplifying it. Firstly, Politicians and Civil Servants in India did not reform until compelled to by a bankruptcy. Unlike Pk army, they aren’t armed, their coup making power is negligible, and elections forced a modicum of accountability over them. Even so, until the Barbarians were actually knocking at the door, they did not reform. Neither will the Pk army. Second, what sustains reforms is the middle class. Given half a chance India’s establishment would be back to its bad old ways. That is the nature of the predatory beast. Reforms create a prosperous middle class, who in turn creates upward mobility for those below them and rising aspirations of all is what keeps the virtuous cycle going. So economic growth sans decentralization or democracy will not create the virtuous cycle that Pakistan needs. I am grateful to Ayesha Siddiqa for taking the time to read and tweet on my article. It has helped bring further clarity to my mind.

Thank you.

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